National City Pavilion
August 22, 2008
Bob Dylan and his band were in a loose mood when they took the stage at Cincinnati, Ohio’s National City Pavilion on August 22. The music icon surprised many in the audience, including perhaps his manager, with a wickedly wild opening version of "Cat’s in the Well."
From there, it was vintage territory for Bob-ologists with a turn towards "The Times They Are A Changing," before whipping around to the standout track from the Wonder Boys film, "Things Have Changed." As hot and humid as it was inside of National City, Bob and the boys dressed in straight black suits, never pausing to wipe their brows once during the two hour performance.
A nod and wink to 1967’s John Wesley Harding gave the floor denizens a rap on "I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight." Altering the swirling rhythms, Bob glided through a cool, terse version of "Love Sick." It was all that the dancers in and outside of the pavilion needed to spin madly across the concourse area. "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" continued the roll, and Dylan’s feverish pace seemed unrelenting.
The highlight of the evening was a passionate rendering of the old school throwback, "High Water (For Charley Patton)." The Cincinnati throng left their seats to join in the big band swing of "Rollin’ and Tumblin’," and bringing a breathing pause to the party, Dylan serenaded the faithful with the stirring ballad "I Believe in You."
But, it wasn’t long before Dylan had all of the National City patron’s voices singing back towards him on "Just Like a Woman." The moment was striking, and was soon to be followed by the magic of Modern Times‘ opening salvo, "Thunder on the Mountain."
"I’m wondering where Alicia Keys could be?" Dylan intoned to the many whoops and hollers in the packed pavilion. Dylan left the stage to a standing ovation, and returned to decimate the cheap seats with the one-two punch encore of "Like a Rolling Stone" and the influential improvisational number, "All Along the Watchtower." It was Bob Dylan’s statement of relevance in the year of 2008, a concert full of bold chances, daring execution, and fierce, all ages communal connection.