STAGE: The Bob Dylan Tribute – The Black Lapels and Cornel Meyer
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
WHO could have imagined, 76 years ago in Minnesota, when Robert Allen Zimmerman was born to parents who owned an electric-appliance shop in a small, close-knit Jewish community, that that infant would go on to be a colossus in music.
He is, of course, Bob Dylan – the poet, songwriter, singer, painter, writer and, more recently, winner of a Nobel Prize for literature; a man who has, as Wikipedia points out, sold more than 100 million albums, received 11 Grammys and has been a huge influence on many.
And so on to confession time – all these accolades notwithstanding, I have never been a big Dylan fan, having often been bored by his voice and having mostly discovered the man’s worth through others’ recordings of his songs.
So it was with some trepidation that I approached the latest tribute show by excellent Durban band The Black Lapels, which has final performances at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre, 42 Cunningham Road, Umbilo, at 8pm today (June 3) and 2pm and 6.30pm tomorrow (June 4).
Versatile singer-guitarist Rob Warren and his bassist brother Garth, who are the mainstay of The Black Lapels, have signed on drummer Chris Melling and guest lead vocalist and guitarist Cornel Meyer for this showband entertainment – and, boy, oh, boy, have they made a good decision in doing so. The show is quite superb!
With absolute minimal chit-chat, allowing the music to steal all the limelight, this crack quartet – featuring a surprise appearance by Durban musician Rusty Red, on harmonica for some songs – offers a first-class salute to a legend.
I was so impressed with the show that the team’s performance has made me revisit Dylan’s catalogue of classics and I am keen on a return visit to the theatre. Let’s hope further performances at other branches of the Rhumbelow Theatre are being planned.
Young Cornel Meyer, a diminutive personality with a tussle of long curls , is sheer magic on vocals and guitar, and steals the show, first appearing solo on stage for Blowin’ in the Wind.
The crowd-rousing Rainy Day Woman (Everybody Must Get Stoned) follows and You Ain’t Going Nowhere, Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright and Like a Rolling Stone also crop up in a first half which has as another highlight Rob’s smooth solo rendition of Mr Tambourine Man.
Wagon Wheel, It Ain’t Me Babe, I Want You and the amusing Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat also crop up before interval.
The second half opens with another solo spot from Cornel – the classic Knocking on Heaven’s Door – before we get the likes of Tweeter and The Monkey Man, I Shall Be Released, The Times They are A-changin’ and another solo spot from Rob, a fine delivery of Shelter From the Storm.
Forever Young, Hurricane, Subterranean Homesick Blues, an unscheduled Just Like a Woman and an impassioned delivery of the Dylan-penned Jimi Hendrix classic, All Along the Watchtower, also feature in a show that cannot be missed by lovers of great guitar work from a band that clearly loves what it is doing.
I would have enjoyed hearing To Make You Feel My Love and A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall, but, as Rob says on stage, there are just so many Dylan songs from which to choose. Hold thumbs for a sequel, then!
Tickets for the show cost R150 each. Book by contacting Roland at 082 499 8636.