Bob Dylan Live by Jack Hussey
After the crowd was adequately warmed up by a blistering 45 minute set by Seasick Steve and his assortment of homemade guitars...
Jack Hussey, 08 Jul 2010
After the crowd was adequately warmed up by a blistering 45 minute set by Seasick Steve and his assortment of homemade guitars, including his 'three string trance wonder' and the 'diddley bo,' and a lukewarm set by David Gray, which mostly appealed to the female population of the audience, during which he paid tribute to Phil Lynott, an audiobook reading of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road was played over the PA, somewhat fitting given that Dylan has been on the road on his Neverending Tour since 1988.
Bob Dylan and his sharply dressed band, arrived onstage at 8.15 sharp, after the obligatory roadie introduction (‘Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the poet laureate of rock ‘n’ roll…) and after four songs it was clear that Mr. Zimmerman was in greatest hits mode, opening with ‘Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat’ and ‘Lay Lady Lay’ and playing lead guitar (a part of his performance missed in recent years) on numbers such as ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ and ‘Beyond Here Lies Nothing’. Dylan was visibly enjoying himself, smiling and tapping his feet from behind his organ.
Much has been criticised about Dylan’s performance in recent years, from his voice to his song renditions to his rapport with the audience. Admittedly, his voice was weak. However, having seen him three times before, I would have to say that his voice was considerably stronger fourth time around. A vast section of the audience were disappointed at the altered renditions of songs, most of the set sounding nothing like the original record versions. However, this only emphasises Dylan’s unrelenting desire to improve and experiment. Never one to have lengthy Springsteen-esque banter with crowds, Dylan didn’t speak throughout the gig, a major gripe among his adoring fans. The general consensus was that we the fans, after forking out 65 quid for tickets, surely deserved at least a ‘Hello’ or a ‘Thank you’.
Set highlights included a raucous ‘Cold Irons Bound’, delivered with a menacing swagger, and a charming ‘Workingman’s Blues #2’, whereas the encore was somewhat of an anticlimax, ruined by one thoughtless individual with a laser pointer shining it directly into Dylan’s eyes. The band, roadies and stewards tried to stop him, but Dylan was visibly shaken and cut his encore short, opting not to play the closer for most of the European tour, ‘Forever Young’, instead leaving without a bow after ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’.
All in all, Dylan rolled into Thomond Park and did what he has been doing nonstop for the past 22 years; leaving audiences divided, some bitterly disappointed, others impressed and grateful to see one of the greatest songwriters in the flesh. The performance was nowhere near the highs of his electric 60’s, the Rolling Thunder Revue of the 70’s, or even the Time Out Of Mind era, but the delivery of a two-hour set, spanning nearly half a century worth of albums is a credit to the 69 year old, still on the road.