I'm excited! My favourite music artist is coming to our shores again this August. It will bring up 40 years since Bob Dylan first played in New Zealand. Over that period he's toured here eight times. The number of concerts played totals 21. This year will boost that to 23, and this coming tour will clock up concert number 12 for me.
The number of Dylan concerts I've been to pales in comparison to my German friend Hans, who's probably seen nearly 100 shows over a 40 plus year time frame.
Allow me a gentle little rant if you will...
Like him or not, Dylan always seems to garner polarising opinions regarding his merit as a performer verses his great stature as a songwriter. Many of the articles written about him in our local news outlets are by people, who quite frankly, show they are not qualified to comment. Their basic understanding of what a Bob Dylan concert in recent years entails shows ignorance beyond belief. A quick Google search will tell you that yes, he rarely speaks or acknowledges the audience. No glib remarks about how (insert your own city/county) is the best place he's been to blah blah. If that upsets some folk well, too bad I say, but don't paint Dylan as some grumpy old has-been who would rather be somewhere else than up on a stage on yet another trek around the globe.
The biggest shame for those that push that view of Dylan is they fail to hear the beauty, truth and great humour that permeates his songs. He genuinely is a really funny guy. My wife and I were chuckling at times during the last 2014 Christchurch show at some of his quirky gestures and expressions he exchanges with his long standing band. Of course, you need to be nearer the stage to see these things as there will be no big screens as usual. Nothing is spoon fed with Dylan, you gotta put a bit of work in yourself to get the best out him.
I was once talking to a guy who saw Miles Davis live back in the 80's. He said Miles never turned to face the crowd even once. He focused solely on his bandmates performances, lost in his art. Such is the oddities of genius. And that guy said Miles was brilliant.
Sorry, that was a long rant... : )
If you ARE planning to go see one of the two Dylan shows this time around, and are not sure what to expect, then do yourself a favour and jump on Youtube and listen/watch some of his recent shows from earlier this year, or indeed over the last 5 or more years. That way you will be prepared to enjoy the unpredictable ride that typifies a Bob Dylan concert. Oh, and try to get a seat reasonably close because you "Gotta get up near the teacher if you can
If you want to learn anything.."