Last night it was Bob Dylan at the Edinburgh Playhouse, not a vast shed with total audience disconnection, thank goodness. I'd planned to meet my old friend, who is Dylan's promoter here in the UK, but he couldn't make it up from London; so what to do with the spare ticket? After phoning around no one either needed it or could make it so Mrs H. gamely agreed to come with me. Gamely, because she's not a Dylan fan and she in all honestly would have preferred a night in front of the TV.
We got there to find we had two seats in the directors box – help yourself to wine, we didn't as it's a long drive back to the Borders and we hadn't decided who was driving (I think Mrs H. had already decided it was, not unreasonably, me). His Bobness came on sharp at 7.30 with his band consisting of 2 guitarists, bass, drums and a pedal steel playing multi-instrumentalist – they were magnificent. I've not seen Dylan live in nearly 40 years but I'd been briefed by the Dylanafia that it's not like it used to be. I'd heard Modern Times, liked it but hadn't bought it to add to all the 1960s albums. Did I enjoy it?
Short answer, yes, but not exactly or overwhelmingly. It was a great vibe with wonderful sounds, although the tunes were barely recognisable from the originals. He played for 2 hours and did not say a single word to the audience, which strangely enhanced the whole affair. It was like eavesdropping on a rehearsal without a single break. Except they did go off after an hour and 45 minutes. So certain were the audience that he would be back that hardly a soul shouted for more. Everyone just waited. This is the set list and Bob played keyboards except where indicated.
1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
2. Lay, Lady, Lay (Bob on guitar)
3. Tangled Up In Blue
4. When The Deal Goes Down
5. Rollin' And Tumblin'
6. Tryin' To Get To Heaven
7. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
8. Sugar Baby
9. High Water (For Charley Patton) (guitar)
10. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) (guitar)
11. Po' Boy
12. Highway 61 Revisited
13. Ain't Talkin'
14. Summer Days
15. Like A Rolling Stone
16. All Along The Watchtower
17. Just Like A Woman (guitar)
18. Blowin' In The Wind
Dylan didn't introduce the band, but these are they
Tony Garnier - bass (originally a member of the very brilliant Asleep at the Wheel)
George Recile - drums
Stu Kimball - rhythm guitar
Denny Freeman - lead guitar
Donnie Herron - violin, banjo, electric mandolin
Best moments for me were Highway 61, All Along the Watchtower, Rollin and Tumblin, I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) and Like a Rolling Stone. Afterwards it was interesting watching people leave; there was none of the usual ecstatic, smiling, faces you see after a great concert; maybe it was the age of the audience. We met up with a well-known Edinburgh crime writer and another friend who is a jeweller – they had both taken their sons. As we stood having a drink the writer said, "My son was desperate for Dylan to play acoustic guitar so he could shout Judas!" Made my evening.