Bob Dylan. Standing-room tickets for under $50. Um, I was SO there.
Despite having twisted my ankle the previous weekend one unspeakable night in Vegas, I toughed it out at the standing-room-only show at the Long Beach Arena on Oct 21, 2006.
This was my fifth Dylan concert, and it reminded me of the very first time I saw him in December of ’97. It was at the El Rey, which is also a seatless venue. I was in about the 20th row, but because I was standing at the very front of that raised platform I had a clear view the entire time. The gods looked kindly upon me this night as well. I managed to squeeze my way up to about the 5th row, and being all of 5’1″ I amazingly had a pretty clear view the entire time.
The crowd gave off pretty a mean vibe, atypical for a Dylan show. The floor was packed full, leaving barely any room to breathe, let alone shift to find a good spot. Even before the openers went on, the audience was getting a bit aggressive. One woman in her mid-forties attempting to return to her spot was greeted with the locked elbows and rude remarks by the three wannabe-hipster kids wearing bowler hats and “shabby chic” jackets just a few people over from me. But the Rude Bitch Award of the evening went to the woman with the thick glasses and straggly hair, also in her mid-forties. The young couple in front was having a hard time seeing, them both being around 5 feet tall. After struggling for half of the evening, they decided to try and make their way over to the middle of the crowd. A few moments later, Rude Bitch straight up shoves the girl back to her original spot while screaming profanities at the pair. Such completely unnecessary nonsense.
Openers Kings of Leon sucked monkey balls. The guys behind me agreed, responding to the band’s announcement that they were playing their final number with an incredibly loud “THANK GOD!” Usually I’ll throw a cold scowl at people who are rude to performers, but this time I couldn’t help but laugh. But I’m not going to complain, cos it just made Dylan sound that much sweeter.
When Dylan and the band came out, everyone was donning similar black hats and outfits, making the old boys look surprisingly hot. There was no guesswork involved when it came to the setlist; each time the band started into a new tune, the guy next to me would announce the song title for his gorgeous date whom he was trying to impress (which I found odd, cos if she didn’t know any of Dylan’s songs, why would she find it impressive to be taken to a concert of a musician with whom she’s not familiar; and furthermore, why would she give a rat’s ass if he knew all the songs of some musician she’s not even into?). Anyway, the setlist for the evening was incredible:
Cat’s in the Well
She Belongs to Me
Lonesome Day Blues
Just Like a Woman
Highway 61 Revisited
When the Deal Goes Down
Tangled Up in Blue
Ballad of Hollis Brown
Rollin’ and Tumblin’
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Watching the River Flow
Thunder On the Mountain
Like a Rolling Stone
All Along the Watchtower
Dylan and the band were in top form. They really rocked out on the new “Modern Times” numbers. I was ecstatic to hear “She Belongs To Me” again, and the modified arrangement of “Hattie Carroll” was especially gorgeous.
Oddly enough, after standing for over three hours straight that night, my sore foot felt better the next day. I guess the phrase scribbled across the shirt of the 14-year-old girl jumping around in front of me all night must be true: Dylan is God.