Op-Ed: The Bob Dylan Americanarama tour may have one problem — Bob Dylan

Posted Jul 17, 2013 by Marcus Hondro
Bob Dylan's 'Americanarama' tour keeps rumbling along and there are good reviews being written — of the warm-up acts. But Dylan is back to lyric mumbling and doing versions of classics that make them sound like entirely different, and inferior, songs.
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is shown here in a concert in Toronto in 1980
Jean Luc
He was in Detroit this past Sunday, July 14th and Adam Graham of the Detroit News certainly told it like he figured it was: "Sunday’s Americanarama concert at DTE Energy Music Theatre was one of the year’s best concerts," Graham wrote at the top of his piece. "If only you were able to overlook one minor detail, the cringe-worthy headlining performance by Bob Dylan."
On Tuesday, July 16th in Toronto it was the turn of Ben Rayner from the Toronto Star, who noted it wasn't a full house and that Dylan did his best to chase those who came away: "He (Dylan) succeeded in thinning the ranks in much the same way he cleared out a substantial amount of the crowd at the Air Canada Centre during his last tour stop in Toronto last November — by bloody mindedly playing the crank and serving up an uncompromising mix of rambling recent numbers rendered in the jump-blues vein and thoroughly (read: almost unrecognizably) worked-over catalogue standards such as 'A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,' 'Blind Willie McTell' and a set-concluding grind on 'Blowin’ In the Wind.'"
Bob Dylan: Buyer Beware
Some would argue that the 72-year-old Dylan is only doing what he's historically done, at least for some years, serving up less-than-stellar live performances, and that ticket-buyers should be aware. After all, his show last year at the Air Canada Centre that Rayner alluded to was panned throughout the city and doubtless in part responsible for the poor T.O. tickets sales for 'Americanarama.'
Jane Stevenson wrote at the time that Dylan hid behind the piano throughout the concert and it was difficult to tell when he was singing lyrics and when he was simply mumbling. She said that "while criticizing Dylan's vocals at this point is a little like shooting ducks in a barrel, if you don’t want to be seen clearly, it certainly helps if you can be heard clearly."
The tour continues in the U.S. through August 4 and then breaks and reconvenes in Europe in October. It includes strong performances by the bands Wilco and My Morning Jacket (there's often a third opening act) to give fans a measure of quality.
But regardless of Dylan's contribution to his tour, his fans are known for being gluttons for punishment and arguably many would sit through their hero doing the proverbial recitation of the phone book.
Even if he mumbled the names.