April 27th, 2009

This IS me (by schwitters)Default

Come Gather Round, People

The O2 Dome and Ticketmaster had been sending me dire warnings all week about the closures on the Jubilee Line, and announcing that Bob Dylan would be on at 20:00...then 19:30...then 20:00 PROMPT. So my friend Tash and I arrived in good time to meet, grab a tasty Chinese meal and take our seats.

At ten past eight the lights went down, an overblown disembodied voice from Columbia Records bade us welcome 'the Poet Laureate of rock n' roll', and Bob Dylan And His Band burst onstage and fucking played for two hours solid.

There's no hello, welcome, nice to see you from Bob; no big hand please for John Doe from Texas on bass guitar, no here's a little number I wrote in 1965; it was straight into 'Maggie's Farm' and we were away. Nor is audience participation encouraged, though this didn't stop me.

At most gigs, it's possible for the hardcore fan to recognise a song from the first few notes of the intro and cheer it knowledgeably. Since Bob never plays a song the same way twice, this game is a lot harder to play - it usually took me until the refrain to work it out, and sometimes even longer due to his current habit of compressing each line into a single syllable.

He sang like a tramp in a gutter, frankly, but who cares? The songs kept coming. There were none of my particular favourites, but with a back catalogue in triple figures the odds were always going to be slender. (I would have liked, for the record, something from Planet Waves, Oh Mercy, Empire Burlesque or Blood On The Tracks. Maybe next time?)

A couple of songs I didn't recognise were probably from his new album, which comes out today (with any luck my copy will have dropped through the letterbox by the time I get home), though for all I know they could have been off Shot of Love which I bought for £1.99 and listened to once.

I enjoyed 'The Times They Are A-Changin'', 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll' and 'Til I Fell In Love With You' (the last from Time Out Of Mind, which had just come out on the previous occasion I saw Dylan - twelve years ago, gosh). There were lots from the most recent album, Modern Times, which I don't know very well but had luckily mugged up on before the gig.

Then suddenly he was doing 'Like A Rolling Stone' and I knew it must be nearly over.

After two songs of encore - 'All Along The Watchtower' and 'Spirit On The Water' - he finally thanked us for coming and introduced his band. The last song of the evening, perhaps thanks to the Co-op's current campaign, was 'Blowin' In The Wind'.

We're still no closer to knowing how many roads a man must walk down. But Bob's been down a few.