Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bob Dylan in Concert

I don't know what it is about Bob Dylan, but I love his recorded music.

Back in about 1998, a guy I went to school with told me that he had been to a Bob Dylan concert, and that he had sounded like a drunk, scratchy, old man. He's 13 years older, so he could only improve with age, right?

I went to his Melbourne concert tonight and bought a t-shirt (because that's what Pirates do), and I was expecting to be disappointed, and I wasn't disappointed.

His vocals sounded like he was clearing his throat. There's a line in Things Have Changed that goes "I've used a camera" which came out more like "hyoo KA!" He'd pause for a couple of seconds, and then spit out a whole line or two quickly, frustrating any attempt to sing along, and one of the first things that struck me, was about half way through Don't Think Twice, It's Alright, people started applauding, because they'd just realised what song was being sung. This was a theme throughout the night, with people realising at different times what the current song was, as not only were the vocals generally unintelligible, the arrangements made the songs effectively unidentifiable.

I am pretty sure that Bob Dylan can actually sing though. There were times when a relatively clear, melodic voice would come through, and I'd find myself wondering why he couldn't sing more like that, but knowing that the answer was why I was there: It's Bob Dylan. It's kind of like Prince with Kiss. The little snatches of clear vocals are the reward for listening to the rest of it.

There were quite a few songs that I didn't recognise at all though. I'm not sure if I really didn't know the songs, or I just couldn't recognise the croaky vocals and new arrangements.

All of this was no real problem though, as this is what I had expected to see. The most annoying thing about the concert was the ticket seller: Ticketek. When I booked, their servers were busy crapping themselves, so I resubmitted before checking my email account, and of course ended up double-booking. In order to get a refund, I searched their website trying to find contact details, and of course couldn't, as Ticketek implement every Dark Pattern they can think of. I'd booked silver tickets, because the gold tickets were listed as "allocation exhausted". A couple of weeks later, I noticed that there were gold tickets available, so I got around to using Google, and searched for Ticketek contact details there and managed to find an enquiry form, so I submitted my request to refund one set of tickets and hopefully upgrade the other set.

I got an auto-reply, which included a phone number, so I followed the dark-pattern-filled path that they had set for me. I called the number (132849, in case you're wondering), and about 6 times over 3 hours, it was engaged. I finally got through and was on hold for around an hour. When I spoke to someone there, he tried to tell me that they had a strict no refunds, no exchanges policy. I wouldn't accept that, so he spoke to a manager, which was just his way of putting me on hold for another 5 or so minutes. I got the refund for the duplicate tickets, but he said that they couldn't let me upgrade the other tickets. I tried to pull out the old "misleading and deceptive" advertising thing (as I was lead into buying tickets that I didn't particularly want, because the ones I wanted were falsely listed as sold out), so he said he'd speak to a manager again and get back to me within a day, which never happened. Eventually, someone got to my email response and told me there was a strict no exchange or refund policy, however they had already given me a refund on the extra tickets by that point. Anyway, the point of all this is that my seat was shit.

Overall, I'm glad I went. It was what I expected, and as such, it was quite humorous. Bob Dylan is a legend and it was good to see him before 2024, by which time, I think his voice may be a little rusty.