Dependable Erection

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rock and Roll

Standing in the line that began at the main gates behind home plate and wound all the way to the front door of the Diamond View office building behind center field, i said to Mrs. D that there weren't any other artists who could get me to do this for a chance to see them perform. Six hours later, walking up the same street, that hadn't changed.

Bob Dylan, in case you weren't paying attention, brought his Never Ending Tour to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park last night, nearly 6 hours of countryfied rock bolstered with a healthy dose of medicine show designed to part the rubes from their money.

And, i confess, it worked.

In return for a promise of "early" admission, i bought my tickets on line and paid the 8 dollar surcharge (about which, a friend who i saw at the show said "I will crawl across 50 miles of desert before i give those clowns their service fees.") Early admission, in this case, meant, we'll work out the bugs in the line with you guys, and then when we let the rest of the people in on time, it'll go smoother. Even with our "4:30" entrance time, it was 5:25 before we were in the stadium. The seating bowl was already 2/3 full, and the bulk of the empty seats were behind home plate, where the view of the stage was completely obstructed by the soundboard tent. We eventually found a row of seats in the second deck just past first base, where i usually end up sitting for a ball game. Decent view of the stage, relatively short walk to the Foothills beer taps on the concourse. Knowing that food was not allowed in to the park, we had eaten a hasty dinner before leaving the house, which proved fortunate, as the concert organizers hadn't made any effort to bring in anything other than ballpark food. I know you've got to make some money, but really. Keeping 11,000 people in one place for 6 hours and not offering them anything more than hot dogs and reheated pizza? (Remind me sometime to tell the sno-cone story from our entry.) The beer i had purchased for 6 bucks at Monday night's game was now 8 dollars. Extra large Bud Light drafts were an even 10, bottled water 3 bucks a pop.

No idea how much of this extra profit actually stays in town, and how much travels on with the show, but i suspect more of the latter.

But what about the music, you're thinking. See some reviews on Dylan's site from people who were there. Can't say i disagree with much of what's there. There was an unlisted quartet from Brooklyn called, i think, the Wilds, who played an up tempo set before Willie Nelson. Stand up bass, banjo, real jug band music, that i'd like to see in a more appropriate venue, like the ATC lawn, perhaps.

EDIT - According to Mellencamp's website, the opening act was called The Wiyos.

Willie's 78 years old. I imagine that any set where he's still breathing at the end is considered a good one. He touched all the bases, and got a chuckle from most of the crowd introducing one of the few new songs he played with a story about his carpal tunnel surgery. Mellencamp was loud, much louder than either Willie or Bob. Again, pretty much a greatest hits set. One thing about the former Johnnie Cougar, though. By this point in his career, the one or two great tracks from each of his albums does make a pretty decent set list. He did one new song, introduced by a story about how the band had been in the old Sun Studios the night before recording the track, and the goosebumps from standing on the "X" that marked where Elvis stood when he was recording those early sides. I'm guessing a goodly portion of the crowd had no idea what he was talking about.

Once upon a time, Bob Dylan was a sharp, sarcastic, warm, engaging performer, as documented on any number of live releases, official or bootleg. But i guess that Bob Dylan moved on some time ago. Last night's set list is up at the link above. No complaints about what he played or didn't play, except to wonder what happened to the chrome horse and the diplomat in "Like a Rolling Stone"; his voice, never much to begin with, was on the hoarse side, his range a bit confined. He has, however, learned a couple of new harmonica styles. And the band, except for his pedal steel player who, as noted by one reviewer, was inaudibly buried in the mix, sported great hats. Bob himself looked pretty good in his "Cool" John Ferguson pork pie, with his black trousers and red stripes down the sides.

But at the end of the night, well, i've seen Bob Dylan now. No need to do that again.

I'm sure that a lot of Durham's movers and shakers are pointing to last night's show, which brought 11,000 or so people out to the DBAP, patting themselves on the back, and talking about how this reinforces USN&WR's Top Ten label for our town. And hey, if that's the kind of thing that puts stars in your eyes, then, yeah, we've made it.

Tonight, i'll be at Duke Gardens, listening to Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey perform together in Durham for the first time in ages. I don't know if the dB's ever played a show for more than 2000 people, and there will probably be a tenth that number tonight. Anyone who wants to will get a chance to talk to Peter and Chris after the show. I'll bring a cooler full of dinner and my favorite adult beverages, and enjoy a civilized evening on the lawn with 2 of the artists who made late 20th century rock and roll what it was, and listen to the new music they're making together for the early part of the new century.

Friday night, i'll do the same with Drink Small at the West Village lawn. Don't tell the powers that be in Durham, but that's why Durham is one of the best places to live in this country. It's got nothing to do with who's stopping by on their tours, pulling a million dollars or so out of our pockets.

Thanks for stopping by, Bob. Come back soon and stay a while.

UPDATE
: Matt had a pretty good time.

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5 Comments:

  • Nice post, Barry. I linked to it over on our little recap. Still say DBAP is a cool venue for concerts and there oughta be more once they work the kinks out.

    http://www.durhammag.com/blog/2009/7/29/willie-and-mellencamp-wow-bob-growls.html

    By Blogger Matt, at 12:30 PM  

  • I would have paid for tix had I known most of my beloved bull city tribe was there.

    By Blogger Beaver, at 2:28 PM  

  • Getting in was a fiasco. The last big event there that wasn't a baseball game was the World Beer Festival in October and getting in there was equally frustrating. I'm reluctant to go to a big event there ever again.

    By Blogger jeffpuckett, at 4:27 PM  

  • I'm with you one hundred per cent, Barry. The main things I got out of last night at DBAP was being able to say that I "saw" Dylan and a reminder to never go see a music concert in a friggin' stadium...

    Much better things to do with my limited budget and time for live music!

    By Blogger Toby, at 9:56 PM  

  • I thought Dylan looked like a cross between a rabbi and a toreador. I was lucky to have seen him at one of Neil Young's Bridge concerts (acoustic) about 20 years ago, which was a much more satisfying show.

    Agree with Matt that Mellencamp was the surprise star of the show. He'd never been on my must-see list, but he was high-energy and gave a great rocking performance. Although the high bass and volume (combined with standing in the hot sun on line) left me with a migraine that didn't dissipate until late the next morning.

    The lines could have been largely alleviated by having reserved seating. People with reserved seats have the luxury of showing up at the last minute. That, and having the option of coming through the back entrance.

    And do tell the story about the snow cone.

    By OpenID mrsdependable, at 9:51 AM  

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