Walking toward the amphitheater, I saw as close to a complete double rainbow as I've ever seen. The lower one was bright and strong, horizon to horizon. The top one was fainter, but visible except for maybe the very top 10 percent. Framed in glory -- what a way to approach a show.
Tonight was my 10th Bob Dylan show, stretching back to 1996. (I had to check online to count 'em all: 1996 in Mesa, Dylan & Simon in San Diego and Phoenix in 1999, San Diego in 2000, Sun City in 2001, Phoenix and Tucson in 2002, Sun City and Tucson last year and then last night.)
Last night definitely beat last April at the TCC arena, largely due to the crowd, but mainly just the vibe in general.
I have to admit, I was looking forward to tonight's show with the least amount of enthusiasm I've had yet approaching a Dylan show. For one it's midweek, no road trip involved, I just saw him twice last year, and I don't really dig shows at the casino. Hell, I only bought my ticket last night and finalized plans on going with friends practically on the way there. I damn near felt guilty that I wasn't set on fire to see this show.
But hell, it's just about as strong a show as I've seen outta the man -- and I wasn't even backstage (like four of my 10 shows).
I love the songs off the new album. Dylan busted out five of the 10 Modern Times tracks, plus another two from Love and Theft. And he played for probably as long as any show I've seen -- 17 songs, when the last two were just 14.
My favorites from the night were the unexpected "Señor" (which I've really been digging in a new light after hearing an incredible Calexico version) and "Simple Twist of Fate" (which I've never seen before), "Masters of War" (which just gets more jagged every time I hear it performed) and "Workingman's Blues" (with a favorite line of mine, thanks to a shirt I have with it on the back -- 'You can hang back or fight you best on the front line'). And the band lit "Summer Days" and "Thunder on the Mountain" on fire, no doubt.
All in all a damn fine show, certainly in the top half of my 10 shows and definitely the best I've seen in a long while (maybe back to the last AVA performance), though last year's Sun City show had a very unique and intriguing set list.
My props go out to Josh and Andrea for taking in the show with me and transportating. Proper companions definitely take a show to the next level.
I guess that just leaves me with a final statement on Dylan's Never Ending Tour, the only one I've ever gotten to see and one I know a great deal about, with an insider's perspective courtesy of a certain "uncle" bus driver: each Dylan show gives you something unique; the set list couldn't be more flexible; but you have to kind of know what to expect (new melodies, a crazy sense of juxtaposition in regard to albums and eras; blues and folk sounds as much as rock; no banter); and more than anything, if his voice is sounding clear, you know you're in for a treat.
And as a last note, here's the most random and eerie thing of the whole endeavor:
Leaving the parking lot after the show, we were behind a car with the license plate: 724-AVA, which was the date and the venue of the show. Trippy dude, trippy.