page by Bill Pagel
Review by Graham Cole
I'm just in from Bournemouth and the second whirlwind performance from Bob
and the band, and what an evening, entirely different from last night in
Brighton. I guess we all look forward to these concerts and hope to get
as much enjoyment out of them as we can. I'm sure at least tonight Bob
himself had a ball, and for the first time in what seems ages, tonight we
had Bob the Zim dancing about and laughing with his band like such things
were going out of fashion. If for me last night at the Brighton Centre
was a great performance of a good-without-being-exciting set, then tonight
had the added bonus of a far better setlist, played with great passion and
obvious enjoyment, with some of our faves played, and the appearance of
Floater in the set and the great Not Dark Yet played to an almost spooky
backdrop. For the second night running we got what I think was an Aaron
Copeland piece playing somewhat weakly over the PA just before lights down
and then there they were again, Bob looking as smart as ever but with some
kind of silvery buttons down the trouser seams instead of the red banding
last night, and the band in their matching suits, and Tony be-hatted, of
course (Loraine would want me to mention it again!). Timing tonight was
exactly as on Saturday with a 7.43 start and straight into a rousing and
harmonious Wait for the Light to Shine. Loraine and I have both really
appreciated the way Charlie and Larry have joined so well in backing Bob's
vocals - they aren't in the same league as the very special Emmylou, but
they sing their parts very acceptably. Although If Not For You followed
as at Brighton, we were then treated to the ever wonderful Desolation Row
with Bob really chewing into the vocals. Yet again this has been the
thing that has excited us most, the way that Dylan is really working hard
in his vocal presentation in his performance. On most songs, he was clear
and strong in his delivery (only Mama You Been on my Mind lost it a bit
after a beautifully delicate first verse) and in some instances he put
great power into his singing, and thus, I feel, somewhat negating the
criticisms that his vocal range have suffered of late. Larry played some
fine pedal steel on Absolutely Sweet Marie, a song I have always liked as
it charges along at breakneck speed, and Floater was wonderful (and much
appreciated as an inclusion in the set by many around us). Subterranean
Homesick Blues, which had worked so well the night before got a bit
muddled, largely because Bob forgot some of the words early on and never
really got things back, but it wasn't a total disaster anyway. Nor was A
Hard Rain's A-gonna Fall although it could so easily have fallen into a
black hole after Bob's mike started playing up with reverb about
two-thirds of the way through what had been a really beautiful version of
the song. Bob looked visibly upset that the song was in danger of going
pear-shaped, but the crowd rescued him, and the song, by joining in the
chorus to help him through to the end. Charlie gave a thankful grin to
the audience as the final notes were played on this one, and things
returned to normal with a similarly affecting and lovely version of Don't
Think Twice It's Alright. I have to say though that as they returned to
the electric guitars the excitement grew and the three guitarists treated
us to a display of warm and fun rivalry as they played around each others'
breaks and doodlings. Summer Days is now a firm crowd favourite, swinging
tonight even more than it had twenty-four hours earlier, and as for
Leopardskin Pill-Box Hat, goodness only knows what was making Bob so
happy, but he was certainly enjoying himself, dancing around and laughing
with Tony as they swapped asides. At any rate, that number following on
from a guitar-filled Drifter's Escape brought a fantastic main set to a
close. The fun continued with more harmonies on the old Not Fade Away
classic and we had more lovely lighting (a soft purple) for the exquisite
and gentle lyrics of Forever Young, but after two hours and a half Dylan
and the band, without the blown kisses of the night before, were off and
the house lights were up to signal the end of yet another very different,
great show. And I haven't even mentioned Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather!
For me the highlight of the entire evening and worth the price of
admission alone. Couple the loveliness of that song tonight with our
meeting yet more Bob-friends old and new, and it really makes us wish our
bosses would give us time off work to enable us to continue with the whole
shebang as it wends its way around the country. Those who'll be at
Cardiff, Birmingham etc will, I'm sure, have a great time. Just like we
all did tonight, crowd and band alike!
Review by Markus Prieur
No, he did not sing "Isis", on the fifth day of May, but Bob did once more
sing fifteen songs not performed in the previous show. Three songs only he
repeated in the main set; the acoustic "If Not For You" (which is thought
to be in rememberance of George Harrison, now that Bob is in Britain), the
highly enjoyable "S.H.B.", and "Summer Days", a song no Dylan concert
should be without these days. Those guitars !!! But I mentioned them
already yesterday, did I ? From the encores he did repeat the usual three.
