eleventh heaven: dylan in rochester
I made a mini-road trip last night down to Rochester, Minnesota for my eleventh Bob Dylan show. Driving through two hours of corn fields was a small price to pay to see my main man live and in-person yet again. However, the night definitely got off on a very strange foot…
Bob hit the stage right on time sans his usual ‘Columbia Recording Artist’ introduction but launched straight into “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.” About two minutes into it the man sitting next to me, probably 40-ish and reeking of cologne, leans over and asks if I know “who the opening act is up there”…..
I give him the benefit of the doubt and without making a “You’re a complete idiot” face I say there is no opener and that is in fact Bob Dylan up there. I could barely think through an “Are you shitting me?” Before he leans in again and asks me “So, which one is Bob?”
Oh I don’t know, the one singing?? The only one onstage who’s clearly 71 years old?? The only one wearing a different outfit than the backing band??? THE ONE WHO IS BOB DYLAN?? I mean, did this guy win tickets in the parking lot and not have time to Google Bob on his iPhone? (I know he had an iPhone because he was texting through the first five songs). He was there with two other adult bros and I could hear them chattering pretty constantly. Finally, about halfway through one of the bros says to the others “Do you guys wanna go? I sure learned my lesson!” I basically had to sit on my hands at this point to keep from karate chopping their throats. Mercifully, they did leave and I certainly wasn’t sad to see them go. Why they were ever there in the first place will be one of the great unsolved mysteries of my life.
But back to the show. The highlight for me was a killer “John Brown” that stayed surprisingly true to the MTV Unplugged version. Dylan seemed to be enjoying himself, bouncing between piano, guitar, and his own signature brand of dance moves. The full piano was a great addition although at times he broke away from whatever the band was playing and laid down his own melody, creating a questionably intentional “Rainy Day Women” effect. Oh the woes of being Dylan’s backing band, at least it never gets boring…
The venue was a disappointment, essentially a converted basketball arena with terrible acoustics and the mix was shaky throughout the show, even where I was sitting dead center. The set list was pretty standard and included a lot of his “greatest hits” (though apparently not enough for the man-bro-trio to know what was going on) as well as several of his go-to live numbers (“Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum,” “Summer Days”).
Another Dylan show in the books, and now nothing left to do but start a countdown for his November return with Mark Knopfler!