Bob Dylan @ Ottawa Bluesfest

bob dylan live2The predicted rain never fell last night and the night actually turned out to be perfect for watching an outdoor concert. A large crowd of 25,000 had assembled buzzing with the anticipation of seeing living legend Bob Dylan perform live.

Speaking of the crowd it was a very interesting assemblage of people there to see Mr. Dylan. Van Morrison wowed Ottawa the night before and there were still discussions and comparing of notes going on in the crowd before the Bob Dylan show. Music fans from everywhere came to watch and listen to the soundtrack of their lives. Right beside me was a guy from Chicago who had been to the Dylan concert n Quebec City, Burlington and Montreal. It was great to see that kind of devotion nowadays. Amazing! There definitely was a ‘Summer of Love’ vibe in the crowd as everyone was just there to have fun and enjoy a night of good music.

Like clockwork Dylan and his 5-piece band (Tony Garnier – bass, George Recile – drums, Stu Kimball – guitar, Denny Freeman – lead guitar, Donnie Herron – steel guitar and violin) came onto the stage at 9 o’clock accompanied by a taped recording introducing the legend that is Bob Dylan. They kicked off the show with a rockin’ version of Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35 and rarely during the evening did they bring the pace down. Despite his sixty six years make no mistake, Bob Dylan can still rock. Dylan started off by playing guitar on the first four songs. He then moved on to keyboard and harp for the rest of the show. It was nice to see that he still enjoys playing as he bobbed along with the music most of the evening.

I guess like many other recent reviews I am bound to discuss the voice and the arrangements of the songs. Dylan’s voice, which was never his strong suit, has somehow become raspier, he really does justice to some songs and they sound better than ever. If you are looking for Dylan to play his songs as he recorded them then I advise you to stay at home and listen to his studio recordings or you will be disappointed. Like many great jazz performers he continually tinkers with his arrangements, keys and pacing of his songs. The reinterpretation of his own music is what keeps fans coming back year after year and show after show.

There are very few artists whose music is timeless, but this is certainly an adjective you can use when describing Dylan. It is not his voice that attracts people (see above) it really is the lyrics. He most certainly is one of the few poets of the music industry. Bob Dylan’s words are what people connect with most and the man himself is timeless. After the first two Main Stage stage events I have to say that the Ottawa Bluesfest is coming in like lion!

1) Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35
2) Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
3) Watching the River Flow
4) It’s All Right, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
5) Girl of the North Country
6) Rollin’ and Tumblin’
7) When the Deal Goes Down
8) Honest With Me
9) Spirit on the Water
10) Tangled Up in Blue
11) Masters of War
12) Highway 61 Revisited
13) Like A Rolling Stone
14) Thunder on the Mountain
15) All Along the Watchtower

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