Albuquirky

So I went to see the gig mentioned in the previous entry and I have just a little post to write on it.

Firstly, the venue was at a place called the Journal Pavilion, and was effectively a grass amphitheater facing a sizeable stage that’s buried in a valley. Country music, or country-inspired rock, isn’t really a very prevalent genre in the UK – and not knowing much about it anyway, this was an entirely new experience. At first I wasn’t a very good listener. Willie Nelson opened, but I was rather busy admiring the sky, which had upgraded itself to ‘epic’ for the sunset. The sun sank behind the east-facing stage and lit up the stratus clouds from below, whilst away to the south-east huge lightning giants shed a misty rain that evaporated before the ground, giving the impression that the bottom of the cloud was disintegrating into nothingness. The other thing that was distracting me was the crowd – there were two distinct subcultures at large. On the one side, you had a bunch of conservative folk in sensible dress, with their families, nodding appreciably at the music so familiar to them, and on the other hand you had tatty hippy stoners wreathed in tie-dye and cannabis smoke, raving away with abandon. It was pretty interesting – and gratifying, almost – to see these two erstwhile mortal enemies sustain a temporary truce.

Eventually I was able to turn my attention back to the music. I confess Willie Nelson was lost on me a bit, and I put that down to my inexperience with the genre. John Mellencamp was an energetic act that adroitly ignored his 57 years and did a good job getting the audience going with some fun, if a little superficial power ballads – and then Dylan.

I think I had an advantage here. I barely know any Dylan outside ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and ‘The Times They Are A-Changin”, so I had no pre-formed image to shatter. Unfortunately, it seemed about half the audience did, and I watched sadly as group after group streamed towards the exit, a sort of perplexed embarrassment on their faces. This isn’t what I came to see seemed to be the general sentiment. Dylan’s voice was scratchy, torn, occasionally unintelligible and half the time he dropped the melody. It was the voice of an old, old man.

But I thought the people leaving kind of missed the point. Perhaps it’s because I like Nick Cave, but the strained voice didn’t bother me at all. The texture, the cadence, and the sheer energy of this figure on the stage, far away, no more than two centimeters high in his white stetson hat… it overrode the crackle and snap of age. I don’t wish to sound self-righteous. If I knew more Dylan beforehand then perhaps I, too, might’ve been disappointed. But I didn’t, and I wasn’t.

Interesting day.

9 Responses to “Albuquirky”


  1. 1 Adam / Melkor 10/08/2009 at 7:21 am

    Gosh, people just picked up and left in the middle of his concert? Yikes, I feel bad for the guy. :/

  2. 2 Adam / Melkor 10/08/2009 at 7:25 am

    Oh, and to add…

    Colorado is probably my favorite place. It’s ridiculously beautiful – and the ever-looming mountains give you the impression that the land is massive. It feels… magical.

    Where, specifically, in Colorado are you going?

    I’ve gone up a couple times, once during the summer. I absolutely loved Boulder, and Estes Park. Trail Ridge Road is pretty amazing too, if you happen to be with someone who has a vehicle. It’s this winding road way high up in the Rockies. And it’s beautiful. There are some pictures of it on my Facebook.

  3. 3 Renée 10/08/2009 at 9:30 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever left a concert. Or a movie. Once I pay for something, I’m in. haha. It sounds like quite an experience.

  4. 4 Jason 10/08/2009 at 11:09 am

    Willie was the best part of the show in my opinion.

    I already had an idea of what Dylan would sound like at this stage in his career from articles and such. He lived up to the sound of what has been written, craggly or to be nice, a voice of experience. I am a huge Dylan fan so it was a treat more or less to actually see him. He’s such a cranky old fart that he doesn’t really apologize for the sound and for the changes in his songs that he’s surely played a thousand times before. You either get him or you don’t; you paid the money so he could care less that you walk out.

    This was the first time I had seen Willie. The atmosphere and his songs was much more lighthearted and much more festive. Being from Oklahoma and Texas I have much more background than most to the music he plays, which in all honesty, transcends genres in my opinion. If you step away from superficiality for a moment you will consider his music to be plain old, “American Music”. It is a mixture of country and western, gospel and Gerswhin standards. Look at Willie’s audience and you can see that his music crosses many of those lines that critics create and people align themselves with.

    Not a bad show in a neat venue.

  5. 5 rayofash 10/08/2009 at 1:11 pm

    Rocky mountain high
    oooooo Colorado

  6. 6 Renée 10/08/2009 at 3:42 pm

    Really, the Nelson, Mellencamp, and Dylan are an incredible example of Americana in music. Quite a box to check off in the “Experience America” category.

  7. 7 JonXP 11/08/2009 at 3:07 am

    “It was pretty interesting – and gratifying, almost – to see these two erstwhile mortal enemies sustain a temporary truce.”

    Keep in mind that more than likely the former group was part of the latter group until they had to “grow up”. I wouldn’t say they’re enemies, they just took different paths.

  8. 9 Dweebston 15/08/2009 at 10:17 pm

    (AKA Rhysatti)

    I’d hoped to turn Phil on to a little CCR or Dire Straits, given this was the music I’d grown up listening to (I didn’t come into Mellencamp or Nelson until quite recently, sadly), but given the lack of digital hookup in my car, we’d made do with polite conversation and the patter of rain.


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