April 28, 2009
Review by Mike Morgan
We drove a round trip of 250 miles and got home at 1.20am, feeling tired
but happy. All in all a good day with a good if not great show. John
Brown, a very good new version of Tangled, Masters of War and Nettie Moore
were the highlights. He can still tell a great story making every word
count when he wants to, which makes me wonder why it wasn't all like that.
I liked the swinging Spirit on the Water too, it comes over better live
than on the record.
Tambourine Man was the low point, chugging four beats to the bar
arrangement and tuneless delivery. The rest was bluesy rock well done. The
band was tight, bringing out the dynamics of the songs instead of losing
their way in elaborate solos as used to happen a few years back. The organ
sound was prominent but well integrated into the mix - a pleasant relief
after the high-pitched whine it produced in 2007. Bob was in a Little
Richard mood, turning Thunder on the Mountain into even more of a rock 'n
roll number than it is on the record. Perhaps he remembered the noisy
inattentive crowds who talked through the quiet subtle version of Girl
from the North Country in Cardiff in 2004 and decided to drown us out all
evening. . As it happened the people where we were, beside the sound
desks, were enjoying the music and having a good time. The sound was
certainly loud and a bit echoey which didn't make it easy to hear all the
words but the balance wasn't bad for an Arena. It's quite a compact place,
packed, hot and sweaty, but we were close enough to the band to see the
nods and grins between Bob and Donnie and watch Denny's fingers move in
My daughter (27) thought it was one of the best Dylan concerts she had
been to and rather heretically prefered the versions of Memphis Blues and
Highway 61 to the original records. 'Real edge' was how she summed it up.
Mark (63) kept asking 'What's this song?' 'It's off Love and Theft'. 'Oh,
don't know that one'. He said he'd have liked more of the folk ballads but
is eager to come again so he must have genuinely enjoyed it. I was just
happy to be there, enjoying good stirring versions of LARS and Watchtower
and a nice harmonica solo on Blowing in the Wind to finish it off.
Keep on keeping on, Bob
Review by Colin Popplewell
(with apologies to Heartbreak Hotel) ..and the keyboard player is dressed
in black.... or the never ending story of the 67 year old troubadour from
So yet again it's that short trip down the A48 and M4 into Wales to
watch Bob at the Cardiff International Arena. A train journey was more
preferable but overnight track maintenance meant a return bus journey that
just didn't appeal. So the car (& NCP prices) it was for me and my wife
After arriving at the CIA, the first thing that I noticed was how few
people were milling around the Arena with 90 minutes to go and that the
ones that were around were younger fans; I suppose all the press about Bob
being as relevant now as during the 1960's has obviously paid off.
Anyway, with rain looking imminent we headed off to the nearby Trader
Junction pub and the many Dylan fans waiting for the concert were treated
by the landlord to a selection of 60's Bob on the juke box.
The Arena itself is fine once you're inside and the acoustics aren't
too bad at all; the thing that still lets down the CIA is the security and
atitude of some staff (before and after the show). Why the airport bag
searches; it doesn't happen like this elsewhere? If it was to stop
cameras and non-franchised beer being brought in then it continues to
fail; why do it?
On to the show itself; seeing the angle of Bob's pub keyboard on the
stage we chose a good vantage point. After reading the current tour
reviews, this seemed the best bet as he now rarely ventures out from
behind it â€“ why is this, does anyone actually know why the guitar has
been relegated? Anyway, it has so we have to put up with it but I
suppose we all wish that he would return to being centre stage with the
One thing that you cannot any longer criticise Bob for is how sharp he is
dressed these days and yet again he and his band were sharply dressed and
hatted (Bob having the largest hat of course). How this contrasts with
Bob concerts of old â€“ hoodies, curtain bandana's, women's blouses
etc etc. I do remember a US Rolling Stone magazine concert review of the
late 80's when the show was so bad the only redeeming factor was the
reviewer's wife comment on how cool Bob's shoes were!
