I saw Bob Dylan
in concert last night.
One of my colleagues, Bob Lowery (a self-confessed Dylan addict), had tickets for Friday's show in Des Moines, IA
and invited me to join him. Bob has seen Bob perform "over a hundred times;" this was my first Dylan show. We sat within 10 feet of the stage--not bad for your first Dylan concert.
I know the Dylan material that everybody knows ("Like a Rolling Stone," "Rainy Day Women," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "All Along the Watchtower," "Positively 4th Street," etc.). I also own Oh Mercy,
which I was exposed to in college. The rest of the catalog--which is vast
--is largely unknown to me. That's not to say that I don't appreciate the guy: after all, this is an American icon we're talking about. I've played "Like a Rolling Stone" a time or two in a coffee house, I just haven't followed his career with the same interest as others.
So what was my first experience with Mr. Dylan like?
- Merle Haggard opened. I appreciate honky tonk and the Bakersfield sound as much as anybody. At 70 years of age, Mr. Haggard's voice is silky smooth and he runs the show with veteran authority.
- This will make me sound old, but Bob's band was stinkin' l-o-u-d. Granted, we were in the front but I think a couple of my fillings rattled loose.
- Bob's band was also stinkin' good. Excellent musicianship all the way around. It was a treat to watch the guys--they rarely took their eyes off the band leader, following his lead and anticipating his cues.
- Bob likes to play with the arrangements and the vocals. Bob (Lowery) advised me of this beforehand, and even though I recognized about a third of the songs that were played, I didn't recognize them as the arrangements I grew up hearing.
- Bob doesn't interact with the audience with the exception of an occasional "thank you." Bob (Lowery) indicated that Bob (Dylan) is both shy and he doesn't feel the audience has come to hear him tell jokes.
- He looks old and tired. Again, this was my only personal encounter with the man--and maybe he was tired. Heck, doing a show in a different town every night is hard work. And he's nearly 65. How much longer can he keep this up? Don't know, but I'm glad I got to see him.
- The audience loved the show.
- The round trip took us nine hours from Lincoln. Bob (Lowery) and I had some great conversation to and fro.
My recommendation: if you get a chance, see a Dylan show. And, if possible, see it with Bob Lowery.