Last Saturday the O2 Arena played host to the latest leg of Dylan’s never-ending tour, and I happened to be there, quite by chance.

Well I say that, it was actually quite difficult to get there, because over the weekend the Jubliee line was undergoing upgrade works; this is quite a problem, as the Tube is pretty much the only practical way to get to the O2, otherwise it has pretty much the worst transport links in the world.

In the end, we had to get a Tube, a train, and a rail replacement bus service, and it took probably the better part of two hours. Getting back was equally as difficult, but there we go.

Once we’d all met up and taken our seats, we waited for the show to begin. Dylan was announced by someone saying that he released some of his greatest works in the 90’s – not an ausipicious start.

He came out and launched into Maggie’s Farm. This is where things started to go rather downhill; there were no video screens, so Dylan was rather an indistinct blob in the distance. Also, at some point in the last few decades he seems to have lost the ability to sing; rather the lyrics were growled out, a short phrase at a time. This lead to a curious effect where there quite a few times where he was actually out of time with the music. The lyrics also suffered from some pretty bad intelligibility problems, so I had a hard time understanding what he was, erm, growling.

Then there was the music itself; often he’d be halfway through the song before I recognised it from the lyrics. What was performed bore no relation to the songs I knew and loved. Also he talked to the crowd exactly once, to reel off the names of the members of his band. Because apparently he doesn’t play the guitar himself any more either.

I can understand that maybe if you’ve been playing and touring as long as he has, you’d get tired and sick of the whole business; I could understand that, but do it on your own time. Sir Paul McCartney is from the same era, and he still manages to put on an incredible show.

Honestly, to play the Devil’s Advocate, I had a lot more fun going to see Coldplay at the O2. They must be sick to their back teeth of playing Yellow, but you bet it comes out at every show, and they make it look they’re actually enjoying themselves. Also, Chris Martin just seems like a nice guy, whereas Dylan just came over as a bit of a twat.

2 thoughts on “Dylan

  1. Pedantry to begin with. The intro:
    “…Who was written off as a has-been by the end of the '80s, and who suddenly shifted gears releasing some of the strongest music of his career beginning in the late '90s…”
    Which is true; Time Out Of Mind is (imo) a stunningly good album, certainly ranking up there with stuff like Blood On The Tracks or Blonde on Blonde. So There 😛

    I think a lot of the issue is down to acoustics, cos they were pretty poor imo. If you manage to get past that, then actually he was ok. Yeah, he changes the songs a bit (well, a lot), but thats really to be expected, and is kinda cool to hear.

    First time I saw him, I felt as short-changed as you do (and I didnt even pay for the ticket that time). But over time I found myself remembering bits of the concert, sorta replaying it in my head, and eventually thought “actually, it was ok”. Yeah, he's not the best performer, but his music's still pretty great (when you can understand it…).

    AFAIK, he doesnt play guitar live any more cos of his back. Or something.

  2. My memories mostly seem to have been papered over with bits of
    memories of his recordings. The mind is a funny thing.

    On 28 Apr 2009, at 19:15, “Disqus”

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