May 3, 2009
Review by Fran Scott
RIVERBOAT GAMBLER PLAYS A STRONG HAND
A very consistent show tonight at the Edinburgh Playhouse as a poker-faced
Dylan reached for the electric guitar more than the harmonica and
delivered a set which drew heavily from Blonde on Blonde and Love and
Bob was very undemonstrative throughout and didn't get round to
introducing the band tonight as he instead discussed tactics with Tony
Garnier before an excellent version of Blowing in the Wind closed the
Lay Lady Lay saw Dylan strap on the guitar and deliver a jaunty version
including some relatively intricate solos with aplomb. He returned to the
guitar for solid versions of I Don't Believe You, High Water and Just Like
Trying to get to Heaven started with a great burst of harmonica before Bob
concentrated on the keys for the remainder.
Rolling Stone was much better than at the O2 last weekend, with the
guitars providing a wondefully warm sound.
Bob's right-foot-forward position at the keyboard reminded me of
Shivnarine Chanderpaul tonight after reading a piece earlier in the day
discussing the latter's crab-like stance at the wicket. Chanderpaul is a
revered cricket batsman from the West Indies who is noted for his
single-mindnedness, staying power and artistry but is a reluctant
interviewee who shuns the spotlight and doesn't get the credit he
Ring any bells
Review by Keith Meisner
Hello Bob fans, first time review and just want to thank all those at Bob
Links for their great site that I have used with such pleasure over the
Just returned home from the Edinburgh Playhouse gig. I am 22 years young,
study in Edinburgh, and this is my 12th Dylan gig, my first being
Aberdeen, Scotland back in 2000 when I was 13! Dylan has been my absolute
hero growing up and I feel very fortunate that I was able to discover his
music for myself and have been able to see him perfrom so many times. I
have been to great shows in the past, Stirling Castle 2001, the first 2
nights of Brixton back in 2005. So when I heard Bob was coming to
Edinburgh for the first time in the 2000's, playing a great wee venue, one
of the smallest of the tour, the last date in mainland Britain, new album
just out, seats dead centre 8 rows back........I was expecting a great
In my opinion this was one of the poorest and certainly the most
disappointing Bob show I have been too. Did I set my expectations too
high Probably. Bob is getting on and is at the end of a very long tour
and this was his 3rd night of playing on the bounce. And of course it is
always an absolute honour and privilege just to be in the same room as my
hero - Bob Dylan playing Bob Dylan songs. But still.........I came away
feeling extremely disappointed. I'll try to explain.
Great opener with pill box hat, one of my favourite bluesy shuffles and
Bob and the band sounded great. Was a joy to hear "lay lady lay" next up,
for the first time with Bob centre stage on guitar. I thought this was
going to be the start of a great night...thought Bob was going to pull out
some rare gems from his back catalogue like he did in Brixton with
"Million Dollar Bash" and "Billy" earlier on in the tour. Perhaps one more
cup of coffee Perhaps christen a couple of tracks from Together Through
Tangled Up in Blue followed. One of the best songs ever written, an
absoutle stone wall classic. However....this is just where it seemed to
nose dive for me and I'm not blaming Bob....well not entirely.
Bob seemed pretty upbeat most of the night, and although I've heard him
sounding better, he was still putting real effort in on the vocals, at
least most of time, and you can't really ask for more than that. What i
had a problem with was the guitar players in the band - Stu Kimball and
What are these guys doing in Bob Dylans band!! Stu Kimball strumming
away on an acoustic, looking like a wee boy sulking in the corner, looking
absolutely miserable to be on stage! Get out! Denny Freeman who just looks
boring, who plays simple boring little safe solos on his strat. At least
he looks like he's trying to get into it! Undoubtedly two fine guitar
players, I can see them being great studio musicians. But this is Bob
Dylan!! One of the greatest musicians alive, surely surely he deserves
better. Recile and Garnier are superb, no question! Awesome. Donnie Herron
is great but didn't really get the chance to shine tonight, but watches
Bob with such intensity.
