Ballads of a Thin Man – Dylan in Concert

Dylan came, into the shadows and stayed there. Read into it what you like, Dylan is Dylan; Imagine Jagger not having spotlights on him! Dylan just isn’t interested, “It’s the music, not me!” We cried because our souls were torn
So much for tears, so much for these long and wasted years”

Gnarled, straw boater, three quarter length trench coat, tight thin trousers with a large white pin strip – looked like marching pants – alternating between the piano and standing centre stage at the microphone. Arthritis has played a cruel game and won … sort of … he can no longer play guitar, but he can still claw the harp and pound a very grand piano. He growled, clawed, raged, relaxed, waxed philosophical and lyrical and won. The band tight, shifting effortlessly from hard rock to rockabilly, even 50s ballad style – say “Soon After Midnight” from the Tempest Album.

Hell of a night. You gotta work at a Dylan concert. As usual, he plays with his standards, to the point where sometimes you’re not sure what it is till the chorus cuts in and a familiar line or two settles the score. Somehow, though he never was a singer’s singer, the voice, raspy and ragged, rams the message through. Now and then, the whining, accusing Dylan voice of youth snarls out across the concert hall … “go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse.”

The meat of the concert are songs from later albums such as Tempest and Modern Times, reflective, musing, tales of “Early Roman Kings”, but every now then, you find yourself walking through the loss of Blood on The Tracks … “It was then he felt alone and wished that he’d gone straight”

A two hour concert, plus a 25 minute interval, he not only gave thanks at interval, but you could swear he smiled a coupla times sliding from piano to the mike. He slipped back out of the shadows for an encore, piano, forte, in every sense. “All Along The Watch Tower” powered out to remind the ghost of Hendrix who owned it. The audience on its feet screamed out for more. Straight in, “Blowing In The Wind.” Half way through, he left the keyboard and grasped the mic stand, left hand clawing at his trench coat pocket.

 It was more than a moment, it was an invitation to rush home, crack out the wine and throw ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, or ‘Modern Times’ or ‘Blood on the Tracks”, hell it don’t matter mister, any Dylan album will do.

Greg Ross

Comments are closed.