Saturday, May 02, 2009

A legend and an ego

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 Tues
day 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.


  1. Welcome back home Maureen!
    I’m glad to hear that you had a nice week. The good news – is good news!

  2. What a shame Gary Moore let you down, but nice that you were honest about it.
    We went to an Elton John concert years ago, I think it was one of his off periods (euphemistically). It was truly awful, we left well before the end.

  3. Oh, wow! What a thrill! :) Well, except for your Gary Moore experience. I'd never heard of him before. Maybe the youtube was a better pick. :)

  4. Margaretha,
    Thank you, it is always nice to get home again and good news is always a great relief.

    Rattling On,
    There was a time when I would not have said anything negative but age seems to be making me either more grumpy or more honest. Complaining to the manager of the concert hall just got a shoulder shrug response, so I had my moan here!

    The Dylan concert was indeed thrilling, something I've wanted to do since I was 19.

  5. I am just jumping for joy that the whole Bobness experience was truly wonderful. (Well, you know how I feel about Bob . . ) I hope, as Michael Palin might have said, that the bigness of Bob's performance cancelled out the littleness of Mr Moore's.

    Your description reminded me of a dire performance I once endured in Dulverton Town Hall, where an allegedly "leading" guitarist (of whom I had never heard) had been booked to do a solo show. Now, admittedly, Dulverton Town Hall doesn't attract the biggest names in showbiz but we like to support live music down here. Sadly, I don't think I've heard anything so dire before or since. And all set off nicely with a bit of atmospheric stage smoke. My friend and I left during the interval - as did the rest of the audience.

  6. D, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that Dulverton failed to deliver! The frustrating thing about the Gary Moore performance was that he is actually really worth listening to but we couldn't hear him because of the stupid sound engineer.

    And Bob - who cares what he sang or how he sang it? He is just His Bobness!

  7. I'm quite jealous regarding the whole Bob experience. It's a shame about Gary Moore. Have you been watching the "Blues Brittania" series on BBC4? Very good.

  8. Yes, Dulce Domum, I am really enjoying the Blues Brittania series. I thought of you yesterday when that very early version of Fairport Convention appeared.

  9. The words 'good news' jumped out - do they refer to you med check up??

    I have a Gary M. cd but haven't listened in a long time. Sorry Mr D. was so far away. When we saw him it was an outdoor show and he was pretty close. I'm off to read your son's piece. That distinction is important in literature as well. Years ago in college I took a course in biography and it dealt with this subject.

  10. Nan
    Yes, all went well at the hospital. I can forget all about it for another 6 months.

    The Dylan concert was in the enormous National Indoor Arena. Our view was slightly better than the photo suggests but we certainly couldn't make out anyone's face. It really didn't seem to matter, though.


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