Review: The Basement Japes: A Celebration of Bob Dylan
Venue: City Screen Basement Bar, Tuesday, March 5
With any night dedicated to a musician, there is a very real danger that every performer will be trying too hard to be their hero. Nobody needs that. It’s awkward, and almost always unsuccessful. Especially when the artist in question isn’t even dead.
Which is why, I’m pleased to announce that the York Literature Festival’s celebration of Bob Dylan was neither awkward nor unsuccessful. But really, quite brilliant.
Root 64 opened the night, playing the obligatory Dylan covers, as well as a few by the artists who inspired him. The Woody Guthrie came as a pleasant surprise. Fortunately they were met with minimal disgust when front man Miles Cain forgot the words to Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright. I think it actually endeared them to us. Despite the forgetful frontman, they provided the perfect opening to the evening. The three of them weren’t too overpowering in the intimacy of The Basement, and I’m always pleased to see a box drum.
Unfortunately, Rory Motion, who was supposed to perform next, was otherwise engaged. He was painting a house in France. Which I don’t really think is an acceptable excuse… Luckily, the ever witty Dave Gough was on hand to step in at the last minute with a series of poetic and amusing interpretations of Dylan’s lyrical style. I particularly enjoyed his imagining of Bob Dylan’s Yorkshire and the, although not strictly Dylan and ever so slightly predictable, curry-themed Ring Of Fire – which requires no explanation.
To round off the evening we had Blonde On Bob, who kept it traditional. Lead singer, Chris Euesden’s, certainly shared similarities with Bob’s vocal style, without trying to emulate him to the point of farce. Musically, the five of them, were incredibly tight. Perhaps years of rehearsal has resulted in some kind of telepathic link between them? They played a career spanning set ranging from recent numbers like Duqesne Whistle to the classic Just Like A Woman. Truly something for everyone.
The Basement at York’s City Screen is the ideal venue for something like this. It’s intimate, I like the fairy lights, and nobody has ever felt like they’re too old or too uncool to be there, which was evident from the varied crowd. I often feel too uncool to be anywhere, so this came as a welcome change. Who do I talk to about organising a Springsteen-themed event for next year?