Bob Dylan, revisited: Thoughts on Dylan's Tuesday night show at the 1stBank Center - Reverb

Bob Dylan, revisited: Thoughts on Dylan’s Tuesday night show at the 1stBank Center

Bob Dylan performs onstage during the AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Michael Douglas at Sony Pictures Studios on June 11, 2009 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI)

Bob Dylan performs onstage during the AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Michael Douglas at Sony Pictures Studios on June 11, 2009 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI)

Editor’s note: Bob Dylan did not approve press credentials for his recent shows in Broomfield. What follows is an essay by a paid ticket holder.

You can either be frustrated by a Bob Dylan show and wonder what the hell you paid all that money for, or you can appreciate what he is doing and just go along for the ride.

The songs won’t sound like they did on vinyl 40 years ago. His voice won’t sound anything like it once did. He will bark or talk the lyrics instead of sing. And he won’t engage with the audience virtually at all.

But get past that. Ignore his tortured piano playing, his bizarre rephrasing of iconic songs and the vocals that sound like a can being dragged down a gravel road, and you will be able to see that this is one of our most influential artists at work before your eyes.

He is Picasso or Dali showing you his craft. Fellini shooting film. Or Houdini in a water tank. It’s just not pretty. It’s punk.

If you don’t get it, well, go see his son.

On Monday and Tuesday at Broomfield’s 1stBank Center, the 71-year-old Dylan showed once again he remains rock ‘n’ roll’s original punk rocker. In front of a large audience that came to hear the icon, he just did what he always does. It would be easy to be annoyed. But at a Dylan concert, you have to work through that.

When Dylan’s Never Ending Tour takes the stage, he is backed by one of the best bands you will ever see. He’s always had that, from the star-studded Rolling Thunder Revue in the 1970s to the Band in the 1960s. This group behind Dylan now features Charlie Sexton on lead guitar, Stu Kimball on guitar, Donnie Herron on pedal, Tony Garnier on bass and George Receli on drums.

No spotlight is affixed on Dylan or anyone on stage. No introduction. No stage banter except when Dylan quickly names the group. He doesn’t set up songs, plead for you to vote or even say, “Hello Denver!” He just walks on stage and starts his mutter-sing-croaking.

On Monday, Dylan’s set was obviously influenced by Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast, throwing in “The Levee’s Gonna Break, “Shelter From The Storm” “High Water (For Charley Patton)” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”

Tuesday, he belted out “Love Minus Zero,” “Highway 61,” “Rollin and a Tumblin” and the hits — “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Tangled Up in Blue” and “All Along the Watchtower.”

It’s clear from these shows that he doesn’t give a damn about anything, really. He just wants to play music and do his art. He has always been the writer of unbelievable songs with lyrics that will probably forever be studied. Listen to those words. Realize that they came from his brain. Don’t worry about the phrasing, the singing or anything. You are watching art in action from the original punk.

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Jeremy Meyer is a metro reporter at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.

  • jumpmonkey

    I went to a Dylan “concert” at Lincoln , NE around 1966. We went in my high school history teacher’s beetle. Dylan had a tremendous afro and was skinny as a rail. He previewed “Leopard-skin Pill-box hat.” that concert. Maybe I was little young at 17 and was taken back by the nasal gravel voiced man. But he endured and I like many others grew to appreciate dylan and his music.

  • DrJerome

    I almost bought tickets for this show, but one quick visit to YouTube before I pulled the trigger saved me quite a bit of money. I thought he sounded bad when I saw him in ’87, but he’s taken his act to new lows.

  • Shane Kindel

    Dylan was excellent. His shows are not “sing along with Bob” but a reworking of some great, songs, ballads, stories.A fairly accurate article, I’ve seen him a few times and it is always amazing what comes out of the band. they were as tight as it gets. Thanks for stopping again Bob, hope to see you next time through, as he’s ” Not Talking,Just Walkin.

  • erico

    I went to Monday night’s show and left an hour into Dylan’s set thinking maybe it was time for him to retire. (We had to put the kids to bed). The band was tight, the drummer was powerful, and Dylan was fun to watch but what’s left of Dylan’s voice was his downfall. I suspect the familiar songs had to be reworked so he could spit out or bark out the lyrics, and they all wound up sounding the same, not to mention incomprehisible. I did enjoy the show precisely because it was an event, it was Dylan, a cultural touchstone from a generation that left some politically committed, some spiritually empty, others that left for other parts, all a parade before the eyes, and one I participated in last Monday. By the way, Mark Knoffler’s set was great musically. My concert high point was “Brothers in Arms”.

  • Proud Male

    One of the things he doesn’t give a damn about is his fans. His insistence that he still has show based vocal chords is beyond reason. Save some money and buy earlier releases. There you get the power and urgency of the songs, not a guy with severe strep throat wanting to share his misery with all others. Bob, its time to live off of what is left of your legacy. Some people like the Beach Boys recent release can get past the aging we all endure. You meant a lot for our generation. Please do not ruin it now.

  • Olias

    Exactly right… Dylan doesn’t give a damn about his fans. But that’s the whole point of the Neverending Tour. There’s no pandering, no schmoozing, no compromise and no apologies. It’s Bob’s way or the highway (51). You’ve been warned — buy a ticket if you dare. It’s a big breath of fresh air in an industry where so many stars feel the need to be all things for all people.

  • vondavis51

    ‘The Neverending Tour’…well, I should hope so. None of us ever thought that there’d be a ‘Bob Dylan Theater’ in Branson, Missouri, did we? Dylan is not, never has been, ‘static’…he’s always been different, gig to gig, tour to tour, year to year…he’s Dylan.

  • Stephen Pate

    You need more share buttons – Stumbleupon, G+, Tumblr, etc.