Bournemouth International Centre
5th May 2002
Just back from Dylan. Reading reviews of Dylan at Brighton the night before. I think what irritates me is the greed aspect. OK, he’s touring because he loves it and wants to spread the word. It’s an expensive show to keep on the road – lots of equipment, great musicians and I doubt that Jim Keltner dropped everything to rush to Europe as replacement drummer for flat Musician Union rates. But standing squeezes in about another 25%, that’s all. Ticket prices were very reasonable – £27.50 is what I paid – but as usual, speaking to friends I saw there, some had paid double that to ticket agencies. It was the usual lottery – you phone on the day of release and by chance some will get through to the switchboard, most won’t. I don’t understand why they block allocate such large chunks of a guaranteed first-day sell out to agencies who will double the price. Why not charge say £35 instead of £27.50, restrict tickets to two per caller, and then have people in reasonable comfort where they can actually see? I begin to see why The Eagles are going out at $200 a seat – if they don’t get it themselves, the agencies will. I suspect that there’s some sort of promoter / agency tie up or kick back , or artists and hall managements would have stopped it years ago. I don’t mind standing in a 200 or 400 capacity club, you shuffle around and see. Also the stage is often higher in proportion to the length of the room. I don’t like standing in what looks like an aircraft hangar with several thousand in front of me.
What a fine band! Jim Keltner was astonishing all night, but particularly on ‘Desolation Row’ and ‘Not fade away’. Mickey Jones in 1966 was still the best drum part ever on ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ of course. BUT somehow Dylan failed to move me tonight. The band is SO good, but they tend to make everything sound the same in instrumentation and arrangment, coupled with Bob’s habit of going up at the end of every line, rendering ‘Forver Young’ and ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ very similar, and seeming to get the melody of ‘Not Dark Yet’ all over everything else.
A prediliction for similar material with long instrumental sections – Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat, Honest With Me and Highway 61 – doesn’t help. He played the wrong stuff from ‘Love and Theft’ too – no Po’ Boy or Mississippi but an interminable Summer Days. Poor new version of ‘Absolutely Sweet Marie” (a standout last time) The new habit of singing half lines irritates me – How many roads must a … Before you call him … How many seas must a white … before she …in the sand … .
Two and a half hours in a standing only arena when it’s hard to see is disappointing – my wife is 5 foot tall and had to be content with a few odd glimpses of the white hat. Plus people talk endlessly in standing arenas. They don’t do this sitting down. The guy behind us had the world’s most ear-splitting whistle. OK, at the start and finish of numbers, but not at totally random intervals during every song. Standing also brings out smokers in a no smoking area. A number were evidently taking advantage of relaxing attitudes, but those nearest us were just chain-smoking Marlboro. Then you’re stuck to the floor from the beer. And as you move back to see better you open a corridor for those who trek endlessly for beer and peeing.
Horrible venue at the Bournemouth International Centre (Van won’t play there, preferring two nights in the smaller but acoustically superior hall 400 yards away). Sound? Pretty good, but nowhere near Van Morrison, James Taylor, Jackson Browne or Paul Simon standards of clarity and separation. Ah, well, I’ve heard him far far worse on bootlegs. This was very competent, very professional, but lacking magic.