Bob Dylan's most memorable Minnesota performances (1998-2008)
There were rumors that Dylan was going to perform at First Avenue in the days prior to this show, but plans sadly fell through. And while I wasn't too enthused about the prospect of seeing someone as decidedly hit-or-miss as Dylan in the cavernous Roy Wilkins, where good sound typically goes to die, this show proved to be a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Bob played piano/keys throughout the entire show, hiding under his big white cowboy hat, and the band was tight behind him, and the setlist leaned toward the rocking side of Dylan's catalog. We got a second encore, plenty of songs with Minnesota threads ("North Country," "Highway 61" and a terrific "Blind Willie McTell"), and Bob was in a decidedly great mood, perhaps due to Hibbing advancing earlier that night in the State Hockey Tournament right next door.
Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, Midway Stadium, July 12, 2005:
This show was part of a co-headlining tour with Willie, so both acts got the same amount of time on stage (which meant a much shorter Dylan set than his recent shows). It was a hot night in St. Paul, and Willie started out with a terrific opening set which sounded fantastic on that summer night. Dylan's set didn't hold too many surprises, but it was cool to hear him play with Willie's son Lucas on "Lonesome Day Blues." "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" is still a tour-de-force, and "Stuck Inside of Mobile" had a great swing to it, but the night was ultimately made memorable just by seeing Willie and Bob outdoors at a baseball park in the middle of summer. You can't beat that.
Bob Dylan with Foo Fighters, Xcel Energy Center, October 29, 2006:
After a lively acoustic set from Foo Fighters, where it was quite evident that Dave Grohl was truly thrilled to be opening for one of his musical heroes (Grohl even dressed up in suit jacket for the occasion), Dylan and the band seemed energized straight from the start by the young group's early energy. "Maggie's Farm" got the night off to a boisterous start, and hearing "Masters of War," "Tangled Up In Blue," "Don't Think Twice It's All Right" and "Highway 61 Revisited" just can't be topped by any other musician making music today. Dylan seemed buoyed by the youthful spirit of the Foos during the show as well as his just released Modern Times, and it clearly showed in their vibrant performance.
An Evening With Bob Dylan, Northrup Auditorium, November 4, 2008:
Dylan's triumphant return to the U of M campus was made even more memorable by the night's historic election results. Dylan even spoke to the rapturous crowd on a few different occasions, with Bob saying "Thanks friends" following a loud, lasting ovation after "Like A Rolling Stone," and after he made his customary band intros, Dylan brought up the night's historical undercurrents. ""I was born the year Pearl Harbor was attacked, and I've seen some pretty dark days since then. It looks like things are going to change now." And while the performance wasn't the best I've heard Dylan sound by any means, the setting and the magnitude of the evening both added some weight and lasting significance to the memorable performance.
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