In a word – underwhelming.
Before we get to the details, let’s answer the question that everybody really wants to know.
Q: Did Neko Case get a spotlight song or two in the show?
A: No, although Dylan did rejigger “Smile When You Call Me That” into a duet, trading lines back and forth with Ms. Case.
Jakob Dylan was squarely in the spotlight, while Case and her back-up singing partner Kelly Hogan remained off to the side – even during Case’s duet. Not that the obviously over-qualified Case or Hogan – who we’ve loved since her days with the Jody Grind – seemed to care. Both seemed quite content in their supporting roles.
The real problem with the show was that it just didn’t seem to go anywhere. It was all low-key, mid-tempo tunes drawn from Dylan’s two solo albums – ’08’s “Seeing Things” and the brand new “Women + Country.” The lone exception was “Three Marlenas” from his Wallflowers days, and that one seemed to fit right in with everything else that Dylan played during his 90-minute performance.
Three Legs (actually Neko Case’s band) did a fine job, especially pedal steel player Jon Rauhouse, who offered some solid solos, as well as playing between-tune interludes that tied the show together. But part of what makes “Women + Country” so much more interesting than the disappointing “Seeing Things” are the horn parts, which were sorely missing in concert, especially during the Tom Waits-in-New Orleans, vintage jazz-blues stroll, “Lend a Hand.”
Dylan wasn’t bad, mind you, and he sang well – most notably on the opening, John Prine-esque “Nothing But the Whole Wide World” and “Holy Rollers in Love.” But he’s not a very dynamic performer, and the show never really seemed to kick into gear, although “Evil Is Alive and Well” managed to nudge the pace up a bit.
Mimicking Birds opened the show with a performance that was even less dynamic than Dylan’s. Singer-songwriter Nate Lacy, electric guitarist Ted Skellenger and drummer-percussionist Aaron Hanson served up a healthy sampling of the low-key, lo-fi tunes from their self-titled debut album (co-produced by Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock). The album was released on Brock’s Glacial Pace Recordings, and the label name is oh so apt for Lacy’s songs.
Read my review in The Times Union.
Read Seth Rogovoy’s review in Berkshire Living.
An excerpt from Michael Hochanadel’s review in The Daily Gazette: “Dylan held his own, even in these rocking numbers when the band really asserted itself, but he seemed more comfortable in quieter songs, sometimes bending notes like his father in a sweet croon, as in the folk-flavored first encore ‘On Up the Mountain.’ The resigned ‘Yonder Comes the Blues,’ with its weary acceptance of trouble sure to come, had the greatest depth — one of several songs that Three Legs played even better than the ace studio crew T Bone Burnett led on the new album.”
JAKOB DYLAN & THREE LEGS SET LIST
Nothing But the Whole Wide World
Standing Eight Count
Holy Rollers for Love
Smile When You Call Me That
Truth for a Truth
Evil Is Alive and Well
We Don’t Live Here Anymore
Everybody Pays as They Go
War Is Kind
All Day and All Night
Yonder Come the Blues
Will It Grow
Down on Our Shields
Something Good This Way Comes
Lend a Hand
On Up the Mountain
They’ve Trapped Us Boys
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk.