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Cheetah goes to a Dylan concert

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Joined: 27 Jul 2006
Posts: 487
Location: The Cheetah's Lair (aka Clarendon VA)

PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:16 am    Post subject: Cheetah goes to a Dylan concert Reply with quote

Disclaimer up front: I am not a Bob Dylan Fan with a capital F. I like some of his stuff some of the time. and I now like him better than I did though perhaps not as much as he deserves [see also: Bilbo's Farewell Speech]. But you'll see more of that below. So Crow, this "show report" is for you. :) - TDC

Show information courtesy of . The * in front of songs indicates that I recognized them during the show; ** means I actually knew them before going in.

November 13, 2010
Washington, DC: George Washington University, Charles E. Smith Center

1. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
2. Seņor (Tales Of Yankee Power)
3. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
4. Just Like A Woman
5. Rollin' And Tumblin'
6. Tryin' To Get To Heaven
**7. Summer Days
**8. Desolation Row
**9. High Water (For Charley Patton)
10. Simple Twist Of Fate
**11.Highway 61 Revisited
12. Ain't Talkin'
13. Thunder On The Mountain
*14. Ballad Of A Thin Man
15. Jolene
**16.Like A Rolling Stone

Band Members
Bob Dylan - guitar, keyboard, harp
Tony Garnier - bass
George Recile - drums
Stu Kimball - rhythm guitar
Charlie Sexton - lead guitar
Donnie Herron - viola, banjo, electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel

You have to understand that my original impressions of Bob Dylan were beautifully put by a Saturday Night Live fake commercial about music that was "digitally remumbled". (I believe the artist being insulted may have been one Stevie Nicks, who I have also grown to love some music from, but I do have much the same trouble with her song styling.)

However, I'm on the email list for the 9:30 Club, a local 2000 general admission venue who occasionally presents artists I love such as Kings of Leon, Steve Earle and Joe Jackson (my personal King of Enunciation).

And lo and behold, it turned out they were sponsoring a Dylan show at the GWU [Colonials] basketball arena, which is listed as 6000 seats but as configured for a music performance has standing room in the court level plus two levels of seats on 3 sides. So maybe 6000, or a little less.

VENUE: Doors announced to open at 7, but at 6:50 there was no line and they were already letting people in. No way my feet can stand for 3 hours, even for George Thorogood and the Destroyers, so we sought reasonable seats. Most of the center seats were already taken or were too high up for comfort, so we tucked in to the second tier left corner, 4 rows up. [What I didn't realize was that this would be directly under a cold air vent as of song 2. Remind me to look up as well when considering seating... and thank goodness I brought my coat.]

AUDIENCE: Sedate, happy. Obviously a lot were middle-aged and older, with a sprinkling of youngsters and 30-somethings. Not too much "hippie" look or garb, though one black motorcycle jacket with white fringe and a red heart-shaped skull was entertaining.

SECURITY: Reasonably calm and unobtrusive. There were small signs posted on pillars about No Cameras or Recorders Allowed, which of course many people didn't notice or just ignored. It was funny to see 40 or so LED displays glowing down in the pit area; kind of the 21st century equivalent of lighters. :) Security did not bother them and confined themselves to keeping aisles clear and helping late folks find things.

STAGE/LIGHTING: Terrific. Set up to feature Dylan plus the band; great use of color and stage-level spotlights during individual songs. Good use of "video wall" projection on the back curtains, showing anything from old-timey pictures to shadows of Dylan's hat to an overhead Mercator-like projection of the band from above the front center mic -- all done without distracting the audience from the musicians if that was what you cared about. No laser-light show crap; the only effect going out to the audience was done near the end of the set and during the encore, a beautiful "wash of pebbles" effect.

SOUND: Very good. Loud without blowing you out of the wall.

COSTUMES: Look, it would not be a Cheetah show report without some mention of what was being worn onstage. :) One must mention Dylan's hat: white and flat, wider brim than Keaton's porkpie, possibly Spanish. Under it he wore a vaguely "militarily minstrel" type jacket and trousers with white piping on the seams. The band wore... black. All black.

