Valencia this weekend is Yellow. For the visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVl. The town hall announced Thursday that from 4pm on Friday the whole of the centre of the city was to be closed to traffic. The preparations and organisation for this 26 hour visit have been staggering, a whole bridge closed off to make a stage and altar for the pope's address, whole streets on either side of the Rìo Turìa park closed to accommodate thousands of brand new plastic chairs and more portaloos than you thought existed in the world. Why am I telling you all this? Well, with all this going on, how does one get to a concert in the centre of town? We decided to risk driving in and were prepared to walk the rest of the way in. We needn't have worried, we got in to town in record time and parked up, legally, within 100 metres of the entrance to Viveros with enough time to get ourselves a leisurely drink and find a good spot to watch The Man amongst the 4,000 odd strong audience.
At ten past nine His Bobness and his five piece arrived on stage dressed from head to toe in black and roared into Maggie's Farm. Dylan parked sideways on to the audience playing keyboards and actually smiling a lot. And there he stayed, at the keyboard singing songs entirely from his back catalogue, each with an entirely new arrangement - it was interesting to watch peoples faces trying to work out just which song this next one was going to be as they sound so different to the original. Dylan's voice is at turns raspy and breathy and his phrasing on some of the songs is machine gun fast. He still plays his harp, and every time he does the audience roars its approval! The band are great and they seem to really enjoy playing with Dylan, though I noticed they watch him like hawks, so one can only assume that the stories about him changing arrangements midstream can only be true. For me - and most of the audience, it would seem, the highlights of the evening were Mr Tambourine Man, Positively 4th Street, Masters of War, Girl from the North Country and Like a Rolling Stone - the latter was the first of a two song Encore which also included All Along the Watchtower.
Just on two hours of his Bobness and well worth the wait. I have seen this man several times over the years and it has to be said he is inconstistent - this was certainly one of his better concerts, mainly because he genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself. I remember seeing him at Wembley years ago when the band were lit by the stage lights and Dylan was in shadow and plainly going throgh the motions. I was with a complete Dylan Freak who admitted 5 songs into the set that if this were anyone else he'd have walked out 3 songs back. He would have approved of this performance.
As the evening in Viveros ended and before the launching into All along the Watchtower Dylan finally spoke, introducing his band and ......"me, I'm, um, up here playing this piano thing."
"Excuse me, are you queuing to buy a ticket?" An angry looking man asked us as we stood outside the velodrome. No thank you, we smiled, and he turned to his hysterical daughter, in floods of tears by his side, and grunted, "You will sell your ticket to the next person that comes along." What had she done, we wondered, to warrant such cruel punishment? To deserve missing out on Hilary Duff when she was already proudly wearing the Tshirt with her favourite popstar's face emblazoned across the front? We never did find out, however, and could only imagine what she was feeling as hundreds of teeny boppers hopped and skipped up to the door, anxiously clutching their tickets, I heart Hilary written on their rosy cheeks with eyeliner, and eyes sparkling with glitter. Anxious fathers dropped their eager girls and boys at the door, and wandered off to wait in their cars.
Once inside, the screams were audible even an hour before Hilary was supposed to come onstage, and we were not at all surprised to find the audience were at least 85% under 15s. "Oooh! Do you know Hilary Duff?", one gaggle of gigglers asked us as soon as they spied our press passes. "Can you lend that to me so I can go in there? Are you allowed to wear miniskirts as Press then? I want to be A Press when I grow up!"
To our extreme amusement, the Most Wanted Tour crew, who looked like great fun, kept running onto the stage to pep up the crowd, who were very easily pepable. Even when they were preparing the set list in front of Hilary's mic with a green glow stick so she'd be able to see it in the dark, the girls went wild with excitement, and the guy roared with laughter, beckoning for one of his colleagues to join him, which was gosh! Just Too Much! Shauney Baby, the band's drummer, ran out with special edition drum sticks, launching sets into the crowd, as the youngest tots were getting sleepy and weepy with the wait.
