OK, now that I´ve regained consciousness, it´s time to report in on last night´s show. I saw Dylan in ´86 with Tom Petty, and in ´92, and have never seen Simon before last night.
Our seats were perfect--third row, just a hair to the left of dead-center. Right about 7:30, some guy came on stage laying down huge sticks of incense. About 7:45, out comes Bob and the boys. Bob was wearing country-formal, and they jumped right into ´Hallelujah, I´m Ready to Go.´ This is a great old tune, and it felt a little like ´Bob´s Country-Bear Jamboree´, and I mean that in the best sense of the phrase.
The acoustic songs, as he often does, were re-arranged from their original versions. This leaves the age-old question as to whether Bob is taking the greater leap here than Paul, as Paul plays his tunes letter-faithful for the most part. Well, both work for me, and the two legends make a great contrast in style--so similar, yet so different. Dylan was impish, Chaplinesque (like I remember folks saying he was during the early Greenwich days up on stage). He was clearly enjoying these versions of these songs with these players. The country-inflected (pedal steel, upright bass) sound is a natural fit for Bob´s American music. Blues, country, gospel, rock, it´s all here and Bob was hamming it up real good.
I told my brother that when Dylan pulled out the electric guitar he ought to yell out ´Judas!´ just for old time´s sake. Fortunately, he didn´t listen to my advice. Anyway, during the electric portion of the set, we look around and suddenly it´s ´Yo--Bum rush the stage!´ Folks had already been dancing a bit, but the security guys actually started encouraging people in the front section of seats to come up to the stage area, which they quickly did. I was right up front, pretty enthusiastic, and Dylan shot me a kinda nervous look. I held up my palms facing him, like ´Don´t worry man, I ain´t gonna do a Soy-bomb thing, I wanna see the rest of the show.´ He was smiling and dancing and playing harp on one foot and doing old Johnny Ace-type antics. Loved that haunting and poignant ´Not Dark Yet´ but Bob, my good man, you screwed us out of ´Love Sick.´
Ironically, ´Like A Rolling Stone´ was very faithful to the original, and the rockers like ´All Along the Watchtower´ and ´Highway 61 Revisited´ had the joint jumping.
´Not Fade Away´ is a perfect finale, the defiant bookend response to ´Not Dark Yet.´ Then Paul Simon came on stage and it was a magical, majestic moment. ´Sounds of Silence´ was beautifully done, and the last duet was ´Knockin´ on Heaven´s Door.´ You could have left and it would have been a great evening by two of the best songwriters of this century.
Simon came back after intermission with ´Bridge Over Troubled Water.´ Now, at this point having worked over my Jim Beam (airplane bottles that we smuggled in), backed up with beer pretty well I whipped out a joint to take things to a different level. All of a sudden, this Chinese (just being descriptive here, I don´t care about the man´s race) guy who had brought his wife and what looked to be about his eight year-old daughter, turns around and says ´Please don´t smoke.´
This is what is fucked up about the nineties. Politically-correct Nazis everywhere you turn. I wanted to say to the guy, ´Hey man, this ain´t ´The Nutcracker Suite.´ Why you bringing your little girl to see Bob ´Everybody must get stoned´ Dylan and Paul ´I stepped outside and smoked myself a J´ Simon for anyway? Get a fucking babysitter and go see Michael Bolton if you want an evening of decaf and ersatz crap. This is the real deal.´ I stayed cool, though as we made sure we were good and plenty before I made a big show of putting it out and being a nice boy.
I gotta tell you, I said some rude things here recently about Paul loading up his setlist with too much ROTS but he was on his game big-time last night, and this stuff really works live. He´s got about eight hundred musicians up there with him on stage, but it´s not busy or cluttered like sometimes happens with too many players. If Dylan´s show is pure Americana, Simon is Mr. Internacionale.
What was cool was after his normal show we started yelling at him ´Paul! Paul! The Boxer! The Boxer!´ We were maybe five-six feet directly in front of him and made eye-contact several times. It couldn´t be helped, the way we were carrying on he probably thought his house had caught fire. Anyway, he surprised us by then playing ´Proof´ from ROTS. I recognized it because it comes right after ´The Coast´ on the record and sometimes I was late clicking from song #3 to song #5 (´Further to Fly´). And then he walks back up to the mike with his acoustic:
´And I am just a poor boy, though my story´s seldom told, I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises...´
Beautiful, man. Fucking beautiful. I put up a post last week asking Paul to finish with this, and the sun gods were beaming down over So Cal last night. The moon was in the seventh house and the karma felt just right and my mojo was aligned with the zen of the moment. Perfect.
With these two guys, I could feel the weight of history up on stage, the incredible body of work they have laid down. We won´t see the likes of them again, and they ain´t kids anymore.
If you weren´t there, make sure you are at a later date.