Sunday, October 21, 2018

Thanks for the Experience ...

... and since several of you helped me get there, I figure I owe you a bit of a write-up on Bob Dylan's show in St. Augustine, Florida on October 19.

Not a "review," mind you, because that's just not something I can even consider doing. If anything, I've previously low-balled my description of why it was important to me to see Bob Dylan perform live. Think of what making the haj means to a devout Muslim, and you're somewhere in the ball park. So the performance could have sucked and that would have been OK, because the quality of the performance wasn't the point.

The performance didn't suck. I'd rather have had better seats so as to be able to discern facial expressions and such, but no problem. I was actually glad there were no stage-side Jumbotrons, since I came to see Dylan, not watch Dylan on TV (it's not a gigantic venue, about 5,000 seats). The sound quality/acoustics were fantastic.

The only disappointing aspect I can think of is that the man didn't play any guitar, and I would like to have seen him do that. But the man is 77 years old, and played a solid 90-minute set, with no breaks, not including a double encore ("Blowin' in the Wind" and "Ballad of a Thin Man"), under what looked like pretty hot lights and wearing a (white) suit. If he didn't feel like hanging a heavy guitar around his neck, who am I to say he should have?

He spent most of the show at a grand piano, and played plenty of harmonica from there, too, but walked out front and did vocals only on a few songs, including "Scarlet Town."

That one, "Early Roman Kings," and "Gotta Serve Somebody" were the high points of the show in my opinion. Which is odd, since only the last one of those three has ever appeared on any version of my Very Important Dylan Songs checklist. In fact, I don't even own the 2012 album (Tempest) on which the first two appear, being more of an early Dylan (John Wesley Harding and before, heavy on the pre-electric) fan.

One thing that struck me, and that I talked with a few people about -- they said he's done this forever, or at least for a long time:  No talk. Period.

No "how ya doin', St. Augustine, are you ready to rock?" stuff.

No story-telling between songs.

Dylan and his band came out, started playing, kept playing until they were done playing, took their bows silently, and left. That felt appropriate. It also reminded me of something he said when someone asked him why he didn't put any original songs on his first album, to the effect that he wasn't ready to "give too much away" at that point. These days, he promises a musical performance, nothing more, and he delivers a musical performance, nothing more. That's all he owes anyone for the price of a ticket.

And it's plenty.

Thanks for making it possible for me to go.

Side note: I also got to visit with two of my other heroes, Darcy Richardson and Austin Cassidy, in St. Augustine. We met for dinner (a local pizza/pasta buffet) before the show. That was cool, too.

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