Last night I went to the Bob Dylan concert with a couple of other members of the list.
Let’s start with the support act. Unlike most concerts they were competent and their sound was mixed fairly well. The exception was that the mixing desk had a few issues with the violin, and made it feel like horrible feedback. The support act I think was THE FLAMES, from Ireland, and started at 7:30 on the dot, and went for about 30 minutes. Our seats were off to the side, directly in line with the front of the stage, overlooking the mixing desk. The three rows of seats in front of us were empty, and it was cool to see the staff of the Entertainment Centre keep them that way. Throughout the night there was a steady stream of people coming forward and sitting in those seats until security told them to get lost.
The main problem with the support act, apart from not knowing any of their songs was that one of the stage varilights tended to be pointed right into our eyes. We coped with that. The act had interesting concepts for their songs, engaged with the audience, and generally played well. The mixing seemed to break the support act rules (it was competent), and the band was not pretentious. All in all probably the best support act I have seen since either the Warumpi Band (with Midnight Oil) or Joe Calaleri (with Bob Dylan last time).
Once the support act finished, there was a major effort to get the stage ready for Bob Dylan. Probably 10-15 minutes packing up cables, equipment and the like, and getting set for Bob Dylan. Just before the show started at 8:30, we were amused to see a person get a blow torch out. You heard right. They set what looked like a rolled up newspaper smoldering on the end. As the roadie then placed it near the back curtain we worked out it was a large bunch of incense sticks. Thankfully they did not get too smelly…
The singing of Bob Dylan was different from last time I heard him. That time he was almost talking the lyrics. This time it was almost a fast talking/singing of the lyrics, where you could get two lines of lyrics in the music for one. With the horrible reverb/echo of the Entertainment Centre and the drawly American accent, it was rather difficult to work out the words. Bob was not engaging the audience, basically just playing and singing. I don’t think he spoke to the audience until after the encore.
Musically things were good, with 3-4 guitars. A double bass at times, a xylophone and some other instruments. The band looked like they should have been members of the Blues Brothers with their hats and black suits. The stage arrangement was set up so that he had is synth at right angles to the front of the stage. And since most of the time he was playing this, most of the time he was back to us. I physically did not see him playing the harmonica, but he did, and did a better job than I was expecting. I think only the first song was sung looking to the front of the stage. And he only looked our direction once, after the encore.
I actually cannot remember many of the songs that Bob Dylan sang. I know there was Hard Rain is Going to Fall, and Highway 61. And there were some others too that I knew. There were some that I did not know.
After all that, I think I am glad that I went, but I do not think this will be a classic concert that will be placed onto DVD (bit hard without video cameras, but you get my drift).