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
Down Among the Wine and Spirits
The River in Reverse
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
Masters of War
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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