Bob Dylan and the Foo Fighters blew into London Friday night to play a sold-out show at the John Labatt Centre.
Bob Dylan and the Foo Fighters on one bill — can it get much better?
Friday marked the 1899th show of Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour,” which started in 1988.
Dylan, who hadn’t played in London since a few Alumni Hall shows in the ’90s, was welcomed back by a crowd of screaming fans, young and old.
Though the JLC’s concrete walls and stadium stands were a far cry from the intimacy of Dylan’s previous tour venues, the acoustics worked well.
The Foo Fighters were slightly louder than anticipated — the show was billed “Foo Fighters (Acoustic)” — but they didn’t disappoint.
Dave Grohl was a musical master, easily engaging the audience. The band members were giddy — they were clearly thrilled to open for Dylan.
Highlights included “My Hero,” “Best of You,” “Everlong,” and “Times Like These.”
With the smell of Nag Champa incense wafting through the air, Dylan’s stage manager introduced the star with a tongue-and-cheek account of Dylan’s life: “The guy who forced folk into bed with rock, who donned makeup in the ’70s, and disappeared into a haze of substance abuse, who emerged to find Jesus, who was written off as a has-been by the end of the ’80s, and who suddenly shifted gears, releasing some of the strongest music of his career in the late ’90s.”
On keyboards all night and supported by an all-star backing band, Dylan proved that at 65, he can rock like any young upstart.
Dylan has the unique ability to re-mould and re-shape song arrangements, giving them new life at every performance. Friday’s show was no exception.
Even standards like “Girl of the North Country” — featuring nicely-placed electric guitar licks by Denny Freeman — and “Desolation Row” got a dose of re-shaping.
Highlights included a tender and pulsating “Nettie Moore,” a timely “Masters of War,” a rocking “Highway 61 Revisited,” and “Not Dark Yet,” a rare gem from 1997’s Time out of Mind. Dylan played only three songs off his latest album, Modern Times.
Dylan, never much of a self-promoter, said little beyond introducing his band — he let the music do the talking.
Though Dylan has aged, his concentration hasn’t. Despite having already played 87 shows in 2006, the energetic Dylan proved he’s still capable of throwing together a great show.
Dylan sang, “You brought me here, now you’re trying to run me away,” in the “Thunder on the Mountain.” We’re not running you out of town Bobby — come back any time.