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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:44 pm 
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Location: Pak Kok Village
Bob Dylan in HK. 13/4/2011

by Nick the Bookman

Lammaniacs @ His Bobness' HK Gig
or "Bob & His Boys Loped & Preened & Strutted"


I'm off to see The Return of Bob Dylan's Neverending Tour to Hong Kong tonight. It's been about two weeks since I attended the clusterfuck that was MGMT's debut here. It wasn't too bad a show - the musicians can play - but it was boring twee prog-rock, not psychedelia. The security seemed surly and incompetent. MGMT didn't start their set until 22:15. I had to leave early, which wasn't a bummer, to get the last ferry home. Basically, an underwhelming night. So A Very Special Engagement with Bob Dylan should leave my mind smiling. It's part of an Asian tour that sees him make his China debut and visit Taiwan, Vietnam and Singapore and his first gigs in Hong Kong since 1994. No Chris Patten in attendance this time though.

My friend Karina rocked up to KITEC on the off-chance of getting a late ticket. She did. Five rows from the stage and bang in the middle. She was next to an American couple who were doing an Asian Bob Pilgrimage as a sort of extended late honeymoon and enjoying every moment. A rare SCMP review by Dave Friedenrich says he "captivated his audience" and the "gig proved he was all about performing live". Songs he played last night (12/4/2011) included "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall", "All Along The Watchtower", "Tom Thumb Blues", "Desolation Row", "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Ballad Of A Thin Man" The near capacity crowd showed their approval by rushing the stage and standing up all show. No problem to the security who followed a sort of live and let live policy. Sensible people who trusted the audience not to misbehave and fuck things up.

A lot of Lamma residents are present tonight for the second and final gig of a man who's probably the Coolest (Almost) 70 year old Man On The Planet. Keith Richards might be the Coolest 67 year old M.O.T.P. and I'd like to propose Pete Seeger as the Coolest 92 year old Man In The Solar System. Debate welcomed. All you Lammaniacs know who you are and all the ones I spoke to later were unanimous in their approval of the show. Class always counts.

The show took place in Hall Three. Same space as MGMT and Placebo played. People were allowed in early. There was food, drink and merchandise on sale. I'm inside and upstairs along the left-hand Minstrel's Gallery. About three rows in from the stage and facing Bob. The show starts about 20:20 and I'm told to "fucking well sit down" by Gareth The Cur who is sitting next to me. I'm wondering what tunes will emerge tonight. I'd love to hear "Idiot Wind", but I don't think it's likely. Although it sounds like a perfect description of Gasbag Government Geeks Grunting Garbage to Glorify their Grotty Alternative Realities. "Idiot Wind" comes from the excellent "Blood On The Tracks" LP of the early 70's. And speaking of blood...

The show hasn't started yet, so indulge me? Anyone else getting tired of the imminent Wedding Of The Century gobbledygook? By my reckoning the W.O.T.C. comes along about every 30-40 years. Let's see. There was King George VI to Elizabeth Bowes on 26/4/1923. Elizabeth II to Phil The German-Greek on 20/11/1947. The future Charles III to Diana Spencer on 29/7/1981. And the future William V to Catherine Middleton on 29/4/2011. The only good thing about this latest nuptial is that the future royal progeny (assuming no infertility or early death) will succeed in boosting the British (i.e. English/Scottish) bloodline back to about 82%. The remaining 18% bloodlines are mostly German with a spattering of Danish and Greek intermingled. Ever since Queen Anne (the last of The Stuarts) died in 1714, Britain has been ruled by (and I quote from Royal Babylon by Karl Shaw) "a family of badly inbred Germans with a history of mental instability".

Anyway, it's showtime. Bob and his backing quintet have started their performance. Bob will alternate between electric guitar, organ, harmonica and solo vocals during the show. His band is one of the best I've heard since the days of, well, The Band. Or Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. I'd have liked to add Dylan and The Dead, but the synergy between them was dreadful in concert. Too laid-back and no real Bob leadership. I know his lead guitarist is the gangly, ambling Charlie Sexton, but I'm afraid I didn't get the names of the other four who were on acoustic guitar, bass and double bass, drums and second guitar, pedal steel guitar and more keyboards.

