Friday, July 20, 2007

Bob Dylan | Champlain Valley Fair Grounds | Jul 1

Some comments on the Bob Dylan show from a few weeks ago.

- I timed it perfectly to miss the opener Jimmie Vaughn. Basically, I heard him say, “Thank you! Good night!” as I walked across the parking lot. According to the guy next to me at the show, he sucked which was what I was pretty much expecting. I used to do a blues radio show in college and enjoy blues music but I have zero tolerance for guys doing that same tired re-treaded blues sound. Basically, the blues stopped existing as an evolving art form in the mid 60’s and since then has been a museum piece meant to entertain mid-life white guys with guts and ponytails.

- On the way into the show, I saw this guy at the front gates. Pretty colorful fellow. Nader is running again? This guy’s sign is the most I’ve heard about it.

- I coughed up the money for the better seats since I didn’t want to be really far away from the stage. However, that meant I wound up sitting among a bunch of old fogies. There was more Fosamax and Proscar being ingested than anything illicit.

- While I waited for the show to start, I chatted with the couple next to me. They were in about their early to mid-50’s and had never seen Dylan before. He was the regional VP of some financial services firm; not the usual person I chat up at a show but very nice. They asked how often I had seen Dylan and were shocked when I told them it was between 15 and 20. The guy’s wife leaned forward and with the curiosity and amazement of a tourist on their initial safari said, “Are you a groupie?!?!” Oy vey.

- The sunset at the Wilco show had been nice but the sunset at this show was spectacular. The sun settled to our left between some scattered clouds which sent a streak of beautiful pink light straight across the sky, over the stage and all the way to the cloud surrounding the top of Mount Mansfield on our right. So, we had this gorgeous scene stretching across the sky with Dylan’s stage right in the middle of it. Even better than whatever laser-light show The Machine will throw out there when they hit the Champlain Valley.

- Earlier in the week, before the show, I had dissed Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, by saying it was one of the most overrated albums ever. Well, fate bitch-slapped me by having Dylan open up with “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”. It’s weird how that happens. You can see the entire set list here. The highlight was the version of “Girl From the North Country” the band laid on us. It was beautiful and delicate. Dylan’s voice is pretty rough these days so it can be tough for him to convey the soft side of remorse and sadness the song requires. However, he did a fine job with it. The songs off Modern Times sounded really good live. His gravely voice perfectly matches the mood of that album. In general, it was a good set list. Lots of good accessible older classics and a few off the new albums. No real nuggets was a bit of a disappointment but I don’t go expecting those nuggets; just pleased when they occur. I thought it was interesting though that he played “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” since it had just appeared in the Sopranos season finale.

- Dylan played less guitar than I had ever seen before. He played guitar on about four songs and then played the keys for the rest of the show. Plus, there wasn’t any mini-acoustic set like he used to do. So, I wonder if his physical skills are slipping to the point that he isn’t able to play the guitar well anymore.

- About halfway through the show, some old big beer buffalo comes charging up the aisle from the front rows with his wife in tow. He stops at the row in front of us and yells to a friend, “He can’t sing and the music is terrible! We’re going home!” I couldn’t help but think that part of his frustration with the show was that his barcalounger and chips bowl was at home without him.

- For the encore, he did “Thunder on the Mountain” and “All Along the Watchtower”. Not wanting to get caught in the traffic getting out of the parking lot, I watched the encore from the back of the crowd by the exit. Back there, there was a bunch of people dancing and enjoying themselves which was nice to see after sitting among the near-dead.

- The next day, the Burlington Free Press ran a review of the show where the lady called it the best concert she'd seen in Vermont in twenty years. I guess she didn't agree with Paul Kaza's assessment of the Lindsey Buckingham show back in April. What is it with the Free Press and crazy superlatives these days. Hell, for me, it wasn’t even the best show of that week. I enjoyed all three shows that week (Dylan, Wilco and Old Crow Medicine Show) but I’d say the OCMS show was the best of the three. A little more intense, urgent and passionate than the others.


d. chedwick bryant said...

Great review!

Private Beach said...

I read somewhere that Dylan suffers from arthritis and that's why he doesn't play much guitar these days.

Flatlander said...

That would explain it. Thanks.

the le duo said...

the nader lives guy is a staple of downtown burlington. he's the one that makes anybody who ever voted for a 3rd party candidate look silly.

casey said...

Nice review — I really felt like I was there among the well-heeled oldsters.

WTF was that one guy even doing at a Dylan show? It's pretty common knowledge that he can't sing and the music is often spotty. But that's half the fun!

PS: I totally agree with you re: Blonde on Blonde. It's Bobby D.'s Tales From Topographic Oceans.

pharmacy said...

I like the man in his colorful dress and that original bicycle, I'd like to know really original like that man or at let having that courage in order to go out in that way to streets...