I have done it at last: having waited for more than 40 years, I have seen Bob Dylan live in concert. Admittedly, we had to take it on trust that he was really there on that distant stage in the NIA in Birmingham, but he kindly wore a white hat so that we could pick him out from the black-hatted members of the excellent band that shared the stage.
So, we couldn't really see him, we couldn't recognise even the most familiar songs, he didn't speak to us but we were there and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. He was Dylan being Dylan and I loved every second of the performance. One absolute certainty about the Bob Dylan Concert Tour is that each performance is unique, you couldn't recognise Blowin' in the Wind in Cardiff, but you couldn't recognise it in a different way in Birmingham.
My son has written an excellent piece on the concert in particular and on Dylan in general here. He draws an important distinction between the man and his songs; the audience and the critics are divided between those who are disappointed when their old favourites sound very different and those who are there to enjoy the 'Dylan experience'.
On Tuesday evening, the MM and I went to Colston Hall in Bristol for the Gary Moore concert. The first hour was excellent; Buddy Whittington (picture from his official website) had the audience totally engaged and I think most of us would have been happy for him to fill the rest of the evening's programme.
Then he left, to make way for Gary Moore, who deigned to put in an appearance 45 minutes later. During the long wait, his sound engineer cranked up the volume way beyond the level of human comfort. The audience, who had clapped and foot-tapped through Buddy Whittington's performance, sat still and tense, enduring and not enjoying the sound. After four numbers, my husband indicated that he could stand no more and we joined a growing number of people who left the hall with aching heads and ringing ears.
We had only previously heard Gary Moore on CD; he is hugely talented as a guitarist and vocalist. Surely only mediocre musicians need to hide behind excessive loudness? And this was beyond excessive, way beyond the legal limit for noise in an enclosed area. What an oversized ego the man has to treat his audience in this manner. If you were thinking of attending one of his concerts, take ear defenders (our standard earplugs were no help), better still, stay at home and listen to him on your own sound system.
That was the only blip in an otherwise excellent week of good news, excellent company, fine food and wines, comfortable hotels and an evening with the legendary Bob Dylan.