Smoking gun? More like steaming divot.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dylan in Des Moines

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.


  • At 7:34 PM, April 23, 2006, Blogger Father Bob said…

    Michael, it was great to have you along on the road trip. I shall continue attending Mr. Dylan's concerts as long as he and I have the strength to do so.

    My suggestion? Mike Reid (who has attended several concerts with me), Brian Lowery (at least 60 and counting), you and I become roadies one summer and help Mr. D tour America. What an experience that would be!

  • At 9:24 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Michael G said…

    What an experience that would be!

    No doubt. I'd have to stock up on black T-shirts and cargo shorts before the trip, though. That appears to be the standard roadie uniform.

  • At 3:28 PM, April 26, 2006, Anonymous mr. books said…

    list'n to the bob with the bob. how kool is that or what??!? when i grow up.....uh.......well, anyway, when i grow up i hope to hear da bob live.

  • At 10:33 AM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Matt the Ex-Theater Tech said…

    Hey Mikey -

    I can't vouch for the true roadie experience as I was never "on the road" with a band, but I will tell you that I met some of the most interesting, surly, tired, strung-out, and otherwise disgruntled people when working with touring bands that came to Purdue. Some of them were great but most were just worn out.
    But hey, if you need black t-shirts and cargo shorts let me know . . . I have a closet full that you can have! :)

  • At 10:37 AM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Michael G said…

    You've got the experience that Dr. Bob and I both crave.

  • At 4:10 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Matt the Lighting Sales Guy said…

    It's fun when you're in your early 20's . . . but it takes a special breed of human being to tour for a lifetime.

    And that, my brother, is why I sell lights now!


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