Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Life In The Old Dog Yet

It's heartening to learn that travelling troubadour and songsmith, Bob Dylan, has claimed the No 1 spot in the UK Album Charts this week. Just a couple of weeks short of his 68th birthday, he's now the oldest artist to top the UK charts - a fact that should encourage all of senior age to keep plugging away.

It's incredible (and sobering) to reflect that it's 38 years since Bob last reached the pinnacle of the UK music trade. I had to wait until I returned from holiday before I could take Together Through Life out for a spin, and I'm pleased to say it was worth the wait. It's a warm and engaging album, suggesting someone who is at ease with himself for the first time in many years (check it out on Spotify, if you haven't already bought it).

It was surprising, therefore, that he chose not to play a single track from his new album when he appeared at the Liverpool Echo Arena last Friday. Watching Dylan perform live is always a challenge. His constant re-invention of his back-catalogue (surely one of the largest of any recording artist?) makes it hard to Name That Tune In One - they invariably emerge in a new style, with a new patina and presentation. Anyone seeing Bob play live for the first time will sometimes struggle to recognise even his most famous hits, so altered can they become when played on stage.

I was accompanied at the Arena by my latest squeeze, who hadn't seen Dylan live before, and she was aghast that so few people were dancing in the aisles - until she realised the number of zimmer frames that possibly impeded movement, that is. Thankfully, Dylan was off the stage by 9.40pm, so us oldies could be home for our Horlicks and bed in good time. Unless they were lured to Flanagan's Apple, that is, where the music can at least be guaranteed to get you bopping. In his younger days, one could imagine Bob himself visiting a live music venue like Flanagan's for an apres-show wind-down. Not now, of course. He'd be tucked up in bed by then, I'm sure, having kicked off his slippers and ensuring his false teeth were safely stored on his bedside cabinet. How I envied him that night.


Daddy Papersurfer said...

I never got into Bob Dylan - perhaps I should give him another go .....

Anonymous said...

i'll be holdin' my breath to find out what you think.