Whether the song was "Like a Rolling Stone" or "Everything's Broken,"
from Dylan's just-released "Oh Mercy" album, this well-rehearsed foursome played more like soulmates than bandmates who've been touring together only since last year.
Now 48, Dylan doesn't look all that different than he did in his Greenwich Village days. The perpetual scowl is firmly in place; his frizzy 'fro isn't noticeably gray. His rich, raspy voice is remarkably the same. He can still spit out an angry lyric, turn a wail into a whisper, and work the harmonica with satisfying impact.
Wearing a black shirt and trousers with silver Western-style trim and cowboy boots, Dylan went straight to the music. He didn't greet the crowd or talk between songs, prompting one frustrated fan to yell, "Say something!" Dylan ignored him, hardly even making eye contact with the house during the show.
Despite that, the evening had a surprisingly intimate feeling. That probably had more to do with the proscenium stage setting than anything Dylan was trying to project. It's nice to sit in a darkened theater and be surrounded by the music, an experience that can't be duplicated at the Vet or JFK Stadium.
Smith's bluesy hot licks upstaged The Legend more than once. It's time for him to bow out of his SNL gig - essentially a supporting role - and take center stage himself.
Although the three new album cuts got a cordial reception, it was the vintage stuff - "Highway 61 Revisited," "It's Alright, Ma," "Baby Blue" and the like - that revved up the crowd.
The giant speakers on either side of the stage muddied the sung lyrics, rendering even familiar ones unintelligible, but didn't harm Dylan and Smith's torrid guitar arrangements.
Jason and the Scorchers, the Nashville band that opened the show, generated plenty of volume and little heat with their shot-and-a-beer material. The large number of empty seats during their half-hour set conveyed just whose audience this was.
The show will be repeated tonight at 8.