Overall, I didn't think it was too bad a concert considering. Yes, we
all wish his shows continued to have the energy of the 1970's Rolling
Thunder Review and that he would talk to the audience more often, but they
don't and we have accepted them for what they are for a number of years
now. What was evident last night was the enthusiasm clearly shown by him
and the audience for the Modern Times songs (shame there was no Working
Man's Blues though) and Like A Rolling Stone. At 67 going on 68 years
of age he can still do it for sure; alright he is no Mick Jagger on stage,
but he still has the charisma.
As an aside I'd just like to say that my 5 & 6 year old girls both think
that I know Bob Dylan as an old friend (which he is of course) that I meet
up with occasionally and were genuinely put out that we were not taking
them. This comes from the fact that I own and play an awful lot of his
music and child-like association therefore makes the link that he must be
my friend. Anyway, amongst their I-Pod playlist for the car are some Bob
songs that they genuinely wanted; some are obvious ("Man Gave Name To
All The Animals" guessing what the next animal verse will be and
giggling at the end when the doesn't say snake..."Froggie
Went-A-Courting) and others that are not "Working Mans Blues #2" being
the girl's number 1, although they know it as "Boots and Shoes".
How many 5 or 6 years old sing "..the buying power of the
proletariat...? So one day, when Bob finally says that the never ending
tour will come to a close (2019?), I will
be taking two young teenagers along to see the man. I hasten to add
that my two elder daughters do not hold Bob in such high esteem.
In summary, we go to see Bob doing his songs in his own style at his own
pace and to his own agenda. If he were to be doing it any other way we
would be saying that he had sold out and was no longer relevant. Sure we
want him centre stage with a guitar doing Lily Rosemary and the Jack of
Hearts, but we know. And to continue him surprising us he may even
include it in tonight's show in Birmingham and then again we shouldn't
and wouldn't be surprised when he doesn't include it. Bet he wears a
Review by Nick Dymond
Can this meager offering of a review really be the first of Bobs UK shows?
Where has everybody gone? Anyway, last night in Cardiff. By my (probably
inaccurate) calculations, for Bob this was " Fourth time around" in
Cardiff. I've not clocked up the "Bob miles" that many have, but I have
to say that he has never played a poor, even average show at this venue.
Of course, particularly for modern Bob shows, the venue is so important.
It's amazing reading reviews of the mainland Europe shows just
how many suffer from bad sound, in unsuitable venues. Cardiffs
International Arena, is an exception. The sound was balanced, and clear
from the start. Donnies full repertoire of instruments could be clearly
heard, Bobs harp was sharp and crisp - it's fair to say that the sound
guys did the musicians complete justice.
Being late into the auditorium....long story , I'm afraid that I
can't comment on how Bob looked up close. Having seen him last year in
Alacante, it was obvious that once again he was enjoying himself, as he
was on that occasion in Spain.We had the "ducking and diving" and hip
wiggling, that just confirms that he's happy to be up there.
No need for a "song by song", suffice to say the voice remained
strong throughout - he's growling really well nowadays! An absolute
highlight personally was "John Brown", what a treat! my first "Masters
of War" in 15 shows. A delightful setlist, one I would have been jealous
of, if reading a review of the show. The 14 song "main set" was up
there with my best Dylan shows. The encore I have to confess was not. I
really don't like what Bob does with "Watchtower" these days, why he
should choose "Spirit on the Water" as an encore is well beyond me - not
that I could ever guess why he chooses to do anything! "Blowin' in the
wind", fine, but not memorable. Maybe a savage attack on the encore of a
great show - but that's just the way I heard it.
Still amusing to hear people around you saying things like, "he didn't
even say, Good evening Cardiff!" or "Really disappointing-sounded
nothing like the album version!"
Me? I just say, "Thank you Bob, it's always a privilege"
Review by Paul Denham
First a few words about My Sweet Home, Cardiff. The venue is easily
accessible by public transport, the stewarding light and friendly, the bar
efficient and the crowd eager to be pleased. And to my delight outside I
bumped into Frankie Lee who was promoting his services: a big man who has
brought a great deal of pleasure to many of us over the years. So the
omens were good when Dylan kicked off with Rainy Day Women. He seems
to have settled into a pattern of starting with a minor classic and then
moving up to something special. Tonight it was Mr Tambourine Man which
was...er, a bit disappointing. He sung it as if he'd never actually heard
it before, with the lyrics chopped into short phrases that made it all too
concise and too clear that he's an old man singing a young man's song.
