Sunday, October 18, 2009

STUCK INSIDE OF PHOENIX WITH THE AIRHEADZONA BLUES AGAIN

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[Airheadzona Fairgrounds & Veterans Memorial Coliseum.]
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Last night, my brother Napoleon and I met my buddy, The Great L.C., and his buddy, Mike, at the Arizona State Fair here in Phoenix and we attended the concert of living legend Bob Dylan. (L.C. said he liked the “Robert Johnson: King Of The Delta Blues Singers” T-shirt I was wearing. I told him I purchased it at a Robert Johnson concert but he wasn’t buyin’ that.) I had never seen Dylan before, and this was the first music performance by anyone that I have paid to see in at least fifteen years. The audience was still holding up Bic lighters the last time I paid to hear a concert.

Napoleon and I got there a few hours early so we could check out the scene and walk the fairgrounds, enjoying our glorious 102 temperature. A high of 102 on October 17th – is that sick, or what? Nappy and I had our house on the market for much of 2008, hoping to get the hell out of hell. We’d like to move to Reno, where the livin’ is easy and the booze and chicks are cheap. But thanks to the healthy condition of our economy [Cough!-Cough!], we never even got a nibble on the house. One of the many Bob Dylan songs I really like is “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” from his 1966 album Blonde On Blonde. I sometimes sing along to it at home, but I change the lyrics to “Stuck inside of Phoenix with the Airheadzona Blues again.”

On the Airheadzona State Fairgrounds there’s an arena called Veterans Memorial Coliseum which is tucked in amongst the face-painting stations, the giant alligator, the miniature horse, the big pig, the hot-dog-on-a-stick vendor and the Fried Twinkies stand. That’s where we saw the living legend perform.
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[Don't be fooled by the tree; like everything else in Phoenix (except the heat), it's fake.]
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Our seats were fairly close to the stage, near the “Exit - stage left.” The six-man band was tight and I thought the sound mix was good, as I could hear each instrument distinctly. Zimmy played keyboards on most numbers and he played the harmonica on two songs. (How can you be sure you’ve seen “The Real Zimmy” if he don’t blow a Bit O’Harp?)

I really like the voice Dylan is wearing these days. Time has turned it into a mohair sweater that has been put in the washing machine and then hung on a hanger while still wet until it has stretched out to twice its normal size. It’s all scratchy and hangs down to his knees. (During the show, Nappy asked me, “Did Bob Dylan ever have throat cancer?” Meanwhile, Mike was asking L.C., “Has Bob Dylan ever had throat cancer?”)
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[Fair Fare: Porkchop-On-A-Stick.]
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The band was dressed all in black and so was Dylan. But the leader of the band had a white stripe running down the sides of his pants - that’s how you could tell he was the quarterback of this team. Lead guitarist Charlie Sexton is about the coolest looking dude I’ve seen in a long time. With his long, lean frame and his Rockabilly hair style, he looks like an elongated reincarnation of Eddie Cochran. Now that’s “cool.”

Frankly, I was a tad disappointed that Dylan didn’t perform even one of his once-controversial Christian songs from the Slow Train Coming album, and I think The Great L.C. was a bit disappointed that Dylan didn’t do even one song from his classic heartbreak album Blood On The Tracks. Nappy was disappointed that they stopped selling beer after “All Along The Watchtower” - the evening’s final song. Mike was disappointed that he couldn’t make out any of the lyrics. And in complaining about that after the show, he delivered the evening’s funniest line: “I speak four different languages, but not THAT one.” Well, I guess it just wouldn’t be Bob Dylan if he didn’t disappoint every single fan about one thing or another.
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[Living Legend burning up in the Phoenix heat.]
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Dylan has rearranged the old songs almost beyond recognition. After one particularly hard-rocking number, I said to Nappy, “You knew that one, right?”
He asked, “What was it?”
I said, “Highway 61 Revisted.”
“You mean the one with ‘God said to Abraham, Kill me a son’?”
“Yeah”, I answered.
Nappy said, “That was THAT?!”

The first song Dylan played in a three-song encore was something that sounded vaguely like his signature tune “Like A Rolling Stone.” (When Zimmy sang the line “Napoleon in rags and the language that he used”, I pointed my thumb at brother Napoleon who nodded . . . off to sleep.) Unfortunately, Dylan didn’t play the one song that Nappy and I had been calling out for while awaiting the encore: “Free Bird.”

Oh well, maybe he’ll do “Free Bird” the next time he returns to Airheadzona. Whenever that is, I’m sure that Nappy and I will still be stuck here.
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[Living Legend backed by special effects.]
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“Oh, Mama, can this really be the end?
To be stuck inside of Phoenix
With the Airheadzona Blues again.”

