by Jeremy EcclesOctober 12, 2007 marked my tenth Bob Dylan concert. I’ve seen sublime performances in Detroit, a completely incomprehensible show in Illinois, and a few where he simply didn’t care. This evening would represent all of those, but prior to that we had Amos and Elvis to open. Amos Lee is a funky, somewhat soulful songwriter from Philly. I had previously heard him open for Dylan (and Merle Haggard – now that’s another tale). He is fairly talented, but always leaves me flat. He is about as risky and intriguing as a GEICO commercial.
Elvis Costello followed Mr. Lee and performed a 45-minute solo acoustic set. The only song I recall was Nick Lowe’s “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding?” I found Elvis entertaining and his British wit won over what seemed to be a largely college crowd in Ypsilanti. Still, he seemed to be trying too hard and was a little pathetic in his pandering for cheap laughs and claps.
In stark contrast, Bob closed the evening with his typical and profound disregard for the audience. I am always amused by this snobbery and indifference, especially when I can catch the expression of some of the first time Dylan attendees. I remember standing next to a couple of boys/men. One had a Nickleback T-Shirt on, and the other donned High School Musical attire. Both of them proceeded to carp on Dylan and make observations about how Bob should seek to entertain us. They remarked, “He can’t keep playing a slow song, followed by a fast one, then an acoustic, and an electric number – it’s impossible to catch the vibe with such inconsistency.” I think their comments matched their T-Shirt status, and I would have sent them on a beer run, but I think they were just sprouting whiskers.
Finally, my only memory of Dylan songs were “Workingman Blues #2 (an homage to labour and Merle Haggard) and “Nettie Moore” (most likely about an old-timer reflecting on loss and love – a true Dylan classic). The last part of Nettie’s chorus
“I loved you then, and ever shall
But there’s no one here left to tell
The world has gone black before my eyes”
is elegiac, elegant, and eloquent. Sorry, I didn’t catch the Nickleback Dude’s thoughts on this line. I’m pretty sure he made an early departure. Perhaps he went backstage to share his wisdom with The Bard.
Jeremy Eccles works in Owosso, Michigan. This is his first contribution to Michiganders Post.