My first few Bob shows had Campbell and Sexton in the line up, both were
amazing. Although those were the days when Bob played geetar on every
number and took every single solo. I have no quarrel with Dylan behind the
keyboards, as he can control the band from there and it should leave room
for some expert guitar work from his band. Sexton left, replaced with
Freddy Koella. I saw Freddy in 2003 at Sheffield and Birmingham. Now
although Freddy had the potential to hit a few bum notes and seemed to
play in his own little world at times, he FUCKIN rocked! He had the
potential to produce amazing, earth moving, bad ass solos at any minute,
he could just pick them straight out of his arse. He was raw and had so
much energy. Coupled with Larry's technical ability, those two were a
However for the last few years, we have been forced to suffer tediously
boring, safe simple solos from 2 very average guitar players on the grand
scheme of things. How can Bob think this is the best group of guys, the
best band "man for man" he has ever played with!!! They might be his
mates, best buddies.......but they are shite. Time for a change.
Interestingly, neither Stu or Denny contributed on Bobs new album. Did Bob
think he needed a new sound on this album that these two were incapable or
producing Maybe they were just on a well deserved holiday on a break from
touring and Bob couldn't get hold of them.
But it's not just that they are average guitar players, they just give no
energy to Bob. Koella seemed to make Bob up his game, Bobs vocals were SO
powerful with Freddy and Larry in the band. These guys, Stu and Denny just
seem to bring Bob down.
Stuck inside of mobile. "Could this really be the end" I fuckin hoped so,
this was actually boring. Trying to get to heaven, one of favourites, it
was O.K. Sugar Baby, another great song, just seemed so poor tonight.
Highwater was when Bob managed to save the night slightly. He strapped the
guitar back on and went centre stage and had to up the energy himself as
his other 2 guitar players in the corner weren't giving him any!
Highwatwer was fantastic.
Next up, "I don't believe you (she acts like we never have met.) Not a
song I care to much about and surely Bob could have picked a bigger one
but Bob was centre stage and one can't complain! He kept the guitar on and
upped the energy in the room. Great stuff from Bob.
"Po Boy" was the highlight for me. Lovely singing by Bob. But the point
was he was the one that had to work and work the whole night to get the
band going, they weren't giving him anything.
Highway 61 manage to rock but nowhere near as good as it used to be back
in 2003. Imagine how good Bobs organ would be now alongside Freddy and
Larry tearing it up! That is what I was thinking to myself the whole way
Now we were at the tail end of the concert, and so far it was pretty
average but I was still hoping. Aint Talkin was poor, Bob seemed done by
this point, couldn't hear Donnie on the violin. Another song I could have
done without. Summer Days was also poor because it lacked the awesome
solos of days gone by. Really disappointing.
The closing 4 songs, Like a Rolling Stone, Just Like a Woman, Watchtower
and Blowing in the Wind. On paper, 4 of the great songs ever. Bob tried
his best on Just Like a Woman, tried to pull it out of the bag on the
guitar, the crowd didn't help much. But I couldn't believe I was actually
wanting Rolling Stone and Watchtower to end, I was bored. I hated myself
for thinking I was bored listening to Bob and his band, the concert I was
looking forward to for months. Wanted it to end. I felt spoiled and guilty
at myself for thinking that this was average....couln't help it.
Also, Bob didn't introduce the band tonight. After Just like a woman there
seemed to be a slightly longer gap but Bob said nothing before Blowing in
the Wind. Blowing in the Wind finished and this made all around me think
that we were going to get treated to a 2nd encore, that Bob would come
back to introduce the band and maybe do one more to finish. Maybe Forever
Young or a rare gem............Instead to our disgust the lights went up.
Now maybe bob did just forget to say "thank you friends, on
bass.............." before blowing in the wind. But when you got a family
of four next to us who drove a 500 mile round trip £250 quid for all the
tickets, hotel bill. You gotta say thank you. Once. That's all they expect
and everyone goes home happy. Maybe Bob thought it was a shit performance
too, maybe he was pissed off with how little he was getting from Stu.
Anyway, Bob tried to save the night by playing more guitar but couldn't
quite manage. The set list was disappointing. Didn't introduce the band,
no token thank you. Stu and Denny should go. Maybe other guitarists are
not willing to commit to Dylans touring schedule. If Bob turns up in
Scotland next year with the same band, I don't think I'll bother
going....but it's Bob and of course I'll end up going!
