Friday, April 29, 2005

Cole Slaw Blog concert review: Bob Dylan is inscrutable

In summary, it was worth the price of the $100 ticket to hear "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Hard Rain" performed live.

It's more of a ritual than a normal concert experience. It's about being able to see one of the great American artists. It's hagiography. So even when he rocked out to "All Along the Watchtower," and his band sounded like a more polished, less spontaneous Crazy Horse, the feeling wasn't so much visceral as it was respectful.

The Victoria's Secret ad was the mistake of a career. He recovered with the great, rambling Chronicles, an encylopedic cultural history masked as autobiography. After the book, I appreciated him more than I had at any time since high school when I first found him. He isn't so flashy in reinventing himself -- unlike Neil Young, he doesn't pick fights. That's why Neil's current work is culturally relevant, while Dylan's new stuff is hit and miss. Masked and Anonymous, Chronicles, Love and Theft -- he's now more persuasive as a writer than a musician, and definitely more than as a filmmaker.

Listening to the great bootleg concert recordings published by Columbia, especially the 1975 recording of his performances with the Rolling Thunder Review, it's clear by contrast that he's not bringing the juice to his live shows. But unlike the Stones, there's no sense of cynicism. He isn't milking his image for a buck. He's craggy and snarly. Hearing him play "Tangled Up in Blue" at the Beacon Theatre, it's still like getting to hear Walt Whitman do a reading or standing over Picasso's shoulder while he paints.

1 comment:

Tramadol said...

maybe with yahoo messenger