Bob Dylan and Relix Publisher Peter Shapiro Reopen the Capitol Theatre
A look at last night’s show via attendee Questlove’s Twitter handle
The Capitol Theatre officially reopened last night with a sold-out performance by Bob Dylan. “It’s been a long strange trip and for me it began at a Grateful Dead show at Rosemont Horizon in Chicago on March 11, 1993,” the venue’s leader (and Relix publisher) Peter Shapiro told the crowd shortly before the music started. “My experience that night led me to the front door of a great, dingy, beautiful rock club in Lower Manhattan called Wetlands and that was where I learned everything I know about putting on shows.”
Originally opened in 1926 and designed by the architect Thomas W. Lamb (who also designed the United Palace Theater in Upper Manhattan), The Cap’s elegance is a far cry from Wetlands’ dingy-but-amazing basement vibe. While Wetlands served as a launching pad for artists such as Phish, Dave Matthews Band and Blues Traveler in their early days, The Cap saw such rock and roll luminaries as The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Joe Cocker and others in their prime grace its stage until it went (mostly) dark for music in the late ’70s.
Throughout the last six months, The Cap has undergone extensive renovations from replacing carpet and repainting walls to adding state-of-the-art light, sound and video systems to a tune north of $2 million. (We also recommend taking a closer look at the wallpaper.) The 1,835-capacity venue is a mix of general admission seating on the floor and reserved seating in the balcony.
“If we could pick any musician to re-open The Cap we got THE ONE,” said Shapiro after thanking a laundry list of people who helped reopen the venue. “He was the first to plug in at Newport and since we hope that this room will set a new bar for live music venues, we are thrilled to have Bob Dylan be the first to plug back in at The Cap.”
The performance, slightly more than 90 minutes in duration, saw the legend running through recent material like “Watching the River Flow,” “This Dream of You” and “Shooting Star” as well as a number of older numbers that had been reconfigured into new forms ranging from “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” and “Tangled Up in Blue” to “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.” (For those looking to hear music from Dylan’s forthcoming album, you can stream the whole thing for free for a limited time.)
Since this wasn’t Dylan’s first time to The Cap—he’s used the theater as a rehearsal space in preparing his band for tour—he seemed particularly comfortable onstage. Whether pounding out melodies on piano and keyboard, strapping on a guitar or simply singing unadorned by instruments save an occasional harmonica, Dylan played the part of mischievous old man adroitly as he punctuated moments with calculated dance steps and hand gestures.
If Dylan’s instruments were initially turned up too loud in the mix, then they found more even footing with the rest of the band halfway through the show as did his growling vocals which became clearer.
Bob Dylan continues his tour tonight at the Artpark Mainstage Theater in Lewiston, NY.
The Cap continues its opening celebration this weekend with performances by The Roots and Bob Weir. For a full lineup, click here.
To read all of Shapiro’s speech, click here.
Here’s a look at last night’s setlist via Bob Links
Watching the River Flow
Love Minus Zero/No Limit
Things Have Changed
Rollin’ and Tumblin’
This Dream of You
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
High Water (For Charley Patton)
Visions of Johanna
Highway 61 Revisited
Thunder on the Mountain
Ballad of a Thin Man
Like a Rolling Stone
All Along the Watchtower
E: Blowin’ in the Wind