Monday, 5 July 2010



The omens weren’t good leading up to the day. A duo playing at the Strand hotel on the eve of the gig assiduously avoided any music by the man and when a request for same was shouted up by a member of the audience the reply was arrogance and smart alec-ism personified, “ Yeah if you want to hear him he’s playing in Thomond Park tomorrow” Later in more contrite mode he elaborated, “I was actually going to do some Dylan tonight but I left it at home”. What he left at home wasn’t exactly clear, presumably the lyrics ! Hard to think that any musician worthy of the name could not rustle up a few bars of ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ off the top of his head ! Later I met a mother and daughter who had travelled from Leeds just to see Bob Dylan perform the last engagement of his European tour at Thomond Park here in Limerick city. The mam was a die hard fan and daughter a regular Glastonbury head and aspiring Dylan fan, this was a sort of musical coming-of-age pilgrimage for her.

Sunday 4 th of July dawned grey and windy, more Autumn than Summer and once again the omens were looking less that favourable. Mags and I walked the short distance from Ardhu to the rugby ground joining a trickle of people on the same mission and took our seats on the East Sand. Our tickets were for the West stand but that was closed off, presumably because ticket sales had been less than anticipated. A stiff westerly wind tore through the Stand as proceedings kicked off with local band ‘The Last Days of Death Country’ whose lead singer comes from Pallaskenry, Mags’ neck of the woods. They played their hearts out to a small but enthusiastic band of supporters who had gathered on the pitch just in front of the stage. They sounded fresh and energetic and I would definitely like to hear them again. Despite the biting cold weather the onset of the music lifted the spirits and for the first time I thought this could be a cracker! Next on stage was ‘Aabama 3’ ,who were superb with their rap/hip hop collection and more than a few Gospel references thrown in. Great soulfull anthems to warm the body and bless the soul. ‘Seasick Steve’ was up next and rocked the stage with old time Blues riffs and down home spun philosophy. With just a drummer he rocked the crowd and produced a startlingly full sound that filled the stadium. Al the while the weather was blowing hot and cold with clouds clearing for spasmodic bursts of sunshine and the threat of rain always imminent.

David Gray then did his thing, and I must confess his performance left me cold and was the only dud note in the musical line up of the day. At around 8 pm every seat had been occupied and the stage side crowd had swelled as Bob Dylan entered the arena. The sun that had been playing hide and seek all afternoon now shone brilliantly making it difficult to see the band on stage, using the hand as a shield one could just about make out the black suited troubadour complete with a beige coloured trilby. While visually the sun dipping into the West almost obliterated the view of Bob, acoustically the 69 year old songster dominated the stadium with his distinctive raspy voice and arresting lyrics. And it seemed that Mr Dylan was in good form. As he sang for nearly two hours and reprieved many of his old classics like, ‘Blowin In The Wind’, ‘Lay Lady Lay’ and a somewhat changed version of ‘Like A Rolling Stone’. He wasn’t in a hurry to leave and responded to an ovation by the 18.000 crowd to return and sing another handful of songs. This was a great performance by the song master and it was heartening for an oldster like me to see the generous mix of youth and age gathered together to soak in the living musical legend that is Bob Dylan. What finer way to spend American Independence Day than with one of her finest sons.

Gerard O'Shea

P.S....For those of you who have to know here is the full list of songs performed on the evening...

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Lay, Lady, Lay
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
Just Like A Woman
Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
Tangled Up In Blue
Rollin' And Tumblin'
Tryin' To Get To Heaven
Cold Irons Bound
Love Sick
Highway 61 Revisited
Workingman's Blues #2
Thunder On The Mountain
Ballad Of A Thin Man
Like A Rolling Stone
I Feel A Change Comin' On
Blowin' In The Wind

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