The city at night. Gentle rain. Cheap Japenese food for dinner, where the dillish young server forgot to take Gs order of tofu. Secretly really enjoying the miso chicken with the dodgy sauce. With diet coke. Onwards to the tram, part of the throng heading to the the footy, the melbourne storm (is that rugby?) and the Dylan concert. Being bossed about by a very officious yarra trams official, you wouldn't have been surpised if he had a poking stick for pushing everyone into the tram. It was fun, sparkly and good natured. People were talking to strangers about where they were going.
The first security dude at rod laver area said I'd have to cloak my camera. The second security dude looked at it and said that I could keep it, as long as I didn't use it. By request of the artist. Apparently they were meant to prevent even mobile phones being taken in. Again by request of the artist. We laughed. There was the flare of camera flash all night. Which is really silly because a flash won't work beyond a few metres. Our seats were a long, long way up. The combination of the miso chicken and my sports stadium verigo fear/anxiety didn't sit that well at first. Especially since the first band were pretty ordinary, I thought. Loud and boring. Last time, I think Paul Kelly opened. Double treat.
Once the stadium filled and the thin man appeared, I began to relax into the night. It was up and down. The opener, a version of rainy day woman was a bit of a throw away. Some of the songs in the first bit seemed a bit overly full of instrumention to me. Too much boogie woogie. Then there was the standout. John Brown, a new to me song about a mother going to meet her son returning form the war at the station. Spine chilling. I wasn't the only one leaning right forward in my seat. There was also a gut wrenching version of Highway 61, rougher and tougher than I've ever heard it. Catapaulting me back to the moment when I first keyed into that song, when I first heard the poetry rather than the noise. I was twenty and my boyfriend of the time was in royal park hospital and I was listening to his records in my room. And around the same time there was an acid trip during which me and my girlfriends played highway 61 over and over again to hear the zing zing sounds. It was a long time ago and somehow hearing the live version telescoped those separate but connected memories into one impression. Even without the zing, zing.
He also did kickarse versions of Like a Rolling Stone and Ballad of a Thin Man, one of my all time favourites. And Tangled up in Blue. One the way home, a woman on the tram was telling her friend that she was in two minds about the concert. That he didn't do the old stuff. Another woman sitting near us was beaming. I started listing the old songs and G piped in with the obscure ones. Then we had a chat with the other woman about the new song we heard about the woman meeting her son at the station. She had the new album on high rotation, she said, and it was excellent. Of course he's going to change what he does. It would be boring for him and therefore boring for us if he didn't. We talked about the other Dylan concerts we'd been to and the ones we missed. She was in her fifties and had been going since the seventies. I was impressed. It was a very multi-generational night. Young kids, old people, old people behaving like young kids, middle aged people looking thrilled (or not), families, scensters. Truly awesome. I whinge and grizzle about my life sometimes, but really I'm pretty lucky, to live here and now, and have the wherewithal (and baby sitting) to participate in such treats. I feel full of music and poetry. Yep, awesome.