April 12, 2007
Review by Earl Sanderson
Tonight's show was in one word - immense. This is the first Dylan
concert I've ever between to and the first concert on a large scale. I
have loved Dylan's music ever since my parents played it in my childhood
and it was only by an off chance that I ended up getting a ticket.
The show began with 'Cat's In the Well' (as predicted by me) which was
quite a rocking number and I thoroughly enjoyed. Dylan then treated us to
a cover of 'House of the Rising Sun' (The Animals were a great influence
on Dylan in the mid-60s and were from Newcastle) which again was very well
played and the violin added a great touch. The next two songs I was hazy
on as I didn't know the first one and have yet to find a studio copy to
compare it to. 'It's Alright Ma' was very different and took me a while to
recognise it but eventually got it. What ever happened to the classics
like 'Mr Tambourine Man', 'Times They Are Changin' or even 'Someday Baby'?
I feel they would have added another dimension to the show.
After a blackout, Bob was now on the keyboard for 'The Levee's Gonna
Break'. A good version but not much to say about it. His voice didn't
sound as good as the album on this one but I wouldn't say I was
disappointed. The same goes for 'When The Deal Goes Down' - quite similar
to the album version with a nice soft feel but nothing spectacular. 'I
Don't Believe You' - didn't know or recognise at all until I came home and
saw the set list. The problem is the arena - I don't think it is a good
venue for Dylan. He needs an intermit setting with no echo and he is close
to the audience. The Newcastle City Hall would have been better in my
opinion but the stage would be too small and seating is limited. 'Masters
of War' was nothing special for me either. It sounded similar to the
previous one and not much to say about it. When 'Rollin' and Tumblin' came
back on, I at least felt I knew what was going on. I found this to be a
pleasing song and a slight improvement over the studio.
Then came 'Desolation Row' - I'd been hoping for this song, Highway 61
Revisited and Tangled Up In Blue. My wish was satisfied for two of these
songs and I still can't believe he was playing it until I heard the line
'desolation row'. The crowd seemed to finally get into the show and it was
a magnificent performance. The band did a very good job (although I feel
Dylan would have been better on the guitar). 'Spirit on the Water'
provided a bit of a relaxing song to the thundering 'Highway 61
Revisited'. My favorite song on the night was an immense one - Dylan's
interpretation was wonderful, it was recognisable and got the crowd into
the spirit. The guitar solos weren't bad but weren't outstanding either.
'Nettie Moore' had so much more power live and my esteem for this song has
increased significantly. After seeing a few YouTube clips of it, I can see
why so many people love it and why he choose to play it. 'Summer Days' is
very close the studio version and added a bit of swing to the evening. The
grand finale came with 'Like a Rolling Stone' - every single person there
loved it and most of singing along. Another highlight of the evening. It
was strange that Dylan had not said a _single_ word to the audience,
introduced himself or the band at all and the main part of the show was
over. It was all music throughout!
'Thunder on the Mountain' came and the poor microphone tainted the
beginning but Dylan recovered and decided to introduce his band and
this was the only banter with the audience that occurred. A thundering
edition of 'All Along The Watchtower' finished the evening with a great
Conclusions - it was a great evening. The bass, violin, drums and of
course Dylan are brilliant players and make a very good band. The
guitar players could have had a bit more energy and made the songs
more exciting but this is forgivable.
One major complaint is his policy on cameras - it's fun to take photos of
the performers and provides good lasting memories but each time I tried to
photo Dylan, I was told to put my camera away by a rude attendant. The
same happened at the end when I tried to get a set-list. The staff were
very rude and unhelpful (although I suspect this is the arena and not
I'd love to see Dylan again the future - especially at a more intermit
venue and more guitar from himself. Thanks a lot Bob for the best concert
I've ever been to and for playing so many wonderful songs. You can't
please everyone but it was a great evening and I can't get over the fact
that I have seen Bob Dylan.
Review by Hugh Barney
Wow! Just got back home at 10pm from Bob Dylan's show in Newcastle on 12th
April 2007. There's a huge grin on my face and I feel totally uplifted.
Bobs voice was in fantastic shape tonight, smooth as a babies bottom. Bob
and the band were in the mood, playful and up for it. Bobs legs wobbling
and bent like Elvis behind his electric organ.
