Friday, November 03, 2006

Gonna grab my trombone and blow

Went to the Palace last night to see Bob Dylan, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had clued in to the pre-sale early enough to land 11th row seats, that always helps, though Lori's knee isn't good enough to let her stand the entire show.

Some observations:
  • His voice, recently described to me as now coming from a man with a stuck Harley-Davidson in his throat, sounded great. The Harley was humming throughout, and the phrasing was sublime. Sure, he doesn't have the range, and he missed some low notes on Tangled Up in Blue... which meant, he played Tangled Up in Blue. I mean, come on, he was up there playing Tangled Up in Blue, and it sounded fucking fantastic. He can miss a couple low notes.
  • Bob Dylan & the Just Shut Up and Play Band. This band should have a name, and that's mine. Dressed all in black, and everyone except the steel guitar player with a hat. The violinist who accompanied Dylan at the Masonic in 2005 (Elana Fremerman) was gone, but otherwise it was the same band as then, and as on the album. It's not just that they sizzled -- far more than at that Masonic show -- it's that they were all business. No, "hey, look at me, I'm playing a guitar solo" antics. Surely they were enjoying themselves and interacting; drummer George Recile was cracking smiles during several passages. But I found early on I was actually studying their fingers to see who was doing what; I finally counted the strings to make certain I had correctly identified who had which instruments. The setlist being more familiar numbers (to me) than what he played at Masonic last year, I was able to pay a little more attention to those details, rather than trying in vain to figure out what song he was playing. Usually.
  • The sound was fantastic. About 100 times better than at Masonic, though I suspect an evening in a wind tunnel would sound better than Masonic. The sound that night had been too loud, and too muddy; recognizing lyrics had been close to impossible for several songs. Tonight at the Palace, it was crisp and clear. I could identify each instrument, and clearly hear Dylan's keyboard parts sailing in above the guitars.
  • Dylan's a heckuva bandleader. Whether it was by nodding his head or some other subtle gesture, he was running the show, entirely. And they were tight. Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphic Blues Again was simply one of the greatest live performances I've ever heard. Of anything. The lead guitar and pedal steel, back and forth, together, for I don't
    know, 5 minutes or more. They could have kept it going half and hour had they wanted, without losing anyone in the audience (now, let's seee how long it takes someone on a Dylan board to write something like "another ho-hum version of Stuck, nothing special").
  • Simple lighting can work great. The harsher lights for Thunder On the Mountain made a big difference. As well as the 3 girls dancing up a storm up above section 215 during the same song.
  • The woman directly behind me was fast asleep when the show started, either that or passed out. Never did wake up, except to leave about halfway through. Guess she must have been there for the Foo Fighters. Too bad she sucked up a 12th row and completely missed Bob Dylan.
Anyway, great night, great show. Easily the best Dylan show I've seen.

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