WORDS & MUSIC BY BOB DYLAN by Dylan, selected and performed by Peter Landecker (Brunswick House, 481 Bloor West). To October 7. $25-$28. 416-536-6468 ext 40. See Continuing, page 98. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Unlike tribute shows like Beatlemania, Words & Music By Bob Dylan is just that. It's long on songs, short on story. And it really works.
The first half chronicles Dylan's quick ascent to fame. Fan and show creator Peter Landecker delivers biggies like The Times They Are A-Changin' and Like A Rolling Stone with a dead-on Dylan impression complete with slurred words, nasal tone and thousand-yard stare.
The second half picks up with I Shall Be Released and meanders forward through Dylan's country and Christian phases.
Landecker is less present during this part, giving over the stage to Michelle Rumball for killer gospel-blues versions of All Along The Watchtower and Gotta Serve Somebody.
J.S. Baciu on bass, Michael Holt on keyboards and Jake Oelrichs banging the bejesus out of his drum kit provide musical arrangements that flirt with excess through heavy guitar lines and keyboard solos.
Shawn Sage growls his way through Every Grain Of Sand and Lay Lady Lay, but the real star is Rumball, whom I would pay to hear sing the phone book. She's got crazy Janis Joplin pipes, minus the painful rasp, and a wicked ear for the folk influence on Dylan's melodies.
While the singing and the concept work well, the venue and tech support fall short.
Steve Lavoie bathes Landecker in a cruel, cold blue spotlight that only occasionally comes on on time, but soundman George Nikolakis is asleep at the wheel, mixing the vocals so far back, you get nothing but instrumentals on the more exuberant choruses. His mix also gives a tinny, whang-a-dang sound to Landecker's acoustic guitar.
Fix these, and Words & Music could be the first hit of the fall.