Bob Dylan, who turned 75 last month, started the first of two sold-out shows at Chateau Ste. Michelle Saturday, June 5, with a couple of old favorites. He then sang songs from his recent albums, which draw on Great American Songbook standards like “I’m a Fool to Want You.”
A lively Bob Dylan returned to the Seattle area Saturday (June 5) for the first of two sold-out shows at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Dylan, who turned 75 last month, wore a white hat and white shoes, and he shuffle-danced as he came onstage.
He was animated all night and seemed more engaged than on the past few tours. He started with two songs from his catalog — “Things Have Changed” and “She Belongs to Me” — but after that, the show mostly departed from well-known numbers.
Much of the rest of the 20-song set came from his most recent two albums, filled with songs made famous by Frank Sinatra and other crooners of a previous generation. Dylan’s senior-era voice seemed better suited to songs like “I’m a Fool to Want You” than to some of his own chestnuts.
The crowd seemed unfamiliar with most of the set, and probably would have preferred hits. Dylan, however, seemed less excited to sing “Tangled Up in Blue” than he was to do “All or Nothing At All.”
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Mavis Staples opened the show with a soulful set, but she also in a way summed up why many in the Chateau crowd had come, and it probably wasn’t to hear songs made famous by Sinatra. She called Dylan “the world’s greatest poet.”
The first encore of “Blowin’ in the Wind” drew the most applause of the night. It isn’t Dylan’s best lyric writing — a few years later his skills would become laser sharp — but it is a generational milestone. The arrangement Saturday was so different that many didn’t applaud until the chorus, when the song became unmistakable.
Dylan always employs a crack band, and they helped sell the unfamiliar material. Particularly nice was “Early Roman Kings,” a Dylan original from 2012, but with a blues groove.
That song proved that Dylan — the lyricist, the poet — still has bite, and even humor, in him. You could almost see him smile as he sang the line, “I ain’t dead yet / my bell still rings.”
He isn’t dead, thank God, and Saturday night onstage at the Chateau, Bob Dylan’s bell rang beautifully.