Reviews

Sheffield, England

Sheffield Arena

April 24, 2009


[Ian Corbridge], [Trevor Townson], [Chis Blackett], [Ulrike Keeling],
[Michael Burley], [Mike McHugh], [Chris & Wendy Aldridge]

Review by Ian Corbridge



Well I nearly didnít get to this show but Iím so relieved that I did. 
Having already secured a ticket for Liverpool, it was really the 
quality and strength of the opening European shows which quickly 
convinced me I must make the effort to see Bob more than once on this 
UK visit Ė and that has to be one of my best decisions of the year so 
far.

This first date of the UK leg of the tour kicked off in fine style at 
7.40pm as Bob and his excellent band swept into a lively opener in 
Catís In The Well. Now this has never been a particular favourite of 
mine but this version was great and set the tone nicely for the show 
ahead. The sound was good and the band were amazing.

Things Have Changed was followed by Baby Blue, most definitely one of 
my favourites, which was performed in excellent style with yet another 
new arrangement compared with what I had heard live before. The band 
were cooking.

Boots of Spanish Leather was both haunting and sublime, aided by a 
change in the lighting, and Bob plucking away on his electric guitar. 
Bob really started to move and get animated throughout this one. 
Definitely a highlight.

The Leveeís Gonna Break followed Ė now this song does not particularly 
stand out on Modern Times for me, but this live version which I had 
been hearing on this tour really takes it into a new dimension and 
completely rocks out. Based on what I had heard previously this was 
one song that I was hoping to get on the set list and I was not 
disappointed Ė fantastic stuff!! Again the stage lighting really 
enhanced the whole setting for this song.

A trilogy from Love and Theft was up next, with a nice Sugar Baby 
followed by a very lively Tweedle Dee, and then Poí Boy which was a 
welcome inclusion the set list as a song I had not witnessed live 
before.

Itís Alright Ma was played in a similar rocking arrangement to other 
recent tours but was excellent nonetheless. For some reason this has 
never been a song I have chosen to listen to very often, but over 
recent years Bobís live arrangements have gradually shifted my 
opinion on how good this song is.

Of all the songs in the set, the one that took me slightly longer 
than any other to recognise was Make You Feel My Love but the mellow 
arrangement really captured the mood of the song.

The whole band then completely changed gear with a storming Highway 61 
the crowd were with them all the way. Love Sick followed and then a 
rollicking Thunder on the Mountain, which certainly does this fine 
song justice.

Like a Rolling Stone closed the main set and was just immense; on 
several occasions during the song, the hairs on the back of my neck 
were standing on end and I just could not stop smiling Ė the 
augmentation of Bobís organ sound really adds to this and this 
nearly took the roof off this Arena. The master was at work and 
clearly in his element.

The encore was predictable but superb. Watchtower was extremely good 
in all respects, Spirit on the Water sauntered through in lovely 
fashion right through to the close which featured a nice harp solo 
from Bob. The new arrangement of Blowiní In The Wind closed the show.

For me, Bob and his band are producing the best live sound I have 
heard since the 1998 tour which has always held a special place in 
my heart. Whatís more, my impression is that Bob is enjoying himself 
on stage more than ever. All in all, Sheffield proved to be a 
magnificent show which confirms that Bob remains in the ascendancy 
and has plenty of life in him yet.. and long may that be the case.

[TOP]

Review by Trevor Townson


Some things can be hard to grasp first time around, sometimes you have to 
do a double take, you know, like reading and taking in a newspaper  
headline, "Headless person in topless bar". Knowing how difficult it can 
be getting a Bob song live first time around even after hearing it a hundred 
times or more in your living room, taking Dad to this show was  probably as 
meaningless as taking him up onto Ilkley Moor without his hat to listen
to the wind blowing! 
 
