Yesterday we went to see Bob Dylan on his Neverending Tour. Me and Kornelius saw him on the same tour back in 2005. I complained about the sound then and I will complain about it now. The sound is crap. Oslo Spektrum was made for hockey games and horse riding, not music. With a better concert hall and a brand new opera readily available within the city limits, I think it’s only the amount of people you can cram into there which makes mr. Dylan or his managers choose it. Whoever did it, it’s a Bad Choice.
I am not a great fan of Dylan, but I like some of his songs, and I think the recent Dylan concerts are a bit out of my league. When reading the paper today I read a review of the same concert without feeling we’d watched the same thing. I’ve seen Waits, Reed, Young, Springsteen and several other world stars who make great music, and even a sixty something drug recovering Lou Reed had more of a performance than Bob Dylan did yesterday. I’m not saying you have to be Elvis or something. Elvis is dead. You just need to connect with your audience. The Neverending Tour could just have been a cassette player shipped from one country to another. He came, he played, he left. And this is what he played:
- Watching the River Flow
- When I paint my Masterpiece
- You ain’t going nowhere
- It’s all right ma, I’m only bleeding
- Just like a woman
- Stuck inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
- Ballad of a Thin Man
- I don’t believe you (she acts like we never have met)
- The Levee’s Gonna Break
- When the deal goes down
- Highway 61 Revisited
- A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
- Thunder On the Mountain
- Like a Rolling Stone
- ENCORE: All Along the Watchtower
- ENCORE: Spirit on the Water
- ENCORE: Blowin’ In the Wind
.. A great set list I’d say, of which I recognized three songs! That’s right. "Just Like a Woman", "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower". That’s the same number of songs I was able to recognize back in 2005. Dylan is an experimental artist and likes to rearrange his songs. I knew what I was going to but Lady C and Koew, however, were not impressed. C felt angry and abused, while Koew was overly drunk from the trauma. The Army Dude just sat in the bar while the mysterious mr. S seemed completely passive. I have great respect for Dylan’s talent, and with regards to that respect I can’t force anyone to go to a concert with less expectations just because the artist’s name’s Bob Dylan. A couple of guys seated next to C had a slice of pizza each and fell asleep. And they stayed asleep until the encore. It’s hard to get the right atmosphere when you hear Dylan singing:
Something is happening
and I don’t know what it is..
I’ll be a gecko!
I don’t know whether this is Dylan’s singing, the shortcomings of Spektrum or both.
I didn’t take any audio or video because I do have respect for the man. Let’s keep it real for a minute, and not be a complete gecko. The reviewer in Dagbladet, Wandrup, writes that Dylan’s singing is: "deep and crooner-ish while he [Dylan] on several of the other songs do a staccato-like form of timing and recital." That’s a very nice way of putting it. When you take away the over-the-top analysis the rest of us hears an old man blabbering, with a hint of Tourette syndrome, in the beautiful musical voice of Elmer Fudd.
That’s the elephant in the room here. Dylan can’t sing if his life depended on it.
He’s very good at singing his own lyrics though, on the albums and mp3s that I’ve got. They must have been around take fifty. However, I must agree with Wandrup when he says that Dylan’s organ playing reveals a lot of musical humor, because his small almost childish intermittent plays put a smile on my face. All in all it was a good experience, but not a great show. If you want to see the man, go to a concert. If you want to listen to the music, buy the album instead. You won’t hear the song unless you already know it by heart. And avoid Spektrum to the extent that you can. That way there’s no injustice done to Dylan’s excellent poetry and style.