I've seen Bob Dylan perform. I've seen the Foo Fighters. But I've never seen them together. Stoked is not a strong enough word to describe how I felt when I heard they'd teamed up for a tour and that they'd be swinging through St. Paul.
I haven't seen the Foo Fighters since 1997 when the band headlined at Roy Wilkins. I remember they were so big back then, so significant to the rock scene. To see the band open for Bob Dylan last night at the Xcel Energy Center was cool—such a big venue, such an amazing headliner—but to have them be the opening act felt surreal (even singer/lead guitarist Dave Grohl commented on it).
The other crazy thing was the Foo Fighters' band—eight musicians, including a rockin' accordion player—played an acoustic set. This wasn't the hard-rocking, spunky band of the nineties that I remember. They brought back many of those memorable tunes, such as "Big Me," but they were subtler, tamer. They still rocked, but it was a toned-down sorta rock. (Though Grohl's gratuitous swearing kept the audience reminded this was a rock show.)
The entire evening was pretty tame, actually. The crowd was skewed very young, I thought, for Dylan. Maybe a lot of people were there just to see Grohl & Co.
Here's the thing about Dylan . . . I've seen him now three or four times, and though I've always had a great time at his shows, I think maybe they've seemed more important because of his idol status, and I'm not so sure I'll see him again. It's not that the shows are totally disappointing, but they're somewhat anticlimactic. In all those shows I've seen, he's only spoken to the audience once. I know he doesn't strongly claim his Minnesota roots, but can't he just acknowledge us a little?
Nevertheless, he looked and sounded good. His five-piece band was dressed in gray suiting, while he sported all black, with a black hat. I gotta say, hearing that legend on harmonica is thrilling. I'd hoped to hear him play some guitar, but he never left the keyboard.
They opened with "Maggie's Farm"—one of my favorites—then played a bunch of post-'70s stuff, with a couple other older tunes ("Highway 61 Revisited") thrown in here and there. I've got to hand it to him for playing both "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower" in the encore. But the encore came pretty fast. You're in your home state, playing the X . . . couldn't you at least do two encores if you're only going to play an hour-long set? What about "Hurricane," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Blowin' in the Wind," "Rainy Day Women"?
And one final note, to the management at the Xcel Energy Center: Whoever does your sound should get a raise.