Bob came on stage pretty much around the stroke of 7.35pm and we found
ourselves struggling to find our seats during Cats in the Well. We lost
touch with Ian for a while, but Simon and I passed him when we got sent
back to our seats by some rather zealous stewards. Huw did the wise thing
and stayed in his seat.
Great to see Bob with an electric guitar strapped round his neck again
during the first four numbers. Really glad to have finally bagged
'Watching the River Flow' it rocks ! Loved the new version of Its Alright
The acoustics in the aircraft hanger that calls itself The Newcastle Arena
are not the best, but there were times when the sound was superb,
especially during the more laid back songs. During the faster, louder
songs it was on the edge of pain.
The highlights for me were: 'House of the Rising Sun' which was a totally
unexpected delight. The crystal clear Desolation Row which was immediately
followed by a totally romantic 'Spirit on the water'. And the moment when
world peace fell upon 7000 people in the audience when Bob sang Nettie
Moore. For a few minutes all those people who insist on walking around
sloshing their cup of lager over the floor or over your back stopped and
stood still in their tracks. I cant over stress how good Bobs voice was
tonight. No tiredness, no rasping, very little upsinging, just sweetness
and blues and fun. Really hope some bootlegs surface at some point or
Columbia release that long overdue live albumn. There are quite a few of
us who will be first in the queue when that happens.
I particularly liked the new start to Like a Rolling Stone, basically a
rather botched harmonica solo; but which built a sense of expectation. By
the time Bob sang 'Once Upon a time, you dressed so fine' we were on the
tips of our toes. The song develops at a more controlled pace, then whamms
into the chorus which the audience were all joining in on. Also enjoyed
the way Bob sang the punch line of the chorus, like a whisper.
The Band are not as good as the Larry Campbell days (I really miss those
high tensile strings of Larry's, and that multilayered strat sound they
made), but Bob shined tonight. More Bob and less band, very good. During
the final song, the predictable and tired 'All Along the Watchtower', some
devotee dived onto the stage, fell down on his knees, almost as a act of
worship, he was quickly intercepted by a couple of size 60 roadies. He
went off with a grin on his face though.
All in all a great evening. Desolation Row, Spirit on the Water, Nettie
Moore worth the price of the ticket.
At one point I shouted Judas! but I dont think anyone heard me :-)
Review by Richard Morris
Very disappointing. The sound was awful, the playlist mundane for the
most part and the musicians seemed uninvolved.
In particular there were too many 'stadium rock' numbers like the
first five and the last four tunes played. The show was poorly paced.
Some numbers dragged on in a 'ho-hum' sort of way. There was little
subtlety. For example, 'It's Alright Ma' was taken much too fast and is
completely unsuited to a heavy rock treatment. Tony Garnier moved between
electric and acoustic bass to little effect. The violinist was mostly
inaudible. Bob's organ sounded like a mobile phone going off most of the
time and, on the louder numbers a lot of what he sang was
Yes, there were some highlights like Nettie Moore, Spirit on the
Water and Desolation Row (although this had too much upsinging). No
coincidence that these were the quieter numbers where you could hear the
band interaction rather the the 'wall of sound' effect on the faster
Review by Nick Hough
Happened to be in Newcastle and managed to get a ticket on the afternoon
of the show in the front row of the block to the right of the
stage....I'll just share a few observations, some of which may have been
The 'poet laureate...' usual announcement welcomed the band on stage early
at 7.35pm catching out about a third of the audience - surely time for
something new by way of an intro?
The band have switched around...Denny on the left, Bob more or less centre
stage but facing to the left as you look at the stage (once he's on
keyboards), Stu to the right.
Tony and George were spectacular as ever, they didn't put a note or beat
wrong all night, Donnie also provided some wonderful accompaniment on
violin and pedal steel in particular. Poor old Stu still seems to be left
with a few fills and acoustic strum alongs and Denny, well he just seemed
to lack confidence from many of the previous shows I've seen this band
perform. Bob has gone back to electric organ (having had a spell on
electric piano) and at times I have to say it sounded like a fairground
There were moments when they played together beautifully and magically
(Desolation Row, Masters Of War, Nettie Moore in particular - you all have
to hear these three from this show at some point) and there were other
moments when it felt like a hotel bar band who'd only been told what to
play ten minutes earlier. Heresy I know, but moments were flat and
disappointing. When the Deal Goes Down and Spirit On The Water will sound
fabulous for those who hear a recording but they just didn't work well for
those of us in this big arena with too many people more interested in
their next beer or having a chat than listening to the master at work - I
even found myself asking a bunch of six security guys to be quiet at one
point as I couldn't hear the band over the top of them!