Then we had a plodding Lonesome Day Blues followed by Under a Red Sky
which, I must confess, I didn't recognise at all but it had a hint of
Tom Thumb's Blues about it. It ended with some lively harmonica playing
and the backdrop changed to starry night for a rollocking Rollin' and
Tumblin'. You wouldn't have expected that to be followed by a flawless
John Brown, brimming with tension and darkness. Bob was in excellent voice
and laying down a decent rhythm: I was beginning to hope that it might
fulfil its promise and become a memorable show. Stuck Inside of Mobile was
OK, it was holding up. And then wham! ”Tangled Up in Blue. There are times
when you listen to live music and you feel it would be right to die at
that moment. During Neil Young's Hurricane or Springsteen's
Jungleland, for instance. Well, this wasn't quite such a moment but it
was still good, as good as it can get these days. There was even a new
line: "I said I was wounded by love, she said I could stay...."
It's a shame the guitarists seemed to flag towards the end. Then from
the sublime to the ridiculous: Tweedle Bloody Dum and Tweedle Soddin'
Dee. Yes, sung with oomph but still an awful song. Masters of War was
majestic, it had menace and passion with the arrangement appearing to
include a trumpet which I guess was the electric mandolin. Again, the
guitarists seemed to lose their way when left to bring the song home. The
background changed to camouflage for Highway 61 with some unfamiliar
instrumental doodling. Modern Times is not my favourite album so even Mr
Herron's violin didn't brighten up the chug chug that was Nettie Moore
or the banality of Thunder on the Mountain. What was left? Rolling Stone
with far more conviction that I've heard for years. Watchtower. This was
a murky, damp and smug version when it ought to have been sparse like the
Mohave Desert and then surging with energy. People around me liked Spirit
on the Water because they were jiggling and making approving sounds but it
sounded like tea-dance music to me, and it just wasn't the time for it.
Listening to Blowing in the Wind it occurred to me that Dylan has the best
pub band in the world. Like Carlsberg's best pub football team and
Channel 4's best pub quiz team. But somehow it ought to be better than
that. I got home to find that my dog had eaten my wallet.
Best wishes Mr Pagel. Many thanks for your website over the years.
Review by Andrew Edgington
Cardiff is a short drive across the Severn for me, and the river shone in
the late afternoon sunshine. I looked north to the original road bridge,
which replaced the Aust ferry in the 1960s. That old slipway is all
overgrown and obsolete these days, unlike our hero who is still as active
as ever. That's where the iconic photos of Bob were taken by the Rolls
Royce as he waited to make the crossing. You can see the bridge - still
under construction - just above the car in the cover photo for 'No
Direction Home'. The number plate on the car reads RD 1235 - a nice
photoshop joke - but funnily enough Bob started last night with :
1. Rainy Day Women #12 % & 35
Bob was wearing black with a red military stripe down his trousers - the
band were in grey. Bob stayed over on the right at his keyboard all
evening, only venturing out to close the show with some harp at the end of
the last song. The ground floor was entirely given over to standing and
there were no seats at the side, but it was apparently a 7,000 sell out.
At one point Bob shuffled a pretty hefty pile of papers - lyrics possibly
as I couldn't detect any slip ups.
Acres of space is given to Bob's voice. I'm enjoying it more since he's
stopped trying to hit higher notes, smoothed out some of the growling,
introduced a more staccato rhythm to his phrasing and cut out the
Maybe it was due to my position but for me the mix leant a bit too heavily
to Bob and Denny Freeman. I like to hear more of Donnie Herron - I could
hardly hear his banjo on John Brown or his violin on Nettie Moore. But
these are minor quibbles.