It was an inspiring night. Bob and his boys loped and preened and strutted their way through a fine set of about 18 songs. Similar to the night before. I recognised "It Ain't Me Babe" ( done nicely by Olivia Newton-John in the early 70's). The fourth song was a re-worked "Tangled Up In Blue" which I only recognised by about the third chorus. The first horripilation (and most certainly not the last) of the night. Bitter-sweet countrified folk blues. Oh, yeah, I've just spotted Bob's Oscar sitting on the corner of his speaker, next to the keyboards. Can't remember what he won it for now, but I think it's been omni-present on his recent tours. Better than sticking it in the toilet (like Glenda Jackson does) anyway. A few more songs and an absolutely stunning reworking of "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall". Again, I didn't recognise this song until halfway through and then I burst into tears of joy. As for trying to sing along, well, fuhgeddaboutit! He's changing the pace and tempo of his singing, almost spitting the lyrics out in disdainful appreciation. Then, there's a boogie-woogie inspired rendition of "Highway 61" with the audience stunned into rapture.

Towards the end of the set, the lights have gone menacingly red. The stage looks like Hell's Salon and Bob is bring an evil, twisted Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds vibe to his tunes. The complete overhaul is most devastating on "Ballad Of A Thin Man". I didn't realise what he was singing until the line about "Something's happening and you don't know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?" It's a masterpiece of menacing psycho-blues. Completely different from when he played the same song at The Coliseum in 1994. Then, it was an epic anthem. Cigarette lighters aloft. The crowd's singing along in "joyous tuneless abandon" (I think I may have plagiarised my earlier Bob review., but hey, why not always steal from the best?) It's a drop-jaw moment to be sure. Then the show is over. Cheers ring out for an encore. The lights stay dim, so I know one is coming. The band return after a couple of minutes.

The lights have gone heaven-bright white. Rebirth and joy after the dank gloom of the past few songs. The band kick off with "Like A Rolling Stone". The lyrics are mostly audible. More horripilation. The organ is swelling to the rafters. It is groovy-delic. Not quite up with the original with Al Kooper on Hammond organ. Or as epic as the live version on "Beyond(?) Before(?) The Flood" with The Band. But it slays the hulking demons that were littering the corners of the stage from 20 minutes ago. My only complaint was that it was too short. He could still be playing it now as I type this review and it would still be too short. That's how great the song is. The final encore is "Forever Young". Heartfelt and emotional, it ends the evening on the right uplifting note. The Master is back, like he never left and he's fucking rocked, bluesed and folked the bollocks off the evening. Yeah, that makes no sense. It's pure emotion babbling and bubbling over, but What A Show! Thank You, Bob, for showing us all how it should be done. I hope somewhere that MGMT were paying attention and taking notes.

The show is over by about 22:20. I meet Karina outside afterwards with P.K. and Tim and his brother Fred. It feels like a low-gravity zone as we're all so amped and buzzed. On the music, natch. I get a lift back to Central with Karina. Got the 23:30 ferry home in easy style. Thanks to the easy-going security and Live Ltd and Chugg for bringing His Bobness here and making it such a pleasant event. Can't wait for your next project....


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File comment: Photos by Les Knight, photo-editing & collage by L-G
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Last edited by Lamma-Gung on Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: His Bobness
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:02 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:18 pm
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Location: Glastonbury, UK
Great review, thanks Nick! For going on my behalf ... I'm sure everyone's told you he got the Oscar for Things Have Changed, the title track for one of my favourite movies - Wonderboys. Wendyx

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Lived on Lamma off and on from 1987 to 1993. Now inhabit Glastonbury, UK, but the sound of waves against the Lamma rocks lives on.


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