April 15, 2007
Review by Joe Neanor
Dylan and his band performed with energy, power and sensitivity tonight
at Wembley Arena. His vocals were clear, he sung well and his phrasing as
exceptional as ever.
He opened the show playing electric guitar, centre stage. I was a long way
from him but it seemed to me that he was using the full range of the fret
board and playing with real purpose. While he really does not need to add
his own guitar to those of his three guitarists his singing posture looked
better, being more upright than when he is leaning over the keyboard. He
sang confidently, with no lyric sheets in sight, Cats in the Well, It Aint
Me Babe, Just Like the Tom Thumb Blues and Its Alright Ma.
After four or five numbers he relinquished the guitar for the keyboard,
playing it for the rest of show and enriching the sound of the band. He
performed several songs from Modern Times and these were well received,
particularly Spirit on the Water and Nettie Moore. It was a real treat to
hear the new songs played by the musicians who recorded the album.
The only slight disappointment was that tonight's version of the Chimes of
Freedom, to me, sounded in parts a little too close to Every Grain of
Sand. Never mind, Stuck Inside of Mobile was very good and chock-a-block
full of harmonica breaks. There were many fine performances including
Blind Willie McTell, Like a Rolling Stone and Summer Days, with the double
bass being joyfully spun by the always dynamic Tony Garnier.
Review by Martin Gayford
First thoughts on London 15/4/07
It's Alright Ma sounds great in a slightly new arrangement. Chimes Of
Freedom was very nice, as were When The Deal Goes Down and Thunder On The
Mountain. Cat's In The Well was a better opener than I expected.
Absolute highlight was Nettie Moore - stunning. However, I despair
somewhat at the number of boogie woogie style blues, which take up space
that could be used for more powerful or melodic songs (why Summer Days and
Levee's Gonna Break in the same show? They're practically the same song
musically). Unfortunately, the band did not impress. In fact, they were
far better in Bournemouth last year. Stu Kimball and Tony Garnier are
fine, but nothing special (Tony must be one hell of a card player to
warrant re-employment in Bob's band for the 18th year running). George is
okay, but I noticed a few slip ups from him, and he is still far less
subtle than David Kemper. The only instrument I heard anything
substantial played from the little guy at the back was the
violin in Nettie Moore, the rest of the evening he could have spent in
the bar it would have made very little difference. The lead guitarist
(Donnie? Dennie?) is be becoming increasingly boring to watch, and listen
to. Only one song (When The Deal Goes Down) had an inspired solo from
him, and many songs featured such inane doodling, I started wondering if
he was sick in the head. And he's so dull to watch - at least Freddy
Koella had a personality. Finally, Bob's voice was strong on the opening
songs, but it was pretty rough on several others, far more so than last
year. It was great to see him out front with guitar - how about making
the organ a 4 song experiment instead of the other way round, Bob?
Review by Martin Cox
With my only other point of comparison being Dylan playing the MEN two
years ago, this was a concert which for me at least exceeded all
expectations. Gone was the upsinging, the disinterest and the weariness
of the road. Dylan wasn't going through the motions and genuinely seemed
to be enjoying himself (albeit the banter with the audience between songs
as limited as ever!). The band was tight, raucous when needed (Highway
61) but at the same time allowed Dylan to perform some of the more quiet
numbers for which he is still revered (Chimes of Freedom, Nettie Moore).
The highlights included Chimes of Freedom, Nettie Moore, Blind Willie
McTell and Rollin' and Tumblin. It was good to see Dylan back on the
guitar for the openers, and him adopting a centre stage role on the
keyboard thereafter. All in all, a solid performance and a vast
improvement upon when I saw him previously.
Review by Nick Hough
Alright I know it got 5 stars in the Guardian but for me Newcastle was a
disappointment with the exception of a few of the songs...but Wembley
tonight was very different.
A later kick-off than so far on the tour at 8pm and from the start the
band were on great form, Bob was in outstanding voice, even the acoustics
from where I was in this cavernous hanger, were pretty good.
