October 25, 2008
Review by Vince DeCoste
My wife, Barbara, called me one day in September and said "Bob Dylan is in
Kamloops in October, do you want to go? I think we should go." I got on
the computer, BobDylan.com, and had tickets within minutes. $69.50 plus
service charges, $82.35 each. This was to be my first Bob Dylan show.
Barbara had seen him once before, years ago, with Robbie Robertson and the
Band. It's a 6 or 7-hour drive to Kamloops from our place in Prince George
B.C. I made reservations for a hotel room for 2 nights. We had a sunny
autumn travel day. We drove down and listened to Blonde on Blonde, Blood
on the Tracks, and Desire. We watched the countryside change from northern
forest to the semi-arid sage and scrub hills of the Thompson River valley.
The leaves were mostly gone from the trees up north, but as we traveled
south, we were able to enjoy the fall colours again.
I think the Internet is a marvel. I found the tickets and directions to
the venue and the hotel. I also found all kinds of other stuff. I thought
I was something of a Bob Dylan fan, but I'm obviously a neophyte compared
to a lot of the people whose words I have read recently. I've been
listening to Bob's music for a long time, but this was my first live show
of his. I have a variety of his music, -on vinyl, on cassettes, and DVDs.
I've made entries in my journal referring to Bob words, and words about
Bob's words, by other people. I had not researched much of the wealth of
information about Dylan that there is on the Internet, until I found the
website called "Bob Links.com" and discovered the fan base is very active;
-it's a parallel universe! It is so interesting to read reviews from shows
all over the world. I discovered the setlist for the Kamloops show was
posted within hours. I also discovered that no one had posted a review for
the Kamloops show so I thought I should write one!
October 25th was Pablo Picasso's birthday. (1881-1973). October 25, 2004
we went to Pablo's birthplace, Malaga, Spain. It was my parent's 50th
wedding anniversary. The following year, Oct 25th, 2005 I was in
Vancouver, and celebrated Pablo's birthday at the "Protean Picasso" show
at Vancouver Art Gallery. October 25, 2008 it was Kamloops, B.C. to
appreciate the art of another artist, -Bob Dylan. One of the Bob Dylan
quotes in my journal: He said, "An artist is always in the process of
On CBC Radio, a couple of years ago, I heard Eleanor Wachtel interview
Christopher Ricks. Ricks is a professor of Literature, at a university in
Boston. He wrote a book in 2003 called "Dylan's Visions of Sin". He said
he would not teach the work of Dylan in his classes because Dylan was his
hobby, his love, and he didn't want to ruin it. Christopher Ricks
compared Dylan's poetry to the works of Eliot, Keats and Tennyson. He
referred to similarities in the sentiments expressed by these poets, and
the work of Bob Dylan. He said, "Great minds feel and think alike".
A few highlights, from the afternoon before the show, include the ghouls
on the streets. It was six days before Hallowe'en. A dozen or 20 people
dressed like Mummies and Zombies wandered the downtown streets. Many had
arms out-stretched and moaned at passers-by. It was surreal. We felt like
running and shrieking down the street, but we were hungry. We had lunch at
3-2-6 Bistro, on Victoria St, -next door to a great little record shop. I
forget the name of the music shop, but they were playing Neil Young when
we walked in. I discovered that they had Bob's "Modern Times" on 180-gram
Interior Savings Centre is a modern hockey arena in the downtown area of
Kamloops, B.C. near the confluence of the South and North Thompson rivers.
We got kicked out from backstage, early in the afternoon. We had spotted 3
transport trucks and two tour busses around back, behind the arena. I
wanted to see if we could get in to catch a sound check. The security
people were friendly. "Who are you working for?" "Sorry, I can't let you
in here. You'll have to leave." We had a good chat. Bob was not in the
I nodded to a guy in a Little Chief camper in the parking lot, behind the
rink. "You here to see Bob?" I asked. "You bet," he grinned. He had a lawn
chair, and several hours 'til Show time. He was watching the river flow.
