Monday, May 04, 2009

Bob Dylan in Edinburgh

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.


Selena Dreamy said...

Dylan has gone from spectacular inadequacy to being wildly overestimated. He's now a synonym for genius. Too much adulation on the one side, too much nostalgia on the other. The comedy lies in the fact that we've come to believe it...

Richard Havers said...

Dreamy as always on the money. . .

alma said...

on te contrary as what you have said, i think Dylan is underestimated: he is a real genius (and we have the privilege to see him alive!) considering not only his music but his wrting and his tremendous intelligent interviews answers and insights. I knew his work only 2 years ago and i got totally stunned.

Sue said...

What did Mrs H think?

Mrs H said...

I thought it better than I expected but as he never connected with the audience it was like listening to a CD. Give me Take That any day!
Selena Dreamy, I agree with you.

Davey Stephens said...

Take That, Cliff Richard, Girls Aloud....they'll all give you audience participation - go see them instead. Bob Dylan gives you the unexpected, the anticipation of genuinely not knowing what's coming from a genius repertoire and a pulsating desire of music from the heart. I was there on god, it was pure beauty. Still evolving at nearly 70, shame some people can't keep up.

Richard Havers said...

Hi Davey

It's not a question of keeping up, it's a question of taste...I take the point about not knowing what's coming, I enjoyed that too. However, isn't there always, the audience participation was there with people shouting out etc. I just found it slightly surreal that he didn't say one word (other than through his songs). Did it spoil my enjoyment, not really. It is just a comment.

It''s called being a fan vs being someone who likes some of his stuff and enjoys some of it without necessarily thinking he's any longer a genius.

Susan in St. Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan in St. Paul said...

I would have liked to have been there, it sounds interesting. Were any of the newer versions better than the original?

I am not so sure Dylan has ever been genius in my book as a showman, but he does write amazing songs that pass the test of time.

I don't think it was the age of the audience, as Al Stewart's multi-generational audiences always seem to leave with a smile on their faces.

Al,at age 63, still talks to the audience and never fails to introduce the band. "I Don't Believe You," is one of the few covers he does and he does it beautifully.

Richard Havers said...

It's close to 20 years since I;'ve seen Al Stewart, still play his CDs. At the End of the Day is a favourite track, so is On The Border and Flying Sorcery. Thanks Susan, you've just prompted me to go and play some Al.

Susan in St. Paul said...

Richard-he is touring the UK at the moment...

If you'd like to hear his May 1 concert in Milton Keyes, it is here:

mewmewmew said...

Al,at age 63, still talks to the audience and never fails to introduce the band. "I Don't Believe You," is one of the few covers he does and he does it beautifully.

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