The latest in an ever-growing line of curvy young actresses and popstars radically dropping weight, we had to admit that the young Hilary looked amazing as she burst ono the stage (albeit nearly an hour off schedule! Cue complaining from mothers all over the velodrome). In ultrableached jeans, cowboy boots, a white tshirt, and that hat (a grey tweed flat grandpa hat we adore!!) she looked extremely sure of herself, as if she belonged on a stage in front of five thousand screaming fans. The venue itself was a bit of an odd choice, as it technically is a sports velodrome, and the sound not altogether ideal for a music concert. Plus, the cycle track, at an angle around the centre platform where the stage was set up and the audience standing, separated the seats from the main bulk of the audience. We wandered round to the back, and found the sound to be very muffled at the rear. We still find it completely bizarre that there is no concert hall in Valencia as such. It seems contradictory in a City where music is so important, such an integral part of the culture and heritage, not to have a big important venue.
But Hilary didn't seem to mind and came all the way here anyway to rock out in Valencia. Opening with Wake Up, the fans in the front row were already singing along before she lifted her mic, and even crying their little eyes out with emotion. We just couldn't get over how tiny she is now, she looks completely different, very self-assured and comfortable in her skin. Much shorter than expected - she's one of those perfectly proportioned people like Kylie Minogue and Kate Moss who wouldn't surprise you if they were actually 6ft tall, or 4ft2 - she was entirely at ease, jumping across the stage, banging on the cymbals, running her hands across the keyboards and dancing with her backing singers. Sweet and humble, she thanked the crowd over and over for knowing the lyrics off by heart, yet was confused to find they didn't understand a word she said when she asked them to please make some noise!!!
I want to see you with your hands in the air!
But you gotta hand it to the girl, she gave a cracking live performance regardless, and her voice was strong, beautiful and controlled the whole way through. She was great fun to watch as she bounded across the stage, singing her hits, from Fly to Rock Your World and Come Clean, lying on the floor, crouching down to get closer to her fans and generally having fun. It must be quite daunting at her mere 18 years of age but then she's hardly new to the Superstar life, having starred in her own Disney Channel show, numerous box office smashes and with Most Wanted being her third solo album aside other movie soundtracks. This Girl Can Rock, Beat Of My Heart, and Fly were the definite highlights of the evening, and Mr. James Dean got everyone dancing like mad things. It seems she is far more content singing the heavier, bassier tracks, and would be quite happy singing more rock'n'roll style songs. Maybe it's the influence of her Good Charlotte vocalist boyfriend, Joel Madden, with all his tattoos and punk rocker style. Or maybe she's just cool enough to break away from her teeny bopper mould. Let's hope so!
Elvis Costello in concert
Ok i'll admit it - and i'm not the best at admitting things! - when my dear dear friend Anita Darling called me up at 5 o'clock in the morning a couple of weeks ago screaming ¨SWEETIE ELVIS IS COMING TO VALENCIA!!!AND IM TAKING YOU TO SEE HIM!!!¨
Next thing I know I'm queueing IN Palau de Congresos, to get into the Palau de Congresos! (I won't go there, it's complicated)
All in all a FAB night, the man (and his great band) deserves his reputation. And I might just go and buy that new Delivery Man Album.
but I have question for the powers that be in this city. How can you expect to fill an auditorium when you don't advertise it properly?!?!?!
Anyways, until next time my fellow Elvis, may he be Costello or Presley, lovers, take care and take a chance like I did.
Key songs of the night -
Bob Dylan - keyboard, harp
Tony Garnier - bass
George Recile - drums
Stu Kimball - rhythm guitar
Denny Freeman - lead guitar
Donnie Herron - electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel
Maggie's Farm (Bob on keyboard)
The Times They Are A-Changin' (Bob on keyboard and harp)
Down Along The Cove (Bob on keyboard)
Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob on keyboard and harp)
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (Bob on keyboard)
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again (Bob on keyboard)
Girl Of The North Country (Bob on keyboard and harp)
Watching The River Flow (Bob on keyboard and harp)
Positively 4th Street (Bob on keyboard and harp)
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (Bob on keyboard)
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (Bob on keyboard and harp)
Masters Of War (Bob on keyboard)
Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on keyboard)
Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard)
All Along The Watchtower (Bob on keyboard)