Thursday, May 15, 2003

Ed goes to Bob Dylan

Last night I travelled to Asheveille, NC to see Bob Dylan, hence the bold print above. I went up there with Lenny, Jill and Mark Fed. We left out about five in Jill's car with Lenny at the helm. I guess he drove because he was the oldest of the tripsters. We managed to miss most of the rush hour traffic because Mark and Lenny grew up in Charlotte and knew some pretty good short cuts and we bypassed a lot of the I-85 west congestion near the middle of town.

We arrived in Asheville around 7:30 and we got inside the Asheville Civic Center early enough to mill around and find a good spot near the sound board. There were hippy girls everywhere. It was lovely. After we had staked out our spot David Childers walked with his wife, Linda. I had seen David Childers play music many times in Charlotte but this was the first time I really had a chance to converse with him. Both he and his wife are warm and friendly people and I like how his mind works. I was astonished to discover that he grew up listening to Detroit Tiger games on the radio, just like me.

The opening band was called the Waifs and they are from Australia. There a five piece with a drum, bass, guitar and two sisters on vocals and occasional guitar and one played a great harmonica. As opening bands go they were innocuous. It's hard to give a band a lot of your attention when you are waiting for Dylan. I was impressed by the Asheville crowd. They gave the band a lot of positive feedback. The young lady that played harmonica impressed me, it was very impassioned playing. There is a very fine line between good harmonica playing and god-awful noise. One song that they gave in into to impressed me a lot. It was about a train that ran the length of Australia after World War II that was called the "bridal train." It was called that because it transported women who had married American GI's to the eastern part of Australia so they could catch transportation to the states. It was based on the actual experience of their grandmother.

Before Dylan came out there was a new introduction. The previous intro used to be a simple "Ladies and Gentlemen, Columbia recording artist: Bob Dylan." The new intro, which he started using on his winter Australian tour, now consists of a parodical biography of Bob Dylan. It reads like a blurb in a music dictionary. It mentions his "forceful marriage of folk and rock," his iconic reputation, "he's the voice of a generation," "sunk into haze of substance abuse," "found Jesus and reemerged invigorated," "written off as a has been in the 80's," and "is now creating his most vibrant music ever." Something like that. It amused the crowd which is the point, I guess.

The show was fifth Dylan show I have seen and it was a solid performance all around by him and the band. As usual there were miscues which can happen when you have a bandleader that likes to change songs on a whim. It does proved an adventure for the band and the crowd. Highway 61 Revisited was especially fun, the dang song almost imploded but the band rescued it and actually fired it up and finished with a flurry.

The two highlights for me were two songs I had never heard Bob play live before. He played "Every Grain of Sand" which was recorded during his conversion to Christianity. The other song that was a great surprise was a song called "Blind Willie McTell" which is a brilliant song that was recorded during the sessions for his early 80's album Infidels. That song alone was worth the trip up there.

If it's possible to be disappointed by any portion of a Dylan show it's the two songs he plays for the encore. He always plays "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower" recently. I guess the songs are an allowance for the casual fan that is surprised that Bob Dylan is still alive and bought a ticket that morning. The performance of those songs was good and I am sure I would have enjoyed them more if I didn't have copies of recent shows and have studied set lists on the internet. Dang internet, it's ruining everything. But, it's alright. I am just glad he's still out there. Like Tom said once when Dylan came to Charlotte and Tom wouldn't go to the show, "I feel better just knowing he's in town."

If you read this whole thing, thanks.

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