Nettie Moore was superb (again), as indeed were all the songs from Modern
Times and Blind Willie McTell was quite exceptional.
It was a real treat to hear Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues and Chimes of
Freedom in an outstanding new arrangement that I hadn't heard before.
Highway 61 really rocked along and got my 11 year old son up and dancing.
They were off at 10pm after two encores and Bob's only chat of the night
to introduce the band. The crowd were in fine form, listening much more
than in Newcastle where half the audience seemed more interested in
chatting and getting more beers in. The usual over aggressive security
though stopping people taking pictures on their phones - what is the
problem with this, do they really think that they are worth anything other
than as a blurry memento for the fan? If you were thinking of not going,
get yourself to Wembley on Monday night, otherwise you'll miss a real
Review by Vernon Briscoe
WHEN YOU CEASE TO EXIST
There are certain generally accepted rules to follow when reviewing a
show, an unspoken template, as it were: firstly you must try to be
objective at all costs. You must not lapse into hyperbole, nor must you
indulge in purple prose. Above all you must never allow your emotions to
run away with you. Reviewing, my friends, is a deadly serious business.
My problem with this first Wembley show is that I am certain it will make
me break every single one of those rules. And you know what? I just don't
By any standards this was a great show, one of a handful I have seen that
truly merits the term. Dylan called down all of his voices - many of
which I had given up as abducted by the 'wolfman' forever.
It was Dylan the storyteller par excellence and the wide screen
cinematographer on stage tonight. The tales he told were for himself:
(Spirit on the Water and Stuck Inside of Mobile); for us:(Chimes of
Freedom and When the Deal Goes Down) and for his beloved America: (Tom
Thumb's Blues and Blind Willie McTell).
The run of four songs: Chimes, Blind Willie, Mobile and Nettie Moore was
so unfeasibly great - each one freshly wrought and thought, each song a
set in itself - that it was little wonder that Dylan made such a hash of
Summer Days afterwards. He should, by that stage, have been stretched on
a chez lounge being fanned and fed grapes by a coterie of comely
The physical aspect of Dylan was curiously muted throughout the concert.
He appeared, in a curious way, to have diminished. At first I thought
this might be a problem but as the set built and the Wembley crowd rose as
one to greet each new marvel I became aware that Dylan had subsumed his
usual persona - the cranky old shuffling goat we know and love - and had
actually BECOME the songs. This phenomenon reached its zenith during
Nettie Moore. By that point all I saw before me was the flesh made song: a
kind of Rock & Roll transubstantiation. Put simply there was no gap
between performer and performance. This, you will be aware, is something
extremely unusual. I do not quite have a word for it so I will call it
two words: Bob Dylan.
Review by Jon Harley
Vocally stunning – in tune, under his control rather than skittering off
into its own rasps, squeaks and crackles; this new amazing flexibility and
vocal range means he can now sing as well as act the songs – wonderful to
hear – no more excuses about having to accept his voice as “interesting.”
Must have given up smoking and had some vocal training surely? Physically
much more mobile and agile – hands didn’t look so red and painful – new
wife? (huge diamond ring bands flashing and sizzling on his wedding ring
and middle fingers) insisting that he takes his anti-inflamatories and
glucosamine regularly? Band tight, drumming great and not over loud.
Guitarists OK, better than they have been by a long way. Major highlights:
Nettie Moore (much better than on cd) Summer Days, Chimes of Freedom, in
fact, everything was vibrant, fresh and alive. Brilliant. Energetic,
engaged, committed – a joyous and wonderful experience. Wouldn’t have
missed this for anything, even the horribleness of the venue, its
surrounding area and the acoustic.
Review by Jessica Nasmyth-Miller (aged 9) & Hannah Nasmyth-Miller (aged 11)
We've just had a whopping good time!
This is our first ever Bob Dylan concert! Ever since we can remember our dad
has played the music of the man known in our house as "His Bobness."
