Bob Dylan Rocks BJC “Like a Rolling Stone”
Legendary blues rocker Bob Dylan made it apparent that rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well at an unforgettable show at the Bryce Jordan Center last night.
The iconic “hero of the 60’s counter-culture” last appeared at Penn State back in 2006, and it was visible from the start that his Centre County fan base had missed him.
The packed crowd erupted into a roar when Dylan took the stage, swaying on an electric organ in a black suit. The band that accompanied him looked better fit for a Route 66 roadside bar then a State College concert hall.
The rust-colored stage lights shot a silhouette of Dylan in a shallow cowboy hat onto a leather brown backdrop. A feeling of western nostalgia filled the air, along with a heavy smoke that appeared to be coming from lit cigars. The scene was topped off as famed guitarist Charlie Sexton tore notes from a white Gibson Dot guitar that screamed through a tweed amplifier.
Dylan’s voice scratched from the speakers and resonated through the building as a relic of his dedication to the fast paced rock lifestyle he lived for so many years. However, this iconic rasp was a subject of great debate among the fans.
Some saw his aging voice and detachment from the crowd as a let down. One fan explained that the show was merely a way to pay homage to Dylan’s revered stature in music’s history rather than an appreciation of his talent. The 69-year-old rocker’s stage presence was awkward at times, consisting of haunting motions that resembled wax statues at a cheesy Disney attraction. He had no interaction with the crowd. His only word to his adoring fan base was “Thank you friends” and a mumbled introduction of the members of the band accompanying him.
Despite his disputed vocals, seeing a Dylan show was revered as a landmark in one’s life to many in attendance. “Is this your first time seeing Dylan?” was a common question heard in the halls of the BJC. Those who have followed the elusive career of the rock god saw his appearance on stage as monumental for three generations of fans.
A sea of students draped in tie dye and Dave Matthews Band tees was noticeably broken up by groups of older fans, who first fell in love with Bob when he started making waves in the mid-60’s. Old heads dressed in blue jeans and Hard Rock Cafe hats shared the Dylan experience with the younger crowd of this generation’s hippies. The concert was a way of bringing the distant gap formed by age together for a night.
As the curtain closed and Dylan made one last estranged hand gesture, fans couldn’t help but carry a harmonica melody with them in a quiet whistle. Whether it was a first Dylan show or just one encounter in a long line, seeing a legend in the blues world crawl from the magazine covers to grace the stage is something that will replay in memories for much longer than the duration of the 8-track recording.