The lighting lacks drama now (except for Masters Of War, where it shrouded
the stage in an orange glow which meant you couldn't help but think of the
Middle East) and 'the classics' just lacked punch - particularly LARS in
yet another new arrangement.
All that having been said - as usual a moment to treasure, wouldn't have
missed it for the world and the good news is that the great man is in fine
spirits, superb voice and playing guitar, if only for a few songs, again
and most important of all is still on the road giving us these chances to
see him close up.
Review by Vernon Briscoe
PUPPET ON A STRING?
Bob Dylan resembled nothing so much as a marionette at the Newcastle’s
Radio Metro Arena tonight. He danced as if his arms and legs were pulled
by invisible strings. Rocking behind his keyboard he tilted his brimmed
hat this way and that. It was a pleasure to see him so animated.
Throughout the show he appeared relaxed and focussed without ever quite
hitting the inspirational heights he did at the second night in Amsterdam.
He did, though, spring a mighty surprise: House of the Rising Sun. That’s
right, you heard me correctly.
Words cannot express how good it felt to hear him sing this song and not
just to sing it but to convey the very essence of the narrative. It
occurred, as the mighty last verse came to a close, that Dylan could just
be the only person alive able to do justice to the House of the Rising
Sun. He took the female perspective – as he did on his debut album 45
years ago – and sung the sorry tale with an assurance and intuitive
intelligence that was nothing short of masterful. Heaven only knows if
and when he may ever play it again. Quite extraordinary.
Masters of War with Bob shoe-shuffling in the smoky haze on stage below me
was another highlight. Its hard won truths were carefully laid out before
us as George’s snare became a death rattle.
Desolation Row was quite brilliant too finishing with an extended harp
solo and containing a nagging keyboard figure so insistent that it quickly
became menacing. Dylan carried the words beautifully drawing out the line
endings and accessing higher registers that usually elude him. One hell
of a ride.
A man behind me yelled constantly for Hollis Brown as if Dylan owed him a
version. Bob may choose to dance as if suspended by strings but
fortunately for us he is nobody’s puppet. The heckler went unheeded.
At the closing bars of Watchtower – a song my friend says is played so
much because Dylan hasn’t worked out how to play it the same way twice yet
- a man jumped on stage and fell to his knees before Bob. Security
scrambled and the interloper was dragged off stage. Bob, I noticed, did
not flinch. He stood exactly where he was, not a string out of place.
Review by Chris Blackett
This was a tip top performance from with crystal clear singing from Bob. I
went with my son, himself now a big Dylan fan, and one of his friends.
Anticipation was high after the reviews of the past few shows so; 'Cat's
in the well' was a solid opener but then he shocked the place with 'House
of the Rising Sun'. Fantastic arrangement with vocals meaningful and clear
and got us buzzing. 'Watching the river flow' was a solid performance
again if unspectacular, but then again, I was still high from 'House'.
Great arrangement of 'It's alright ma' followed by pretty accurate
'Levee's gonna break. The show needed to slow down and he did it exactly
right with 'When the deal goes down', again it was the album version and
was excellent. Now Bob pulled off the best middle section I have seen in
years. 'I don't believe you' carried me away to my past and for the entire
song the words, that were delivered perfectly, created pictures of
conversations and situations I had (and hadn't) been in. By the time Bob
sang 'Just pick anyone an' pretend that you never have met, I was
completely in his grasp. He then did the best 'Masters of War' I think I
have seen in the past ten years. They are relevant to today, and he knows
it, and thats why he's playing it...it has to be. Rollin' and Tumblin was
a good song to come down to for a little while . Now I might be being too
critical here but Desolation Row just doesn't work with this arrangement.
