November 10th, 2011
This from Andrew Brel I saw Bob at the Hammersmith (Odeon) about 5 years ago. My first reaction was much the same as you describe. But then I considered this. Bob is a great artist. His musical gifts are a matter of record. His ability to present his songs in a live context are a matter of many records and of course his intellectual gifts are considerable, if we put to one side that embarrassing period in the 80′s when he claimed that every grain of sand was put in a specific place by an invisible man who manages all of human behaviour.
Considering Bobs musical and intellectual position – as I watched a second rate pub band play a set so poor that – they would not be asked to return by our local pub – mixed by a sound engineer who was quite clearly intent on colouring the sound to maximum ugliness – it suddenly occurred to me that I was witness to one of the great moments in performance art. Bob is many things – and a second rate performer he is not. This was – I suddenly realised – one of the most outstanding and courageous pieces of performance art I have had the pleasure (admittedly not the most appropriate word choice) of witnessing. I was in the room with an all time legend. One who knows how to execute a flawless version of his songs. One could easily put together a band of professional players to professionally interpret every note in every place that would have any crowd going ‘Oh my word – what an amazing guitar solo Satch played on Tambourine Man’. Where is the challenge in that? Where is the art in that that has not been done a thousand times before by this very artist. What possible reason could he have for going through the motions of presenting the most predictable. For me, Dylan the performer, showing his experience at after some 50 years on stage is the consummate professional – challenging your perceptions of musical art.
I remember my visit to the Bob Dylan ‘Now think about it’ show as one of the most impressive musical statements from one of the most impressive musical statement makers.
Complete, utter BS.
Performance art? So, if you can't sing, diddle around on an instrument, and bore 99% of the audience to tears...and send a good deal of them heading for the door...we call that performance art?
"I was in the room with an all time legend." Thats it. If he wasn't "Bob Dylan" he wouldn't have any gigs.
This delusional poppycock about "performance art" is hilarious.
He's written some great songs. Undeniable.
He used to be a riveting performer who had a very interesting, compelling voice.
He is not what he was. That's what you witnessed.
These kind of reviews are similar to people who see the virgin Mary in a Cinnamon Bun.