It has taken my 5 days to sit down and write this post as I’m still in awe of the man I saw perform on Saturday.
When I hear Bob Dylan I am transported back to warm summer evenings circa 1996. My parents liked us to eat dinner at the garden table and sit listening to music until the sun went down. My obsession with the likes of Take That and Backstreet Boys was permitted in the daytime but when evening came my worn out cassette tapes were ejected. My Mums album was always The Best of Cat Stevens, my Dad is quite the music snob and listens exclusively to “REAL musicians”, so his music of choice was Pink Floyd, The Who, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Dire Straits, Rolling Stones, and of course, Bob Dylan. Any of those artists instantly give me those feelings of warmth that only come from having a home cooked meal in your belly and sharing time together as a family. I was lucky enough to see Rolling Stones perform at Glastonbury this year – something I never thought I would see as Jagger and co are the rock stars of my parents generation – so when Dylan announced his Never Ending Tour (started in 1988) was coming to the UK I jumped at the chance to get tickets and round off a year of great music with another childhood musical idol.
Keeping in mind that dear Bob Dylan is now 73, has been doing 3 shows a week for near on 25 years, and keeps old classics fresh by changing the tempo, I didn’t have any expectations other than being in the same room as him – man did he amaze me! When he walked out onto the stage of the Blackpool Opera House the air became electric. He commanded the audience in a way that not many performers nowadays can and kept everyone captivated with songs from his newest albums until he stepped away from his piano and played the harmonica. I have never heard an audience have so much love for a harmonica before! I suppose it is the audio equivalent of seeing Michelangelo grab his paintbrushes. The band he was playing with were phenomenal. One guy was playing a banjo on one song, a double bass on the next, and something else afterwards. Although I haven’t heard much of the recent material I could have just sat and listened to them play for hours.
I suppose with me being of a fashion industry mindset, I can’t help but mention his outfit. The man knows how to rock a western trend! He wore a black blazer with gold appliqué detailing, black trousers with gold piping, and of course the classic Dylan hat. The original hipster.
There was absolutely no photography allowed in the auditorium, including press photography, so please excuse the few stolen shots I have from the night.
After a mumbled announcement of a short break, there was an old school style interval with an ice cream vendor (!) then the lights went down and the stage was filled with brilliance once again. He played more of the newer (by that I mean anything post 1960’s) tracks and toyed with us all by leaving the stage having played just a few of his best loved tunes. The encore had the entire Opera House waving their arms in the air and swaying along to All Along the Watchtower, and Blowin’ in the Wind.
I know I have fangirl’d all the way through this, but when I imagine all of the people who have saw him play and been influenced by his music it honestly feels like I have watched a piece of history.
When we left the venue we were drawn to a crowd gathered just beyond the guys selling the knock off t-shirts. A local busker had set himself up and was playing all of the fan favourites, harmonica and all. Blackpool Tourist Board need to employ him for his initiative alone – he must have earned at least £100 in the 20 minutes we stayed to listen to him. If you have ever been part of a Dylan group singalong then you will know the warm and fuzzy feeling I felt, although the cider probably contributed.
All in all it was magical.
Follow the link for the finale of Blowin’ in the Wind. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I_YCh9h_JNw