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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bob and Joni Lose Concert Appeal of Past

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- Americans appreciate the value of the classics.

Put up a show of Van Gogh or Vermeer, and they'll pack a museum; screen a new print of "Gone With the Wind" or "The Wizard of Oz," and they'll forsake their VCRs for the movie theater.

So when it was announced that Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell would be touring together in October and November, most rock fans thought, "Wow! What a classic bill!"

What they didn't think was: "I better go buy tickets."

Even though these two are among the most recognizable and revered names in rock, the Bob and Joni Show did not shape up as Tour of the Year. Although the two played a few big arenas, like Madison Square Garden in New York and Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, most of the tour stops were at smaller coliseums and college athletic centers. In many cities, good seats were available up until the last minute.

Why wasn't this tour a bigger deal? It would be easy enough to put the blame on demographics. The typical arena-rock concert audience wasn't even born when Dylan was jamming with the Band at Big Pink, or Mitchell was coming down with "A Case of You."

But neither were they born when Mick Jagger first brayed, "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll," and that hasn't stopped the Stones from packing stadiums on their last few tours. In fact, the Stones attracted fans of all ages - and in large numbers, too.

No, a more likely reason Americans aren't rushing to see Dylan and Mitchell is that they know what they're likely to get, and would rather stay home with their CDs.

Dylan, in particular, has developed a reputation for uneven (and, at times, nearly unlistenable) performances. Even though he is still capable of greatness on stage, such moments have become increasingly rare.

Mitchell's standing has not been colored by Dylan's sort of crustiness. But she's not the box-office phenomenon she used to be.

It isn't that Mitchell's voice has lost its power. Rather, the problem for many listeners is that Mitchell's music has lost its appeal. Her most recent album, "Taming the Tiger," is unrepentantly uncommercial, following its jazz-inflected muse without regard for current taste or trends.