|Last night, as a special birthday treat for me (“I’m 44 you know!” ), we went to see His Bobness of Dylan play at Birmingham’s NIA.
Even though we were sitting miles away, I was excited to actually be in the same building as this man, whose influence on youth culture then and therefore mainstream culture now is inestimable. I love his work. And yet I was prepared to be fantastically disappointed. I knew what I wanted to see – the Bob Dylan of my imagination – an angry young man with a guitar singing protest songs. But this was Bob Dylan more than 40 years ago. I didn’t even like his last album, Modern Times. In fact I actively disliked it.
But hey, any man who can produce the genius albums Blood on the Tracks and Desire is always worth a punt, even if the tickets did cost 40 quid each!
The set list comprised old favourites and newer songs, though I have to say when he played ‘Tangled up in blue’ I almost melted with surprise and joy. One of my top five Dylan songs!
The bluesy stuff was awesome (‘Memphis blues’ in particular), his band were wonderful and although he can hardly sing, let alone play the harmonica for more than two notes, he blew me away. The set ended with ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, possibly the most influential he ever wrote. The crowd went wild. Understandably.
Low points were a horrible waltz, the name of which escapes me, and his forays into Rock n Roll. Nevertheless, even Moth, who is not known as a Dylan fan, said he that he actively enjoyed most of the gig. I just felt enormously privileged to see him play.
So what is it about His Bobness that gets me? Apart from the fact that his work has been the soundtrack to my life, Bob explains it best himself, in the lyrics of ‘Tangled up in blue’:
“And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you…”
For a man with so much to say, apart from introducing his band he said nothing. Not even ‘thank you’. His music says it all.
Here’s what The Times said.
Photos by me taken from miles and miles away…