Bob's piano had been pretty good tonight, but here it was plinka plonk and
I found it irritating. That might be because the band just don't fit in
with it, guitars mimmicking the piano and sounding lost and
dis-jointed...sorry Bob! 'Spirit on the Water' was good and well arranged.
'Highway 61' was , as always, fantastic and rocked. That first verse still
makes me laugh like crazy with Abe's rapid about face. I reckon that for
first time Dylan goers this concert must have been enjoyable. The
critisisms of the past regarding not hearing the words, the rasping voice,
were gone and for Dylan regulars the up-singing was seldom used. Now, the
highlight. Not a word was spoken in the entire arena during Nettie Moore.
People returning to the floor with drinks stopped in their tracks and
listened. Listened to every word. I have never experienced this at a dylan
show before. Unbelievable. He was much more than a song and dance man
here. He was a master magician and he had us all under his spell. I have
just woken up after a fitful nights sleep with Nettie Moore being sung in
my head all night. I'm going to Sheffield with my wife on Saturday and I
pray he does it again...please God. Now we rolled to the finale. 'Summer
days', the usual band song that felt nice tonight after the early summer
weather we have been having. 'Like a rolling stone' different arrangement
didn't detract and off stage they went, but not with a soulful bounding
leap. It was in the dark and we all knew they would be back but that
didn't stop us shouting... Encore; The usual two, both excellent and then
the tableau...Bob had his hands wide this time. He had enjoyed it I'm
sure. I'm 55 this year and I couldn't stop screaming 'Bobby'. I looked
sideways and my son and his mate were whistling, yelling. Who wasn't? The
applause continued for a fair while after Bob left. Fantastic show in a
rotten tin box of a venue. If you are wavering, if you haven't made your
mind up, if Bob is heading your way sometime soon, get your tickets. On
this showing you will not be dissapointed. They say people in the North
East would turn up at St. James' Park (Newcastle United football team) to
watch eleven football shirts on a washing line. I would turn up to watch
Bob do the ironing. Especially if he bent those knees the way he does at
Review by Dan Hindson
Oh My God! We get House of the rising sun with Bob on guitar whatever else
happened tonight that was always gonna be the highlight!.
In fairness Bob was in fine voice tonight after seeing him numerous
times over the last few years his voice and demeanour really seemed in
full form as with the the tour up to now he played guitar for four songs
and stage right with the Bontempi a raucous cats in the well kicked it
off but then it was House of the rising sun ( None of us saw that
coming!! ). More highlights for me were an immense Its alright ma and a
wondrous Nettie Moore. If I had any complaints then it has to be ditch
both your guitar players Bob and find someone who can actually play a
solo!! and lastly to the blokes standing next to me you paid nearly 100
quid for a pair of tickets so why talk to each other ALL NIGHT about
what you bought a the D.I.Y shop next time stay in the bar.
Review by Rita "Ritzy" o` Hanlon
So, yet again because Ritzy can't persuade any of her friends to travel to
"nerdy Bob gigs" abroad..... she arrived in Dublin airport and texted her
good friends "Nicodemus" + "Pretty Boy Fred". They were (surprise
surprise) in the bar - complete with a gin + tonic waiting for her. Dopey
Ritz goes through security to the other bar (surprise surprise) and is
joined by the lads a while later. After checking in to Jury's, who should
we spy only "The Shoeless Hunter".
We all repaired to The Bridge for some pre-concert tipples (nice stuff
that Newcastle Brown) and headed off to the gig.
For the first time since the intro. changed.......Ritzy caught the intro.
music and sat down to a really great gig. Bob's voice was in fine
condition with upsinging kept to a minimum. I think he could be in line
for a hip replacement operation if he doesn't stop jiggling those o.a.p.
hips :-))) The venue was good....good acoustics, and (more importantly),
no queues at the bar or toilets LOL
A nice set list with a few nice surprises.....the first one being The
house of the rising sun! Probably one of the first songs we all learnt on
the guitar and a personal party-piece for yours truly at many's a drunken
session - it was fantastic to hear my deity sing it live :-)
The second surprise was a breath-taking version of Nettie Moore....you
could have heard a pin drop! However, the highlight for me was something
else altogether. I haven't been on the pool in absolute months and as a
result had had zero feedback about Bob. The last time I heard him was
Cardiff 2006 and have heard nothing 'bout him since. So....imagine my joy
when I saw him pick up the guitar !!!!