I loved the set list, apart, obviously from the omission of anything from
'Together Through Life'. Under the Red Sky was a first for me, and Nettie
Moore. Many of the others had bags of movement which suited the ladies I
went with, who were able to bop and jive around a lot more than they'd
By the way - no Copeland .Rodeo or Fanfare for the Common Man etc
2. Mr Tambourine Man - audience recognition kicked in after a verse or
3. Lonesome Day Blues - hadn't heard this since the rather more harsh
version done by Campbell/ Sexton. Denny Freeman is less flashy
4. Under the Red Sky - lovely to hear this - a personal favourite which
was done beautifully.
5. Rollin' & Tumblin'
6. John Brown - a very intense and brooding, angry and doom-laden
performance. Great support from Donnie Herron's banjo. Each line rising
to enhance the effect. Gripping. Only Bob can do this sort of thing.
By this point my heart had sunk a little as I was expecting one or two
from 'Together Through Life' . A bloke next to me was shouting out 'Jolene
..Jolene.' but you could tell he knew that isn't the way it works with
7. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again - Don't know about
you but I've always found this approximately 2 verses too long.
8. Tangled up in Blue - In the late 90's early 00's he did this so often I
felt it lost its impact. So it was great to hear it again.
9. Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee - Stu Kimball picked up most of the work on
this. Was it me or was he not entirely accurate with his phrasing? Not
one of my favourites.
10. Masters of War - having sung John Brown I didn't expect another war
theme song. Another one where audience recognition took a couple of verses
11. Highway 61 - fantastic performances all round - why do I love this
song so much more than Stuck Inside of Memphis? Who knows? Who cares?
12. Nettie Moore - another real treat for me. He did Working Man's Blues
last time I saw him and this one last night - so I've been lucky enough to
see the two stand-out songs from Modern Times.
13. Thunder on the Mountain
14. Like a Rolling Stone - One day he'll try to sing this like the
original released version. Maybe he'll remember how good it was, and start
doing it every night - a bit like Paul McCartney doing She's Leaving Home
on his 3 date world tours. Bob will then sprout a pair of wings and fly
off to heaven. I will become the next Pope... New Guinea will declare war
on the USA .. Etc etc etc
No line up - 5 mins of darkness then encore
15. All Along the Watchtower
16. Spirit on the Water - I love the descending guitar chords in this one
17. Blowin in the Wind - a kind of footstep rhythm to this version - not
sure I like it all that much, but it made a change to end with something
less raucous that we've come to expect over recent years.
In conclusion - it's so uplifting to see Bob still doing his stuff. He's
a world treasure. We must all prepare for the day this (nearly) 68 year
old will drop off his perch under the strain of all this touring. It
amuses me when you hear 25 year old so called stars complaining about
'gruelling' 18 date tours when you compare them with Bob. I rather hope
that one day in about 20 years time - when I'm long gone - he'll get to
the middle eight of 'Every Grain of Sand' blow into his harp, give up the
ghost and snuff it on stage in front of a packed audience.
Review by Mike & Max
After catching two fantastic gigs in Milan and Florence we were looking
forward to Bob appearing in our hometown.
At first glance the Cardiff CIA is a similar venue to the Assago Datch
Forum and the Mandela Forum, but the arena seemed large and airy by
comparison, perhaps causing the crowd to be a little less demonstrative
than the Italian audiences. We’ve always had a good view of the stage but
in the larger arenas video screens would be a bonus.
Together Through Life was released the day before but we didn’t expect Bob
to include any tracks in tonight’s set. Before the show we predicted Bob
would open with Maggie’s Farm or Leopard Skinned Pillbox Hat, but once
more he surprised us and opened with Rainy Day Women, followed by Mr
Tambourine Man. This was one of the most enjoyable sets we’ve heard from
Bob especially Tangled Up In Blue and Stuck Inside of Mobile.
The tour must be wearing on Bob and the band, nonetheless they showed no
evidence of tiredness, although Bob seemed reluctant to appear centre
stage, there wasn’t so much harp playing, and it would have been great to
see him centre stage with guitar.
