Bob Dylan. Wembley, 1984.
Bob had done a few Christian albums after 1978 that weren’t really up to much. “God Gave Names To All The Animals” from “Slow Train Coming” was appalling. He was still Bob though and it was his turn to play the world’s big stadiums that year. Uncle Greg had never seen Bob, I’d never been to Wembley Stadium, so we went along on spec. Bought tickets off a tout for 10 quid each and went in.
Wember-lee! We entered into the arena. It’s big! There’s the twin towers! Place is packed. Smell of turf, rubber, sweat, beer, smoke. Got to the half way point of the pitch, to the right of the mixing desk. Caught the end of Santana which was all head-back, eyes-closed, axe noodling. No video screen so they were diddy little images in the distance. 4 heavy looking miners stared at us. Greg’s 6’5” and has one of those faces. We supported the Miners in principle but when you met a real one there was a huge divide. We had some hash oil which, like Red Leb and Afghan Black, is a very rare thing these days. Skunk hadn’t become the norm yet. We were very relaxed after the initial wave of Miners paranoia.
And then, BOB! Ecstatic reception. Bob in long leather coat, shades and battered top hat. The Joker Man hisself. He did all the biggies but hard and fast. Some tunes were only recognizable after about 2 verses. A girl was sitting on a mate’s shoulders ahead, blocking the view. “Sit down, girlie!” we yelled in our best Glasgow. That got a cheer from those around us. Another girl stood in front of me and started grinding her bum into my crotch. I started fondling her boobs under her T-shirt. Weird. Nice, but weird.
It was a good show. Loud and the mix was good. You could hear Bob’s rasp clearly. Mick Taylor, ex-Stones, was on guitar and it was very rock-y. “Maggie’s Farm” got a huge cheer with its line about not working on it no more. “Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat”. ”Mr Tambourine Man”. “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.” “Blowing In The Wind”. “Tangled Up In Blue”. “All Along The Watchtower.” “Like a Rolling Stone”. He wrote that! Van Morrison and Eric Clapton came on for the encores. Finished with “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”. 72,000 happy punters and a much better gig than Blackbush 6 years earlier. Well, by this time I knew the songs, which helps. By the end of the decade Bob had started his Never Ending Tour and now regularly plays 3,000 capacity venues. The days of enormo gigs behind him.
Trudging out we got paranoid about the security cameras and secretly popped the rest of the oil into the back of a random guy’s ruck-sack. He looked the sort.