Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bob Dylan Live at The 02, Dublin - 05/05/09 Review

It was my second visit to the newly refurbished Point, recently re-christened the 02. The last time I was there I was stuck in the nosebleed section at an all seated gig. On the night, the seats in the middle of the venue were removed, allowing for a more gig-like atmosphere and as we arrived a nice crowd were already hovering around the stage in anticipation. The 02 was filled by young, old (and middle-aged ‘dad’ types who were there to re-experience the soundtrack of their youth). Such is the universal appeal of Bob. The house lights were dimmed and six Mafioso-type figures ambled casually on stage, uniformly dressed in tailored suits and hats. Bob was instantly recognisable amongst his band mates. He was sharply dressed sporting an off-white wide-rimmed hat, and a fuchsia pink silk shirt, under a modest black suit. No words were exchanged as he delved right into the set. This lack of conversation would remain throughout the concert, as music was the only medium of communication tonight. It is my first time seeing him live after many, many years of collecting and listening to his music. His voice has clearly aged, and every note is tinged with huskiness and a rawness that could only have been acquired through a smoke-filled, whiskey-fuelled, rock and roll existence. Far from falling short, his gritty vocals add a deeper sense of realism and help to continually evolve his repertoire. He is playing the old favourites with a new spin these days, a style which is clearly evident in his new record “Together through Life”. He is now embracing a folksy-jazz style and it is apparent that this man never stays stagnant when it comes to musical arrangements and genres. Admittedly, it is slightly strange to hear these classic songs you have grown up with being sung and played in a completely different way. On the other hand it is quite amazing to hear them being reinvented effortlessly before your eyes. It is my opinion that ‘if it isn’t broken don’t fix it’, but I guess Bob is of the opinion that if it hasn’t broken yet lets mix it up! You have to respect that and I guess after years and years of playing this stuff live, Bob is challenging himself (and the crowd) with these reinventions. The sound throughout the night was pitch-perfect and the band was very tight. Bob didn’t really engage with the crowd and stayed left of the stage on piano most of the night alongside what looked like a fake oscar statue on an amp( Could well be the real one for Best Original Song for Things Have Changed in 2001), bar a few songs where he donned the guitar and came centre stage. My highlights of the night were “Highway 61 Revisited”, The beautiful “Aint Talkin” from his 2006 album “Modern Times”, (the stage lights were taking down for this song and the lighting just remained on the band which created lovely silhouettes of the band on the back drop), and “Thunder on the mountain” (from the same aforementioned album was another pleaser and really got the crowd going). The re-jigged classics such as ‘Just Like a Woman’ had the crowd fill in for the chorus which added a nice feel to the arrangements. It was quite amazing to see such a living legend on stage and play the songs that have shaped music history. Just to share a room with the man was a joy but to hear him play such a great set was a privilege. For the encore Bob played re-invented versions of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ (which included an amazing guitar solo) and He also played only one from his new 33rd record "Together Through Life" in the form of "If You Ever Go To Houston", it is the first time this song has ever been played live and sounds great (Download & Video Below) and finally he plays an almost unrecognisable jazzy version of ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ , he then bowed silently, pausing for a moment to take in the awed crowd. And with a hint of a smile, and a nod of his white hat, he departed into the cold Dublin night. The night might not have suited everyone’s taste but I really enjoyed catching Bob live. He is another legend to tick off my list of bands I must see before I die and I would urge anyone who has the chance, to do the same. Set List : Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat Don't Think Twice, It's All Right Lonesome Day Blues Just Like A Woman Rollin' And Tumblin' John Brown Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again Under The Red Sky Honest With Me Masters Of War Highway 61 Revisited Ain't Talkin' Thunder On The Mountain Like A Rolling Stone Encore: All Along The Watchtower If You Ever Go To Houston (Click for a download) Blowin' In The Wind
Bob Dylan - If You Ever Go To Houston - Live in Dublin 5th May 2009


Anonymous said...

Nice review. I can't disagree with anything you've typed. A damn fine gig from start to finish.

Ken said...

Very good review. And a very good concert!
Nice blog by the way.
Here's my own;