To summarise another great gig, Bob and the band are playing better than
ever. Long may he continue
Mike & Max
Review by Alan Kerslake
Cardiff International Arena on Tuesday night was my tenth concert since 1997 and the first for
my girlfriend, an awful lot less than some of the Bob fanatics in the first few rows with whom
Doors were opened at 18:30 and people rushed to the rail, content on waiting the hour and twenty
minutes or so until the show started at roughly 19:50. We were four rows back, centre stage.
Rainy day women was first up, sounding clear and strong. Not too many verses but a good opener
which got the crowd exited.
Tambourine man was next, played against a black background with white 'spots'. The vibe of the
song was delicate and was finished off well with a long harmonica solo.
I'm not going to go through all the songs but other personal favourites from the night were the
slower songs of John Brown, Masters of war and Nettie Moore.
Filler was in the form of Lonesome day blues and Stuck inside of Mobile, although well played,
I didn't pay too much attention to these.
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum was fresher than I've heard in the past which was good to see. Stu
played the main riff and also the triplets and high bends. He worked extremely hard on this song
as Denny plays very little of it. From what I saw, Denny's finger speed is generally slow, with
the exception of his slide work on Rollin' and Tumblin' which you could see he enjoyed playing.
Tangled up in blue had a slightly slower tempo to it this time round but went down a storm with
the Cardiff crowd.
Thunder on the mountain and Like a rolling stone closed the main set. Standard fare and well
recieved by the C.I.A.
The encores were the usual three of this tour and all well played, especially Watchtower.
Seventeen songs delivered to us before the usual suspects lineup, Bob teetering on one leg and
giving us the 'pistols' with his hands low slung. Stu was drenched in sweat and also gave us a
massive smile and a thumbs up before leaving.
I have to say that Stu Kimball is working extremely hard on these songs. I spent a lot of time
watching him this night and the main bulk of the guitar work is done by him. I don't know if
Denny is being riegned in by Bob this year but his solos tended to be weak and simple. I
expected more from a lead guitarist. Tony and George were solid as usual and seemed to be in
their own world, smiling and laughing. Donnie was low in the mix, apart from his violin parts
later in the show. Bob sang clear and strong for the whole night, much better than I thought he
would after not seeing him in concert for three years.
All in all a solid show by Bob and his band with the sound mix better than I've heard previously
in the C.I.A. The only negative I have is with the extremely obnoxious security at the front rail
who shone a bright torch into everyones eyes when trying to snatch a souvenir photo with their
phone. Many people got hounded by these jobsworth security guys.
It's time for this photo ban to be lifted to let people remember their concert experience. The
stage was mostly lit bright white and yellow for the night so there was no need to use a flash
in a camera.
Anyway, thanks to Bob and his band for the show and also thanks to Bill for running this site.
Enjoy your up and coming concert if you have a ticket.
Thanks for reading.
Review by Linda Edwards
My interest and preoccupation with Bob Dylan and his music has spanned
most of my life. When I was 14-15 years old we formed a Dylan club at
our grammar school and on Thursday lunchtimes, kids from the adjoining
Secondary School would walk over and join us to play songs such as
Desolation Row and It's Alright Ma and reflect on the words. The Club
had its high moments notably the 1965 (May 5th) and 1966 (May 12th)
Dylan concerts in Birmingham. In those days there were no Internet
bookings or reserved seating; we had to work for hours on paper-rounds
to get the money to go and queue for tickets and that meant time off
school. So we skived off in pairs and did a stint in the 24 hour
queque for a few hours and then went back to school. Forty three
years later I was driven in luxury to my 32nd Dylan concert at the
International Arena in Cardiff on April 28th 2009. My binoculars
revealed Bob slim in black trousers and red stripe, full brimmed hat,
his band, Dennie, Stu and Tony on the left and Dylan on the right standing
almost opposite each other on stage, body beating in rhythm at the
keyboards to a storming opening track of Rainy Day Women 12 & 35
followed by Tambourine Man. The sounds of the evening wove
themselves throughout time spanning much of his career. Existence,
awareness, emotion, disgust, protest, love pathos, loss and
apocalyptic were delivered with moods changing from song to song.
