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Bob Dylan, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, CA – 10/17

There was lots of talk about Bob Dylan’s performances in California’s Bay Area because what he was doing on stage was captivating, intriguing and interesting when he passed through as part of the Bob Dylan’s North American fall tour with Mark Knopfler.

His delivery of “Tangled Up in Blue” came in a different style than the classic version everyone has fallen in love with but no less powerful or moving. It was the fourth song into the set, which opened with “Watching The River Flow” followed by “Man In The Long Black Coat.” It is the version of a 71-year old who seemed in real good spirits on the first of two shows at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

After songs like “Joey” and a clear delivery of “Visions of Johanna,” came some high points of the 15 song show. There was a marvelous thought-provoking jam during “Highway 61,” which created the experience of a haunting and dark descent followed by a reemergence with a celebratory joyous and catchy musical refrain. That was followed by another high point when Dylan played a wonderfully moving “Forgetful Heart” with a tender and psalm-like delivery, blowing his harp after singing each verse from his seat at the keys. “Ballard of a Thin Man” was every bit impactful as of old but made more eerie and menacing as Dylan now does the song with an echo added to his voice.

As the show came to a close Dylan marched on with the four standards that on this tour are closing many, if not all, of his shows. But by then it seemed more like bonus after seeing full-blown Dylan artistry at such a healthy pitch those old and young stood in awe and left feeling better than when they arrived.

Dylan, who was seemingly upbeat and in good spirits the entire night, struck deep grooves with his band while they seemed very much in synch as they traveled enthusiastically here and there. Dylan’s band out on the tour includes guitarists Stu Kimball and Charlie Sexton, multi-instrumentalists Donnie Herron, bassist Tony Garnier and drummer George Receli.

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