As Easter present this year, mum and dad gave us tickets for the Wembley
Concert instead of eggs - no contest!
The week before the concert we checked the Internet to see which songs
had been performed recently and then we tried to calculate which songs we
were most likely to hear on the night. Whilst there were some we got right
there were a few wonderful surprises too.
We got there early to soak up the atmosphere and realised that dad wasn't
the only Dylan Nut in the world - there are thousands of them!
Wembley arena was packed and the build-up to the concert was tremendous
with a bell sounding and the lights dimming and a booming voice describing
Dylan as many things including the Poet Lauret of Rock & Roll.
Bob came on stage with his band to loud cheers from the 12,000 crowd. The
band kicked-off loudly with the introduction to Cat's in the Well. Bob's singing
on this (and throughout the night) was clear and mellow and beautiful. He
never mumbled, forgot his words or indeed made them up - He new what
he was doing and he appeared to be enjoying himself.
Dad had said that sometimes a Dylan Concert can be like playing "Name That
Tune" and even by the chorus or (sometimes even at the end) you cannot
tell what he is singing - but not tonight, all songs were recognisable by either
the introduction or by the first line.
The band it must be said were awesome. We had read that they had received
ome critism in some reviews previously - but tonight they were incredible,
especially Tony Garnier on Double Bass and his Blue electric Bass as well.
Donnie Herron's violin was inspirational and showed that these instruments
don't just have to be reserved for Chamber Music.
Whilst dad got excited about hearing; It Ain't Me Babe, Chimes of Freedom,
Mobile and especially Blind Willie McTell - our favourites were Rollin' & Tumblin',
Highway 61 (in which Bob held back on the words to deliver them with
expression and power - he was incredible) and Like A Rolling Stone.
Other wonderful moments were Nettie Moore, which was wonderful. It was
delivered in perfect timing, Bob's voice throughout and especially here was
deep and beautiful and the double bass playing was amazing. However When
The Deal Goes Down was wonderful not only for the singing but to see many
members of the arena getting up from their seats to Ballroom Dance across
the floor with their partners - this was inspirational and very moving.
Thunder on the Mountain was powerful and again sung so well as was
Watchtower - in which Bob really appeared to be enjoying his time on stage.
The stage lighting changed throughout the full two hours of this incredible
night from red to blue and then to yellow - and Bob stood in the spotlight
so clear and I think at times we even saw a glimmer of him dancing!
In addition to Bob's singing - he played his mouth harp really well, again ever
note was spot-on and the sound was memorising. It was good to see him
playing guitar and commanding the stage for the first 4 songs (just like the
old times, said dad) and then Bob played the keyboard for the remainder,
leading the band at all times through the songs and with little gestures here
and their to indicate when to fade and finish - he was superb.
It was an incredible evening - so much so that we had to ring mum and
wake her up to tell her about it. Thank goodness we haven't got school
tomorrow and have got a day to recover and relive the night over and
over and over again.
Comments by Philip Martin
This was an absolutely monster show. I aggree with every word from several
of the previous commentaries especially the review by Jessica
Nasmyth-Miller (aged 9) & Hannah Nasmyth-Miller (aged 11), although I
suspect that Dad did help.. But anyway it was a superb show, His Bobness
was on good form. The thing that nobody seems to have said (unless I have
missed it) was the amazing and superb new arrangement of "It A'int Me
Babe", I thought that that was awesome. My number two son was also well
pleased with the concert, he reckoned that he got more words than any
other Bob show (that is 4 I think). That is shows not words!!
Review by Fran Scott
FREDDY KOELLA - AN APOLOGY
A puzzling evening.
How can a band who sound so good on the Modern Times record sound so
How is is that despite an excellent vocal performance from Dylan (who was
clearly in the mood tonight), my overall impression was that it was a
pretty average concert?
It's Alright Ma and Highway 61 were exceptional.
Spirit on the Water was dreadful.
