Sunday, May 03, 2009
Dylan in the Playhouse, the Bum-Clocks outside...
It was slightly disconcerting to arrive outside the Playhouse and find one Malcolm Ross, ex-Orange Juice, ex-Josef K, ex-Aztec Camera and possibly the most influential Scottish guitarist ever, busking on the pavement with his fellow Bum-clocks, including the irrepressible Tam Dean Burn on vocals and ex-Fire Engine Russell Burn on drums. Sounding great and funny, too. Check out their Myspace page at http://www.myspace.com.burnbrosross
On into the Playhouse, then, I think for the first time since going to see Hue and Cry in 1987...a strange vibe, Lindsay H said, and he was right: a mixture of fear that 50 quid had been spent on a gig which, by all accounts could end up being a train wreck, and anticipation. In the end, it's about being in the same room as a legend. And one who changed many of the lives present.
Symbolically, I was in the bar when Dylan came on stage. Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat, and contrary to rumour, recognisably sung. Word from those who had seen other dates on the tour was that tonight was easily the best. While Dylan's voice is shot, and the phrasing sometimes eccentric, there was real feeling in his treatment of Trying To Get To Heaven Before They Close The Door and passion in Like a Rolling Stone. Highway 61 and the recent Thunder on the Mountain (from Modern Times)were superb.
However, his insistence on playing loud, loopy lead guitar on certain songs was hard to bear, particularly with the presence of two wonderful guitarists in his cracking band. All of whom played brilliantly throughout, often having to cover for their wandering leader (his organ playing was a fair stab at Al Kooper, but often plain ridiculous; his moothie blowing is awful these days).
Not a word was spoken in the near two hour (with encores) set.Dylan looked natty in riverboat gambler garb. The reinvention of Blowing in the Wind as a barely recognisable chugalong and a peculiar Tangled Up In Blue was bearable, and in a curious way endearing.
In the end, it was about being there and hearing the man perform ('sing' may not be quite the right word)some of the greatest songs ever written. You can't put a price on the goosebumps-and-tears reaction I had to the chorus of Like a Rolling Stone. Well, you can. It was 50 quid a ticket. And just about worth it.