24 September 2007

Thunder on the Arena

I can finally check another one off my list. I saw Bob Dylan — for the first time, if you can believe it — Saturday night at Gwinnett Arena.

I’ve always wanted to see Bob Dylan. How can you not love his music? There isn’t a songwriter better than him — hell, there are few twentieth (or twenty-first) century poets better than him when it comes to stringing together lovely words. I’ve never made it to the box office, though, because of his reputation for on-stage iffiness. The push this time came in the form of his opener: Elvis Costello. The second I heard the bill, I knew this was my time to finally see Dylan. I got floor seats for the niece and me, and started counting the days.

Due to technical difficulties ranging from someone meeting up from tickets to deadly highway accidents, we sadly (so, so sadly) missed Amos Lee. I was out in the parking lot, drinking a beer, when I could have been inside grooving. I’m sorry, Jewgirl.

The crowd was, understandably, interesting: aging hippies and hip yuppies, young kids and old fogies. I saw as much gray hair as green, bald heads and faux-hawked tops.

I’ve seen Elvis many times over the last thirty years, and he has yet to disappoint me. I was interested in seeing him as an opening act since he’s always been a headliner in my world.


It was a great set — just Elvis (his first solo outing in more than a decade) and unplugged (with the occasional plugged) guitars, working his dark suit with black dress shirt and tie (Mr. Costello always has style on stage, my dears). My favorite number was “Radio Sweetheart,” which faded into “Jackie Wilson Said.” Love it when Mr. Costello does that.

Elvis Costello’s Setlist

(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
Either Side of the Same Town
Veronica
Down Among the Wine and Spirits
The River in Reverse
Bedlam
Less Than Zero
Radio Sweetheart/Jackie Wilson Said
Alison/In Another Room
Peace, Love, and Understanding


One complaint: The lame-ass folks sitting on the floor with us didn’t stand or dance for one frickin’ song; the dorks behind us even yelled at us to sit down. How can you sit during “Red Shoes” or “Peace, Love, and Understanding”?

Okay, another complaint: Forty minutes just isn’t enough to stroke my Elvis jones, but it’s better than no Costello at all, I guess. And it has been more than a year since I’ve seen him perform, so I should just quit whining, shouldn’t I?

We had a nice little break between Costello and Dylan — enough time to flirt with the cute Savannah guys next to us, get a T-shirt, grab a beer. We hit the floor as soon as Dylan hit the stage, so we danced in the back for a couple of songs …until it was suggested that we find our seats.



Dylan was rocking the Texas hat and garb — and he wears it well. He doesn’t allow Jumbo-trons, so I didn’t get a close look, but I think even Tim Gunn would have approved.

The niece said it best: Dylan sounded a lot like Boomhauer on the first couple of songs, but his voice got stronger and clearer as the set went on … well, as much as his voice can. His band was great, adding a lot of Texas swing to some tunes (the best of these was “Summer Days”).

Dylan played electric guitar on the first three songs, then spent the rest of the show playing keyboard, with the occasional harp thrown in (to wild applause every time).

Bob Dylan’s Setlist

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Watching the River Flow
Just Like a Woman
Rollin' and Tumblin'
Spirit on the Water
Ballad of Hollis Brown
Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
Honest with Me
Workingman's Blues #2
Highway 61 Revisited
Nettie Moore
Summer Days
Masters of War

Encore:
Thunder on the Mountain
All Along the Watchtower


Nobody stood or danced during Costello’s set … but they all stood and danced (as much as you can, anyway) during most of Dylan’s show.

A lifetime without live Dylan now fulfilled. He was great — the ubers around us rated the show an eight — and I’ll see him again. We didn’t get "Things Have Changed" or Jack White, but we got cute T-shirts and cuter Savannah boys.

Security was very strict about cameras, even cell phones — so you won’t get to enjoy some of my crappy concert photography with this post. One of the CSBs got some great shots when he went to the sixth row … but he has yet to send them.

So, to summarize: Costello, good. Dylan, good. Saturday night, great!

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31 Comments:

At 9/24/2007 07:26:00 PM, Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Glad you enjoyed the show -- I caught Dylan here a couple years ago. Amos Lee was opening (as was Waylon Jennings... I believe); it was my first time listening to Amos, and I bought his CD the next day (in which case: sorry you miss him).

And Dylan was amazing. I actually dig how "standoffish" or even Boom hauerish he is on stage -- part of his persona, part of the show.

He didn't speak to us until just before the final 2-3 songs... when he finally introduced his band. Sadly, we didn't realize what he was saying until he was halfway done making rounds.

 
At 9/24/2007 08:21:00 PM, Blogger Jacy said...

I am ashamed to say I have never seen him and not sure I want to because no matter how sweet the songs, I just have never been able to abide the voice.

This makes me a fraud as a music-lover, I know.

 
At 9/24/2007 09:56:00 PM, Blogger Moxie said...

I don't like his voice either. His songwriting is good but his voice makes my head explode. I feel that way about Neil Young, too.

