BOB DYLAN in concert; ParkWest; One show only; June 13.
Security was tight at the Bob Dylan concert in ParkWest Monday night: no coolers, no metal containers, no hand grenades or plastic explosives allowed.The promoters didn't want things to get out of hand.
But the promoters didn't have to worry. This wasn't Friday night at the drag races. This was a good old-fashioned '60s love-in.
This was church.
It was an amazingly young crowd at the show. Some of the teens danced "the surf" to Dylan's "Maggie's Farm," which was almost as weird as the flashbacks some of the old LSD-poppers seemed to be having. People sang along for the most part, flashed the peace sign and soaked for a couple of hours in the warm bath of their musical heritage.
As for the performer, he came dressed in an embroidered jacket - like many of the "neo-desperado" California pop groups wear - showing the man's following a few more trends in 1988 than he's setting. But one had to be impressed with how hard he worked. Dylan didn't toss this concert off. He was all gut and nasal passages, with the same fervor he brought to the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. His voice - always one of the most expressive - has mellowed and now packs the resonance and wisdom of age. He's gotten better.
The songs this time around seemed to form a potpourri of his own personal favorites: "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," "It's All Over Now Baby Blue," "Tangled Up in Blue," "Gates of Eden." About half way through, Dylan hauled out his acoustic guitar and went into "Boots of Spanish Leather," "Hard Rain" and an eerie little version of the English folk ballad, "Barbara Allen."
The band was just three, young working musicians - a bass, lead guitar and drum. The sound had the feel of a funky little R & B group working out in somebody's garage; a lot of walking bass and boogie-woogie with the lead guitar doing hundreds of quacky, brassy guitar licks. (magine the guitar opening to "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds and you've made the guitar.)
In the '60s we hung on Dylan's every word. Monday night many of us put a little distance between the singer and ourselves and took stock. Some of the hip trendiness that went down like a dinner in the '60s now seems a bit self-conscious and superficial.
Perhaps, in the end, the big story at the Bob Dylan concert was that the man who broke new ground in the '60s still trades heavily on the '60s while his fans have used his vision to build on.
He sang a couple of hours, then left the stage. It took fans about 10 minutes to clap him back out to sing some more. When he returned, it was young Bobby Dylan again, the Bob Dylan from the "Freewheelin' " album; just a man, his guitar and a couple of fervent ideas about life, love and politics.
He took everyone back to the beginning.
He sang "Blowing in the Wind."