His voice seemed to me somewhat elastic as it stretched around syllables
putting new emphasis on well-known words, turning the ancient into the
modern. I have heard Dylan described as a shapeshifter and I think I
know what that means. He constantly invents and re-invents his material
so that, unlike so many artists, we hear his original material from a
different perspective, we experience it as living, fresh and vital and
now. Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee was swinging and upbeat, followed by
aMasters of War which was spat out with revulsion and flavoured with
contempt, then another blazing version of "Highway 61' which has
metamorphosed constantly since the 60's and looks like it has the
quality of continuance and will probably go through more incarnations
into the eternal cycle of existence. I really enjoyedStuck Inside Of
Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again with the harp-playing and Dylan
alternating between singing a line, and blowing his harmonica, and his
voice working really well. But the high point of the night was for me
Tangled Up in Blue personal, close, alluring. I love this version, close
to the original but more defined and pronounced.
This was the best performance I have experienced since the Sexton/Campbell
era. The band were at times compelling and elsewhere less effective but
unlike the last concert they did not overpower Bob and his voice sounded
in fine form. He gave us about 2 hours and 10 minutes of unbroken genius
and I find myself thinking how can the music of one man give me so much
pleasure and cause me to regress back to being 15 in the wink of an eye!
Thank you Bob for so much in your 68th year.
Review by Trevor Townson
Some things are not advisable to do, you know like taking a sleeping pill
and a laxative on the same night. Another thing not advisable to do is
park your car in the NCP adjacent to the Arena on a show night. I had
been asked over the weekend by a guy in line what my favourite Dylan
period was and I had replied "tonight", I said not one word to anybody in
line or inside at the show on this day in Cardiff but if I had been asked
the same question I would have again replied "tonight".
I arrived rather late in the day so was surprised to find only seven guys
in line before me at the doors adjacent to the ticket office. It came to
pass there were in fact other queues around the side with one being an
upgrade entry where you got into the event early to have a meal and
access the bar.
Asking at the box office if upgrading would get me to the floor earlier I
was told not as this would be the same time opening. If only kids
appreciated what you can gain by experience as I stood before the boy at
the ticket counter thinking, yes son. It was obvious, at least you are in
the building and through security, no doubt far nearer the floor doors so
it is surely going to be quicker.
Only a tenner to upgrade, a mere drop in the ocean compared to what I had
spent on accessing shows so far tickets wise. I felt for my wallet, yes it
was still there in my pocket as I walked back to join the seven in line
outside at the top of the stairs.
Having gone to the point of despair about how entry to Dylan GA shows is
organised (or not) I was not going to buy into the upgrade although spaces
were still available at the time of asking (limitations applied). I guess
Bob and his crew are not aware of what his fans go through outside and
in, probably not aware of the upgrade who knows but things could and
should be so much different.
OK we appreciate Bob and team have enough on their plates on a show day
but what I see most of all is the people, the biggest and sometimes most
interesting part of the show and the day to me are the people and these
are Bob's people whether Bob likes it or not. A lot of very good people
too. I do not agree with anyone who says Bob does not like his fans as
that is just a crazy thing to say. Probably safer to say that he is
completely puzzled by them, probably by the whole crazy business, I
certainly would be if I were him.
Bob really is massive business now covering age ranges from teens to
70's, I thought he was big when I started but whether his singing is
better or not, his shows better or not he certainly keeps getting bigger
and bigger so any review is probably totally irrelevant.
On arriving at the Roundhouse at the weekend one of Bob's big fans could
not help jumping from the pavement to shake my hand and the first thing
that I am told by him is how terrible the entry at Florence had been with
people falling all over the place. This should stop was my thoughts.
Me, yes I too am chasing my tail all over Europe at present and Bob has a
new album out that I have not had time to listen to yet, in fact I have
not even got a copy of it yet (come on Amazon you were much quicker with
I loved the Cardiff show, the singing was great but please do not ever do
it the same again Bob as we would of course both get bored!