Would love to hear if anyone in Edinburgh tonight felt the same
Now, for all those who are pissed off with my slagging of tonights
show......you all can criticise my musical efforts! I'm recording an album
for some fun. Dylan is and always will be my hero and is the reason I play
guitar and write songs. Got some of my own Dylan inspired
/bluesy/folky/protest tunes at www.myspace.com/keithmeisner1
Review by Iain Watson
Congratulations to the reviewer above on his
assessment of this show and the band. I said this in my review of Glasgow
2007 but I need to say it again - this band are a disgrace.
The run of When The Deal Goes Down, Rollin' &
Tumblin', Trying To Get To Heaven, Mobile and Sugar Baby is the most bored
I've ever been at a Bob concert. After the opening 3 tracks, which were
pretty good, this run was a complete downer.
This band have only 2 styles - plod and
slow plod and WTDGD is as dull as it gets. Not a great song anyway, but
certainly rendered lifeless by this band of dullards.
blues-by-numbers, and there are literally dozens of songs actually written
by Bob which should replace it. Want to play some blues from a recent
album Cry A While, Lonesome Day Blues or Honest With Me would be much
more preferable. I was actually standing there listening to this and
wondering how much more pedestrian this show could get. The answer was
'quite a bit'.
is a great song, neutered by the band and played with no emotion. Memphis
Blues is as overplayed as a song gets and Sugar Baby suffers from a lack
of finesse from the band (as do most of the 'quiet' tracks)
Best tracks of the night were High
Water, Highway 61 and Po Boy. The rest was disappointing and so
completely ordinary that it's not even funny anymore.
Change the band and things will
improve but as it stands I'll not go back next time if nothing changes.
Donny, Denny and Stu must be a great laugh on the tour bus, because they
ain't bringing anything worthwhile to the stage thats for sure.
I have seen Dylan 9
times and I have been blessed to have seen some wonderful shows (Glasgow
1995, 2000 and Barrowlands 2004) but there is no chance of anything like
that happening again. There is no spark anymore, there is no life left.
These recent shows make the 1995 shows seem like the Rolling
Finally, I am well versed in the way
Dylan works - no banter from the stage, mixing up the songs, differing
arrangements etc etc. Its what makes him what he is and we love him for
it. However at £55 a ticket a simple thank you at least once would have
been welcomed. There was not a single word during the show, not even a
band intro (first time I've never seen one).
Bob has been on a great streak of
acclaim as of late (some warranted, some not - Together Through Life is
pretty poor), however someone must have a word that it's on the slide and
the first thing to do is get rid of this terrible band.
Review by Shmuel Berger
I beg to differ with Keith Meisner's Edinburgh review.
The Edinburgh show was marvellous; "bang on".
While the "22 years young" Keith Meisner can already be counted among the
Bob Faithful, he may not have the (y)ears yet to know how to appreciate an
old but well-aged wine. He may have a point about the axemen insofar as
you can't dispute taste, but I believe they are pretty much where Bob
wants them to be. Any guitarist of their calibers can "ROCK" - a very
talented childhood friend who was prodigous on rock guitar at a young age
(and later moved to what he said was infinitely more challenging jazz
guitar) always used to laugh about and denigrate how easy it was to "ROCK"
on an electric guitar with lots of thrash fingerwork and bent notes. Denny
Freeman was not playing "safe little solos" on his Strat - he was doing
intricrate weaving and not distracting highlights. Robbie Robertson's
brilliance was in "not playing" also. Although Denny might not be one of
"the greats", the great guitarists know that "not playing" but instead
weaving tapestry with gentle fills is what makes music (Clapton, Harrison,
Robertson). Stu doesn't have a lot to work with being the rhythm guitaist
on 3 and 4 chord songs - but that's his job - no
different than Crosby in the Byrds or McGuin in Rolling Thunder. Maybe
Keith didn't have binoculars from the 8th row, but I did from the 13th
row and could see the joy on their faces, and no one was looking bored to
me - in fact, my lover and I both were impressed by how much more fun and
relaxed the band seemed in Edinburgh compared to Glascow, with plenty of
smiles and very into the groove.
