Chicago Theatre Review
A Magical Night at Ravinia
Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples – Ravinia
On a perfect summer evening, a sold out enthusiastic crowd descended on the grounds of Ravinia for what would be an amazing night of legends and music. Mavis Staples got the crowd going by starting with her 1973 hit, “If You’re Ready,(Come Go with Me). And for the next 45 minutes we took that ride with her. She played her classic Gospel, rich soul style in the famous Staple Singers way. She spoke about the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and how she witnessed Dr. Martin Luther King’s marches. She sang all her hits and finished with “I’ll Take you There”, the Staple Singers number one hit from 1972.
After a short break Bob Dylan 0pened with a lively version of the Academy Award winner for Best Original Song: “Things have Changed” from the movie “ Wonder Boys”. This started the show off with the promise of another great Dylan concert. Bob kept up the pace with the next two songs, “She Belongs to Me” and “Beyond Here Lies Nothing” before settling down into his latest efforts with the Great American Songbook of standards. Bob tenderly and delicately sang covers from Irving Berlin to Frank Sinatra, much to the approval of his hardcore fans.
After putting the crowd in this 5 song “Melancholy Mood” he switched gears and pulled out a personal favorite of mine, “Tangled Up in Blue” from his classic “Blood on the Tracks” album. Bringing the crowd to their feet with the opening lines, “Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’ ,I was layin’ in bed ,wondrin’ if she’d changed at all, if her hair was still red”. Bob sang it with great emotion and played a strong harmonica solo which brought cheers from the smiling happy crowd. When Bob finished to a standing ovation, he announced a short intermission. The crowd was buzzing with conversation after this set.
Bob and his Band opened the second set with the bluesy “High Water, for Charley Patton” which again got the crowd going. He quickly returned to the old standards that dominated the 2nd set, only throwing in “Early Roman Kings” with its blues drenched riffs. His encore was a new arrangement of “Blowing in the Wind” with Bob on the keyboards.
And then surprising everyone he closed the show with a hard hitting version of “Lovesick” from his 1998 Grammy Award winning album “Time Out of Mind”. Bob smiled and waved goodbye to the cheering crowd, who clearly wanted more. Another great Dylan show consisting of 21 songs. 15 of those from his last 3 albums alone.
Bob seemed to want to stay current and only dip his toe into the past. Ravinia is a great venue for this American icon to perform his latest magic amidst a sea of truly happy fans. Dylan’s triumphant return to Ravinia -welcome back Bob after 30 years and thanks for a memorable evening of music.
Reviewed by Terry Giardina