Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The More Things Change ...

The More Things Change ...

I can't say how many times that I have seen Bob Dylan perform onstage, but I suspect the number is approaching three figures.

At 75 years of age, Bob continues his "Never-Ending Tour" around the world, and when I got wind that he would be performing in Lewiston, New York, I couldn't resist one more chance to see this music legend perform.

So, last weekend, the boy and I headed south to the United States, checked into a suite at the Days Inn in Niagara Falls, New York, and found our way to Lewiston for a concert at the town's famous ArtPark.

Mavis Staples, of The Staples Sisters — an American gospel, soul and R&B singing group that recorded several albums in the 1970s — opened the show. She received a very warm reception, and although I am not, nor ever was, a fan of her music, she definitely provided ample energy to warm up the crowd. She was backed by a very tight band of musicians and received several standing ovations, particularly for her song, "I'll Take You There."

Following a brief intermission, Bob Dylan and his band took the stage. He began his set with his 2001 Oscar-winning song, "Things Have Changed." The evening took flight from there.

Dylan moved through some of his older hits and some of his more current renditions of the Great American Songbook, seeming to counterpoint the older with the even older, if you catch my drift.

The crooning melody of Frank Sinatra's "I'm a Fool To Want You" no sooner ended when a raucous rendition of "Tangled Up In Blue" pumped spit and fire into the night. Cy Coleman and Joseph Allan McCarthy's "Why Try To Change Me Now" (also written for and recorded by Frank Sinatra) sent us into a dreamy past, before the thunderous chords of "Early Roman Kings" snapped us back to the present.

And so, the night proceeded, until in his encore, Bob poured out a warm, but at the same time almost apocalyptic version of "Blowin' In The Wind," before finishing the concert with a savage reminder of modern life in his song, "Lovesick."

Now, attending a Bob Dylan concert is not for everybody. It is certainly not your "night out on the town" kind of event.

If you know Dylan's music, and I mean know it by heart, you will be transported through anger and charm, through protest song and heart-rending romance. You will break through the razor-edged, somewhat garbled voice, and you will "hear" the words, as inaudible as they may be.

If Dylan is simply a curiosity to you, you will hear only a mumbling troubadour, whose genius will be easily lost to you, and you may go away disappointed. Both the boy and I were somewhat astounded to see about a third of the audience leave early. Such an exodus is not typical of a Bob Dylan concert, but I suppose things have changed indeed .




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