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Bringing It All Back Home
Bob Dylan at Slane - The music, the magic, the mayhem and so much more...
Niall Stokes, 27 Jul 1984
"Sometimes I think heroes should always be kept at a distance, you know? Real people aren't heroic enough!" The two MTV guys just looked at me blankly. As Dylan moved off and and a gathering entourage followed, Alison started laughing. "You were dropping enough clangers there" she said'. "Those were Dylan's sons you were talking to!"
Dylan was somewhere in the distance, strapping on a guitar, beginning to look mean, beginning to look alert, beginning to look heroic.
Taking a long tracking shot from the top of the crowded hill to the back of the stage; how the scene shifts! There's fifty thousand people in accelerating stages of exultation as you get closer to the man himself. At the front, they're crammed together in a shouting, sticky, sweating t-shirt mass. Across the thin fence five feet in front of the stage roadies in blue Dylan Tour shirts drag the faint and fainted. The activity is frantic but under control, muscles bulge, chests expand as they lightly pass each unconscious form to the St. John's Ambulance Brigade. The prettier and more scantily dressed girls are allowed to remain in front with the burly crew but everyone else is ferried hurriedly under the stage on stretchers, revived with water by the hard working and over dressed Brigade and escorted out into the crowd by backstage security.
Dylan blasts on oblivious, watched from the wings by the chosen celebrities and figgers with the precious passes, while the less fortunate stand in front of the huge speakers, getting a close look but doing severe damage to their eardrums. (One middle aged man in a black suit attempts to solve this problem by sticking cigarette butts in his suffering ears.)
As the camera tracks beyond the activity, behind the stage, beyond the ambulance-brigade, the scene appears to shift absurdly to a gentle, Sunday picnic, as family and crew, the blase extremes of the touring entourage, sit in the sun in front of their caravans, drinking free booze and eating their Sunday dinners. A screaming, half-naked skin-head is dragged past by six security guards and no-one looks twice.