Bob Dylan entertains while Shrine Mosque venue disappointsOct 26th, 2009 | By Zach | Category: Blogs, News, Opinions, Springfield News, Top Story
by Zach Becker
I took my wife to the Bob Dylan concert last night at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield and left entertained by the historic performer, but highly disappointed with the Shrine Mosque venue, staff, and the strong smell of smoke that left my wife with a migraine still this morning.
I say I took her, but the truth is that she gobbled up the premium tickets online as soon as she heard about it. She’s only probably the biggest Bob Dylan fan in the world, but somehow it was I and not her who heard about the show right here in town. Last time, we drove all the way to Nebraska to see him. Before that, Kansas City. Jenny has been to I believe eight or nine of his concerts and this was my third.
We had probably about as good of seats as you are going to get at the Shrine Mosque (which looks kind of like the ancient high school gym from Hoosiers, only with a stage at one end). I wish they would actually put seats on the floor, though, as these expensive seats were in the bleachers so we had to turn sideways the whole time.
As it was, people with general admission tickets stood (or poorly danced) right in front of the stage on the basketball floor. They could also sit in the non-reserved seating sections. They packed quite a few people on the floor, although beyond reserved areas, less than half of the bleachers were filled.
It was a bit sad to think they couldn’t fill this relatively small venue when a legend like Bob Dylan was performing (the other concerts of his we attended were always sold out), but we soon found out that anyone who has been to a concert at the Shrine Mosque before will never come back.
Quite frankly, unless you are a smoker or entirely unaffected by second-hand smoke, DO NOT GO TO A CONCERT AT THE SHRINE MOSQUE!
Maybe the word is already out, because it seemed over half the audience was lighting up. While the gym had signs posted that smoking was prohibited, many rude individuals smoked anyway. The event was staffed with plenty of ushers and security, but when I pointed out that someone was smoking right behind one of them in the middle of the gym and that my wife is highly allergic to it, the usher looked over, looked at me, acted like he didn’t see it and said nothing. I saw another disgruntled guest inform a security guard about a woman smoking, but he just waved it off and did nothing as well.
However, if anyone one was using their digital cameras or cell phones to take pictures, then look out. Those guards were all over that. Apparently, one guest must have taken a few too many pictures and wouldn’t be taken quietly. As we left, a security guard was lying on the floor with an injured knee and medics were providing care. If the story I overheard as we left the building was correct, a guest being escorted out by him apparently injured him before escaping and taking off back into the crowd to see the rest of the concert.
The whole placed had a haze of smoke. It was bad enough that they allow smoking in the bar area (which is just outside the gym and quite easily seeped into the rest of the place), but it is even worse when they allow people to smoke right in front of your face at a supposedly non-smoking venue. It felt like I was in a bingo hall.
It takes a lot to ruin a Bob Dylan concert for my wife, but last night the smoky venue pretty much did that. Jenny had a horrible migraine by the end of the night, and even I started to get sick from the fumes.
As for Bob Dylan’s performance, it was good. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan, but I’ve learned to enjoy him. Jenny didn’t particularly like his song lineup, especially early. He seems to play a lot of his more obscure songs, when we’d rather hear the most famous ones. He also alters the musical arrangement of his songs greatly from how they appear on his albums. As an entertainer, he doesn’t exactly interact with the audience much, either (that is just not his thing, Jenny told me).
He is obviously a very talented musician, with excellent skills on the keyboard, guitar, and of course harmonica. His lyrics are interesting, too, if you can decipher them. Listening even to his early albums, it is obvious Dylan never had much of a singing voice. At the age of 68 and through years of smoking, he now utters and growls the words to his songs more than sings them.
Still, he’s Bob Dylan. He’s a living musical legend. It’s pretty amazing he still can even perform at his age, let alone at a high level. He definitely entertained and gave the audience their money’s worth with a roughly 2-hour performance.
While Bob Dylan did not disappoint on this night, a legend such as he deserves a better place in which to perform. I truly believe they could have sold this thing out at the much larger (but infinitely nicer, non-skanky, and smoke-free) JQH Arena. Even Bob Dylan could not counteract the headache left by the smoky Shrine Mosque.