A Bob Dylan concert is like seeing the Mona Lisa: I was glad I watched him perform but wished I could have turned around and had a little more fun watching the musical equivalent of Veronese's The Wedding at Cana
I am a Dylan fan, with 10 of his albums. Only one of those releases however, is from after 1976 (the year I was born).
So while I wasn't expecting--or hoping--to recognize every song Dylan played in the evening's final performance, I didn't think it'd take hum 45 minutes to play a song with which I was familiar either.
Those songs I did recognize (including "Like a Rolling Stone," "Highway 61 Revisited" and "All Along the Watchtower") though were played in brilliant new-to-me arrangements, with Dylan spending the final 11 songs of his 14-song show on the keyboard rather than the guitar.
And while I don't begrudge Dylan for not playing a more fan-friendly show (many concertgoers were concertwenters by the middle of his set) a "Masters of War" dedicated to Robert McNamara's still-festering corpse would have been nice.
On the way out of Louisville Slugger Field, my concert companion, a rheumatologist who's cut a few music tracks under the moniker Princess Peach Basket, said he'd like to get a copy of the show and give it a few more listens. I agree: even at 68 years old, Dylan's performance was too innovative to process on one listen.
Yes, that's a good thing.
And it was not the case with John Mellencamp's set, which oscillated between strong, but not innovative, performances of his greatest hits with some newer material that I hadn't heard previously and don't plan on listening to again.
- "Check It Out," my favorite song of his
- "Authority Song," which sums up my relationship with The Man and featured a guy in the crowd waving his cane in the air
- "Little Pink Houses," during which I witnessed a 250-pound woman in jean shorts in the snack line singing along to the "Ain't that America" chorus--amen sister
I was thankful that one of Mellencamp's hits that he left out was perhaps his most famous single, "Jack and Diane." There's something unbecoming about a grandfather singing about manual stimulation of the genitals.
As I was still on my front porch drinking Becks for most of Willie's set, I have no choice to concur with The Courier-Journal's Jeffrey Lee Puckett
And then there was Willie, country music's ultimate comfort food, whose set offered zero surprises but was still plenty entertaining. Nelson shredded on Trigger, his guitar, all night while cherry-picking his immense catalog for classics such as "Me and Paul," "Bloody Mary Morning" and "The Troublemaker," which, and this is odd, he dedicated to the late Michael Jackson.
Like a student caught daydreaming by his teacher, I'll just say "I agree" and leave it at that.
For more information: Interested in a concert with a more diverse lineup than three old white guys? Check out Louisville.com's special section on the Forecastle Festival.