I thought that many of the performances tonight had excellent periods
where the band really gelled and other periods where a prosaic arrangement
resulted in a marked loss of momentum, often during the course of one
Nettie Moore started wonderfully, with Stu Kimball's acoustic guitar
accompaniment suggesting this would be the centrepiece of the show
previous reviewers had proposed, but the band disappeared as the song went
on and it failed to fulfil its initial promise.
I thought the same band acquitted themselves manfully during Brixton
Academy shows 15 months ago, maybe the faster pace of those arrangements
suited them better.
Some of the Denny Freeman guitar solos tonight were horrible.
Bob's electric keyboard used to sound like an electric piano but now
sounds like one of those organs they play at ice-hockey and basketball
matches in the US.
But. But. But. The crowd loved it and Dylan was in great voice, I wish I'd
enjoyed it more.
Review by Andy Wilson
The venue is awful-i'd been here for the last concert-overpriced crap
beer, food and merchandice-can Bob really approve? The place is a
cavernous hanger with officious ushers: hardly a hall where you could feel
comfortable, or expect an intimate musical experience! More likely to find
The Chimes Of Incarceration here-a truly hideous, awful arena.Arena being
the operative word as Bob and band did brave battle with the, as usual,
Having said this Bob was in great form ,and if you needed just one
performance to remind yourself why you had made the treck, knowing all
this about Wembley Arena, it was fulfilled by one terrific song-Blind
Willie McTell. I have never heard Bob so engaged in concert. It's emotional
power and intensity blew everthing else away. Also much apeciated was a
subtle, much less bombastic but more moving Rolling Stone (and thanks, no
spotlight on the crowd as at Bournemouth last year!) Good too, to see Bob so
into the Modern Times stuff which was great.
Thanks Bob-can't wait for the next album.
Review by Alex Sultoon
How nice to see Bob in London. Having missed London out last year,
following his 5-nighter in Brixton in 2005, he returned to the
capital in good form and good spirits.
Wembley Arena is such a characterless warehouse, despite the newly
completed stadium next door, but there was nonetheless a warm
atmosphere thanks to the excited and enthusiastic audience.
Judging from reviews of the earlier concerts in this latest leg of
the never-ending tour, I was not expecting a great deal from the band -
well, rather the guitarists - but fortunately Stu and Denny seemed to
have bucked their ideas up and gave perfectly creditable backing to Bob
and the others. The band worked well together, with a tight sound that
never lapsed throughout the show. With regard to the setlist, one knew
pretty much what to expect and, apart from a few pleasant surprises, it
was pretty consistent with the others in the last few weeks.
1. Cat's in the Well: A regular opener in this Euro tour. The band
launched into it with gusto but there is little to recommend it as a
Dylan song. (Who ever thinks "let's put on Under The Red Sky"?) At least
it's not Wiggle Wiggle and it makes a change from Maggie's Farm I
2. It Ain't Me, Babe: The highlight of the show. He hasn't played
this song much recently and it was a joy to hear in it's current
incarnation. Bob's voice is sounding great at the moment and to see him
play guitar as well was a treat in this Modern Times era.
3. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues: Another treat and excellently
delivered. Hopes are now high for the rest of the show...
4. It's Alright Ma: Seeing Dylan with guitar on this one seemed just like
the Dylan in Don't Look Back and was enjoyable for this reason rather
than the song, which is one that you can never really warm to.
5. The Levee's Gonna Break: The first one off the new album and done
well. Bob was spitting the words out with glee and he seemed very happy
to be back behind the keyboard. In fact, watching him bop about and
pawing at these chirpy organ sounds was an entertainment in itself.
6. Spirit On The Water: Lovely song, lovely performance.
7. Highway 61: Something of a staple, but it still rocks.
8. When The Deal goes Down: Surprised he did this so soon after
Spirit, given that they are such similar songs, but it was well
rendered and is a reminder that hearing a new Dylan song is a special
thing indeed (unless of course you've been trailing him across the world
in the last few months!)