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

THE AIRHEADZONA SET LIST:
Cat's In The Well
Lay, Lady, Lay
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
Love Sick
If You Ever Go To Houston
Highway 61 Revisited
Workingman's Blues #2
Thunder On The Mountain
Ballad Of A Thin Man
Like A Rolling Stone
Jolene
All Along The Watchtower
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4 comments:

arlee bird said...

Stephen--

That was a fine review of the Dylan concert. I guess you can call it a review-- whatever it was it definitely had your stamp on it and I found it to be entertaining.

I haven't paid for a concert in a large venue in years-- no probably decades. I find it hard to justify paying for a concert ticket that costs more than a good box set by the artist. At least the CD's will give me multiple opportunities of listening enjoyment for years, whereas the concert I might forget in a few days. Out of all the concerts I attended bak in the '70' I only remember maybe 4 or so and I'm not totally certain of the acurracy of those memories. Don't get me wrong, I love live concerts, but anymore they are just too expensive and too much of a hassle to deal with. Guess I'm just an old fart, but I'll take a good DVD concert on my home big screen any day and then crawl up to my bed without having to worry about leaving my $20 parking space and sitting in all that traffic.

But you got to see a legend and that's pretty cool, although in Phoenix not as cool as it might have been elsewhere.

Lee

Anonymous said...

Mr. McCarthy-

I am disappointed you do not like my arrangements. Maybe you'd like to play "Like A Rolling Stone" every night for forty years...night after night...verse after verse...always the same...

And as for your non-cultured compadre who didn't understand what I was singing...he's probably one of those mindless idiots who send me fan mail asking for a lyric sheet with the albums. Maybe he should learn to listen more intently.

As for my voice....well it ain't as bad as Tom Waits and I don't hear you complaining about him!

You were surrounded by pretty young girls, the beer was flowing and it only cost ya thirty bucks. What more can ya ask for in these troubled times that are-a-changin'?

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

rLEE-b ~
Thanks, Brotherman. Yeah, I'm not sure if this was a review, a compliment, a complaint, or a hangover. But whatever else it may have been, I fear it was "me."

>>[I find it hard to justify paying for a concert ticket that costs more than a good box set by the artist.]<<

I hear ya loud and clear. In fact, L.C. and I have voiced that same complaint several times. As L.C. has said: Back in the '70s, a concert tour was meant to promote a new album release; nowadays, it's more like the opposite - an album release seems to be the promo for an upcoming tour. It's all turned upside down... just like everything else in "this world."

>>[But you got to see a legend and that's pretty cool, although in Phoenix not as cool as it might have been elsewhere.]<<

Ha! You got THAT right! For me, the main consideration WAS the fact that Dylan is unquestionably one of the very most influential performers in Rock 'N' Roll history but he's getting up there in age. How many more opportunities can I realistically expect to have of seeing him perform live? With tickets selling for just $20. in practically my own backyard, I figured this was a "one time deal" I should jump at.

~ Bourbonboy McCarthy, Doggtor of Wock 'N' Woll

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

MR. DYLAN ~
Wow! I feel honored that you would take time out from your tour to leave a comment on my Blog. I may never wash my computer monitor screen again!

>>[Maybe you'd like to play "Like A Rolling Stone" every night for forty years...night after night...verse after verse...always the same...]<<

Actually, that's the exact argument for the new arrangements that I gave my brother Napoleon on the drive home from your show. I do understand, Mr. Dylan - I do "get it." However, who says you have to play "Like A Rolling Stone" every night anyhow? Why not let The Rolling Stones play "Like A Rolling Stone" every night while you play "Free Bird"... or something REALLY challenging like "(You're) Having My Baby" or "I Am Woman."

You know, Bob (may I call you that?), there was a time when you were not concerned about meeting your audience's expectations. (Remember "going electric"? Remember "going Christian"?) While your fans are calling out for "Like A Rolling Stone", why can't you just muster the courage to give 'em the finger and tell 'em to "F.O."? It's your show, Bob, you should be able to play whatever you want.

>>[And as for your non-cultured compadre...he's probably one of those mindless idiots...]<<

Oh, so you know him too?

>>[As for my voice....well it ain't as bad as Tom Waits and I don't hear you complaining about him!]<<

That's because you don't hang out with me. If you did, you'd know that I complain about Tom Waits' voice every single day and twice on Sundays. But, B., you misunderestimated me, because I was being truthful when I said I like your new "stretched out mohair voice."

>>[You were surrounded by pretty young girls, the beer was flowing and it only cost ya thirty bucks. What more can ya ask for in these troubled times that are-a-changin'?]<<

"FREE BIRD!!!"

~ "Lonesome Dogg" Stephen, worshipper of The Divine Ms. Dylan

Postscript: B., how's that "HOPE and CHANGE" you voted for workin' out for ya?