While Keith counts himself as an expert, this "expert" on his 20th show
spanning 35 years counts Edinburgh in his top 5, and the lady in Glascow
beside us who was attending her 60th + show since New York in 61, UK in
64, UK in 66, Isle of Wight in 69 etc. etc. was wowed by him in Glascow
and said "he dug deep tonight". In Edinburgh we sat beside a woman at her
20th odd show and she was ecstatic all night. Back at the hotel we met a
group(ies:-) of Bobcats, including a 58 year old guy and his wife, and he
said he's seen Bob 400-500 times - all over the world -- and seemed
despite his very liquored state to have the facts to back that up - and he
and she described the show as "bang on" and "brilliant". As for no
introductions or thank-you's -- who knows - I've seen Bob forget the
entire first verse of The Times They are A-Changin', so maybe he forgot
the introductions. The fact of the matter is, I don't think any of this
band needed an introduction in Edinburgh - I don't think there was an
audience member who didn't know who they were (or couldn't find out at the
very least) --this was an experienced and erudite audience -- like the
lady in Glascow at show 60+ who told me she couldn't stop playing Tell
Tale Signs since its release. As for no "Thank-You" - excuse me...but 3400
people were on their feet in a thunderous standing ovation thanking Bob
and the band as they stood together center stage at the show's conclusion.
Bob needn't thank us and we all knew -- everyone one of us (bar one:-) --
who needed to thank who here tonight. And this from a guy who isn't in a
family of four, and didn't make a 500 mile round trip, but who came as a
"family of two" with his lover and travelled from the Middle East
specifically for this show -- nearly six months in the planning -- and
spent a lot more than 250 quid for the effort. THANK YOU BOB FOR THE
OPPORTUNITY AND FOR THE EXCEPTIONAL CONCERT! Oh, and one last
thing...they say there are ghosts all over Edinburgh. The skirts they
swayed as Bob on his guitar played I Don't Believe You, and the ghosts of
the Royal Albert Hall (Manchester 66) were haunting, as was this rendition
of the song. "Bang on" indeed!
Review by John Nolan
Despite a better looking set list, Edinburgh fell below the standards of
Edinburgh the night before with a performance that can accurately be
described as "stodgy" despite the more intimate venue. As suggested by
Keith Meisner, the guitarists are expendable, but probably not for the
reasons suggested. Kimball and Freeman are no douby superb musicians, but
Bob has effectively left them on the bench for this tour. No real solos to
speak of, guitars pretty far down the mix, and every opportunity to shine
is filled by a structured guitar pattern as opposed to a creative solo.
Seems little doubt to me the guys are playing (or not as the case may be)
to order from the paymaster, who makes sure his own guitar is well up the
mix when he chooses to have a scrape up and down the fretboard. On the
plus side, Bob's voice has recovered somewhat and his sense of timing
remains good, with him even seeming to care more about his songs than he
has at some times in the past. Never thought I would hear the day when I
though Bob and his band were overrehearsed, but this is it. Let the
players play, and these shows could be even better.
Bill, on a personal level, thanks for the site. Us veterans find it
indispensable, my first logon every morning!
thanks and regards
Review by Sarah Daw
EDINBURGH May 3rd 2009 (reviewed like a Woman)
An old Master squared the circle, a hard hitting massive sound driving
deeply through the centre of middle earth. Executed with precision and
sensitivity. Harnessed horsepower held in reins of timing, delivery and
unleashed discipline. An excavation to the core of sound. Musically mining
the natural resources of a new spiritual World. The stage monochrome
stripped. The planet logo wavering graciously accepting the salute of the
eye and crown. A big orchestral noise swinging strong and tight, bound in
confidence. The starkness. Fellow musicians shadowy & blue. Granite rock
but at times glistening and strangely intimate. Drenched, kissed with rays
of sun and set. Slate after rain. An array of drums adorned with pirate
treasure beads & lucky charms. A feminine sacrifice amongst the highly
testosterone charge of sinister sound. A burning backdrop of incense
frankincense & musk. A Woman's scent a promise caught in the breeze deep
from the lowlands of Morocco. Dylan is both Spanish Count and Arabian
Knight outlawed in a Clark Gable movie. Banished to the fedora hills in
brilliance and isolation. The charcoal suit slightly too large the pocket
chain from wonderland. The sequined collar religious, adorned with gold
crystals. A scar of dignity. A knotted silk neck tie and matching gold
stripe. Upstanding recognition, ranked military status. Tooled boots, one
tapping leather cuban heal. Dylan's back stiff always braced a little
awkward. A man divided by fate in three equal parts. The left leg in
epileptic seizure to dance the diamond highway before the gates of heaven
close. His right rooted stoic in rhyme and romance. His mouth twists and
struggles with the tack of labels stuck on fortune telling and prophecy.