The day before the show I got such a terrible feeling that I had made a
big mistake getting Dad front row - people will stand, he will get pushed  
out, he will be crushed, he will be uncomfortable, he will be ill or hurt
and I will have to call First Aid! I felt to have put myself under undue  
pressure taking this pensioner who gave me the precious gift of human
life to see Bob. I did it because I wanted him to see Bob.  Up close the 
sound would no doubt not be as good as further back but he would be able to 
see. I was not sure with his hearing  what it would sound like to  him anyway 
but up close he could at least see. 
 
Mother had been worried and asked had I got Dad a seat, "well  yes" (sort of)! 
Suddenly the Fan Club ticket half way up the rafters seemed preferable or
even my first attempt up close on 3rd row. No matter it  was too late the
invite had been given and accepted so the following day it  was time to
pick up Dad and take our chances. Having been in our fair share of scrapes in
the past having braved together the football terraces and hooligans of the 
1970's how bad could a music event be, Dad however was younger then, now
next time I buy a card he will be 78.
 
As even hardened Dylan fans never really know what to expect from Bob it 
was any ones guess what Dad was expecting or would make of it, his  
impressions of Bob were more those of the 1960's than now. It was 
pointless giving Dad a crash course in Bob as we all know what an impossible 
task that is.  Driving down I did however try and told Dad that if he is 
lucky Bob may play the guitar, "I thought he always played the guitar"  was 
my Dads reply, see what I mean, impossible task with only a few hours to go  
when decades would be needed.
 
Explaining the situation to Dad that although he had front he may not be 
front if people stand or push past suddenly Dad was up for it! If he had
been given front row that was where he was going to be, on the rail. Front row
but with high stage and those black boxes all across the front, sitting I
could not see a lot but Dad to the side could actually see past the black
box to see  Bob at the keyboard whilst still seated. That was the main
thing for me that Dad  could see as I had seen it before and would no doubt 
do so again God willing and could even get a lot just from listening but was 
praying we would be allowed to stand.
 
Lights out, in the darkness people scrambling up front and my Dad still
in his seat, suddenly I grab his  shoulder and hoist him up onto the rail 
beside me and the first song  starts, "Cats In The Well" - Dad Is Standing
At The Rail!
 
It was then just a case of enjoying the show in our own ways as it was  
difficult to talk to Dad and have him hear me. Dad did however get a great
show, as a friend of mine Patricia would say, "The full nine yards".
 
One song with Bob on guitar plus fantastic centre stage Bob and harmonica 
Tweedle Dee and finally best of all for Dad the closing song, "Blowing  In
The Wind". Everything was delivered, even Bob's humour during the band 
introductions stating Stu being from Boston and having attended the tea
party.
 
Dutifully my Dad clapped every song unlike the guy to the other side of
me who never clapped once, sorry, that was until Love Sick which was hair 
standing so even he clapped after that.
 
Later I found out my Dad had indeed listened to the wind blowing picking 
out not more than the odd word here and there, he did say that he had
however understood every word of the penultimate song, Spirit On The Water 
and also really enjoyed the last song, Blowing In The Wind. Having told him 
already that it would be different and he acknowledged that on the way
back to the car as he was still humming it in its original guise as he knows 
it from the black and white era and the current TV ad! 
 
For me another fantastic show, for Dad a unique experience. Dad has been
to Graceland to experience and feel the Spirit of Elvis, the idol he would 
never get to see live. Tonight in Sheffield however he had experienced Bob
very alive and well and in excellent voice. Dad has always been interested 
in famous people so tonight he got to see one of them up close and really
enjoyed the experience.
 
Whilst most of the show to Dad was indeed like hearing wind blowing he did 
say later that he was really interested by Tony Garnier on bass and the 
interaction between him and Bob as he picked up on the unsaid and facial 
communication between them, he also commented on how his Dad, Grandad had 
played the violin in a band so was fascinated to see Donnie on violin as
he had never understood before how a violin (or his Dad) could be in a band, he 
thought Bobs band very talented, I told him they need to be, Brilliant.
 
