Chorus and Verse
James Dalton
Chorus and Verse Blog
Posted: November 23, 2009 09:08 am (-06:00)
James Dalton
Bob Dylan: Legendary, Iconic ... Boring

So, I happily took the long subway ride from Brooklyn, where I have been sleeping of late, all the way up to Washington Heights (another hood I've slept in) to catch what should be some unforgettable performance from a legendary, iconic musician at the United Palace Theatre, an incomparable venue that delivers the goods but still rides under the radar. I love it up there. Washington Heights is one of the last places in Manhattan that gives you outer-boro rent prices, affordable restaurants that are fantastic, and well the view of the George Washington Bridge lit up at night, which is beautiful. I actually used it as some backdrop in a video I did for my single "Somewhere With You" (it's floating around on YouTube).

Anyway, I took the train all the way up to Wash Heights because a friend and I had decided to go to see Bob Dylan. They're European and figured it would be one of those things you can't miss out on in the States, let alone, in such a fantastic Theatre.

I'll cut to the chase... the show was boring. Yes, the band was good, but they never really allowed themselves to shine. Not that I like a band to noodle all night (which I sorta do, sometimes) but there were what seemed to be great soloists on stage. One guy not only played the pedal steel, but trumpet, banjo and fiddle and, of course, there was a terrific guitar player.

Instead, Dylan took some harmonica solos and, while it sure did look cool, him in his cool suit and hat, it sure didn't sound cool. Ok, well, harmonica playing sounds cool no matter what it is, whether it's in key or not, but most of the time, for this harmonica player, me, a guy that has spent hours and years trying to get the hang of actually playing the instrument, when Dylan plays it nowadays, other than it sounding like a dying mule, I feel like he is shitting on everything I hold dear in the instrument, but that's just me.

When he sings? Well, it's like he's kidding. I didn't understand a word he said, and I knew most of the words to most of the songs he played.

Ok, fine, a little harsh. The singing was bad, the harmonica playing insults me and the band didn't get to really entertain or play what they could have. Listen, it's still Dylan. This is still the guy that wrote "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Blowing in the Wind," the entire "Highway 61" album (which he played the majority of, incidentally). This man is important to me as a writer and a musician, and a performer. I've been playing this guy's music around the world for years, all of it being so important to me and so maybe that's why I was slightly let down by the show. I don't know.

I had a similar experience in the mid '90s seeing the Grateful Dead before Garcia passed away. He was another extremely influential artist to me, huge, but there was a moment when I realized that the performance I was getting was not really a performance, but more of a stop at the museum. These things happen. Heroes lose their luster even though we don't want them to. But we, and especially I, have to accept it.

The good news? Dion from the Belmonts fame opened the show and was awesome! This guy came out onstage and owned. He went through his catalogue which had me, some knucklehead kid that fancies himself hip, dancing in his seat singing along to "Runaround Sue". I didn't know the guy was opening, but he came out and shook the crowd up, got 'em going, and won the day for me. Especially since he is from the Bronx, which is not far from Washington Heights, just a few stops, really.

So, long story short, I saw the Dylan exhibit and even though there were some decent moments, the iconic genius was upstaged by some doo-wop singer from the Bronx. I didn't see it coming, but there you go.

If you've got any complaints, which I am sure some of you will, feel free to send them on my way to :)

James Dalton
James Dalton is a New Jersey-based singer/songwriter/performer that has had his ups and downs but still pushes forward and stuff.
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