Exact same songs but somehow it felt different on Wednesday.
Yes, Night 2 of Bob Dylan’s three-night stand at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis felt different from the opening concert.
Tuesday’s audience was much more energetic. Many fans stood for the entire concert. Not so on Wednesday. The second-night crowd must have included fewer hard-core fans. They didn’t even clap at the opening line of “Tangled Up in Blue.” In fact, they didn’t get excited until the punch line of the chorus. Same thing happened with “Simple Twist of Fate.” At least a few dozen fans reacted to the opening words of “Blowin’ in the Wind” done on grand piano.
While Tuesday’s second set lacked momentum, Wednesday’s second segment was more focused and consistent. A key difference was “Early Roman Kings,” with its echoes of Muddy Waters. On Tuesday, the tune felt repetitious. On Wednesday, George Receli’s drumming was more interesting. Charlie Sexton’s bluesy guitar riffs nicely echoed Dylan’s vocal lines, and there was more fire in Sexton’s solos.
There was plenty of nuance in Dylan’s often emphatic voice on “Spirit on the Water” with its finger-snapping cadence. By song’s end, it almost felt like a call-and-response with the singer and the suddenly responsive crowd. Dylan’s voice and delivery had more bite on “Long and Wasted Years” than it did the night before. “Soon After Midnight” was throwback pop, almost with an echo of the Fleetwoods’ “Mr. Blue.”
As was the case on Tuesday, Dylan didn’t introduce the band and he made only one comment. At the end of the 50-minute first set, he said something like “why, thank you folks.” He mumbled and all I could understand was something like “we’ll be right back.”
Indeed, he was prompt. Just as a gong had sounded at precisely 8 p.m. and Stu Kimball started playing guitar, the second half started after an exact 20-minute intermission.
Dylan didn’t bother to change clothes between sets. His Wednesday outfit was a different color from Tuesday’s but the same design – a frock-length jacket with piping and a stripe down his pants leg. Night 2’s ensemble was black with white piping whereas Night 1 he wore beige. He sported the same light (possibly gray) Zorro hat both nights. On Wednesday, he was rocking stylish black-and-white cowboy boots that almost suggested spats.
Frankly, the lighting is so dim but arty that it’s hard to distinguish much onstage. Dylan’s Oscar – he won it for “Things Have Changed,” his opening number on both nights, from 2000’s “Wonder Boys – was stationed on a case behind his grand piano bench, next to a bust of a woman. (On his 2012 tour, Dylan had the Oscar, surrounded by Mardi Gras beads, secured atop his grand piano.) At the Orpheum, there was a bust of, I think, Beethoven at the back of the stage, by Sexton’s amplifier.
As explained in my review of Tuesday’s concert, Dylan focused on material from his 2012 album “Tempest.” In fact, the set list was predominantly tunes he has recorded since his much-lauded 1997 comeback album “Time Out of Mind.”
There were two selections from 1975’s “Blood on the Tracks” and two pieces from the ‘60s – “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1963) and “She Belongs To Me” (1965).
He also introduced his version of “Stay with Me,” a pretty, almost Irish-flavored pop ballad that was featured on “Sinatra ’65: The Singer Today.” It is expected to be included on Dylan’s 2015 album, “Shadows in the Night.”
Dylan and his band will close their Orpheum run on Thursday night.
Wednesday’s set list:
Things Have Changed/ She Belongs To Me/ Beyond Here Lies Nothin’/ Workingman’s Blues #2/ Waiting for You (it’s from the 2002 soundtrack to Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood)/ Duquesne Whistle/ Pay in Blood/ Tangled Up in Blue/ Love Sick
High Water (For Charley Patton)/ Simple Twist of Fate/ Early Roman Kings/ Forgetful Heart/ Spirit on the Water/ Scarlet Town/ Soon After Midnight/ Long and Wasted Years ENCORE Blowin’ in the Wind/ Stay with Me