Bob Dylan at the Hollywood Bowl … warts and all

By Pete Mauch //

Bob Dylan //
Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles
October 26th, 2012 //

Bob Dylan came to The Hollywood Bowl on Friday night and played a solid 15-song set that contained many raspy growls, bluesy harmonica solos and not-so-quiet sing-alongs. The 71-year-old living legend managed to put together a fine little show, despite having a frog in his throat the entire time on stage.

Any Dylan fan these days should know to expect the raspy voice, very little guitar playing and unusual song arrangements from his shows. Knowing this, I went in with an open mind and a sense of amazement that I was actually seeing Dylan. He has played the Bowl three times before this show, the first time being all the way back in 1965 when he was just 25 years old, back in 1965 was when he first plugged in and went full electric at the classic Newport Folk Festival.

He opened the show with the upbeat classic “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”, which I’ve always loved, and it was a great way to get things rolling. Dylan traded off between his mic stand and his piano the entire night. Not once did he care to pic up a guitar, which I felt was odd, but he does have Charlie Sexton on guitar duty. I was glad to hear “Tangled Up in Blue” early in the set. It had a nice bluesy solo by Dylan on harmonica, which was well-received by the crowd.

Being the enigmatic figure that he is, Dylan didn’t make good use of the many big screens at the Bowl. Instead of focusing in on his playing or at least giving us different perspectives on the screen, all they showed was a zoomed-out view of the stage. I’ve been to many shows at the Bowl, and these screens really do help with the overall show experience, so I felt bad for the many fans in the upper tiers. Dylan and his band continued with a standout version of “The Levee’s Gonna Break”, as he growled to the crowd in his raspy voice, which by this time had cleared up a bit.

Dylan has done a decent job of switching up songs this tour, except for his finale, so I was glad to hear “Desolation Row” and the swirly rocker “Highway 61 Revisited.” Dylan’s four-song finale was quite fun, as it consisted of classics of “Ballad of Thin Man”, “Like a Rolling Stone”, “All Along the Watchtower” and the stripped-down encore featuring “Blowing in the Wind”. It’s quite impressive knowing he penned all these songs, and I feel privileged to have seen him perform them live. I also found it pretty amusing to watch people try and sing along with Dylan because his arrangements and vocal phrasing are very different today then they were in all his classic albums.

Dylan is arguably the greatest American songwriter of our generation. Go see him live … warts and all.

You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
To Ramona
Things Have Changed
Tangled Up in Blue
The Levee’s Gonna Break
To Make You Feel My Love (Billy Joel cover)
Cry a While
Desolation Row
Highway 61 Revisited
Love Sick
Thunder on the Mountain
Ballad of a Thin Man
Like a Rolling Stone
All Along the Watchtower

*Blowin’ in the Wind


  1. Thanks for reading theresa. I had a blast seeing a legend like bob d. Rad you saw dylan back in the day. Did you see him w/ The Band?

  2. Pete you are very kind. I saw him in his heyday and he and his band were just incredible, but today his voice fails him and it’s just a glimpse of what he used to be. I’m glad you got to see him, definitely a legend.


  1. helpful resources

    Bob Dylan at the Hollywood Bowl … warts and all – Showbams

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