Bob Dylan, Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2017

Bob Dylan at Montreal Jazz Festival, June 30th, 2017

Jul 02, 2017 Bookmark and Share


My only real argument with my mother happened when I was sixteen. It was over Bob Dylan—specifically the fact I wanted to go see his show at the fairgrounds and she wasn’t keen on the idea of her teenage daughter hanging out with NPR hippies. Her response upon finding out I’d see him perform at Montreal Jazz Festival?

“You can’t be mad at me anymore!”

Noted mom. In all, it was a great honor to see Bob Dylan live. I’ll never not be excited to hear anything from Blood on the Tracks. But it was a talented musician I saw on Friday night—not the fiery troubadour I fell in love with as a teenager. I acknowledge that people change. (Comfortingly, the line in “Things have changed,” “I used to care but things have changed,” doesn’t really seem to apply here.) Why not change the music up? I’m sure after playing the same songs for a couple of a decades, expanding your sound with the help of a full band could be the only thing standing between you and classic singer/songwriter fatigue. With some songs, this shift in tone worked. “Tangled Up in Blue,” the picaresque tale of a man torn away from the one woman he ever loved because society and life (and their parents) kept them apart, played as wistful rather than angry. (As one assumes a man of 76 would now view such a doomed romance.)

On the other side of the equation was “Blowin' in the Wind.” With the full band arrangement, and Dylan’s vocals no longer in the center, the iconic protest anthem felt defanged. With so much to protest against (::cough::Trump admin::cough::) and so many people waiting for answers, why not use this moment to, as he did during so much turmoil in previous years, give a voice to the people? Performing a Yves Montand cover felt like a tip of the hat to Montreal’s French legacy (to say nothing of proving that Dylan can croon). But the inclusion of five other covers seemed extraneous. When your catalog dips back five decades, when you’ve won a Nobel Prize for your work, when you’re Bob Freaking Dylan, you could literally play any song from your deep bench and fans would be thrilled. Why not showboat instead of detouring into karaoke territory?

He did however play five songs off his most recent effort Tempest. Laced with blues, rockabilly, folk, and country, the songs show that he’s not wanting for ideas—he’s got plenty already, thankyouverymuch. Dylan can still talk about relationships with others (“Long and Wasted Years”), and mock his supposed fading relationship to pop culture. (See “Early Roman Kings” with its tonged-in-cheek line, “I ain't dead yet/My bell still rings/I keep my fingers crossed/like early Roman kings.”)

Dylan didn’t say a word to the audience, but then again, he didn’t have to. Even though the way he speaks his truths has changed, he’s still the voice of this, and just about any generation.

Setlist:

1. Things Have Changed

2. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

3. Highway 61 Revisited

4. Why Try to Change Me Now (Cy Coleman cover)

5. Summer Days

6. Make You Feel My Love

7. Duquesne Whistle

8. Melancholy Mood (Frank Sinatra cover)

9. Stormy Weather (Harold Arlen cover)

10. Pay in Blood

11. Once Upon a Time (Tony Bennett cover)

12. Tangled Up in Blue

13. Early Roman Kings

14. Desolation Row

15. Soon After Midnight

16. That Old Black Magic (Johnny Mercer cover)

17. Long and Wasted Years

18. Autumn Leaves (Yves Montand cover)

Encore:

19. Blowin' in the Wind

20. Ballad of a Thin Man

(www.montrealjazzfest.com)

(www.facebook.com/montrealjazzfest)

(www.bobdylan.com)

(www.facebook.com/bobdylan)




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