Bob Dylan | Dawes April 23, 2013 The Peabody Opera House
For Bob Dylan's visit to St. Louis last night -- his first since October 2010 and the fourteenth stop on his current tour -- the Peabody Opera House (14th and Market streets; 314-241-1888 ) stage was backed by a full-height semicircular black curtain with four lighthouse-grade spotlights suspended in front of it that occasionally commenced to glow like so many massive moons orbiting Planet Bob.
Bob Dylan has finally become what he has probably always dreamed of being: an old bluesman. That's a good thing, too. He's small in stature, smaller than ever, thin and bandy-legged. And he commands a stage like no other artist. Make no mistake about it: His bell still rings.
The six-piece band took to the stage a little after eight-thirty and shuffled into "Things Have Changed," all of them be-hatted save for multi-instrumentalist Donnie Herron, who plied his banjo, electric mandolin, pedal and lap steel guitars bareheaded. (It wasn't raining inside the Peabody.) Dylan sported a vaguely Western, vaguely military black suit, with red piping down the pantlegs and a pair of wide scarlet bands at each wrist. His hat was a flattop grey felt number with a rolled brim, a gambler's hat.
They steamed through the sixteen-song set (two almost imperceptible water breaks, only one encore) that lined up with the repertoire Dylan rolled out on opening night, April 5, in Buffalo. That is to say that many in the audience, having prepped with a visit to bobdylan.com or, in the connoisseurs' case, boblinks.com, didn't arrive in a gambling frame of mind, expecting spontaneity. Such is the age of the Internet.
Not that it matters.
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