Monday, September 24, 2007

Mourning Becomes Electric

It was a musical weekend. Friday was Karaoke Night at a local watering hole, which was uneventful except for the extremely disturbing experience of three ten-year-old girls singing "Fergalicious." But, you know, they're not promiscuous.
Sunday, the f and I attended a concert. First up was Amos Lee. I didn't know his music; the f assured me that I was a cultural illiterate. We missed about half of his performance, but enjoyed what we heard.
The second act was Elvis Costello, who strolled onto the stage in silver shoes, and played a 45-minute acoustic set with no accompaniment. There is no ambiguity about Costello's politics, at least as they relate to the current Administration; but while a lesser showman would have ended by rolling "Scarlet Tide" into "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" and ridden the antiwar applause right off the stage, Costello put this duo in the middle of his set, then spent an additional 20 minutes rocking. His aim was true.
After Costello came the headliner, Bob Freakin' Dylan. After an introduction which rivaled that of Sir Ulrich Von Lichtenstein, Dylan took the stage with His Band, which, judging by their recycled swing riffs, was Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. It's nice that they're still finding work. The ensemble proceeded to work through almost two hours of lounge-band covers of Dylan songs, whilst the Great Man himself played the keyboard and channeled Tom Waits. While the f was less than enthusiastic about wholesale changes to the songs, I view it as a matter of practicality. Dylan had trouble hitting the high notes in his own songs forty years ago; now, with his vocal range reduced to about ten notes, it's necessary to turn them into mainly instrumental events, with the lyrics more spoken than sung. I can't say that it didn't work; the songs were energetic, and the crowd was definitely into the music (maybe the Pixies should take note). Still, watching a blues-rock spectacle, with not one song accompanied by fewer than six instruments, was not what we had in mind when we bought tickets to a Bob Dylan show.
I should point out that, while it wasn't everything I thought it would be, I did enjoy the show. However, I was disappointed by the encore, which was "All Along The Watchtower," arguably the one Dylan song which should be a rock song. I fault the backup band for this, as they turned it into a formulaic reproduction of the Jimi Hendrix version of the song. The bottom line on this show: if you mark the day that Dylan "went electric" as the end of the counterculture movement, or if you're hoping to hear all the songs off those old albums you have, you should stay away. If you just want to say that you saw Bob Dylan live, or if you're an Elvis Costello fan, go ahead and get a ticket; it's good music.
I guess that's about it for the news this weekend. Oh, except for the whole getting engaged thing. More on that after school.

1 comment:

Leo said...

Seriously, I think I speak on behalf of readers everywhere, where's your proposal story?