Trevor Townson
 

[TOP]

Review by Chis Blackett


I have seen Bob on numerous occasions on the NET and never really been
dissapointed. It would need to be a really poor show to change that and,
as I am obviously blinkered and obsessed, it wasn't and it didn't. 
 
This was my daughters first Dylan show and, at thirty years old, I was
hoping it would be a good one for her too. Once again the man delivered.
 
'It's all over now baby blue'', 'Things have changed', and then  'Boots of
Spanish leather'  was almost the best segment I have witnessed. I was
already in that mesmerised state I have had so many times before when the
stage lights dimmed and the backdrop became a starlit night. I was
somewhere in that night sky looking down on a boat sailing to Italy, Bob
Dylan had his guitar strapped on and was pleading for his love to come
home unspoiled. It was so beautifully performed I didn't want it to end, I
wanted more extra verses, the song to be sung again, anything!  Anything
to keep that private moment, that wonderful feeling alive. Of course it
ended but from that point on it didn't matter to me what was on the set
list. I had my moment and I won't forget it.
 
My daughter was sat next to a lady from San Francisco who had retired in
January and was on the Bob trail through Europe. I think that sort of
dedication, the enthusiasm surrounding us and the quality of Bob's
performance took her by suprise. She couldn't take her eyes off the
dimunitive figure behind the keyboard. Afterwards she enthused about the
clarity of his words, she had expected blurring! She talked about the
great little leg moves he makes, the smiles and facial contortions he
pulls. Although she knew most of the songs he performed she was amazed at
the way he had tranformed or progressed them. In short her posivity made
me realise all over again how great a performer he is and took me back to
my early Dylan days. Once again he has re-scored his songbook but captured
the very heart of them all over again. 
 
And this was Sheffield,  another venue on the long tour that is part of 
Bob Dylan's life. For me it was just a chance to re-affirm what I already
knew. He has been a constant companion since 1965 when, as a 13 year old
boy in Wallsend, I first bought a Bob Dylan record.  He will remain so. I
sincerely hope he can record several more albums and that I can be around
to buy.
 
One more show for me this time round, roll on Liverpool. Thanks Bob Dylan
for another great night.
 
Chis Blackett

[TOP]

Review by Ulrike Keeling



After a quite enjoyable train ride through England's green and pleasant
land I found my seat in that steel shuttle somewhere in the attic.I would
prefer a haystack to that kind of seating which felt like a perch.
Anyway it reached 7:30 sharp and I spotted that guy with 75 % chocolate in
his voice preparing to make his intro but nobody showed up. Because of my
attic point of view I can't say much about the latest fashion trend on
stage so I'll give the intro guy a little space here since I'm certainly a
fan of his voice. Wearing a light coloured shirt with rolled up sleeves he
appeared like the real working man. By & by the band came out and I was
able to adore his voice once more.

It's gonna be fun was the last thing I heard around me before the band
struck up. The fun started with Cats. From my point of view now the whole
show had the character of a theatrical play with some cats and kittys in
there, some old, some young.. just been born if they start to run free.
May the Lord have mercy on us all!Along came Baby Blue. It wasn't only the
finishing point of the overture it came with an amazing harp solo at the
end. I guess Dylan is the only man who could satisfy a woman by simply
playing harp. And like some overtures that are better than the play
itself, so was this last night's highlight.
Next we saw a drunken kitty ended up in one big lie. The boots from across
that lonesome ocean was yesterday a wrongly fitted something, confusing
player and audience.

He didn't repeat mistakes and Sugarbaby was sent down the line. 
I love Sugar Baby performed by this band pure & voiceless it would feel
like..well it came as number 'sechs'.
Bob freed himself by dancing to Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum. Po' Boy! but
things are gonna be all right by and by.
Still bleeding, rarely feeling the only escape hatch is leading to Highway
61. If you'll hear that Hitchcock staccato tune you'll know he made it
there and the clock ticked.