MUSICIANS: I can't really judge the guitarists, I still have trouble detangling that part of the sound. Drummer was awesome. Multi-instrumentalist was beyond awesome, but then I have a fatal weakness for banjo so take that into account. :) Harmonica was great.

SONGS: As expected, I liked the songs I already knew from _Love and Theft_ and _Highway 61 Revisited_. From the former album, "Summer Days" got a much bigger pop than I expected, actually. The title track from the latter album was a sneakily great performance of the song, with a noticeable lift in the middle to pull the audience farther and farther in. [Note: My standard of meaurement for "H61R" is a Dave Alvin cover, which is so utterly post-apocalyptically creepy it's like hearing Yul Brynner controlled by sleazy aliens.] Otherwise... I have a strong preference for up-tempo or strong beat, which should surprise no one who's ever talked to me about music, so I found the first few songs likeable, but slow. "Rollin' and Tumblin' " was a welcome surprise, and I'd very much like to hear stripped-down versions of "Simple Twist of Fate". "Ballad of a Thin Man" was obviously a good closer.

ENCORE: Warning -- I intensely dislike the falsity of show encores; it's like the musical equivalent of worrying about Tinkerbelle: "I believe, I believe, I believe you're going to come back out on stage... oh look, it worked!" That having been said, this was a gentle feeling encore, a "let's just catch our breath and we'll come back to mystify you with something you'll love as a finale" rather than a "tease -- tease -- c'mon, clap a little louder already!". So, nice pacing, guys. "Jolene" is NOT the Dolly Parton tune, so incredibly there are *two* songs about a name that I've never met in real life.

SINGING: Er... ok, as a songwriter and musician Dylan is amazing. I'm tempted to mouth a few more platitudes to mollify True Dylan Fans, and I am *trying* to follow guidelines like this one:

But, honestly, one can't judge his lyrics in performance. The monotonal mumble of earlier years is gone. Nowadays he growls the words really fast at the beginning of each line and lets the music trail off. It's like the anti-Billie Holliday. It works if you love Dylan, I guess. After the first few moments I just put myself into a "Oh look, it's Leon Redbone! Well, at least it's not Tom Petty" mindset which helped. ;P

OVERALL PERFORMANCE: I did like it. My specific complaints are in line with how I feel about, and what I like about, music, but there were many nice moments and I gained a couple more songs I can like or explore.

I did see some reviews who complain he doesn't try hard enough to connect with his audience -- that, is bullshit. So he doesn't come out and pull the cheap pop routine of "I'm so glad to be in [insert your town name here", or stride around the stage from end to end. But he does look out at the audience during key points in songs and invite them into his world with the occasional wry gesture or body language, and it's very clear he wants his music -- which is an extension of himself, after all -- to be what people connect with. He's a gentle performer these days; still wicked, still pointed, still rocking as necessary, and yet understanding of -- and warm towards -- his audience.

And best of all, now when people interrogate me about my opinion of Dylan, I can pull my best Magenta, toss my hair and say "Ha! I've *seen* it!" ;)

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

:) Even with COSTUMES! :P

Thanks for the show report, Cheetah. :)

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Steve Yohe

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Posts: 2994
Location: Wonderful Montebello CA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think Lee likes hippie types. Just had the feeling. I went out to dinner with John & Lee....and she kept throwing her food at me. I still have coke on my new white tennis shoes. My dress shoes I usually save for the CAC dinners.--Yohe
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Location: New York, NY

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember going to a Dylan concert at Jones Beach about 2-3 years ago - short story was that it was one of the worst concerts I've ever been too (worst was probably Billy Corgan's infamous "Fuck you" show to NY a year or two ago). Dylan basically was half-assing it on stage, spending most of the time at the keyboards and not being even a shell of his 60s or 70s self; was pretty disappointing, particularly since he was "The voice of a generation".
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Steve Yohe

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Posts: 2994
Location: Wonderful Montebello CA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've gone 4 or 5 times and they were all great. Every one different. It's probably been a few years now. Any chance I would get to go, I would.---Steve Yohe
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