Venue

Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, 7-30-13 (review)

Bob Dylan performs onstage during the AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Michael Douglas at Sony Pictures Studios on June 11, 2009 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI)
Bob Dylan performs onstage during the AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Michael Douglas at Sony Pictures Studios on June 11, 2009 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI)

Editor’s note: Bob Dylan did not approve press credentials for the Americanarama Festival at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre. What follows is a review by a paid ticket holder.

Even at age 72, Bob Dylan doesn’t run in place. Backed up by his remarkably versatile band, Dylan brought high energy to an eclectic blend of old classics and newer ballads at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre south of Denver on Wednesday night.

Dylan opened with a gravel-throated version of “Things Have Changed,” commanding centerstage in a white dinner jacket and black pants as the packed house that ranged from inquisitive 20-somethings to ex-hippies cocked an ear.

“People are crazy and times are strange. I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range. I used to care, but things have changed.”

The show was part of Dylan’s Americanarama Festival of Music, a summer tour headlined by Dylan and showcasing a sturdy mix of popular bands, including Wilco, My Morning Jacket and Ryan Bingham, who no doubt helped bring in the Millennials. The tour heads to Salt Lake City Thursday and wraps up Sunday in Mountain View, Calif.

Dylan held close to the tour’s standard setlist delivering “Love Sick,” “High Water (For Charley Patton),” “Soon After Midnight,” and “Early Roman Kings” in neat succession. He moved seamlessly between the microphone and piano, occasionally breaking out the mouth harp to the delight of the audience.

A rock-infused version of “Tangled Up In Blue” from the epic “Blood on the Tracks” album in 1975 represented a clever adaptation with the twisted syntax that helps differentiate Dylan’s roadshows over the years. This certainly wasn’t the version he delivered in March 2000 at the Fillmore in downtown Denver. And neither was his long, winding odyssey on “Desolation Row,” where the Fiddler’s crowd got an audible from the songs offered at previous venues. In his recent Virginia, Jersey and New York shows, the band has offered up “Hard Rain.”

Dylan’s not for everyone, and the ‘60s folk-rocker took a few hits in the Twittersphere during the evening, with one particularly caustic tweet calling him a hissing grampa. But more frequently the crowd reaction on social media was showing Bob the love: “Crossing off part of my bucketlist. Seeing @bobdylan at #fiddlersgreen. #FINALLY”

My favorite tribute was the guy in the long, white beard up on the far reaches of the lawn seats who periodically belted out a request for “Rainy Day Woman.” This old soldier obviously was there to pay homage to a legend – and no doubt pulled the lever in favor of Colorado’s Amendment 64.

Among the other classics Dylan and his five bandmates rolled out were “Blind Willie McTell,” “Simple Twist of Fate,” and “All Along the Watchtower” – a sweet, gritty version more Jimi Hendrix than the acoustic original from “John Wesley Harding.” A huge laser image of a joker popped up above the band following the rendition.

The encore was “Shooting Star” and the crowd certainly was anticipating one more as darkness lingered over the amphitheater’s stage. But the roughly hour-and-a-half set ended with the house lights – leaving many to gently cuss Greenwood Village’s late-evening outdoor sound ordinances.

Liner notes: Highlight of the opening sets was an incendiary mash up of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl,” with the full-wattage of Wilco and My Morning Jacket on stage. Also got a double-rainbow arcing the eastern sky after a short cloudburst that served as prelude to a signature Colorado sunset.

Follow our news and updates on Twitter, our relationship status on Facebook and our search history on Google +. Or send us a telegram.

Steve McMillan is the Editor Public Policy/Digital Publications at The Denver Post. Find him on Twitter.