In 1981 Bob Dylan played four concerts in Michigan as part of an 11-week, two-continent tour in support of his 21st studio album, the critically-panned Shot of Love. The first two of these shows were June 11 and 12 at the Pine Knob Music Theater (remember when it was called that?) in Clarkston.
Dylan then returned to the Peninsula State for two nights at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor: Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8.
Critic R. J. Smith took in the Sunday show, and in his review for the Michigan Daily reported that the experience "was occasionally like a stint in the dentist's windup chair."
For Smith, "the better parts of the show were all the older tunes, things like 'Forever Young,' 'Girl from the North Country,' and 'The Times They Are A-Changin'.'"
He was less enraptured with the Bard's more recent material. "Like the gospel tunes, Dylan's new love songs just don't go anywhere, and capable musicianship onstage doesn't hide their paucity of ideas or sophistication."
Smith allowed that "any serious and honest treatment of Dylan is worth hearing."
But overall he expressed a keen disappointment in both the singer and his contemporary listeners.
"Toward the end of the show, Dylan offered to play any song the audience wanted. 'Subterranean Homesick Blues,' someone behind me shouted; I was hoping for 'Desolation Row.'
"But what did those in the front row get Dylan to play? 'Senor,' a song which a friend had to remind me was from Street Legal. These kids looked to be in high school, and for all anyone else knew, Dylan began with Street Legal to them. We can only hope that they'll have their own rejuvenated Dylan canon sometime in the future. There are worse bets you could make."
You might also be interested in reading a story about Bob Dylan's 1964 concert at Ann Arbor High.
If you've got photographs or other memorabilia of Michigan's past, please get in touch. MHP is especially interested in old pictures that you may have, even if you don't know what they are.
Reverend Doctor Albert J. Miller III
To "Whatever Moron" wrote the 1981 Dylan review. One of the most ignorant, idiotic winds to ever blow ("Idiot Wind" is for you, imbecile).
WE were in the front row, WE were requesting "Pressin' On" & His Bobness decided to uncork "Senor" – had YOU ever heard that song performed? Obviously not. Your unopened mind was stuck in a dark part of your underside.
We "kids" were grad students & entrepreneurs in our mid-20's. The band was on fire. Bob in a favulous mood. "We Kids" whom you derogatorily lambasted in your sycophantic rant have seen over 50 Dylan shows between us. BOB RECOGNIZED US, you stinkin' dipstick. The band and Bob rocked Hill Auditorium AND BOTH Pine Knob shows – were YOU there? WE WERE in the 1st & 2nd rows. We camped out ALL NIGHT to get first crack at tickets when Ticketmaster opened the morning those wonderful tickets went on sale. We did that for EVERY SHOW! We traveled out of state to see Bob and his band in Toledo & later on Route 66 in Illinois. Were YOU at those shows, you glib clown? Hell no!!
It is the HEIGHT of irony to get called out in a lame review of an awesome SOLD OUT venue, & criticized for OUR lack of perspective – you were the doorknob who didn't recognize "Senor" – you probably hated Dylan & the Grateful Dead jam on "Joey" a few years later, right? *Eye Roll*
Bob Dylan earned a Nobel Peace Prize & the last show WE saw was a few weeks ago in Naples, Florida. Bob is a national treasure. We, his loyal fans, have earned RESPECT for our devotion to this creative titan's OEUVRE. Who follows you around for YOUR pearls of wisdom? We are now Law Professors & successful business executives. You likely earn a pittance for your reminiscences, good on ye.
We LOVED that show & we treasure those immortal show moments when Bob grinned down and walked up to exchange happy words. "Senor" remains a classic. As does Bob. An American Original, still on the road headed for another joint ("Tangled Up in Blue" if you didn't recognize the phrase.) I doubt you will still be submitting show reviews & winning prestigious awards when YOU hit age 75. Bob has value you never heard & you saw dedicated adult fans eager for Bob's artistry.
You can stick with "Another Side of Bob Dylan" (a great early 1960s album) & wax eloquent about the acoustic protest songs from your high school years!! Were you one of the fools at Newport Folk Festival in '65 when Bob went electric & no less than Robbie Robertson & The Band backed Bob up?
Guess what, Ace, the times HAVE changed. So have WE. You are still damning fans you mistook for High School newbie punks. You got it all wrong – "Something is happening but you don't know what it is. DO YOU, Mr. Jones?" You made us laugh with this review. Best of luck with your Clown Act, chum. :-(