Last night, we saw Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard at the Auditorium. We saw Bob at the NIU Convocation Center on Halloween, and it was a good if very echo-laden show, but seeing him in a real theater showed what we were missing. Bob was in the same performing mode as he was in October: hunched over an electronic keyboard, delivering his lines all in the same tone. I suppose he realized we were there for the event, and if we were expecting him to sing “Lay Lady Lay” ;or “It Ain’t Me Babe” in the same voice he used on the recordings, we should probably be listening to the records instead.
His band was comprised of many of the same members of the group from his last tour. The notable addition was a violin player named Elana Fremerman, who seemed to be tearing it up when you could hear her through the occasionally heavy mix. The complete setlist can be found here.
We missed the opening act (Amos Lee), but we did catch most of Merle Haggard’s performance. It felt like we were at a theatre in Branson or Nashville, the way he and The Strangers were compacted into the center of the stage. I’ve never been a huge country music fan, but these guys played very tightly– you could tell they’ve been doing this for a while. Merle’s inter-song patter rolled off, corny as it was, to the audience’s delight. I found a couple of his little jokes hilarious, and if Lisa were the type of person who’d roll her eyes, she would have. (You can read more about the recent shows we’ve seen here at her blog.)
It’s not every day that you get to see a legend like Bob Dylan perform, but we’ve been lucky to see him twice in six months. Not too shabby.

One Response to “Bob and Merle”

  1. I confess, I am the sort of person to roll my eyes. And I did. But I think Merle’s jokes were like “good” puns–the louder the groans, the “better” they are.

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