 
At 9/24/2007 10:37:00 PM, Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

Costello and Dylan! Jesus Christ on a cracker, what a playbill! I've yet to see either of them and would have probably chewed off my own arm for the chance to see Elvis Costello when I was in university.

It sounds like this was an amazing night.

 
At 9/25/2007 12:49:00 AM, Blogger Erik Donald France said...

I'm going come hell or high water! Mid-October. See both, both brilliant, wonderful and weird -- always. Love it! Thanks for another great post!

Actually saw Elvis and Squeeze for five bucks back in '81. I'll have to scan the promo if I can find it ;)

 
At 9/25/2007 05:42:00 AM, Blogger DaBich said...

What the hell kind of place doesn't want the fans to DANCE during a concert?>?>?? I am like WTH??
Last concert I went to, we danced, the people behind us complained, the security guards told THEM don't like it, leave or join them! lol

 
At 9/25/2007 06:01:00 AM, Blogger anandamide said...

The thing about Dylan live is he's always got a good band, so you've just gotta give up on the idea that you're going to hear the songs played or sung the way you've grown used to hearing them. He seems unwilling to phrase a lyric the same way twice. In some cases you won't even recognize the song.

If you can get around that, you're good. I saw him way back in the 80's with The Alarm (!?!) opening.

 
At 9/25/2007 07:09:00 AM, Blogger haahnster said...

Sweet! I'm going to see the Costello--->Dylan show in October. It'll be my first Elvis experience, and I can't wait. Also, I haven't seen Dylan in nearly 20 years, so pretty geared up for that as well.

It's funny that you mention how strict the venue security was about cameras & cell phones. I can almost guarantee that this show was recorded by multiple people in the crowd, and will, like nearly all Dylan shows, show up on the bit torrent sites within a few days. I'll grab it for you, if I see it pop up. (I just hope the tapers got the Elvis set as well.)

Oh, and go easy on the Bob/Neil voice haters...Their lives must be difficult enough, what with the emptiness that must come from judging music through an elementary school chorus teacher's ears. (Sing pretty, my dear children...)

 
At 9/25/2007 07:21:00 AM, Blogger Bubs said...

Man, that sounds wonderful.

I only got to see Dylan once, on the "Street Legal" tour, at the Philadelphia Spectrum. It was one of the worst shows I've ever seen, it put me off seeing him again for years.

Now I think I have to.

 
At 9/25/2007 07:55:00 AM, Blogger Bluez said...

Sweet! Dyan puts on a great show. I saw Elvis years and years ago and seem to remember having a great time. Course those were the days, it was hard NOT to have a good time at a concert... *sigh*

 
At 9/25/2007 10:14:00 AM, Blogger Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

RE Costello... Isn't it weird when a former headliner becomes an opener? There was a free concert in Pittsburgh a few months back. They had Sinead O'Connor opening for some jam band I hadn't heard of (Moe). I thought that was really odd. Or maybe I'm just getting older and am not up with who's popular and who's not?

 
At 9/25/2007 10:27:00 AM, Anonymous Rhea said...

Good thing you didn't wait any longer to see Dylan. You never know. I got to see Sarah Vaughn and Nina Simone (two diff. concerts) right before they died.

 
At 9/25/2007 11:01:00 AM, Blogger Michael K said...

Never seen Dylan for the same "iffy" reasons. A friend saw him years back and he paid big bucks for a short and shitty show. Glad you had a different experience.

I ahve seen Elvis 7 times and he never disappoints.

 
At 9/25/2007 11:50:00 AM, Blogger BeckEye said...

I HATE people who sit for an entire concert. Unless it's John Tesh or something, stand the hell up and dance. I almost got into a fight at a Billy Joel concert for this very reason.

 
At 9/25/2007 12:26:00 PM, Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

I was supposed to be at that concert. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Dylan is many things - but never the same twice. So next time you see him, you'll get a different Dylan. Which is cool unless you're square.

Elvis rocks. I saw him do a solo show at the HOB in New Orleans several years back and it was fab. Of course, I still dig the Attractions!

And too bad you missed Amos Lee - very cool.

 
At 9/25/2007 12:40:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

THIRD WORST POET: Waylon Jennings! I last saw him in the ‘70s, and I regret never seeing him again. I like Dylan’s standoffish nature, too; he’s there to sing, not chat us up.

JACY: Nope; you’d be a music-loving fraud if you went to see Dylan when you didn’t him.

MOXIE: I love both Bob and Neil, but I can understand how some people don’t. I heard Coldplay’s Chris Martin interviewed when the first album came out. He was asked who his favorite singers were — and he said Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Tom Waits. Obviously, he appreciates the words and the voice behind those words.

BARBARA: I first saw Costello around 1980 or 1981, and have been hooked since. Get out there and catch him; he’s quite the charmer on stage.

ERIK DONALD FRANCE: EC and Squeeze? I don’t know whether to love or hate you for that great night. Looking forward to your mid-October show review.

 
At 9/25/2007 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

DABICH: Hello? I so agree. We were ready to get the security guards on the weenies behind us next time they pestered us, but the wimps wussed. Dancing wins again!

