Friday, May 01, 2015

Bob Dylan, Pugilist At Large

My first Bob Dylan "Live" experience was in the Winnipeg Arena, 1988. Timbuk3 opened for him, followed by a merch booth break, then the headline act. It was a "band" show, with SNL then-staple G.E. Smith keeping the train on the rails.

It struck me at the time as a perfunctory bit of business. I can't recall if the set lasted an hour, but there's no way it exceeded it. While the crowd whistled and stomped for the expected encore, Dylan and band took a smoke break. The most memorable visual I have of that evening is of the sparks flying off Dylan's discarded turkey-butt, which he flicked out before him onto the stage, then crushed with his Frye boot.

Two more songs, and the show was over.

It came out later that, following the show, Dylan and Smith high-tailed it to Corner Boys, a struggling dive owned by famed "Golden Boy" Donny Lalonde, where they delivered the more memorable show, to a considerably smaller audience. Lalonde was apparently, as the parlance goes, "a close personal friend" of Dylan's.

Me and my mates had a lot of fun improvising conversations between the singer and the boxer. But nothing so strange as what probably did, in fact, take place. Anyway, this weird little echo from a distant corridor of my mind comes tumbling into the foremost chambers thanks to Sarah Kurchak's profile of Dylan's lifelong love (and practice) of The Sweet Science -- "Cassius Clay, Here I Come: Bob Dylan and Boxing" -- over here.


Joel said...

Bob Dylan was the first proper rock concert I ever went to. Back in 1996. He actually put on quite a good show, despite there being a small crowd. So I actually have no complaints about his performing enthusiasms or interactions with the crowd, but then I'm sure he probably has good nights and bad nights.

Darrell Reimer said...

'88 was when I started attending concerts in earnest. I saw Dylan (and Smith) again two years later, at Toronto O'Keeffe Centre. That show was a little rowdier, but by then I'd seen a pile of shows put on by kids who didn't quit til they (and their audiences) were puddles. Fifteen years after that, I could once again dig The Man's measured approach to the performer/audience compact. But at the time he seemed a bit...stingy.