Torontoist realizes that in some cases there’s no point adding another concert review to the pile. But since we love concerts and our over-educated minds can’t turn off their on-going critical evaluations, we present a review of the reviews. This post: last night’s Bob Dylan concert at the Air Canada Centre.
Publication: Toronto Sun
Writer: Bill Harris
Title: Dylan ain’t a changin’. Ignoring the grammatical fumbling of the reference to an album title (The Times They Are A-Changin’– the hyphen is part of the slang and signifies that the “changin’” isn’t a noun), the album itself was released 43 years ago. Surely one of the countless albums or songs since then might have offered a less exhausted pun? (Apparently not- later Harris writes, “And as Dylan should know as well as anyone, the times do change.”)
Pretentiousness: “That is in no way meant to question the 65-year-old Dylan’s status as a legend or his continued above-average output in the recording studio.” Let’s not kid ourselves, Bill Harris- nobody’s in the position to question Dylan’s status as a legend, most of all not the Toronto Sun.
In short: “You could close your eyes and still feel as if you were getting your money’s worth.” Is Harris suggesting that he didn’t receive press accreditation or that the value of the show was $0?
Torontoist Grade: 5.72 (out of 10)
Toronto Star review after the jump.
Publication: Toronto Star
Writer: Vit Wagner
Title: Dylan tangled up in blues groove. Wagner outdoes Harris by punning a slightly less obvious track, “Tangled Up In Blue” from 1974’s Blood on the Tracks. (Bonus points for extra relevance, since this song was actually played at the concert.) But the resulting wordplay would make little sense if you weren’t scanning the paper for a review of the show.
Pretentiousness: “Last night’s show wasn’t a shoddy effort, but it was probably the least engaging of the seven that the 65-year-old performer has delivered in Toronto this decade. … Typically, Dylan was mute between songs, not even bothering to so much as nod in the audience’s direction or express gratitude for the applause.” Wagner’s position on Dylan is confusing, in that he seems both well-read on the musician and still critical of standard Dylan behaviour. An aloof concert repartee? That’s been characteristic of his public persona since… well, since he’s had a public persona. And it certainly isn’t something that’s been a recent development over the last 10 years.
In short:“Dylan’s current album, Modern Times, includes his take on the Muddy Waters’ standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” By the time Dylan and his five accompanists got around to playing that song, nine tunes in, it felt like another variation on the same bluesy theme applied to “Positively 4th Street,” “Highway 61” and other classics.” Evidently knowledgable enough to make a sly reference to Dylan’s recent air of plagiarism, Wagner wisely aims his critique at both more pertinent issues and ones within his field of expertise: the songs don’t have to sound like the record, just don’t make them all sound the same.
Torontoist Grade: 8.333 (repeating) (out of 10)