Barb and I walked the trails along the river and met some friends for
dinner at 6pm, at a restaurant called "Storms", right on the river bank.
They have a great view of the river from almost every table. I read in
the Kamloops newspaper, that Anthony Varesi, a local lawyer, was going to
be at the concert. He had written a book, while in university in 2002, I
think it said, called "The Bob Dylan Albums".
The arena was pretty full. I read there were 6400 seats. There was no
opening act; it was Bob and his Band. I didn't know who the band members
would be. Bob didn't introduce them until toward the end of the show. I
couldn't hear what he was saying very well when he introduced them, but I
checked the website "Bob links.com" and the band members are the same as
on his 2006 recording, "Modern Times".
The guy in the seat next to me told me he didn't think he was going to
make it. He said he was from Vancouver, working on the defence team for a
murder trial. They just got the verdict from the jury late in the
afternoon and decided to try to get to the show. They got scalper tickets
out front but ended up in different seats, -singles. He said he was just
happy to get a ticket.
Just after 8, the guys walk onto the stage, all dressed in dark coloured
suits. Bob wears trousers with a stripe down the side, like tuxedo dress.
He has a dark coloured shirt with rhinestones on the collar that flash in
the stage lights. He wears black boots, and a light coloured wide-brimmed
Bob was on stage right with two keyboards, and a little table with
harmonicas on it.
The two guitarists, on stage left, stood close together; -Denny Freeman
plays lead, Stu Kimball is on rhythm. Tony Garnier plays bass, including a
very large stand-up on some songs. I read somewhere that Tony is the
bandleader. George Recile keeps the train running down the tracks on the
drum kit. Donny Herron was next to Bob. Donny played pedal steel much of
the time, but hopped up regularly with a banjo, or an electric mandolin,
once he even played a viola.
We were a ways back in the stands, in the 9th row up from the floor
seats. We couldn't hear as well as I would have liked. I forgot to bring
my note pad, so I was writing down the songs on my ticket envelope. I was
surprised that I just didn't know what some of the songs were, and I had
trouble making out some of the words, from our seats. The band was great,
and we had our binoculars. Hockey arenas aren't the best place to hear
live music; the acoustics can be poor, but I still love going to the
shows. I love the excitement, and hearing the things people say. A diverse
cross section of people was present for the concert.
The arena has a raised walkway that takes pedestrians across the train
tracks to the downtown area. Barbara and I bought a couple of T-shirts and
a hat with the "eye logo". We walked with a sea of happy people, and found
our way to the "Blue Grotto". Most of the people we ran into, loved the
show. Some people say odd things, like the slightly inebriated lady who
said "Why didn't he play something from this century?" I wondered what she
meant; many of the songs were from "Modern Times". Oh, sigh... Poppa Dawg
and "Dog Skin Suit" were hoppin' at the Blue Grotto. The club has a
good-sized dance floor, and we jumped around with an enthusiastic crowd
'til the wee hours...
Readers may have read, "Bob Dylan Goes Tubing". Marni Jackson wrote this
fiction piece in the July/August 2007 issue of the Canadian magazine,
Walrus. I read it on my holidays that summer. You can find it on the
I just learned that Bob Dylan was awarded a Pulitzer Prize this spring,
April 2008. He was awarded a "Special Citation" in the Arts category, "for
his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by
lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power". His son, Jesse Dylan,
accepted Bob's Pulitzer Prize.
What can a person say? We love our heroes. I'm a citizen of Canada,
watching as an American election looms on the horizon. What did Bob say?
"Democracy doesn't rule this country, violence does. But we're not
supposed to mention that" (or words to that effect...) I heard the phrase
"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" has come up
in the news again, in reference to somebody that Barrack Obama knows. Bob
Dylan continues to be relevant in "modern times".
Prince George, BC
Nov 3, 2008
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