9. Rollin' and Tumblin': The lyrics to this one are so funny I'm
really glad I heard him deliver them live, so that's another tick off
10. Chimes of Freedom: Not a great live song, in my opinion, and in a
similar vein to It's Alright Ma, so that's another pairing I'm surprised
11. Blind Willie McTell: A rare song and very atmospheric, but I'd
heard it in Ireland last year, so it had lost it's surprise impact on me,
which was a shame, but was good all the same.
12. Stuck Inside Of Mobile..: I like this one a lot, but it has
become a bit too regular and does go on a little.
13. Nettie Moore: Why does this song seem to be so popular? It is my
least favourite on MT and it just plods on and on with that tedious and
annoying drum line, totally out of character with the rest of the album.
Now if he'd have played Ain't Talkin', this slot would have been a
highlight and I would certainly not miss Nettie at all.
14. Summer Days: Well, that's it. It's at this point one realises how
lucky we were to get It Ain't Me and Tom Thumb and one might as well just
sit down. Other than calling time on the show this song serves no other
purpose. The words are impossible to decipher, not that they mean much
anyway, and it's just a boogie for the band. Give it a rest, Bob.
15. Like A Rolling Stone: Wasn't sure what this was to begin with, as it
had a gentle harmonica introduction and a different arrangement, which
was enjoyable enough to lift much of the boredom from it's predicability.
16. Thunder On The Mountain: A good song, but not good enough to join
LARS and AATW as a 'signature song' in this slot. Although it does delay
17. ...All along the Watchtower: Yawn.
As usual it all come down to the setlist. Bob and the band gave an
excellent performance to a receptive audience and it was certainly a good
night, but the setlist stopped it from being stellar. It is a privilege
to hear his latest songs being performed live (Nettie Moore excepted..)
but given that we can expect him to perform these regularly as they are
new, you might just think he would vary the old songs more as a
counterbalance. Sure, play 6 or 7 new songs but we don't need the likes
of the drowning cat and those darned summer days in addition to the
umpteenth rolling stone and watchtower. It has always been a
characteristic of Bob that he tends to be infuriating and unpredictable.
I don't mind being infuriated, but as long as it's not through
predictability! Fingers crossed for Birmingham....
Review by Chris Hoade
Just a short review of the show and a longer moan about the venue;
Horrible HORRIBLE venue, almost as bad as Cardiff International Arena.
While we waited for him on the Monday night I worked out that we were 270
yards away from the stage. Our man was 30 minutes late this night and the
next. We worked out which one was Bob by process of elimination. It says a
lot for the sheer charisma of the man that even at that distance there was
rapt attention to every word. The absolute highlight to my mind was Nettie
Moore, which had (as my friend Dick put it) a lightness of touch far
beyond the MT recording. Special mention to the couple who waltzed around
at the back to Deal Goes Down, until security spotted them enjoying
themselves and made them sit down. It was a beautiful moment.
Review by Martin Smethurst
Looking back on this hugely enjoyable set at a few days’ distance, the
songs that linger most in the memory are those from Modern Times, and this
serves only to emphasise what a great album this is. We have welcomed Oh
Mercy and Time Out Of Mind as returns to form – but Modern Times is
great. Great as in being right up there with the great Dylan albums of any
era – and what a tribute that is when you consider that almost any other
performer, if they were still performing at Dylan's age, would almost
certainly rely on endlessly delivering the ‘cash cow’ songs of their
careers in exactly the same manner as they have always delivered them. The
highlights on Saturday, for me, were a moving When The Deal Goes Down, a
shimmering Spirit On The Water and a simply spine-tingling Nettie Moore,
perfectly placed in the set to pick us all up for the drive to the
finishing line. The fact that great songs like Tom Thumb"s Blues and,
especially, Chimes Of Freedom can be repackaged into ‘Modern Times’
mode is a vote for the glorious virtues of continuing reinvention.
| Click Here
to return to the
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists