Although Bob Dylan opened his set Wednesday with “Things Have Changed,” surprisingly little in his performances has changed throughout this Americanarama tour. Until Wednesday. The inclusion of Bobby Vee’s “Suzie Baby” -- accompanied by the wordiest comments Dylan has made here in years (starting with, “I used to live here…”) – was a bona-fide shocker for the Dylanoligists on hand, and truly a sweet treat.
For those who don’t know, Vee is a Fargo-bred, Minnesota-based rock pioneer who filled in for Buddy Holly’s Winter Dance Party dates in 1959 and briefly employed a teenage Dylan (er, Robert Zimmerman) as a piano player. Vee recently retired after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Bob made a reference to him being at Wednesday’s concert and said -- roughly, per Bob’s mumbly style -- “I used to live here. Since then, I’ve played all over the world with everyone from Mick Jagger to Madonna. No one was more important than [Vee].”
Anyone wanting new proof Dylan is proud of being from Minnesota, there it is. Bob and the band did a terrific job swinging through "Suzie Baby," actually one of the musical highlights of the set, too.
DYLAN'S SET LIST
Things Have Changed / Love Sick / High Water (For Charley Patton) / Soon after Midnight / Early Roman Kings / Tangled Up in Blue / Duquesne Whistle / She Belongs to Me / Beyond Here Lies Nothin' / A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall / Blind Willie McTell / Simple Twist of Fate / Summer Days / Suzie Baby (by and dedicated to Bobby Vee) / All Along the Watchtower Encore: Blowin' in the Wind
Richard Thompson played his standard half-hour opening set for the tour, disappointingly short but long on enthralling guitar work. In their respective 75-minute sets, both Wilco and My Morning Jacket changed things up greatly once again – varying wildly from the previous night in Duluth, and from what they usually play at their own headlining shows.
They opened and closed with songs from their Woody Guthrie-derived 1998 album “Mermaid Avenue.” In between came several even more old-school numbers, with two from their 1995 debut plus “New Madrid” by frontman Jeff Tweedy’s prior band Uncle Tupelo – a rarity to hear nowadays.As a decent trade for the Thompson collaboration they played the prior night in Duluth, Tweedy & Co. welcomed out My Morning Jacket to sing Neil Young's "Cinammon Girl" for only the second time on the tour. Funny that they didn't pick a Dylan cover. Here's the full set list:
At My Window / Muzzle of Bees / New Madrid / Don't Forget the Flowers / Trying to Break / Just That Simple / Impossible Germany / Born Alone / Not For the Season / Wishful Thinking / Art of Almost / Hummingbird / Cinnamon Girl / Walken / I'm the Man Who Loves You / Hoodoo Voodoo
MY MORNING JACKET
My Morning Jacket played a more epic-toned, grandiosely rocking set Wednesday vs. Duluth, with “Steam Engine,” “Victory Dance” and especially the sax-grinded “First Light” adding oomph to the set. Trampled by Turtles’ appearance added magic, especially for local fans of the band – and there were many, judging by how many were singing along to TBT’s “Alone.”
The Way He Sings / Off the Record / First Light / Circuital / Steam Engine / Wonderful (The Way I Feel) (first of three with Trampled by Turtles) / There's a Higher Power (Louvin Brothers cover) / Alone / Victory Dance / Wordless Chorus / Touch Me I’m Going to Scream,Pt. 2.
Regularly used as a concert venue in the ‘90s and early -‘00s – Wilco even previously opened for R.E.M. there in 1999 – the St. Paul Saints’ ballpark seemed to earn decidedly mixed reviews from concert fans who’d been away for years. First and foremost, the lines for concession food were woefully long, which seems extra unexcusable given the plethora of food trucks and other mobile vendors around town nowadays. Concert organizers didn’t seem to understand that many people would be attending straight from work and needed something more nourishing than Bud Light Straw-Ber-Ritas. On the upside, traffic flow to the stadium wasn’t too bad given the central location and rush-hour show time. The free shuttle bus service offered heavily used and a big asset. Acoustics were decent for a makeshift, centerfield stage, too. Best of all, the picture-perfect summer evening weather worked to the ballpark’s advantage – as it would any venue without a roof.