I have really wanted to see Dylan for years and years. And so last night, I went — but I couldn’t tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed it, because that, gentle reader, would be a big fat stonking fuck-off lie.
(Oh, by the way, if you faint at the sound or sight of the word fuck, you clearly haven’t spent much time with me.)
My husband is, I believe, his biggest fan. Ever. Not just in the country, not even just in the entire EMEA landmass. His. Biggest. Fan. Ever. Anywhere.
Anyone who knows my husband, knows that his love for me comes second — that Dylan is his one true love. (In an esoteric and entirely non-sexual way.) He listens to his music almost-but-not-quite exclusively, refers to him as the king (sorry, Elvis fans, your guy has truly left the building as far as my husband is concerned), reveres him thoroughly and quotes him at the drop of a hat. He actually described our wedding as “a really good night, almost as good as the Dylan concert in the Mann auditorium”.
I shit you not.
The idea of seeing such a powerful and significant figure — literally, a living legend in the music industry over the past 50-odd years also resonated with me, and enormously so. It seemed incontheivable that such an event would not pay off, emotionally, and artistically — whatever the outcome. I’ve been a fan of his poetry for many years, although his more recent music, while good and enjoyable, is not my most beloved cup of tea (although it is up there with other teacups, to fully stretch a metaphor).
So when I heard that Dylan and Paul Simon were coming to Israel this summer, I was all gung-ho and excited about seeing two living legends — one of whom I’d already seen (Rhythm of the saints, Wembley, 1990) and the other who has pretty much accompanied my relationship and 14-year marriage like a sort of musical gooseberry.
A quick review of the financial situation, and my good sense quickly indicates to me that it will have to be one or t’other. I was torn. What to do? Then my sister, god bless her, helped make the decision for me, by asking, pleading and finally guilt-tripping me into babysitting my nephews so that she and her husband could go to see Paul Simon. (“You know how difficult it is for Elder Nephew to get to sleep, and with any other babysitter he’ll never sleep and it’ll be a complete nightmare and he won’t sleep which means none of us will sleep properly for a week, and I haven’t slept properly since Younger Nephew was born, and we never get to go out anywhere beyond 9 o’clock in the evening anymore, and please please please please do this for me!!!“)
All that guilt-tripping worked. Although, since I am not without guilt-tripping powers of my own, i have managed to bag myself a Paul Simon t-shirt as a babysitting fee. Heck, I missed Paul McCartney and survived — I’ll survive this too.
Which left me financially resourceful enough to afford a ticket to Dylan. Not a front row seat, because at 1000 NIS a pop, that’s way too rich for my blood. Plus, I thought to myself, I’ll see the stage from afar and close-ups on the screen.
Oh, the irony.
It was just about the worst big-scale concert I’ve ever attended. In front of our section stood a screen, ostensibly situated to enhance the visual experience for those of us sat 3 miles from the stage. However, the positioning of the screen meant that everyone in my section could ONLY see the screen; the stage was completely blocked from view — a feat of idiocy unparalleled in my experience. When the show did start, after the warm-up acts (Ricki Lee Jones with “Chuck E’s in Love” — wonderful, she still sounds like a 19 year old when she sings), the cameraman (please note, singular) kept the camera in place at all times. On the whole stage. No close-ups of the raddled old hippy, with his broad-brimmed, stylish and utterly daft hat. Nada. And to add final insult to injury, just at the beginning of the encore set, all the screens went blank. All of them. No one could see anything other than bright lights and what appeared to be ants playing guitars, one of whom sported a broad-brimmed, stylish and utterly daft hat.
As my friend Sandi texted to me from section 12 (I was in section 16) — “WTF??? For this I paid good money???”
Laura Chiesa at Inside Out speaks of a “special look people have when they are trying to decide if they have been screwed, and how deeply.” Believe me, I sported said look on my face until past 2 a.m. Of the many concerts i have attended in my lifetime, both here and in the UK, I have never left a venue quite so unsure of whether I’d had a great or crappy evening. And there have been many venues and many concerts — Royal Albert Hall (Sting, Al Jarreau), the old Wembley stadium (Bruce Springsteen, Genesis, Dire Straits), to name but two.
To be honest, I’m glad I went, because he played a stonker of a concert — despite his surly and uncommunicative presence . Please god i should be rocking out like that when I’m 70.
But I tell you now, I will not rest until I have exacted my terrifying vengeance on that production company. As they say in Hebrew, boosha ve cherpa, translated by Morfix as “shame on you! Fie! Unacceptable and disgusting”.
To say the least.
UPDATE: Ha’aretz seems to agree with me — although they describe the music better than I did, and apparently no screen blocked their view at all.
Oh, and one more thing. There was an utterly delightful and charmless girl and her doped-up, spacey boyfriend, who left their comfortable good-view-of-the-stage seats to stand in the aisle and slob all over each other — seemingly prior to leaving, since it was already well into the encore — and then refused to let anyone else sit on them, possessively and snippily claiming that they were “stretching their legs”, if we “didn’t mind” and that “the floor is free”. It was a sheer delight to make the acquaintance of such sociopathic selfishness, rudeness and anti-social behaviour, and once I’m done with the production company, I’m coming after you. 😎