Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, September 26, 2007

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Dylan, Costello performance
more like a literary festival

Jeff Maisey

You might as well have called it a literary festival.

The intriguing tour package which brought folk music icon Bob Dylan, known as the voice of his generation, and new wave poet laureate Elvis Costello to the Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk on Tuesday night represented two of the most gifted songwriters in pop music. Both Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musicians put on an impressive show.

Bob Dylan and his hot cookin' 5-piece band served up a spicy jambalaya of old and new. Though he has a career retrospective CD box set, Dylan, due out on October 1, he was still technically touring in support of last year's Modern Times, and he was keen on showcasing several of its tracks, including "Rollin' and Tumblin'" and "Workingman's Blues #2."

Dylan opened the night with the toe-tapping "Cat's In The Well." He donned his electric guitar for the first three numbers and then jumped behind his electric piano for the remainder.

Where "Honest With Me" and "Summer Days," both from his critically acclaimed 2001 comeback album, Love and Theft, were up-tempo and swinging like a Texas honky-tonk, "Nettie Moore," another tune from Modern Times, was a moving, poetic ballad. "Highway 61 Revisited" predictably enticed stationary dancing and thunderous applause.

Throughout the evening Dylan's voice sounded surprisingly clear and strong. The sound system was mixed brilliantly, with all instruments balanced and distinctly separated, and never overriding Dylan's vocals.

Dylan closed his spot-on set with a dramatic, keyboard-heavy version of "Masters of War." He addressed the audience only at the very end when introducing the members of his band prior to his encore, which included "Thunder on the Mountain" and "All Along the Watchtower."

Few performers can court Elvis Costello as an opening act, and this paring of talented songsmiths certainly complimented each other like a bold, well-aged Bordeaux and prime cut of beef tenderloin.

Costello performed as a solo acoustic act. He made his debut thirty years ago with My Aim Is True, and appropriately began his brief set with one of its better tracks, "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes."

Clad in a snazzy black suit, Elvis interacted with the audience as if he was playing to a hometown crowd.

Highlights included "Alison" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding."


The Virginian-Pilot, September 26, 2007

Jeff Maisey reviews Bob Dylan and opening act Elvis Costello, Tuesday, September 25, 2007, Constant Convocation Center, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.


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