Bob Dylan and his band and Mark Knopfler and his band performed at the Saddledome in Calgary last night and here are a few thoughts on that event . . .
I have seen Bob Dylan 4 times now, going back 10 years when I saw him at the Saddledome in Calgary with my friend Bob White. That was a great show, as I recall, and what I remember most vividly all these years later is Dylan’s virtuosity on the guitar. He was flanked then as he still is now by Charlie Sexsmith who is as good as they come. It was a one-two punch that I will never forget.
Most recently, I saw Bob Dylan and his band in Lethbridge this August. I wrote a blog post about that show in August, which you can access in the archive section of my blog to the left of this post. Nothing about Dylan and his band’s performance last night changed anything I wrote about the Lethbridge show.
The thing that stands out the most is Dylan’s engaging personality as it comes through in his performances these days. 10 years ago, he may have seemed more remote and less personable. At the Lethbridge performance, I found him to be surprisingly engaging and fun. I wondered if that was in part due to a smaller venue, but that was not the case. He was all of that and more in Calgary last night.
The playlist and the way the songs got played was not really different than it was two months ago. If anything, as the band goes on with this never-ending tour, they are more tight than ever. I would think if you know anything about North American culture over the last 50 years or so, you would think it worth while and money well spent to see the man who gave us “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” perform these iconic songs live and in person.
My friend Zenon took me to the concert in Lethbridge, and to last night’s concert as well. (He is a very good friend!) Even while we were in Lethbridge, we had heard that he had added Mark Knopfler to the card, and that Dylan and Knopfler would appear together in Calgary a few months hence, so Zenon decided we should see what that was all about.
At the time, and I suppose even going into last night’s concert, we weren’t sure how it worked, if MK would actually play with BD and his band, or if it would be a separate act.
Well, when you think of it, with Charlie Sexsmith as the lead guitarist in the BD band, where would MK fit in? He wouldn’t. So what we saw in Calgary and what you will see if you’re yet to catch them on this tour is an hour set by MK and his band followed by a slightly longer set by BD and his band.
I have seen MK before, when he came to Regina in the late 80’s with Dire Straights. It was one of the best concerts I have ever seen, and I was anxious to see MK in concert again.
He didn’t disappoint. (Except maybe for the British bloke near me who kept yelling out “Romeo and Juliet!” between songs.) With his amazingly versatile 8 piece band he laid out an hour of new and intricate and complex and decidedly Gaelic-sounding work. The virtuosity of all these musicians coupled with an amazing sense of ensemble playing made MK’s portion of the evening one of the greatest musical events I have witnessed in some time.
When it ended, and after the encore of the only song I recognized from MK’s earlier days, “So Far Away From Me,” I felt it was ending far too soon and I was left with that hollow feeling that the party was over and yet I still wanted more.
However, that feeling didn’t last too long. After all, the greatest poet of our generation was waiting in the wings . . .
Thanks for reading!