ANANDAMIDE: I don’t necessarily need to hear the songs exactly as they sound on the record, so I enjoyed Bob’s current versions … although it took me a few beats to realize he was singing “Just Like a Woman.”

HAAHNSTER: You’re gonna love EC! Can’t wait to read your show review. I’m sure the show was recorded; the security kids just nailed you if you opened your cell phone or turned on your camera. But then everyone used their cells instead of lighters to demand an encore. (And you always make me giggle.)

BUBS: You should look into those Chicago tickets, sir. If you hate the show, you can come back and blame me.

BLUEZ: You can still have fun! I have to admit, though, that I usually try to stay sober at shows in my golden years; I spend too much for tickets to not remember the show the next day!

 
At 9/25/2007 12:58:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

BLOWING SH*T UP WITH GAS: Elvis was headlining last year, so I’m assuming he’s doing this to honor Dylan; I’d love to read an interview explaining why he took the gig. And all I know about Moe is my jam-band-loving niece likes ‘em … which means I won’t.

RHEA: I so envy you! I was sitting at my desk one day, listening to Nina Simone (one of my very favorite singers), and called the Beloved Ex to tell him we were going to NYC next time she toured. She died two days later. So sad I never saw her live. (And welcome!)

MICHAEL K: I could see (and have seen) Elvis Costello every three months. I love him so.

BECKEYE: We need to hang out, BeckEye. Well, except for that whole chick-fight thing over my Tilbrook …

KEITH KENNEDY: You nearly convinced The Lovely Wife to see Dylan? You are a good husband!

 
At 9/25/2007 01:28:00 PM, Blogger Bluez said...

Funny you should mention staying sober at concerts now. I saw Steely Dan in 1975, don't remember a thing. Saw them again recently and holy crap, if I had only stayed sober for more concerts back then I'd probably have some great stories to tell my grandchildren. Too bad I can't remember them now....

 
At 9/25/2007 01:38:00 PM, Blogger Allison said...

Wow, sounds like a great night. I never understand why people get upset when the people in front of them are dancing. Makes no logical sense to me.

I had the chance to see Dylan a few years back in Vancouver, but the price was a little too steep for my uni budget.

 
At 9/25/2007 04:29:00 PM, Blogger pistols at dawn said...

I love me some Elvis Costello, but Bob's always bored me. I'm not from the 60s, or the Village, and his songs are always stuck there to me. "Crazy hippie love, baby, spaceships on the moon, so groovy." That plus the voice. Damn that voice.

I like They Might Be Giants, yet I can't abide his nasally whine.

I'm sorry.

 
At 9/25/2007 06:24:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

Would have been cool if Elvis joined Bob.

One can dream, I guess.

 
At 9/25/2007 07:21:00 PM, Blogger Artful Dodger said...

So awesome. I feel like I'm missing out so much cause I've never seen either of them live. I must remedy this.

 
At 9/25/2007 08:10:00 PM, Blogger Frank Sirmarco said...

I was lucky enough to catch Dylan at the Metro in Chicago about 10 years ago - small venue, great show - he even said 'thanks' to me when I told him 'nice set' when I saw him walking down to his dressing room.

We share the same birthday, and I've always wanted to send him a card. He'd probably pick his teeth with it...

 
At 9/25/2007 10:01:00 PM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

Great set list! And great that you could check him off the list. Everybody should see him at least once.

I've seen Dylan twice-- in 1991 and 1994. Great both times. It's amazing that through his various incarnations, he remains exciting and vital.

 
At 9/26/2007 03:29:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I am soooooo jealous. Grrrrr.

 
At 9/27/2007 07:53:00 AM, Blogger bigshoulders said...

Hi Beth,

Glad you got to see Dylan and Elvis! For any on the fence, see Bob while you can. Rest assured, there will never be another Dylan, and take your children, nieces or nephews (but be responsible and give them earplugs.)

I caught Elvis Costello at SxSW two years ago when he headlined the Lost Highway bill at La Zona Rosa. He played for over 2 1/2 hours and may have played all night if they had let him. He was incredible. Sounds like a good double bill (or was it triple, with Amos Lee?)

cheers,
b.s.

 
At 9/27/2007 05:57:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Lucky lucky! I would have loved to see Amos and Elvis although I'm pretty Dylantarded. I've always had a hard time getting beyond the voice. Nice review of the proceedings Ms. Beth.

 
At 10/15/2007 09:31:00 AM, Anonymous red said...

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Dylan. I really enjoyed Elvis (though I, too, wish he could have played longer), but Dylan was pretty much just growling. No voice at all that night. I've heard from those who've seen him more than once that at this point it kinda depends on the day. I actually left before it was over, but I was happy to hear him play "Desolation Row", which was a great track. Sadly, no "Don't Think Twice" that night.

 
At 10/15/2007 09:34:00 AM, Anonymous red said...

PS - Grant: I was really hoping Elvis would join Dylan, too.

 
At 10/16/2007 11:59:00 AM, Anonymous red said...

I should also clarify that I was not at the same concert as Beth. I saw him six days later at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.

 

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