His tongue razor sharp his fingers quick. The keyboard and guitar become
him no eye wanders from him. His voice antique collectable, as ancient as
the pipes that haunt the Highlands. Sweetly rich, mature, cultivated in
truth and wisdom. Still dense ever faithful urgent to communicate,
infectiously intravenous. Barbed as wire, but as wild as sea thistle
flourishing tenaciously on sheer rock. Defiant in the face of todays
shallow musical coastline. His songs and words as relevant today as to his
own generation. A Man of constant sorrow singing in a troubled new World.
Review by Neil Spowart
I attended my first Bob Dylan show in Edinburgh on Sunday night and am
still somewhat bemused, not just by it but by the reviews already posted.
I've been going to gigs since 1979 but seem to have missed Bob along the
way. Though I've never seen him live I would hope the comments of someone
who has seen many of the other greats would nevertheless be relevant.
Firstly I was not surprised by the lack of communication, I've seen it
before, Van Morrison has honed it's art over the years, I'm more
interested by what's going on in between. I thought the band were quite
impressive musically. It's quite obvious who is in charge given the way
the set is formed to have them all looking towards Bob throughout the gig
which they seemed to do, intently. I think the comments about them being
the reason for the show being poor are maybe incorrect, I don't imagine
they have much leeway when it comes to deciding what they can and can't
do during the show.
However, to echo some of the comments made, I found the whole thing quite
boring and at times...shambolic. I know Bob's vocals are perhaps not what
they were but I don't think that was the main problem, it was the tempo
and phrasing that confused me. I've witnessed Bruce Springsteen over the
years take his own songs and turn them inside out but still keep them
relevant whilst having the fans very much with him. Bob just didn't seem
to manage that, some of the songs were quite frankly a mess. He must have
been half way through "Blowin' In The Wind" before I realised what he was
I got excited that he took to his guitar more than previous reviews on
this site suggested he would but cringed while he missed notes and, at
one time, seemed to be playing a different song from everyone else.
In all I feel quite sad about the whole thing. I really wanted to
enjoy the gig, I was really looking forward to it, now I just wish I'd
got round to seeing him years ago when he was apparently much better.
Could it be an age thing, is he unwell, I don't know, he didn't look that
steady when he finally turned and faced the audience at the end. I hope
that's not the case, it may just be that he doesn't bother/care any more.
I really do think some of the fans who say that the show was excellent
need to take a deep breath and a step back, if they enjoyed it great, I
wish I did but coming from my perspective (one which was wholly up for it)
It was all very very disappointing.
I wouldn't go again, I won't get excited by him, I'll stick to the old
albums and dream about what I quite obviously missed.
Review by Steve Haynes
Following a memorable two day visit to the lovely city of Edinburgh, I
was anxious to see what others thought of the gig which was the focal
point and main reason / excuse for my wife and I to make the trip. I have
to say I was amazed to read Keith's review and although it's obviously
sincerely meant, I struggle to think we were at the same event. I can't
claim the credentials of many who write for this site, but have been to a
number of gigs across the years - starting on the Budokan tour (agree with
Geoff's comments in his Roundhouse review), Cardiff in 2000 and was at
Hammersmith for Romance in Durango. For me Sunday night at the Playhouse
was up there with them. No-one so far has mentioned the venue, a
fantastic old theatre with I suspect great views from anywhere; we were
lucky enough to be close to the front and briefly looking back there just
looked to be a wall of people - none too far away. It felt like the sort
of venue Bob would have been playing all those years ago, when he was
being booed for picking up an electric guitar. How things have changed,
when in Edinburgh every time he picked it up it was greeted with rapture!
