Recently, some friends on Facebook started feverishly sending group messages about the upcoming Bob Dylan concert. Messages like: “Goin to Bob?, “We gotta go man, he is Epic!” or “Can’t wait…he is such a legend”. Among these messages, there is one from my friend Jeremy which simply reads “Darren?” I smirk reading it, because I know he remembers my comments made the last time Mr. Dylan came to Kelowna.
Tickets in hand on a beautiful summer night in 2005, we prepared to witness the voice of a generation, Mr. Bob Dylan. After the many stories our parents told of his musical stardom and on-stage charisma, to say I was looking forward to this was an understatement.
Bob Dylan’s band members took the stage and started out with a tight sound, a pro look and energetic intro to Maggie’s Farm. But what happened next, was one of the most disappointing moments in my concert-going life. There was Bobby D standing at his keyboard, without a guitar or harmonica, looking down. He wasn’t really singing but kind of muttering gravelly lyrics. We immediately though he was playing ill or maybe it was a new version of the song. We kept waiting for this legend to show up but grew increasingly disappointed as each song passed. Please Bob! Give us something, please!
I kept hoping to hear his familiar drawl and unique pattern of singing we all have come to know. But as the night went on it was clear I would not get a taste of that powerful 60s movement I’d missed when peace and love meant something. After a boring version of ‘Times They are a ‘Changin’ we had checked out. Everybody knew what was coming in the encore… ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and ‘Watchtower’. We got excited again for each intro, then discouraged as our applause turned to jaw drops. Bob…had stunk up the joint! He sounded more like a drunk Tom Waits trying to rap. My beer buzz now faded, I had the buyer’s remorse.
Although damning, my intent is not to dig on the iconic Bob Dylan specifically. I have been to many shows recently where a heavy performer just seemed unprepared, drunk or just checked out. Maybe they were disappointed about where their career had taken them or how they hadn’t changed the world but the truth is, they were just plain bad. I wonder what happened to showmanship and playing for the fans? Do they think they paid enough dues and we should be thankful to be in their presence? The fact is they still get paid to do this. It is their chosen profession. I know you have done it a million times before and may hate the repetitious nature or the loud fans but you still have a responsibility. It’s the same in any profession. We all do our job a million times and still try to treat our customers, co-workers and others with respect and a desire to do well for them. When I think back to my favorite concerts, the ones that stand out are not because of who they were but because of how they performed. They made my experience thoroughly enjoyable and I was thankful.
I understand how music is a mad love and concert addictions are like crack, but don’t claim every single show is “awesome” when it’s just ok. We need to hold our heroes accountable to their fame. My wish for artists is to represent your brand. Find your lost passion and do your thing! Perform for the people as the incredible artist we all believe you are. We paid good money to see you and we’re rooting for you. Don’t take that for granted. I know everyone is excited for the upcoming show and they will brag about going to Bob, I hope he earns the praise.
Sooo… anyone got an extra Dylan ticket?