So anyway, back to the important stuff. We all headed back to The Bridge
where the drinking starting in earnest. A big "hello" to Fred, Seán, Bill,
Karen, Alan, Stee, Barry + the others (my memory for names is brutal !). A
big "f*** off" to the barman who took my drink at the end of the
night.....I'll never get used to your "drinking-up policy" in the UK
.....why do they bloody sell it to you if they won't let you drink it ??
So it's back to the hotel for another session....we MURDERED a good few
songs in the hotel bar with a tour de table revealing what your least
favourite Bob song was.....I was slaughtered when I said "maggie's farm"
LOL. A lovely version of Rainbow's "Since you've been gone" by Fred :-)
So, the bar closed and what could we do only go to Bill's bedroom to
partake of his case of bud + watch a Bob dvd. Photo's to follow if I ever
get them past the firewall........I really must get connected at home LOL
'til the next one........slán X
Rita "Ritzy" o` Hanlon
Review by Bill Ferguson
Its been a long time since Bob & I first came across each other. The first
time, Glasgow Odeon in 1966, was a real experience - the words, the
passion and the commitment from both Bob & The Band were absolutely
overwhelming in the acoustic and electric sets. This was the man who told
us that moon and June didn't have to come at the end of song lines. It
wasn't even necessary that the lines rhymed. It took us another 30 or so
years to get back together, in Newcastle in the 90s and, of course, we had
both changed. What more could you expect? The most recent concerts have
been remarkable for what Bob is still doing and for what he still keeps
trying to do but the words and strength of emotion aren't always there
now. He can summon them up when needed but not at the same consistent
level.. All of that means that its really difficult to review a Bob
concert unless its a real stinker or up there at the top and I don't think
he operates at either end of the spectrum nowadays. What he does do is
revisit songs and let the audience reassess them. I always take my wife to
the concerts and she thought he looked bored. We had seen Springsteen work
his guts out in a similar, unatmospheric ice skating arena in Sheffield
the previous year and she couldn't help making the contrast. I though that
Bob offers a completely different experience. He is not the centre of
attraction - the words and music are, especially when he's playing piano
as he doesn't even look at the audience then. Everything is set up for the
songs.I am happy to keep turning up for our reunions as long as he is. Bob
can still call up the old passion when he needs to, though. I listened to
a CD of the 1998 Newcastle set today and heard a much lighter, country
version of Masters of War. What was played in Newcastle last week was
harsh, hard and still full of commitment.Shows that he still cares what he
says and how it is interpreted. Highway 61 wasn't as fast and rocking as
the last time I saw him in Glasgow in 2005 when he did a really good
Maggie's Farm but it still got its message across.
For me, there are two opening lines of songs that sum up all that Bob has
opened me up to:
''They're selling postcards of the hanging''
''My love she speaks like silence''
The current version of Desolation Row played on this tour is nothing short
of magnificent, it lets the words work with all their power and it lets us
see why Bob keeps going. Changing the arrangement has refreshed the song
and given the images space to be played around with. So, getting one out
of my favourite two songs is a good deal. Equally the latest version of
LARS has made the song much less anthemic which is not necessarily a bad
thing but I do really miss the Hammond B3 organ in the mix.It had become a
bit of an excuse for a sing along, especially as the last verse was often
repeated and the stage lighting swung onto the audience. I sometimes get
the impression that the more Bob likes a song, the more often he kicks it
around and reinterprets it. Even some of the new stuff from Modern Times
is rearranged. Summer Days, on the other hand, is played straight. There
always seems to be controversy about his Band but let's just be fair to
them. How many other sets of musicians can be expected to pick up on a
song off his first LP issued in 1962 and not played live since 2000? I was
just amazed to hear the song , if it was played in honour of Eric Burdon &
The Animals, it at least shows Bob knew which City he was in. Amongst the
new songs, I did feel that he does miss Nettie Moore and did the song
justice. So overall , a remarkable set rather than a mind blowing one. But
then, you can only have your mind blown a very few times. Credit to Bob
Dylan for being out there still delivering.One final thought, it was only
at the very end when he took his bow that he looked frail and shaky. A man
approaching 66 who had played an intense two hour set. Not bad.
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