Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bob Dylan at the Brady

Set List:

Gonna Change My Way of Thinking
The Man in Me
Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
This Dream of You
Cold Irons Bound
Po' Boy
Honest With Me
I Feel A Change Comin' On
Highway 61 Revisted
Workingman Blues #2
Thunder on the Mountain
Ballad of a Thin Man


Like a Rolling Stone
All Along the Watchtower

A view of the "Old Lady on Brady" from Brady Street.

A view of the west side box office entrance from the car.

The marquee.

A single production bus on the west side, stage left. We watched the caterers load their vehicle here as we left after the concert.

Production buses on the east, about 5pm. By 7pm when the theater doors opened, they were gone.

We arrived early, parked the car in the Brady's small lot and walked to The Mexicali Border Cafe for a quick dinner before the concert. After eating, we walked the half block back to the Brady. The crowd had arrived, forming lines at both the east and west doors. To say the crowd was an eclectic mix of people is an understatement. The youngest fan, aged about eight, seemed just as excited as the oldest fan in the crowd. We saw another mother-daughter there. Just in front of us, a pair of sisters, we thought, and to our left a charming older couple who were seeing Dylan for a second time. We saw a tattooed, pierced, flamboyant couple aged around 25 in the center section enjoying the show just as much as the old-timers who were a little slow getting to their feet when the up-tempo tunes began. One young man with a head of curly hair and a pretty face clearly had his eye on our lovely daughter, though her mother's presence probably inhibited his approach.

The Brady Theater is a 1914 Western Classic Revival building with a spot on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. It seats about 2,800 in an auditorium and balcony. The acoustics are magnificent, and there isn't a bad seat in the house. Our lovely daughter purchased tickets before sale to the general public began and our seats were quite good, one section from middle toward stage right about eight rows back and right on the aisle, just as the floor starts to rise. Whether we were standing or sitting, we had a great view of Dylan all evening.

We entered as soon as the doors opened, bought souvenirs (a sweatshirt, a t-shirt, a poster, and a keychain), and found our seats. For about 45 minutes, we watched the crowd and waited. As the auditorium filled, taped music played in the background. The stage was set and lit an ethereal blue. Right on time, the house lights went down, the stage lights darkened, and the announcer said, "...the poet laureate of rock-n-roll, the legendary Bob Dylan". As the music started, we stood, we clapped, and we yelled. The atmosphere was electric.

Dylan began strong, enthusiastic and energetic. During the set, the bulk of the audience stood, only sitting for perhaps two songs early on. Stage left on keyboards, he sang as only Dylan can, and if you weren't familiar with his lyrics, it might have been tough to identify the song. Every piece was restyled, almost unrecognizable, yet still somehow familiar. It is a testament to the man as a musician and a writer that regardless of the arrangement, the songs still impress.

The stage lights were cut between each song; the pauses were long enough to shift positions and instruments without time for anything else. Music rose, fell, and rose again in a satisfying, regular rhythm. Five musicians took the stage with Dylan, two on guitar, one on bass, one on percussion, and one on keyboards. Enough instruments for ten musicians graced the stage. Dylan sang, played keyboards and an electric harmonica (or perhaps just a miked harmonica) but never touched a guitar. The band was simply fantastic. And oh, did Dylan sing. Up front with just the harmonica and his famous throaty, scratchy voice, Dylan bobbed his head in that familiar way, smiled, danced and distinctly fed on the energy of the audience. I've often heard him described as a musician, not a performer, but I'd have to disagree. The man entranced the full-house audience without ever saying a word. When the lights when down after a spectacular Ballad of the Thin Man, I could have gone home happy.

The audience whooped, hollered, clapped and stomped to an empty, dark stage for a good five minutes. Grown men could be heard yelling "Bobby!" Someone beat the arm of a chair or a wooden column, producing a hollow, regular thump. When the band re-took the stage, the applause was deafening. Dylan introduced his band, thanked his friends in the audience, and tore into a completely unfamiliar, absolutely fabulous rendition of Like a Rolling Stone, moving seamlessly into Jolene, then racing into a fantastic All Along the Watchtower surely influenced by the Jimi Hendrix cover. The lights went down briefly, and when they came back up, Dylan stood center stage, all in black, flanked by his band in taupe suits and black shirts. After a moment, the house lights came up and the crowd went wild. Including our lovely daughter and me.

Picture notes: All of the shots here are by me except for the poster, which was lifted from the Brady Theater website. We have a shot of Dylan on stage, but it is in our lovely daughter's camera which remains, at this time, in Tulsa. Will share it later if it is any good. Cameras were not allowed inside the theater. Somehow, our little one made it inside concealed in a high-heeled cowboy boot. I'm not saying whose.


Beth said...

So glad you did this! We're old Dylan fans and went to see him a couple of years ago here in Montreal; people had warned us it wouldn't be good but they were so wrong - it was fantastic, much like you describe so well here. You have to be willing to let your idols change and experiment - imagine the boredom of playing those songs exactly the same way for 40+ years!

Anonymous said...


Kim said...

That's exactly what I was trying to say, Beth! If people want to hear "Blowing in the Wind" the way he sang it in the '60s, they should buy a CD.

Thanks for the grin, Ms. Anonymous. I hope that means you liked the post.