Thursday 22 October 2009

Bob Dylan at the O2, London - April 2009

Back in April, I got offered a ticket to see Bob Dylan at the O2 in London (formerly the Millenium Dome)

I was interested to see the Dome and Bob Dylan.

Getting there was a bit of a pain as the Jubilee Line was shut, but I managed it and settled into my seat.

I wasn't that far from the stage, in the first raised row directly facing the stage, but it was pretty hard to make out details of people on the stage and, truth be known, I couldn't swear it WAS Bob Dylan on the stage, so God only knows how little those at the back of my section of seating or high up in 'the Gods' could see.

Bob's band looked very Blue Grass crossed with ZZ Top, but they seemed a competent bunch. Mr Dylan (Let's assume it was him) came on wearing a big white hat, but didn't acknowledge the crowd then or at any time during the concert. OK, maybe "Hello...errr....London!" is a bit a cliche, but I can't help thinking this distance contributed to my feeling about the whole evening.

The first song was, just about, recognisable as Maggie's Farm, but from the outset it felt like he wasn't really taking it seriously and was singing in a rather mannered way (a bit like a high pitched, nasal drunken slur) for his own amusement.

He continued on through the set, which a scan on the internet suggests was as below, in the same way.

Maggie's Farm
The Times They Are A-Changin'
Things Have Changed
Chimes of Freedom
Rollin' And Tumblin'
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
'Til I Fell In Love With You
Workingman's Blues #2
Highway 61 Revisited
Ballad Of Hollis Brown
Honest With Me
When the Deal Goes Down
Thunder On The Mountain
Like A Rolling Stone

All Along The Watchtower
Spirit On The Water
Blowin' In The Wind

One or two were quite good (Things have changed stuck in my mind as good as did Highway 61 revisited), but often the songs were barely recognisable (All Along the Watchtower is a favourite song of mine, but it was barely recognisable and Like a Rollin' Stone almost passed without me realising!) and the performance was either terrible or terribly mannered.

I've read a couple of reviews in the press about this event, one said pretty much what I have and the other said we were honoured to be in the presence of a God like genius.

Not being a Dylan fan, I felt a bit cheated (although I didn't really begrudge the face value I paid for the ticket) as if he'd had all the fun at our expense.

Some big screens and some acknowledgement of our presence would have made it feel that Bob wasn't just going through the motions up on stage, without really wanting to perform for the audience (which I suspect might have been exactly the case).

I certainly won't go and see Bob in concert again, but I can say I did.

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