Bob Dylan fans are a loyal bunch and I count myself among that large army of enthusiasts. But not even the mighty rock poet is beyond criticism. And so it happened. After more than a decade spent professionally praising the man, my first negative Dylan review ran following his performance June 27.
"As much as it hurts me to say this, Bob Dylan needs to take a long hiatus from touring," I wrote. "His performance Thursday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, one of the better sounding sheds in the country, proved borderline painful despite backing by five superb musicians including guitar great Duke Robillard. Dylan's voice has deteriorated past the point of serviceable."
I also compared the lauded songwriter's performance to a "freak show."
"Watching Dylan stand center stage, lurching around like a confused member of the audience, was as distressing as his singing, pedestrian harmonica playing and barely audible keyboard contributions," I wrote. "People cheered just to be in the same vicinity of the legend and that's not the way it should be. It's not the way I ever imagined Dylan would want to be viewed, as an attraction people see just to say they saw. Isn't that how tickets were sold to the bearded lady?"
Many more people read the review than attended the show and a slew of comments about my critique have been posted at TicketSarasota.com, emailed to me or shared via social media. Here are excerpts from my favorites. Plenty of people agreed with my review, too, but what fun would it be to highlight those? So, here you go, from the file labeled Hate Mail:
"Seriously, you just got that all wrong." Tim Dawson via email
"How sad for you to sit at the feet of greatness and not understand the value of what is before you." Virginia Hoffman via TicketSarasota.com
"You sir are a gigantic jackass." Debbie Kay via TicketSarasota.com
"A 'freak show,' Wade? Seriously? I can't think of a more offensive, inaccurate, or unjust way to describe such a magnificent man, and magnificent performance. For just that one line of your ignorant write-up, you should hope that you and I never encounter one another, in person. Seeya around." Gurn Here via TicketSarasota.com.
"Your scathing dissection of Bob Dylan was uncalled for." Henry L. via TicketSarasota.com.
"Great show. I have never been disappointed by Bob. If you know the words, do your homework, you will enjoy the constantly creative arrangements and voice of an expressive poet/singing." Terry Pivinsky via Facebook
"Anyone who goes to see Bob Dylan for the vocals is clearly missing the point." Jack Davani via Facebook
"I think Wade Tatangelo's review was totally off mark, probably because he's from another generation." Richard Howarth via TicketSarasota.com.
"'Simple Twist of Fate' by Dylan was awesome, the harp was chilling and beautiful. As for people that don't get him: Sing for over 50 years with your heart and soul, and see how your voice sounds. Fantastic Show." Clint McWilliams via Facebook
"What a load of rubbish! I was there on Thursday night, and I can state with absolute certainty that the entire evening was brilliant." Michael R via TicketSarasota.com
"You obviously don't get what Bob Dylan is all about, so I'm not going to waste time trying to change your mind. If you want someone who sounds like everyone else out there -- Auto-Tuned to perfection -- maybe you can catch the next Bieber show. Tell the other Teenyboppers I said Hi." Jim Q via TicketSarasota.com
"Consider yourself lucky at having the opportunity (to see) one of the greatest poets in history!!!!!" floridakenny1 via TicketSarasota.com
"The man is 77 years old (actually, he's 72) and has been performing forever and you have the gaul (think she meant "gall") to even think you can REVIEW Bob Dylan?" Lynn DiVenuti via Facebook
"Really, all I can say to the person who wrote this review and made such ludicrous comments about Bob Dylan: 'Shame on you'!" Dale Goodvin via TicketSarasota.com