Bob Dylan Closes Out Rothbury With Classics-Heavy Set

Photo by Steve Galli.
Bob Dylan rothbury

On the first fully sun-soaked day of this year's Rothbury Festival, Bob Dylan sent fans home "Blowin' in the Wind" with a 90-minute, 17-song show to close out the festival's Odeum main stage.

For the fourth show of his U.S. tour promoting his latest album, "Together Through Life," Dylan and his band -- who are mostly playing minor league baseball stadiums with Willie Nelson (who also played Rothbury) and John Mellencamp -- offered up just one song from the set, "Jolene," instead dipping into his iconic catalog for a wealth of favorites such as "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat," a slinky treatment of "Tangled Up In Blue," "Highway 61 Revisited," "Ballad of a Thin Man," "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again," "Like A Rolling Stone" and fierce "All Along The Watchtower."

Playing guitar on the night's first two songs and then switching to keyboards and/or harmonica for the rest, Dylan, sporting a dark suit and hat, also served up less well-known selections such as "Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)," "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "Po' Boy," "Nettie Moore," "'Til I Fell in Love With You" and "Thunder on the Mountain." "Blowin' in the Wind" was added at the end, after the night's set list had already been determined.

Dylan finished Rothbury on a day when the sun and heat brought out nude dancers as well as a lineup potent enough to keep fans dashing between the three main stage areas. Gov't Mule's Warren Haynes was the easiest to find, however; in Rothbury's two years he's become the kind of ubiquitous presence he was at Bonnaroo several years ago, playing with The Dead on Saturday night and then joining Matisyahu for "Kodesh" on Sunday," just minutes before Gov't Mule's own set on another stage. There Haynes and his cohorts ripped through a covers-heavy set that featured a metallic take on Steppenwolf's "Don't Step on the Grass, Sam" and a nice coupling of Gov't Mule's Jerry Garcia tribute, "Patchwork Quilt," into the Grateful Dead's "Sugaree." The Mule was then joined by Grace Potter and Nocturnals guitarist Scott Tournet for Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Find the Cost of Freedom," which led into "Ohio," the trio's seminal protest piece with Neil Young.

Matisyahu, backed by Dub Trio, also played "One Day" from his forthcoming album, "Light" (due Aug. 25), while Guster previewed a couple of new songs from an album it's in the midst of recording. Ani DiFranco played the labor anthem, "Who's Side Are You On?," which had particular resonance with an audience in economically hard-hit Michigan, and the Sam Roberts Band played to the home state with "Detroit 67" as well as his latest modern rock hit "Kids."

Toots & the Maytals showed that no festival was too cool to have a version of "Louie Louie," especially in a cool reggae arrangement, and the Detroit trio the Hard Lessons won over early rising fans with an energetic set focusing on its new album, "Arms Forest" -- guitarist Augie Visocchi, whose parents work for General Motors, handed out free copies to the crowd as a "stimulus" -- while also covering Young's "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)."