Tambourine Man rocks the HLS&R
By Ellen Simonson
Daily Cougar Staff
Bob Dylan's performance at RodeoHouston on Wednesday night was almost
perfunctory. There was no greeting, no farewell, no banter — just
Dylan and his band taking the stage, performing 12 songs and departing.
The interaction with the audience that often makes a live show extroardinary
was missing entirely.
Of course, it doesn't matter in the least. Dylan has been called the
greatest living American songwriter for decades, and just seeing the man
wrote these songs play them, live and in person, is enough.
Clad in a white cowboy hat and dark blue jeans, the Tambourine Man opened
Wednesday's RodeoHouston performance with a cover of the
Stanley Brothers' "I Am the Man, Thomas."
From there, Dylan and his four-piece band moved into his classic "Don't
Think Twice, It's All Right." The instruments were all acoustic, but the
song had a toughness to it. It was dark, slow and unabashedly rock
'n' roll, and when Dylan roared "It's all riiiiiight" into the microphone,
with the conviction of decades.
Both the audience and Dylan seemed to grow more animated during the
fourth song performed, a raucous electric version of "Highway 61
Revisited." The vocal delivery frustrated any attempt to sing along,
but the song's rapid rock rhythm worked well and cemented Dylan's
well-deserved reputation as a master of reinvention.
An electric rendition of "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You" transformed
the playful acoustic ballad of Nashville Skyline into a layered, almost
mournful composition. This time around, Dylan's pledge to spend the
night with his beloved sounded not playfully suggestive but weary and
A trio of standout tracks from the Grammy-winning Love and Theft aptly
demonstrated Dylan's enthusiasm for performing his most recent work.
"Cry Awhile" was delivered with a welcome conviction, as were "High
Water (For Charley Patton)" and "Summer Days."
These newer songs may have more relevance for Dylan, since he delivers
them with intensity. When he says, "Why don't you break my heart
one more time just for good luck," he's not 60 anymore — he's 22 and
belting it out with all the honesty of someone young and unfamiliar with
But it was the slow, funky version of "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,"
perhaps Dylan's most famous work, that got the Reliant Astrodome crowd
truly excited. Dylan and his band jammed for five minutes on the song's
familiar riff, adding layers and peeling them away again; the big, childish
grin on the guitarist's face alone was worth the price of admission.
Dylan closed the set with a fast, thick version of "All Along the Watchtower"
that was reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, although it's clear he still does
Bob Dylan is no longer "the unwashed phenomenon/ The original vagabond"
that Joan Baez sang about in the mid-1970s. He's that rarest of
phenomena — the living legend. And when he quietly departed the stage
and the audience rose to its feet to cheer, it was with all the fervor
appropriate for an honest, certifiable genius.