Outside after the show "bootleg" Bob T shirts, a tenner a piece lay on
the pavement. After my long day I needed food so a meal at the burger bar
outside was called for and I stood watching the T shirt trading and people
Eating my meal I became aware of a guy on the street, sat there with a cap
in front of him on the pavement. People were hurrying past but I was
standing to his side eating. Not one person gave so much as a penny as
they rush ed by and a couple adjacent even continued arguing about
something or other.
I had bought quite a large meal, too much really that in the end I wanted
to throw it away but Dignity did not allow me to do that standing beside
this guy on the street.
My upgrade would have been £10, the bootleg shirts were now reduced to £5
each. As I walked off to the grid locked car park I dropped my upgrade,
the price of two shirts into his hand. I wonder what he would have made
of Bob Dylan, have someone let him in next time Bob, at least it will be
warmer for him, that would be Brilliant.
Review by Mr. Jinx
MOOD INDIGO - CARDIFF 28 APRIL 2009
I saw the Chaplin in Dylan tonight. The ‘Little Tramp’ came out to play
during a fine and fearsome Lonesome Day Blues. Dylan channelled him for a
few moments only mischievously dipping the shoulder and rocking back and
fourth with glee behind his keyboard. He even adopted a Chaplin-esque set
to the features too. Funny.
At moments like these the mind plays tricks.
I swear I almost saw a walking cane materialise at his side. Turned out
to be the braiding down the side of his trousers but my brain had already
flashed to silent slapstick movies ... and then it was just Dylan there
again, talking about his brother getting killed in the war. We heard a
lot about war tonight.
Enough of Chaplin for a moment, though, and enough about war. I want to coin a
phrase: INDIGO GROOVE. (Great, isn’t it?) That’s what the band – under
Bob’s tight tutelage – was about tonight.
What do I mean by Indigo Groove? Well, I mean a
sort of funky, blue slowing of tempo and the introduction of a narcotic
Wurlitzer shimmer from Bob’s keyboard. It just felt indigo – sort of sad
and hypnotic at the same time. It found its fullest expression in a
lysergic Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum but it also occurred in a curiously
baleful Rollin’ and Tumblin’.
Highlights were a wonderful Tambourine Man at number two, Bob inventing a giddy
staircase melody on the spot and then lacing the performance with some
simple, almost childlike, harp.
This childlike mode was picked up again in Under the Red Sky in which Bob,
rather than dancing the devilish Chaplin, sang as a thoughtful youngster
might crayon. Indigo Groove in excelsis from the band:
time standing still all over (and under) the place.
Speaking of bluish grooves: how about Tangled?
Tonight it was sensational. Given
the full ‘I. G.’ Treatment and a spare arrangement the lines were aloud to
assume a conversational register. Back and forth went the narrative, the
delightful ‘Tropicana’ line still intact. A beautiful blue funk of a
John Brown and Masters of War were a sombre pair of cards to play. The Indigo
Groove I’m so over-fond of mentioning in this review, was very much in
evidence again on Masters. John brown was more black than blue, in truth.
Mr favourite of the evening, though, was Nettie Moore. Bob might be accused
on this tour of having almost too much facility. He seems able to play
and sing within his capacity so on top of his game is he. This is
heartening to behold because it means he is well but a little frustrating
at times too. You feel he could, if he wished, push himself to greater
On Nettie Moore he did just that. The voice soared and Donny’s tightly
controlled violin part opened like a flower matching the bloom of the
In truth the encores were standard fayre but the warm and generous Cardiff
crowd loved every minute of them. Bob will do and has done greater shows
than this one but there was more than enough here to show the dizzying
capacity is still intact. And not everybody can summon Chaplin on a
Tuesday night in Cardiff. What a strange gift!
A rare evening of hypnotic Indigo Grooving ... and
then he blue.
Review by Gareth Evans
The day started with excitement, when my wife ran into the bathroom while
I in the middle of shaving to tell me she had just managed to get hold of two
standing tickets to the Cardiff show. For a while I was hesitant to believe her,
she then proceeded to print out the confirmation email to prove she wasn't
telling porkies, to be honest I was stunned. Have been into Dylan for five or
six years now but never dreamed of seeing him play live. This was to be my
first Dylan gig and the thought of what was going to unfold that night, in
that arena, made my head buzz."
