Lubbock, Texas

Texas Tech University
Jones AT&T Stadium

August 8, 2009

[Michael Nave]

Review by Michael Nave

I Remember The First Time I Got Drunk
Bob Dylan in Lubbock, TX8-8-09
Bob Dylan headed west to the hometown of Buddy Holly for the first time in 18
years and only the 2nd time in his career.  According to locals, it was a
historic night in Lubbock– not because 3 legendary American musical artists
were sharing a bill in town, but because for the first time you could buy beer
at a concert in historically dry Lubbock.  Prior to Willie Nelson’s set, the
mayor of Lubbockalluded to the beer milestone, as did an unnamed speaker before
Mellencamp’s set.   It seemed like a concert in a town much smaller than
Lubbockwith a population of over 200,000.  Everyone seemed to know everyone and
much of the audience in the first few rows where I was seated seemed to be there
not because they knew anything about any of the music, but because they wanted
to be seen at the biggest social event of the year.  Although, Tech head
football coach Mike Leach seemed to enjoy the show as much as anyone, it was
clear that many of the spectators were very excited at the possibility of
drinking as much beer as they possibly could since this was their first
opportunity to do so at such an event.  It also appeared the local law
enforcement agencies (tech police and Lubbock County Sheriff officers) were
equally as excited to have the opportunity to corral them there drunks.  As
much as I would like to go on about all this, let’s just suffice it to say
that the unique setting for this tour (a football stadium rather than a
 baseball stadium, on a college campus, in a previously dry town) resulted in a
 unique night.  This night was my 5th show in a row of this tour so I had
 plenty of perspective with which to judge this show.
During Willie’s set, I noticed that harmonica player Mickey Raphael was
missing, although his mic was set up.  After joking that he was “drunk on the
bus”, Willie acknowledged that he didn’t know where Raphael was, but Willie
didn’t seam to mind.   During Mellencamp’s set the local authorities dream
came true.  They not only got to arrest a concert-goer, but they got to do it
on the field, in front of nearly 15,000 spectators and even got noticed by John
Mellencamp.  Unlike professional concert security who are trained to get the
perpetrator removed so the confrontation can occur out of the view of both
artist and audience, these guys ramped up the confrontation so they could
demonstrate their strong arm tactics for all in attendance.  I could write an
entire book on the sociology of that crowd, but let’s get to Dylan – the
reason at least some of us were there.   The show was unique from the
beginning.  It was the first of the 5 I saw that actually began a bit late and
Dylan had a smile on his face before the first note was played.   The only
songs in the set prior to encores that were the same as the previous night were
Highway 61 and Thunder On The Mountain.  He began the show on keyboard.  He
spent much of the night at center stage, taking the mic off the stand, walking
around, replacing it on the stand, singing, then repeating the entire process. 
He seemed to be smiling much more than I had seen on previous nights.     For
me, on my 5th show in a row, Dylan’s performance and the unique set list made
this a most enjoyable show, not knowing what he might do next, and he seemed
very engaged.  And when the recording surfaces, I would love to hear the lyrics
to Honest With Me, as I think he was making them up, even perhaps talking about
the crowd and night there in Lubbock.  Dylan remained very animated throughout
the evening.    Highlights for me included the opener, Maggie’s Farm, as
well as Love Sick, and Blind Willie McTell.   After the set proper ended with
Thunder on the Mountain, it seemed like an eternity before Bob and band returned
to the stage.  During that time I saw the monitor engineer with a flashlight
frantically flipping through what appeared to be Dylan’s lyric sheets, never
finding the one he was looking for.  Of course, I had been hoping since I had
secured my 2nd row tickets for this show and committed to the long drive to
Lubbock that either through song choice or comments that Dylan would acknowledge
Buddy Holly.   When Bob and band returned to the stage, Dylan and Tony Garnier
huddled around Donnie, with George listening in, and it was apparent that Bob
was explaining a chord progression with Tony showing it on the neck of his
bass.  And from the first notes, it became clear that my wish had come true - a
truly inspired, special, rocking version of Not Fade Away.  Many in the crowd
did seem to know it was a Buddy Holly tune and were very into it.  It was an
impassioned version and it seemed as if Dylan had been waiting a long time to do
it.    As the song ended, George slapped the snare really hard and they went
non-stop into LARS.  For my money, this was the best LARS version of the 5
shows I saw, perhaps buoyed by the previous song.    Definitely, the night in
Lubbock will be one to remember.


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