By Jake Ebdale
Artist: Bob Dylan
Date / Venue: Saturday August 9th - Claudelands Arena, Hamilton
"I'm really sorry about that", said a wife to her dejected husband as they pushed through door B, a rollicking version of 'Blowing in the Wind' playing out into the foyer. "It was just boring, wasn't it? None of the hits", the husband replies. This interchange sums up our weird nostalgic possessiveness. When an artist doesn't meet our standards, Kiwis feel hard done by, annoyed, ripped off. We should actually feel privileged that artists ofBob Dylan's calibre would ever set foot in Hamilton.
We need these big artists, Bob Dylan for example, to play all the 'good stuff'- because we're so far away from everyone else, we're special, we don't get as many concerts as Australia so we deserve a better performance. People complained at the Neil Young show last year for a lack of hits, and this concert was no different. By no means was last night's concert perfect - at moments Dylan's band, whilst amazingly competent, would over power him. The shredded sack of spuds that is now his voice could be frustrating at times, too. Sometimes I really craved for a song to be played faithfully, or for anything but 'Early Roman Kings'. But Bob Dylan has been disappointing fans since the late 70s - we have to get real. He's not the suave, acid tongued kid from the 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' promo - in reality, 73 year old man that doesn't have to tour, but does.
By all means, Dylan is still capable of greatness. When the arrangements did stick, like the uplifting, moving renditions of 'Tangled Up in Blue' and 'Simple Twist of Fate', the beautiful 'Spirit on the Water' from Modern Times, and the menacing 'Pay In Blood', there was real magic in the air - hair raising moments that made you realise what great company you were in. When there was a slight semblance of familiar chords, a classic vocal line or lyric detected amongst the gravel, it really hit home.
No, he didn't play 'Like A Rolling Stone' or 'Just Like A Woman'. I knew he wouldn't - I'd researched his shows enough to not set myself up for a fall. It was a generous, late period Dylan show that we got, and for what it was, he did great. We were in the same room as a living legend, an absolute anomaly in music, in history. There will never be another one like him. Surely, that's enough.