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Casual Splendor: The Met Philly makes its debut with Bob Dylan in the driver’s seat

A sold-out crowd awaits Bob Dylan at opening night of The Met Philly | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

A chilly breeze cut up Poplar Street yesterday morning, blowing broken caution tape and discarded Wawa bags above the heads of dignitaries gathered for the ribbon cutting of The Met Philly. Out on the building’s North Broad Street face, a team of carpenters scrambled to reinforce windows and hammer out other down-to-the-wire touch ups.

“Did you bring your checkbook?” developer Eric Blumenfeld asked his colleagues from the podium. “We still have some work to do.”

The crowd chuckled at his quip, but it seems that The Met will be well into its inaugural season before work on the building is completely finished; and not for nothing, either, since renovating a century-old music venue is a delicate task. Not that the casual concertgoer will really notice the ongoing work. The parts of the venue that matter the most — the concert hall, the bars and other hospitality centers — were mostly in full swing last night for the opening concert with Bob Dylan and his band. And from there, the calendar only gets more exciting: John Legend tonight, Lindsey Stirling in a couple weeks, Kurt Vile near year’s end. As Live Nation’s regional president Geoff Gordon said upon taking the mic, “We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one genre, whether it be Tyler Perry or Charlie Wilson, whether it be PnB Rock, Mariah Carey, or Bob Dylan. We’re going to do it all.”

Returning to the venue just ahead of showtime, the disarray of the morning — confetti strewn around the streets, construction gear lining the sidewalks — had all been swept away for the glitz and glamour of a searchlight casting a radiant golden glow on the building’s white brick facade and arched windows. Once inside, though, the mood of the night became remarkably more casual. This didn’t feel weighed down by the formality of, say, seeing a show at the Kimmel Center or Academy of Music, where you’re likely to be surrounded by concertgoers wearing button-up shirt / tie combos or and cocktail dresses, sipping wine out of plastic cups. Some of that was going on at The Met, sure, but for the most part the vibe was a rock show audience in a venue filled with grandeur.  Continue reading →