Friday, November 17, 2006

Bob Dylan

Renee and I went to see Bob Dylan at the Continental Arena last night. Now I can't think of another concert I need to see.

The Racontuers opened. I had already seen Jack White in the White Stripes but this was a different experience. They played with the chemistry of a much older band. You'd never would have guessed this was a side project. Since their only album is 33 minutes long, they threw in a few jams and an explosive cover of "Bang Bang". Great for an opening band and their forty minute set was just long enough.

Dylan hit the stage on time and with all the eccentricities I'd hoped. He didn't talk to the audience, not even to introduce songs. He didn't even face us. He stood on stage at a 90 degree profile watching his band and keeping in perfect sync with them.

He also didn't play the guitar. Steve Walsh told me arthritis has affected his hands so he played a keyboard all night. A strat and acoustic were propped next to him untouched.

And he rearranged songs on the fly. "It's Alright Ma" became a nasty blues stomp. "Simple Twist of Fate" swung. I thought "Like a Rolling Stone" was "Forever Young" for the first verse. The audience strained for lyrics to get a clue to the song's identity. With Dylan's new voice, that wasn't easy.

That voice, all croaky and textured, is a far cry from his familiar nasal whine. Age has changed it with his hands. But it's also given him new character and a deeper emotional range. To expect to hear his old voice is like expecting George Carlin to still be a hippie. He's moved on so you should too.

When you see Dylan, you are not at a rock show. You're at a reading. The crowd was there to see the greatest songwriter of the last fifty years recite his greatest works. However he wants to read them is fine with me.

1 comment:

Renee said...

How many roads has he walked down?!
It was really a great experience. It was strange; seeing Cream was some sort of spectical; like Haley's Comit...this was like a privilege.

I was also impressed with the lack of tail-gating before this performance.