Bob Dylan performed at Stephens Auditorium with pure rock and soul

Bob Dylans performance Wednesday at Stephens Auditorium will mark the singer-songwriters fifth performance at the venue. As part of his Never Ending Tour stop in Ames, Dylans setlist will bring out 19 songs from his career of over 50 years.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Bob Dylan’s performance Wednesday at Stephens Auditorium will mark the singer-songwriter’s fifth performance at the venue. As part of his “Never Ending Tour” stop in Ames, Dylan’s setlist will bring out 19 songs from his career of over 50 years.

Gabby Lucas

Bob Dylan had Stephens Auditorium filled to the brim for his Wednesday night show. 

Dylan, known for changing things up when he performs live, provided a long, lively set filled with rockabilly and blues renditions of his classics. He predominantly played songs from his albums “Time Out of Mind,” “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Tempest,” with the setlist predominantly containing songs from his electric catalog. 

Dylan may have began the show with a stoic and serious tone, but the audience still refused to sit down when he and his band opened with a livelier, more guitar-heavy rendition of “Beyond Here Lies Nothing.” The song contained a mean amount of fiddle from band member Donnie Herron and a whole lot of icy soul from 78-year-old Dylan.

As the show progressed, Dylan began to get into the groove. A highlight of the show was the performance of “Highway 61 Revisited,” which had the typically quiet and reserved audience cheering throughout the entire song. His aging voice is somewhat reminiscent of Tom Waits’ when heard live, which added a captivating layer of mysterious surprise to the performance and fit the genre perfectly.

The roots-rock rendition featured a growling performance full of swagger, saloon-style piano pounding and guitar licks almost reminiscent of surf rock. The blend of psychedelic rock, jump blues and outlaw country carried throughout the show was a perfect storm sounding uniquely modern with old-school attitude – ladled with harmonica solos, of course.

Another highlight of the night was Dylan’s rendition of “Make You Feel My Love,” which caught everyone by surprise. He peeled the vibe of the show back a bit and took a much more romantic, rhythm-and-blues approach to his 1997 classic that made the audience want to softly sway along.

Dylan and his band continued their formula of “banger, mellow, repeat” throughout the night. Tracks like “Early Roman Kings” and “Thunder on the Mountain” contained uproarious energy from the performers, with lots of retro flavor from guitarists Bob Britt and Charlie Sexton and drum fills laid on thick by Matt Chamberlain. Tracks like “Girl from the North Country” and “Lenny Bruce” were slow, driving ballads with a punch that had the audience outbursting with emotion.

Bob Dylan ended the show with a brawling, honky-tonking, rock-and-rolling, blues-oozing rendition of “Gotta Serve Somebody” before encoring with “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, it Takes a Train to Cry,” leaving the audience utterly speechless as he and his band took a bow.