Friday, September 5, 2008
Dylan - tangled up and blue
photo©2008 Robert Sommers
Pechanga Resort and Casino
September 4, 2008
1. Watching The River Flow (Bob on keyboard)
2. The Times They Are A-Changin' (Bob on keyboard and harp)
3. Lonesome Day Blues (Bob on keyboard)
4. Just Like A Woman (Bob on keyboard and harp)
5. The Levee's Gonna Break (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin)
6. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin)
7. 'Til I Fell In Love With You (Bob on keyboard and harp)
8. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
(Bob on keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin)
9. Honest With Me (Bob on keyboard)
10. When The Deal Goes Down (Bob on keyboard)
11. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)
(Bob on keyboard)
12. Love Sick (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin)
13. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on keyboard)
14. Ain't Talkin' (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on viola)
15. Summer Days (Bob on keyboard)
16. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard)
17. Blowin' In The Wind (Bob on keyboard, Donnie on violin)
Bob Dylan played a 1200 seat amphitheater up the road last night at the Indian Reservation. Tickets sold out in 12 minutes but I felt obliged to go due to the proximity and intimate location of the venue. Managed to score the only ticket available on ebay (only one to the consternation of the spouse) and showed up about an hour before the show. On the heels of my great fortune in Vegas, I played a few hands of blackjack, paid for dinner and a tip and made my way to the hall, which was cold as a freezer. The ushers assured me that things would heat up with the incoming body mass so I chilled. Literally.
As is usual, after the obligatory intro on the neverending tour celebrating his coming to jesus, Dylan was fairly punctual and launched into his set. I am a huge Bob Dylan fan, a major lover of his songs and occasionally his performances. I have probably seen about 20 or 25 shows of his which makes me a lightweight in some circles but have managed to spread those out across a lot of years.
This night left me a little cold. The three guitars set up a loud impenetrable sonic wall of sound that left few spaces. I personally felt that I heard very few if any moments of virtuosity from the band of clearly accomplished musicians. Much more from the old days with Charlie and Larry. Three guitars was too much. The band and Bob had the dark "Big Pink Band" era confederate schtick apparel thing going and the whole production felt really male. The gunslingers storming the town and all that. But it felt like they mailed the show in, another hall to be quickly forgotten.
The songs were of course revamped so that they could not be followed or recognized too easily by the casual hummer. Much of the music had a 1,4,5, twelve bar root and I started going crazy with all the turnarounds. As a great musician once remarked about Dylan, "he ain't no Segovia". It started to get real sing-songy and I thought how tired some of the idioms were from a musical nature and also about the complete absence of polyrhythm. Or musical freedom. Or real emotion for that matter.
The crowd as usual was ecstatic, with a great mix of old and young, the latter being very pumped and jazzed. It was almost an intellectual exercise for me. Maybe I was tired.
The memorable Dylan shows for me, like Albuquerque on the Lesh tour or the great nights with Santana, or the Universal Amphitheater shows of the late seventies or the Warfield Shows - were the nights when he delivered something real from the heart. Something that went beyond the act. Yes, he's a genius, but I don't think that he particularly feels comfortable as an entertainer. Or really likes people. He is the most acute writer the age has ever known at pointing out human foibles and idiosyncrasies. But he seldom talks during his performances and rarely delivers anything that's not tightly woven and pinned down. So I hate to say this, he can be a real drag. Apostasy. Heresy. But neither he nor his band look like they are having any fun at all. Nor was I. Except on some academic level. Basically a long night of foreplay with no happy ending.
Hit the tables again on the way out. Won five or six straight hands and said goodnight. Paid for the show anyway.