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It Looks Like Things are Going to Change Now

Bob Dylan’s first concert on the U of MN campus since the early 60s. The promised election of Barack Obama. Both exciting, historic events. What happens when they occur on the same night? I was one of the lucky 4,800 people who got to find out if it would work, to see and take it all in.

Bob doesn’t talk much, in fact he didn’t say a word until introducing the band before the last song, but his song selection spoke volumes: The second song, The Times they are a Changing left barely a dry eye in the place. A very aggressive interpretation of Masters of War and a strong rendition of the stridently anti-war John Brown made it very clear that the protest songs of the early 60s are very relevant today. The last song was a rousing Blowin’ in the Wind.

The crowd was very aware of the special night too. Like I said, “Times? was very emotional, the line “there was revolution in the air? from Tangled Up in Blue got a huge response, as did the line Sometimes a President has to stand naked. Plus cell phones, blackberrys and I-phones were constantly being opened to look for election updates. Clearly revolution was in the air.

Bob was in rare form too. A couple of times he took center stage during a harmonica solo, sometimes with a dance step or two. The band was extremely tight and they just rocked during Summer Days and Thunder on the Mountain. I’ve been to a number of Dylan concerts and this by far was the rockingest, jammiest show I’ve ever experienced. The band was truly inspired.

Unfortunately Bob’s voice wasn’t able to rise to the moment. At times incomprehensible, Dylan’s voice was raspy, hoarse and not very strong. If you didn’t know the lyrics, you were hard pressed to even know what song was even being performed until you heard the chorus.

In the end, that didn’t matter. Bob even opened up at the end of the show. After introducing his band, Dylan stated that he was born in 1941. “That was the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. I've been living in darkness ever since. It looks like things are going to change now." The band then kicked into Blowin’ in the Wind.

As we were leaving the show it was announced that Obama won and in the lobby a big screen showed the results. People went crazy and as the lobby filled, additional people were added to the craziness. The party spilled out to the Northrop Mall where an impromptu rave was ramping up. People were singing Dylan songs, dancing filled the streets, and strangers hugging each other was the norm. Shouts of “Yes We Did? filled the air and for the first time in years the promise that Bob Dylan held out in his songs and career, seemed like it was in reach.

Here’s the song list:

Cat's in the Well
The Times They Are A-Changin'
Summer Days
This Wheel's on Fire
Tangled Up in Blue
Masters of War
Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
John Brown
Beyond the Horizon
Highway 61 Revisited
Shooting Star (with Dylan on guitar -- another rarity)
It's All Right Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
Under the Red Sky
Thunder on the Mountain
Ain't Talkin'
Like a Rolling Stone
Blowin' in the Wind


The times, they are a changin'--have the words "rave" and "Bob Dylan" every been so close in a sentence before?

George, you'd be surprised how often it actually happens here in Minnesota. We do love our hometown celebs.

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