07.27.13 | Bob Dylan, Wilco and Beck | Nikon at Jones Beach Theater

The Americanarama tour made it's way to Jones Beach last night for a solid night of rock and roll. Supported by Academy and Grammy Award-winning artist Ryan Bingham, Wilco, an acoustic performance from Beck, plus a few special guests, the opening acts delivered electrifying performances while Dylan's set seemed a bit out of place.

Following Ryan Bingham's early start to a mostly empty arena, Beck's set was mostly acoustic (with the help of a drum machine). He channeled early Dylan in his attire and through his instrumentation selection of harmonica and acoustic guitar. Pausing briefly during his set to show Song Reader his sheet music/art book released late last year, he proceeded to play several songs from the repertoire including, "Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings" and "Sorry". He also played many of the hits from his career like, "Gamma Ray" and "Where It's At", which were exciting to hear acoustically, but with the same energy as the electric versions.

Wilco's set combined alternative rock with occasionally both bluesy and psychedelic turns. They seemed to be having a lot of fun with their performance, beginning the show with a few well-worn songs off of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Summerteeth before bringing Beck back on stage to join them for the rest of their set, kicking it off with Beck's "Loser". Also joining them was Cibo Matto, who reunited in 2011 and also opened for Wilco last year. Even more exciting (for me at least), was when Sean Lennon was also called on stage to play a few songs including a raucous rendition of "Tomorrow Never Knows". Not gonna lie, probably the best performance of the evening.

It's hard to describe Bob Dylan's performance. As this was the first time seeing him live, and the fact that he is Mr. Bob Dylan, the expectations were high. A jangly guitar riff cut through the darkness of the stage and then the lights went up as Bob Dylan and his band assumed their positions. The center of the stage was mostly empty as Dylan tiptoed around the edge of the spotlight and occasionally back and forth from behind the keyboard. Dylan's voice is raspy at best, but mostly just painful to listen to. One can only imagine the irritation on his vocal chords as he struggled to string a tune together. Though his voice did improve through the course of the set, it was disappointing because many of the songs were rendered unrecognizable as he tried to do some voice inflections to accommodate which ended up sounding like he was singing every other note. I was able to somewhat discern "Things Have Changed", "Early Roman Kings" and "All Along the Watchtower". It was disappointing that Dylan didn't play guitar, didn't allow photos and didn't say a word to the audience. Not one word. It is impressive that he is still touring into his seventies, but I'm not sure why. If it's a chore, why do it? Some memories are best left immortalized in the past.






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