Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mashed Potatoes

So I missed The Mookie and The Bad Beat on Kidney Failure last night. I couldn't have played in either anyway since I have 40 cents on Tilt at the moment (holding fast to the no reload until December promise... instead pissing away points on token attempts).

No, instead I was in the town of Oshawa to catch some old guy play the keyboard and mushmouth his way through some songs. What was his name? Oh yah...

Bob Dylan.

Now I like Dylan. I'm not a super-fan, I recognize a handful of his songs that aren't the popular fare. That said, until the encore, I probably couldn't tell you WHAT he played. Between different arrangements and his usual mumble-sing method, even some of the big fans around me were often guessing what they'd just heard. Luckily, these sort of things show up on the Internets.

The stadium show also didn't seem to suit him. I'm not saying he needs to be in a bar, but a concert hall would be better I think. Something like the Sony Centre, where I saw Leonard Cohen a few months ago, would be ideal. The loud, echo-y nature of a hockey arena just doesn't work for the intimacy of his songs, especially as he's slowed them down.

On top of that, I felt like I was watching Bob Dylan doing his best impression of Mark Knopfler. He sounded like him, but enunciated like Dylan. His band had a very Dire Straits tone to it as well. It was kind of odd.

That said, there's something special about watching a muscial icon perform live. In many ways, the 67-year old's show reminded me of Cohen's. Moving slowly and minimally, when he did "dance", the crowd went nuts. Pulling out the harmonica garnered cheers - every time. When he came out for the encore and started Like A Rolling Stone, with a decidedly different arrangement than you're used to, even those of us who had been somewhat lost for the previous 90 minutes got swept up. His arrangement of All Along the Watchtower was a brilliant combination of the original, the Hendrix remake (which Dylan told Jimi was how he should have done it originally), and the modern "I'm 67, gimme a break" Dylan method. The encores were the highest energy moments of the night for Bob.

But what struck me the most was one particular lighting choice they kept returning to. The stage was simple - instruments, amps, and a black backdrop that had different light patterns throughout the show. But there were songs where all the lights were down except for a sepia-toned glow surrounding the band. It invoked images of sitting on a porch during a prairie sunset... and couldn't have been more perfect for the performer we were watching.

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