If I had to pick out some personal highlights they would be High Water, my
second great Like A Rolling Stone in a week. and particularly Just Like a
Woman. In some ways I agree with Keith in that the band were very
recessive, but for me that was because this really was all about Bob - he
is always the dominant personality on stage, and on Sunday it was even
more evident. For me he really worked at his vocal delivery and musically
was driving the rhythm and structure of each song. As for the crowd, all
around us and again briefly looking back at the end I couldn't see anyone
who was not on their feet or who didn't look delighted. And finally on
the subject of being thanked ! - for goodness sake it was an absolute
privilege and pleasure to be there. The following day my wife and I were
reflecting on the fact that over the years Bob's given us a reason to take
time out together visit some great cities and experience some fine music
- why on earth would I expect to be thanked for that. The only thanks I
would look for would be to see Bob continuing to care, putting effort and
energy into his performance and not lapsing into playing by numbers. On
all counts on Sunday Bob delivered in spades and for that, again, I'd like
to thank him.
Review by John Sindell
ihave never reviewed a concert before but feel i must review this one
ihave been a fan of bob since the first album and over the years have seen
him live about 15 times.
it used to be that even when a bob concert was bad it was good and indeed
i can remember when he played one of his first gigs with the ge smith
band at wembley arena he tore every song to bits which surprised
everybody at the time and it was just stunning
not any more.
judging by the edinburgh gig and bournemouth 2006 the last 2 gigs ive
seen and having a look at u tube bob is way past his sell by date and is
just taking the piss, and good luck to him because everybody falls for it
bobs playing in edinburgh was just abysmal of course he can play the
organ properly he just chooses not to and the band really doesnt stand a
chance when he is leading it so badly the whole thing was just so bad that
i can only assume it was deliberate. the band would be laughed out of my
the only saving grace was bobs voice which was loud and clear and devoid
of the dreadful upsinging which is the biggest pisstake of alltime however
there was no emotion in the voice
the audience was really up for this gig and was on its feet from the
first number however there was only 10 -20 seconds applause at the end of
each number which tells its own story
further than that i really cant be bothered to comment on the gig except
to say that most of these songs have been flogged to death surely even
bob must be bored to death he certainly sounds like he is
as usual bob is an enigma he is putting out product by the bucketload he
is selling more tickets than ever and he is more accessible than he ever
has been but his performances are now at an alltime low and thats saying
something after some of his antics in the past
he has had some great bands during the never ending tour but at the
moment i am sure he is deliberatley not letting this band play to their
potential surely they cant be that bad
bob means so much to so many people but its about time he had a bit of a
rest and maybe some of his fans should be a bit more critical and listen
to what is actually going on something is happening and you dont know
what it is do you
Comments by PhilTheTill
I do wonder what makes a great show,
How much Harp?
How much Bob plays Guitar?
I can't help thinking every show could have been as good ,& should have
been! I just pay homage to the man, because he has entertained me for the
last 50years for the the price of a couple of CDs a year. Bob please come
back next year, with a new band, at least Guitar players that have more
life than a bottle of pop! I then could then Die Happy! Its only 700 miles
to get home, enjoyed the tour, hope I not becoming a boring old fart!
Goodnight Bobheads & Bobcats!
Review by A. Adkins
We could'nt miss the chance to see Bob and his band at a smaller venue
while they are in the UK. We (two of us) took a flight to Edinburgh on
Sunday morning from our home in North Oxfordshire to see the show.
I was'nt expecting too much as the Liverpool concert was a little
disappointing. The atmosphere was'nt very good, spoilt by the security
people constantly moving people around it was not easy to listen.
Although Birmingham concert was magic. As soon as we entered the Playhouse
building the people were really friendly and it seemed a really good place
for a concert. As soon as Bob and his band came on he seemed in a better
mood (than the previous concert). He really seemed to get into the music
more. We were delighted to see him out front and playing his guitar for
three songs, what a fabuloustreat. We have'nt anticipated the show would
be so good. Just Like A Woman, and a few other slow songs were really
very beautiful and very moving. We had tickets for half way back but it
was all good. I don't really harp on about Bobs voice as he uses it the
best ways he can. As all things for all of us change as we grow older. I
must say his voice does sound better than last year. It is a privlige to
see him, and we hope he keeps touring for some time yet. Just sorry we
could'nt make the Dublin shows, but all in all the Edinburgh show was a
special night for both of us.
| Click Here
to return to the
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists