DAY OF THE BOB: The Dylan Live In Concert Rave
I know there's just one simple question all of you Bob Dylan fans are dying to know the answer to right now, and that's how was The Bob in concert? And the one simple answer is: F*$#ing amazing!!!
The Day Of The Bob started with me waking up feeling just like I did when I was a kid on X'mas morning. And it soon found me sitting in the early morning sunshine in our friend Wendi's newly-built sunroom, at her home over there in Victoria, eating some breakfast and feeling the excitement and anticipation rush over me.
Later on I moved out onto the deck to continue what I was doing, which was reading Bob's autobiography, "Chronicles Vol. 1". Yes, it's true, and quite unfathomable, I know, but having received it from Son for X'mas I never got around to reading it till now. Not sure why, but it may have had something to do with the impending, and then actual, arrival of Kaishan. But it worked out perfectly, since reading the book was a great way to get pumped up to see The Bob. The day before, on the ferry over to Victoria, when I first started reading the book, I came across this nice little passage that Bob wrote about his grandma:
"She was filled with nobility and goodness, told me once that happiness isn't on the road to anything. That happiness is the road. Had also instructed me to be kind because everyone you'll ever meet is fighting a hard battle."
Sitting there in the sunroom drinking a tea, and later on out on the deck as well, I listened to some of the Dylan Mixes I'd made and sent Wendi to get her psyched for the show. And now they were doing the job for me as well. "Blind Willie McTell" in the Morning Of The Bob. "Mississippi" and a morning tea. "Dirge" with Kaishan sitting on my lap. And "Angelina" in the brilliant sunshine - an amazing song, even if I have no idea what it's all about. (And I'm listening to The Bob right now as I type this, it also must be noted).
Later on that afternoon my friend Andy came over for pizza and a few beers (The Traditional Canadian Dinner). It was just me, Andy and Wendi going to the show. Along with 7,000-plus other people. It was sold out - as it should be. We are talking about The Bob here! Anyhow, we needed more than beer and pizza to get us in the perfect mood for the show. And I had just what we needed. Conjuring up all the wisdom of a kindergarten child, I had known just what to bring and I'd brought it: My copy of D.A. Pennebaker's documentary of The Bob on tour in England in 1965: "Don't Look Back". By far the most influential music doc ever made. It did the trick and we left for the show at 7:30 in a taxi feeling fully Bobified and ready to rock. We were not to be disappointed.
The show started just after 8:00 - only minutes after me and Wendi had returned to our seats from purchasing our overpriced-yet-quite-nice matching red concert shirts. We were in row 11 and that was simply a beautiful thing. Especially since we were straight back from the center of the stage. When The Bob occasionally left his piano to play harmonica and do his strange-yet-wonderful little boogie thing in the center of the stage he was right there in front of us.
As I've said before, this was my fourth time seeing The Bob in concert and therefore I knew that not one of the songs would sound anything like they did on his albums. I knew he'd barely speak. I knew he'd be dressed strangely. I knew he'd have a great band. And I knew he'd put on a great show. And all that I knew came true. He was wearing a zoot suit from back in the 30's or 40's and a far out hat to go with it. He never spoke once except to introduce the band. He played everything in a different style than on record. He had an incredibly tight, rocking band. And he put on a great show. He's been playing 13 or 14 songs a night on this tour, but we were treated to 16, probably because there was no opening act. The guy is 64 years old and he put on a 2 hour show! That I wasn't expecting. Check out the set list:
July 17, 2005, Save-On Foods Centre, Victoria, B.C.
1. Maggie's Farm
2. Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You
3. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
4. Lay, Lady, Lay
5. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)
6. Blind Willie McTell
7. Watching The River Flow
8. Ballad Of A Thin Man
9. Highway 61 Revisited
10. New Morning
11. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
12. Positively 4th Street
13. God Knows
14. Summer Days
15. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
16. All Along The Watchtower
The highlight for me was definitely "Watching The River Flow" (one of my all-time fav Bob songs), with its extended jam at the end, featuring Bob doing a great harmonica solo with funny little boogie woogie moves right in front of us, center stage. Brilliant! The second highlight was a countrified version of "Positively 4th Street", with some great playing by the pedal steel guitarist, who was fantastic all night long. This band was so tight and so good, especially after they'd gotten into a groove by the the third or fourth song. Another song I was really hoping for was "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right", which was the very first Bob song I fell in love with way back when I was just 9-years old. I got it as the first song of the encore and it rocked. I also got "Blind Willie McTell", but, sadly, was denied "Mississippi", "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Visions Of Johanna". My only real complaint was that with all the amazing songs he has written over the past 45 years why on earth would he choose to perform "New Morning" and "God Knows", two of his weaker songs? It would've also been nice to see him on guitar for a song or two, but he only played piano all night long. It was a fantastic show nonetheless, so I really shouldn't complain.
I've now seen Bob in Vancouver (1986), Belgium (1990), Australia (1992) and Victoria (2005) and every show was different... and great! The thing I noticed this time was that I was no longer one of the young guys at the show. Now I'm in between all the old original fans from the 60s and all the young tykes just getting into him right now. It was great to see so many young people there. And they seemed to be right into it, a lot more than many of the older fans, in fact. I'd say at least half the people there were under 30, which was a total surprise. Some were even in their teens.
At the end I nearly lost my voice screaming along with everyone else for about 7 or 8 minutes for a second encore, but the lights came on and we were denied. We wandered out into the streets and grabbed a cab and, in a sense, found our second encore there, of all places. The driver, a Dylan fanatic, had just come out of the show, his 6th time seeing The Bob, and in his cab he was playing a Bob bootleg I'd never heard before. We talked about that, talked about the show and turned up the bootleg nice and loud. Bob all the way home. Now that was a taxi ride! And that was a night! What a show! Next time we've got to take Kaishan. He's almost ready.
Which reminds me, it was exactly one year ago today, in a village called Kemaliye in eastern Turkey, that Son did a pregnancy test and we found out that Kaishan was officially on the way. Guess we'll have to celebrate tonight after I send this... by playing more Bob of course.
Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Friday, August 5th, 2005
To read my two - yes two - recent rave reviews of Tell Tale Signs click here: Bob's Back: Tell Tale Signs of Joy... and A Complete Lack of Judgement
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