St. Louis Post Dispatch: Dylan-Nelson-Mellencamp Show Brings Out Hits, Misses

Bob Dylan's 2007 concert at the Fox Theatre provided an indelible moment when
opening act Elvis Costello joined the iconic singer on stage for an impassioned
duet of Dylan's "Tears of Rage."

With Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp on board for Dylan's summer tour of
minor league stadiums, the opportunity for special collaborations would seem
ripe. Unfortunately, none materialized at the tour's kickoff at GCS Ballpark in
Sauget on Thursday.

It seems silly to complain about what didn't happen during an idyllic July
evening spent outdoors in mild temperatures, listening to three legendary
singers, even the least of whom is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. But the show
lacked that special moment that would have taken it to another level.

Then, too, Dylan's set was somewhat problematic. His famously ravaged voice
ranged from a wizened moan to an asthmatic wheeze as he surveyed both classic
material and newer songs. His arrangements — always a work in progress — seemed
uncertain and at times downright ham-handed. The band tended to steamroll
uptempo tunes like "The Levee's Gonna Break" and "Honest With Me," the guitars
and Dylan's roller-rink organ competing with, not complementing, each other.

But just as all seemed lost, Dylan delivered a jaw-dropping version of
"Forgetful Heart," a song from his latest album, "Together Through Life." The
slow, spectral tune featured a bowed bass, a violin and Dylan's own harmonica.
As the singer's silhouette cast a lone shadow on the stage backdrop, the
stadium was briefly downsized to a hushed confessional. It was easily the high
point of Dylan's set and the entire night.

In recent years, Mellencamp's albums have been moving in a stripped-down,
rootsier direction. But on this tour he appears ready to rock, tearing through
punchy versions of some of his best-known songs, including "Pink Houses," "Rain
on the Scarecrow" and "Authority Song."

He did pull back occasionally, performing an acoustic "Small Town" with just
his band's standout players, violinist Miriam Sturm and accordionist Troye

Mellencamp seldom gets the credit he deserves for helping to foster the sound
that's broadly described these days as Americana. Having him perform this
strongly in the presence of two giants of the genre can only help his case.

Nelson's set was pretty much the same one he's been delivering for years.
Favoring classic tunes such as "Crazy," "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" and "On
the Road Again," Nelson's jazz-tinged vocals continually flirted with the beat
but never actually landed on it. At the same time, he played audacious solos on
his beat-to-death guitar, waved to fans and traded hats and headbands with

Like a familiar tale whose allure is all in the telling, Nelson's act somehow
never gets old.


Bob Dylan

Watching the River Flow
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
The Levee's Gonna Break
Spirit on the Water
Things Have Changed
Just Like a Woman
Honest With Me
Forgetful Heart
Highway 61 Revisited
This Dream of You
Thunder on the Mountain
Like a Rolling Stone
All Along the Watchtower

John Mellencamp

Pink Houses
Paper in Fire
Deep Blue Heart
Check It Out
Don't Need This Body
Small Town
Old Rugged Cross
Rain on the Scarecrow
The Real Life
If I Die Sudden
What If I Came Knocking
Crumblin' Down
Authority Song

Willie Nelson

Whiskey River
Still Is Still Movin' to Me
Beer for My Horses
Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
Funny How Time Slips Away/Crazy/Night Life
Down Yonder
Me and Paul
If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time
Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train
All of Me
On the Road Again
Always on My Mind
Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I'll Fly Away
I Ain't Superman
You Asked Me To
Nowhere Road
I Saw the Light

Click HERE to read the review on their website.

Click HERE to view a show photo gallery on the Belleville News-Democrat website.