From Music

My Week in Stages – Part 1 (Dylan/Wilco)

This post is one of three that began as one long, too-big-to-not-fail post before being busted up, AT&T-like, into leaner and meaner ones. See also Part 2 (GRSF) and Part 3 (GP).

Wednesday, July 10

Saw Richard Thompson, My Morning Jacket, Wilco and Bob Dylan play at the Saints’ Stadium in St. Paul.

Thompson’s[1] set was unforgivably short and it is a crime that he was fourth-billed at a show such as this. Would love to see him play at the Fine Line sometime. I wasn’t familiar enough with My Morning Jacket’s music coming in to get much out of their set. But, Trampled by Turtles (I am a fan) joined them onstage for a three song set that turned out to be a highlight.

I have wanted to see Wilco play for a long time, and they did not disappoint. Great, high-energy set that featured a few of my favorites. They opened and closed with songs from their Mermaid Avenue album (a collaboration with Billy Bragg that consists of previously unpublished Woody Guthrie songs) and played a tune from Jeff Tweedy’s pre-Wilco band, Uncle Tupelo. But the biggest surprise was a rocking cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” played with members of My Morning Jacket! (See below for video of this performance.)

Bob Dylan closed the evening. I saw Dylan perform just seven months ago, and this is at least the fifth time I’ve seen him live.[2] The last 20 years of his career (1997-2016 or so) will be remembered for four outstanding albums[3] and thousands of live shows where he publicly ran his vocal cords into the ground. There have been great moments, but as a whole these shows have been increasingly disappointing to me. Really, it’s not so much his vocal cords as his “wind” that is the problem. His gravelly vocals fit many of his new songs like a glove, and can be put to good use on some of his oldies (not all of them). But he seems not able to “sing” more than a few syllables at a time, which turns every song into a sort of growling chant that fits almost nothing. In particular, I thought his rendition of “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” was a sacrilege.

Nevertheless, it was a fine night for an outdoor concert and nice to share it with Joann and parts of it with daughter Tammy and soon-to-be son-in-law Nick.

Wilco and My Morning Jacket cover “Cinnamon Girl”

 (Bonus: added September 2019)   Video of what, for me, was the highlight of the show.




Notes

  1. Richard Thompson was the subject of my first “musical thank you.” Whether or not you are familiar with this musical giant (you may know Fairport Convention?), you probably need to hear his “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” right now. See my Musical Thank You #1. [^]
  2. His “vocal chords run in the ground” or no, I saw Dylan again less than a year later. I even put together a film to mark the occasion! See A Very Short Concert Film. [^]
  3. The four albums are Time Out Of Mind, Love and Theft, Together through Life and Modern Times. Last year’s Tempest was a disappointment and, perhaps, the beginning of the end. [^]