For the grand finale there was thunder, if it is a good grand finale there
will always be thunder bringing down the stones. The stone had a little
blop of cream on it that made you ask for more and come back.
To get your GCSE levels in this country you only need really three
important words Yeah, Whatever, Init. There encore was in chronological
order:
Yeah!
Whatever!
Init!
Coloured in with little harp pieces here and there all along on the way
OUT.

Ulrike Keeling
Nottingham

[TOP]

Review by Michael Burley



First of all a context- I have been a Bob Dylan fan for 30 years- I listen
to his music most days and know most songs reasonably well. I have also
seen him quiet a few times.
The last few weeks I have followed the European tour on You-Tube so knew
what to expect last night. I write as a fan.

I was quite disappointed last night, The sound was like mud, Bob Dylan's
mumble is getting worse and the constant rockabilly arrangement of every
song is tiring. 
It took me three minutes to recognize "Boots of Spanish Leather" likewise
"It's alright Ma (it's only bleeding) .
The highlights were the songs off "Modern Times" which are at least
recognizable.
"Like a Rolling Stone" is a song full of vitriol and anger and almost
hatred - this was sung in the same mumble as every other song - need some
passion!

At the end of the day they are Bob's songs and his gift to us all- he can
do what he likes with them but I was a little bored and felt he could
"throw us a bone" every now and then.

Saying that "all along the watchtower" was fantastic- It really rocked.
I had never heard him sing "make you fell my love"  live- which I love-
the harp solos were sublime.

Bought a great t shirt 

I guess this was the last time a lot of these songs will be played as new
album out Monday
Can't wait

Michael

[TOP]

Comments by Mike McHugh



One again at the show the old and the young, the sick and the lame, the
drunk and the sober, those to love it and those who will loathe it but a
massed audience there to see what he had to give and he gives it all
forever bringing back that something that some may say was loosened from
his previous tight grip -  everything still there in those words of the
songs and everyone swaying to the rhythms of these legendary songs was
great. 
magic moments indeed!

[TOP]

Comments by Chris & Wendy Aldridge


Outside the streets were filliní up, the window was open wide
A gentle breeze was blowiní, you could feel it from inside
He made his usual entrance lookiníso dandy and so fine

You may call me Terry; you may call me Timmy
You may call Bobby, you may call me Zimmy 

Why wait any longer for the one you love
When heís standing in front of you

Well the last thing I remember before I stripped and kneeled
Was a trainload of fools bogged down  in a magnetic field
A gypsy  with a broken flag and a flashing ring
Said, ďSon, this ainít a dream no more, itís the real thing

Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow

And if we never meet again, baby, remember me
How my lone guitar played sweet for you that old time melody
And the harmonica around my neck, I blew it for you, free
No one else could play that tune, you know it was up to me

Are you so fast that you cannot see that I must have solitude
When I am in the darkness, why do you intrude?
Do you know my world, do you know my kind
Or must I explain?
Will you let me be myself
Or is your love in vain?

Thereís a white diamond gloom on the dark side of this room
And a pathway that leads to the stars
If you donít believe thereís a price for this sweet paradise
Remind me to show the scars

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summers dream, in the chill of a wintry light
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face

Well, the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy
The law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers
In the smoke of the twilight on a milk white stead
Michelangelo indeed couldíve carved out your features
Resting in the fields, far from the turbulent space
Half asleep near the stars with a small dog licking your face

Crickets are chirpiní, the water is high
Thereís a soft cotton dress on the line hanginí dry
Window wide open, African trees
Bent over backwards from a hurricane breeze
Not a word of goodbye, not even a note
She gone with the man 
In the long black coat

She wears an Egyptian ring
That sparkles before she speaks
Well  God is in His heaven
And we all want whatís his
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all there is

Lot of water under the bridge, lot of other stuff too
Donít get up gentlemen, Iím only passing through

[TOP]

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