I saw him about 4 years ago and it was a great experience. Should I risk it again? His most recent albums have been covers of classics, and whilst ok, I couldn't sit through a concert of that. I looked at set lists of recent concerts and my heart skipped a beat. Not only was it full of greatest hits, he consistently played Don't Think Twice, It's All Right. This is the song, that made me not only love Dylan, but get him. It remains my favourite, and I would never expect to hear him play it live. Maybe I should give him a second go, throw caution to the wind, and when I realised he was coming to my hometown, the deal was sealed.
Like last time, I went solo, but on the night I had a few friends there to chat to prior the concert. Like last time, I kept my expectations low. Bob does what he wants to do, plays what he wants to play, plays them how he wants to play them, and that is perfectly fine by me. The man is a legend and I am just happy to be privileged enough to be in his presence.
So I take my seat, we were all warned heavily, no photographs, Bob doesn't like that. Who are we to piss Bob off, but I did manage a sneaky couple!
At 8pm sharp the band walked on stage followed by the legend himself, he sat behind the piano and got straight into the first song.
Things Have Changed, from Wonder Boys, which I love. It was a fucking mess, he was playing a totally different song to the band, the sound was off, the piano sounded untuned and he sounded awful. I sat there holding my breath, bugger, maybe this had been a mistake after all. By the end of the song the sound had improved slightly, so I then worried it might just be the venue and where I was sitting.
But I had nothing to be worried about, by the second song, It Ain't Me Babe, he was back on form and sounded great, as did the piano and the band. Who knows what happened with Things Have Changed, but the rest of the concert was bloody amazing. I was in awe. He was better than the first time I saw him. I wept with appreciation when he picked up the harmonica in Highway 61 Revisited. This was Bob. He may not have sung the hits as they sounded way back when, but they sounded great and recognisable and his voice sounded better than I had heard it in years.
The more jazzier and bluesy the version of the song, the better they sounded. His voice suits that style now, and he knows it, hence the versions. The band were tight, the drummer doing some magical solos which were worth price of admission. Dylan remained behind the piano the entire time, moving for a drink of water or standing for the more upbeat songs. The harmonica was used liberally, which was just brilliant. He just kept pumping the songs out.
Sometimes it took a few lines to work out what song it was, due to the style he played it in, but I recognised every song. Except halfway through there was one song, I could not make out the melody or words, it was a jumble, it sounded ok, but nothing like any Dylan song I knew. Now I do not know every single song of his, so I figured it was some obscure song, but it hadn't really been acknowledged by the crowd. About halfway through the song he uttered the immortal line, Tangled up in Blue, the crowd went wild, if only to acknowledge they finally realised what he was playing. It made me laugh.
And then he sang, Don't Think Twice, no it didn't sound like the original version, but it sounded enough like itself for me. I wept, I never thought I would ever hear this legend sing one of my all time favourite songs, I felt truly blessed.
He followed it with Thunder on the Mountain, one of my favourites off my favourite 'new' album, from Modern Times (2006). It was simply superb, easily the song of the night.
At the end of Gotta Serve Somebody, another fave, he disappeared off stage for all of a few minutes, then was back with the one two punch of Blowin' in the Wind and Ballad of a Thin Man. Both powerful and spine chilling, and then he simply lined up with his band, bowed, and left the stage.
It was not quite 2 hours of intensely amazing music; historical, important, and pure Dylan. I was thrilled. Not bad for 77 either!!
I left feeling joyous and lucky, I heard grumblings from many. I realised these people had no idea what they had experienced, didn't understand Bob, nor were they true fans, I felt sorry for them.
This may be the last time I see him, but you just never know, but it was a concert worthy of a legend.