LAST week I travelled down to Bournemouth to watch Bob Dylan play as part of his latest UK tour. I’ve been a big Bob fan for many years and going to see him play live is a bit like supporting your favourite football team – sometimes he is great, sometimes he is ok, but you have to be there to cheer him on.
This latest concert was no different. Opening with a rolling version of Things Have Changed, Bob proceeded to play a mixture of old songs and new, some familiar, some rearranged to the point of unrecognizability.
Also featured were various standards from his recent covers album, Triplicate.
I’d probably have appreciated his rendition of Stormy Weather more if I didn’t have the sketch by Morecambe and Wise in the back of my mind.
I’d be delighted to be corrected on this, but as far as I can gather, I don’t think that Dylan has ever played Salisbury or even just Bobbed through our fair city on his travels.
But while we are yet to be graced with his presence, it is fascinating to see just how many iconic acts have performed in Salisbury: far from being the norm, Dylan’s no-show is the odd one out among the major acts of his heyday.
Back in 1958, it was Buddy Holly who got the ball rolling, playing in the Gaumont Theatre (as the Odeon was then), and staying in the Old George Hotel (the Boston Tea Party in modern money).
Then in June 1963, the Beatles came to town, performing at the City Hall in front of 1,500 screaming fans. They were followed by two visits from the Rolling Stones – the first time fourth down a bill boasting The Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley and Little Richard.
In 1965, such was the enthusiasm of their teenage fans that the curtains had to be pulled down on the Kinks until the audience calmed down.
Not every gig was quite as well attended, however: when Pink Floyd played a few years later, barely a few dozen bothered to turn up.
Some artists made use of the local facilities: when a Small Faces concert was cut short by dodgy equipment, singer Steve Marriott retired to the Fisherton Arms (these days a homeware store). Cream’s performance, meanwhile, was fuelled by a pre-gig fish supper from Yorkshire Fisheries (now Culture Coffee).
Other acts to have played Salisbury at the time include the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Bee Gees and David Bowie.
While the chances of Bob Dylan playing Salisbury might be Blowin’ in the Wind, we’ve been lucky that so many other great acts have sprinkled their own bit of Ziggy Stardust on the city.