I don't normally get nervous around such events but this was different, this
was Bob Dylan. We turned up at the hotel at about 6:00, after checking in
to our hotel and parking the car it was 6:45. The moment the butterflys
started making themselves known happened when I saw the two huge black
Tour buses parked in the arena enclosure. These were joined by three/four
lorry's bearing the logo's "rock n roll trucking" I thought it was likely Dylan was
really here and he was going to be playing live in the building I was walking
alongside of. On the route to the box office (we had to pick up our tickets)
touts were shouting and traders were raking in the pounds by selling Dylan
images on cloth and paper.
And so we had our tickets in hand and were huddled in the seemingly endless
que, at this point the event seemed even more real, out of the corner of my
eye I could see the image of Bob on different products lining tables and and
floorspace, we slowly made our way through security and into the audutorium
we chose a spot to stand about 30 feet from the stage.
7:35pm and the crowd goes into up roar, an inaudible intro plays over the
sound system, whistles and screams are thrown out into the warm aired
arena, so there he was, dressed in black , his trousers had some kind of red
stripe running the length of them, he wore a white/cream fedora and
appeared smaller than I imagined. Before I could take in another single detail
the band kicked in and Dylan was at his keyboard. It took me until the mid
point of the first song to recognise what the song actually was, Rainy Day
Woman #12 & 35 was so stunningly different to any version I had heard
before, the bass, the voice was there , it was a good number to open any
gig. Next and for me personally the highlight of the night "Mr. Tambourine
Man" the backdrop changed to show a starlight effect, then the song kicked
in and I was in awe, I had never heard it played live or even seen it played live
on TV, the way it was tonight is the way it should always be, but I guess
knowing Bob that will not be the case.
Next came "Lonesome day blues" a song I hadn't heard before but really
enjoyed, the band seemed to be enjoying themselves and Bob was getting
into a kind of groove too. After that was "Under the red sky" this left me a
little flat as the Vocals weren't that hot and my other half decided to go for
refreshments. "Rollin and Tumbling" was bouncy and seemed to move along
very quickly, "John Brown" and it was Dylan story teller, a melencoly tune about
the boy who went to war. Dylans vocals were pretty good here. "Stuck
Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" one of my favourite tunes and
the arrangement was fantastic again the vocals were strong. Anybody who
critisizes Dylan's vocal atributes should have been in Cardiff tonight. "Tangled
up in blue" it was nice here one of the songs that got me into Dylan in the first
place, they carried it off nicely, with a really good ending, great drums.
"Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum" & "Highway 61 revisited" were both good but
it was the song wedged between them that hit me again "Masters Of War" and
Dylan was once again reeling against the world and it's unscrupulous leaders in a
totally new arrangement, brilliant. "Nettie More" was soft and wistful, the
chorus was incredible. "Thunder on the Mountain" was belted out and it was as
if the band had a second wave of energy, Dylan even managed a few quirky
leg and hip movements, the guy look like coolness personofied. Next came
what appeared to be the crowd favourite "Like A Rolling Stone" the crowd got
involved this one and the sound from both stage and fans was rousing. And
that was that fade to black and it felt like 30 minutes passed, really it was like
2 minutes and the lights and music were starting again, the encore was
underway. "All along the watchtower" was moody and hypnotic, Dylans voice
seemed to creek under the winding lyrics but he and the band pulled another
great song out of the bank. "Spirit on the Water" really enjoyed the version
that was played tonight, not so different from the actual album version but
different enough to notice. "Blowin in the Wind" was the closing song and
the crowd tried to keep up with it's jagged rendition.
A walk back to the hotel was filled with talk of each song Dylan and the band
had played that night, my first Dylan gig had come and gone, the lorries were
already manouvering into position to load the stage and gear. A night I will
never forget and a concert that will live in my memories for the rest of my life.
Thanks Sian. If Not For You.
| Click Here
to return to the
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists