Gathered in the Gordon Track and Tennis Center, thousands of Dylan fans through out the country, sang along to the words of “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” the opening number of the concert sponsored by the Undergraduate Council and Harvard Concert Commission (HCC). In his cowboy hat, black silk shirt, and elegant black suit, Dylan, 63, charmed the crowd of young and old with favorites “Forever Young,” “God Knows,” “Desolation Row,” “Lay, Lady, Lay” and “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.”
The turnout for last night’s two-hour show was greater than many of the student audience members anticipated. The Harvard Box Office sold 3,600 tickets for the floor and 500 for the balcony. HCC Director Justin Haan ’05, who is also a Crimson editor, said he opened the doors at 7 a.m. yesterday morning to find people who had camped all night to get in.
But despite the legendary hits and massive crowds, several students said they were disappointed with the show.
“I love Bob Dylan. I just don’t know what he’s saying,” said Alexander A.C. De Carvalho ’08.
When asked how Harvard got Dylan to play on campus, Haan said Dylan was attracted to Harvard’s promise of a largely college-aged audience and general admission floor.
But Haan said that students were only about 50 percent of the audience last night. Victoria B. Ilyinsky ’07 said she welcomed the older company.
“It’s so much better to have people who can sing the lyrics,” she said.
And while some students left the concert disappointed, other diehard fans said Dylan’s raspy voice did not get in they way of a good time. “I can’t understand a thing, but Dylan is Dylan. This is a pilgrimage,” said Sergio from New York.
Others were surprised by the crowd’s mellowness. “There’s not enough dancing. You can dance to Bob Dylan. People should be jamming,” Ilyinsky said.
While dancing alone to the music, Kate A. Farrel of New Jersey, a graduate of Boston University and self-proclaimed Dylan fanatic, called the crowd “lame” because they weren’t “familiar with his new stuff.”
Farrel was not disappointed that Dylan didn’t play the guitar himself, a common complaint among students. She said Dylan was better off setting the tempo on the keyboard. She added that having him play would have been like “asking a dentist to floss. You can just have others do that.”
Dylan appeared graciously on stage at 8:15 p.m., only 15 minutes late—a pleasant surprise to those students who remembered the two-hour wait for Busta Rhymes last spring. “I was thrilled there was no opening act,” Ilyinsky said, referring the short recording of “Fanfare for the Common Man” that took the place of an usual opening act.
Unlike the glitches in Busta’s arrival, HCC members commented that the stage setup and equipment ran smoothly, attributing it to the fact that the band was coming right off tour.