Live report by Florin Pruna
On a rainy autumn night the city of Padova received a very high critically acclaimed venue – Bob Dylan‘s concert. After releasing his latest album – Tempest – his Never Ending Tour was promising to be a great opportunity to enjoy some of the songs that changed altogether both music and history.
When you are faced with the decision of buying tickets to such an event you have to consider some details. Even though the music that is now recorded and spread through the form of CDs has a great audio quality, you should expect some differences when it is played live. After all, a concert is a concert, not a studio recording; and of course you should not forget that Bob Dylan’s seventy-third birthday is due in a couple of months. But with 42 years of active carrier behind him you can be sure that his shows will be worthwhile. You may feel that it would have been better 30 years earlier, but if you haven’t had the opportunity to go, then you better cease it today.
“The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain” is a lyric from one of his most praised songs – Visions of Johanna – and also the best review for his representation here in Padova. To be honest, wherever you may catch his shows the only thing that is not stationary in the above summary is maybe the rain, but like I said we had some of that too. I guess we were lucky.
With a live band and a very well picked up stenography – an urban pub from the 60’s, with quince-like lightning – the echo of live music with classical instruments (if accepting also the electrical guitar) was simply astonishing. Even so you have to prepare yourself because Bob is considered one of the greatest contemporaneous poets, therefore listening to the lyrics is quasi-important. And there a lot of them!
The only thing that may annoy during this show is the fact that most of the well-known songs are accompanied by different instrumentals, other than the ones on which they were originally recorded. At first I found this approach innovative and somehow interactive, but with time I realized that energy and high-tempo were missing from most of the evocative songs he played. Tunes like: It’s hard, Tangled up in blue or Love sick were played in a slow country-ballad style. Even so, the music sounded good with clear sharp notes.
During the break I had a small chat with a white-haired rastaman. He said that he had been following Bob on his tour for almost 20 years, but he never saw him giving away an autograph. I didn’t care much about the way Dylan deals with his fans, but I asked this guy if all of his concerts where mono-tuned like the one we were on today. He said that I am young and in front of a legend who gave everything he had for his music. My opportunity of catching an energetic Bob Dylan concert passed away. I didn’t feel so lucky.
When the second part started the harmonicas blew again and I didn’t try to match the music I was listening to the songs I loved from my home CD collection. It was something new played by the same man in a different style. At the end I went home humming, in the mood of exercising some harmonica myself.
Great show! But I wish I was a bit older…