I have had the pleasure of seeing Bob Dylan perform live twice. The first concert was a more impromptu date (possibly a tour rehearsal performance) for the Love and Theft tour in a small venue in 2001 or 2002. The other was in a large sports arena the following year. Needless to say the smaller venue was the one I choose to remember, even if there was no air conditioning and the acoustics were terrible.
Seeing Bob Dylan live these days is an interesting experience. Bob never talks to the crowd, announces his songs, or even looks up. He is very workmanlike on stage. But that small, almost motionless man commands such attention. It’s almost as though the audience doesn’t want to turn away and miss a wave or a smile that never seems to come.
The most entertaining thing about his shows, in addition to his band, which is usually great, and the immense amount of material he has to choose from each night (his set list changes drastically from night to night and he always manages to throw in old album tracks that you’d never expect) is trying to guess the song he is performing. In the smaller venue, the bad acoustics combined with new arrangements and Bob’s, um, unique delivery made it impossible to discern what song he was actually performing. He’d be midway through verse two and you would hear a burst of shouts and applause. The audience en masse finally figured out what song it was. I had good seats in the sports arena and could hear perfectly, but I still heard the same screams from the nosebleed seats about one minute into each song.
So here is Bob Dylan playing some blues, which he did quite a lot in his career. Few associate him with the blues. But he can write a blues song as well as anybody.