The Barnfield Theatre, Exeter
I wouldn’t have gone if an old mate hadn’t talked me into it. Don’t get me wrong, I gave up being sniffy about tribute acts a long time ago after seeing the Bootleg Beatles, Think Floyd, Bookends, Roxy Magic and others who are absolutely terrific, but I really wasn’t sure about this….and I was right not to be. The show is an outline of Bob’s career, with a mostly predictable soundtrack performed live by Bill Lennon as the Zim – outlier selections include It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry and Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat, but all the usual suspects are present and correct. Oddly, they try to vary a couple of songs by departing from the recorded versions – Hurricane has the first verse spoken and acted by the band, and Knocking On Heaven’s Door is done as a singalong. The band are good, and the versions of Rainy Day Women Nos 12 & 35 and Highway 61 are really good, but the weakness here is Bill Lennon’s aproximation of Bob’s vocal sound. It occurs to me that it is easy to mimic the nasal version of Bob for comic effect, but to do it straight is tricky – sure he sounds like him for 50% of the time, but when it’s wrong, it just sounds like…well…off key singing, which isn’t really the point. They use back projections of news and some of Bob himself, but this is really underused – it is, however, effective when showing film of Vietnam during Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall…we see the B52s in action, along with the poor civilians on the ground, and it is evocative of the era without doubt.
As you can imagine, the 60s Bob is what we mostly get here, with a nod to Blood On The Tracks, Planet Waves and Desire, but the only ‘late’ song is Make You Feel My Love – this is just totally absurd as it sounds like neither Dylan’s late voice or Adele for that matter. The 80s and the new covers albums are, probably wisely, ignored.
It was just over half full with, mostly, fans from back in the day
It made me think..
…that maybe some acts just aren’t suitable for a tribute act