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Thursday, 5 June 2008

One fan melts Bob's 'icy' heart in St Petersburg

I've just been reading a fan review of Bob's first ever performance in Russia (barring an appearance at a Moscow poetry festival in July 1985 that was not open to the general public) on Tuesday night and did a little translation to keep my hand in.

[I'll skip the first few sentences; the writer of the review (who blogs on Live Journal under the name beatgene) is part of St. Petersburg's beat scene (Beatles and Kinks fans), and the first couple of sentences are about her arriving at Ledovyy (the Ice Palace) well before the start of the show and meeting up with other people she knew from her Beatles forum. She sounds a really sweet girl; a shame Bob couldn't have been be a bit more responsive to his Russian fans.]

They were allowed in at 7pm: "I was in the second row of the orchestra stalls, pretty cool. But this is where the bewilderment started—the crowd didn't particularly increase. That is to say, there were around 150 of us standing in the stalls with the proverbial one-and-a-half cripples. By the start of the concert, we were feeling awkward about the far from full hall. Heck, Bob Dylan himself has come! For the one, and most likely, the only time. The entire Ledovyy department that was involved in promoting the concert should be fired as effing useless. Along with the security, who, seeing me focusing my camera lens on the as yet empty stage, sternly reported that photographs were strictly forbidden, all complaints [should be made] to the organizers. "Carry on taking pictures for now, kids; but when the concert starts, you won't be allowed to continue."

And now about Bob.

I'm a clever cookie, I don't think I expected from him fiery speeches, shouts of "Hiya, kids!", and the songs of his I love. The one thing I didn't count on was that he would change the arrangements of some numbers so much. No, they sounded good. Interesting. Only in places, unrecognisable; it was possible to sing along only with Just Like A Woman and Like A Rolling Stone. Well, for me anyway.

As everyone knows by now, Bob played only keyboards and harmonica.


1. Cat's In The Well (Bob on keyboard)
2. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (Bob on keyboard)
3. Rollin' And Tumblin' (Bob on keyboard)
4. Tangled Up In Blue (Bob on keyboard)
5. The Levee's Gonna Break (Bob on keyboard)
6. Girl Of The North Country (Bob on keyboard)
7. John Brown (Bob on keyboard)
8. Honest With Me (Bob on keyboard)
9. Just Like A Woman (Bob on keyboard)
10. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (Bob on keyboard)
11. Workingman's Blues #2 (Bob on keyboard)
12. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on keyboard)
13. Spirit On The Water (Bob on keyboard)
14. Summer Days (Bob on keyboard)
15. Ain't Talkin' (Bob on keyboard)
16. Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on keyboard)
17. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard)

There was a tense atmosphere; either Bob was tired or didn't especially like the St. Petersburg public. I didn't fully understand it, but he smiled little, spoke even less, came out for one encore, bowed, and left. And for the first time I clearly understood right away that they wouldn't return [for a second encore]. Even with Chuck Berry I had some hopes.

But this time... I don't even know what the reason was, whether it was general tiredness from concert performances, the far from full hall, or some other reason.

But all the same he's a big shot. All the same, he's a legend. And people love him. Standing nearby us were a little group of sweet Italians who devotedly follow Dylan round all the towns where he plays—real fanatics. Probably Russia appearing on his itinerary surprised them a bit!

And they still wouldn't let me take pictures. I thought that I 'd got into position successfully—the security man in front of me didn't see, I started snapping without a flash. It should have worked out fine. But it turns out, they [security] rushed down from the stage area. As a result, a security guy managed to get to me from behind and politely invited me to stop.

A few shots remained. I feel ashamed about showing them, of course, but what can you do—there won't be another time, as I understand. No, I didn't take them on a cell phone.

Well, that is that. My impressions are truly mixed. They don't fit into the usual rubric of liking or not liking something. I went to see Bob Dylan. I saw him. And I'm very happy indeed with this. Thanks to him for coming. And thanks to infobeat [name of another Live Journal blogger] for getting Bob to make a peace sign in his direction. It melted his icy heart. [There is a pun here on the name of the venue, of course].

Well, beatgene, that's a nice review, and your photos are nothing to be ashamed about. I hope you don't mind me showing them here. I hope this translation is okay, I'm a bit out of practice with colloquial Russian; I haven't translated anything but financial and legal documents and technical specifications for a long time!


mike s said...

great post! Its a bit sad that Bob's first proper concert in Russia was such a badky attended and low key event- I'm sure if it had been promoted correctly there would have been a sellout crowd. Very strange!

pauline said...

Those photos are absolutely beautiful! The third one is now gracing my desktop. It breaks my heart to hear that the concert was so poorly attended. I would so love to have been there myself. Bob does not have an 'icy' heart. It's enough to be in the same room and hear his songs.