For this show I was standing, pretty close to the action, a little to the
left, so I could hear very good. I got to hear four songs I had never seen
live. For one the great opener, "WAIT FOR THE LIGHT TO SHINE"
[http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/light.html], which appeared for the fifth
time in Europe. Also the first electric song, "Absolutely Sweet Marie" was
new to me, and I wonder if he played it because in 1997 it also had been
the first electric song in Bournemouth. Two more L&T songs I got to hear
for the first time, a very nice "Floater", and a very strong "Cry A While"
(I did not find any fault in Jim Keltner's drumming all night).
Highlights from the songs I had seen before were many, as this was a very
very good show indeed. "Desolation Row" featured seven verses (Sell./
Cind./ Moon/ Across/ Einst./ Midnight/ Received), and Bob was with the
lyrics all the time. "Mama" was beautifully sung, and "Boots Of Spanish
Leather" (with nice red lighting) was sung even more beautifully. "Hard
Rain" [http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/hardrain.html], was strong as well,
but Bob's microphone created distorting feedback noises during the last
verse, causing him to sing most of that verse off mike, as loud as he
could, before beckoning the audience to help him finish with the last
"Don't Think Twice" had a very nice groove to it. "Summer Days" just was
great (I am really looking forward to see it six more times), and being
back in the 12th spot, I knew that number 13 would be something I would
like very much. So I got to hear my fifth "NOT DARK YET"
[http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/ndy.html]. It must have been the first one
ever starting with a harp solo, and it was a great version (~ "... and I
got to the sea" ~ The Bournemouth International Centre is located right at
the coast ~ ;-)
The band intro (with each member playing a solo) during the extended jam
session following "Pillbox" was immensely entertaining, to say the least.
This band sure is fantastic. The song in purple lighting in spot number 18
was "FOREVER YOUNG" [http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/young.html], which
featured nice vocal harmonies; and the second encore was "Highway 61" this
time, which showcased Charlie Sexton's talent once more. To observe Bob's
look on his face as he was looking from three feet distance into Charlie's
face for quite a long time, it was obvious that he was well pleased with
him. And rightly so ! I was well pleased as well with all five artists on
stage, and I have the feeling, that I will be even more pleased in Cardiff
tonight. These shows are a pure pleasure.
NOT DARK YET
A WEBSITE FOCUSING ON SOME OF THE SONGS
PERFORMED OCCASIONALLY BY BOB DYLAN
IN 2002, IN 2001, IN 2000 AND IN 1999
Review by Peter Richards-Carpe
There are some nights for Dylan when everything falls into place the
difficulties are moulded into triumphs, his transcendent genius
enveloping every friend and obstacle in its path, leaving them glinting
in his wake. Last night in Bournemouth was such a night. By way of
spectacular example, take the version of 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall'.
Bob utterly, mesmerically focused on the song's sprawling avenues of
adventure. The first chorus arrives... 'It's a hard, it's a hard, it's a
hard, it's a HARD, it's a HARD RAIN'S a-gonna fall' chants the audience in
glorious unison with the poet on stage. Except Bob doesn't like this. The
second chorus comes around, and Bob delays, stutters the timing, evades
the anthemic temptation. The audience takes the hint- no more singing
along. Bob is so INVOLVED in this version, seething at the microphone,
IMPLORING his message to the sea of heads. The tension builds, the song
reaching its climax as Dylan leaps into the final verse. To be confronted
by screeching feedback- horror of horrors! He tries to sing again...
'what'll you do now, my- screech'. Despair. A great version ruined... but
hang on- I can see Bob, standing back from the microphone, belting the
words into the air, desperate to get the song right, mike or no mike...
the song must go on... JUSTICE TO THE SONG! There is a haunting,
fluctuating grimace of intent on his face as he sings the song's final
words to himself, in front of 4,000 baying fans. And the final chorus
arrives- still the mike won't function. But this is OUR cue! A great
roaring crescendo bellows up from the smouldering audience pit, 'IT'S A
HARD, IT'S A HARD, IT'S A HARD, IT'S A HARD, IT'S A HARD RAIN'S A-GONNA
FALL!' chant 4,000 voices. Bob Dylan is visibly moved. He plays the song
out with studied aggression. The song's early confrontation had been
resolved in the most dramatic way, in a moment that deserves to become
legendary. Dylan sang and played like he had an army behind him last night
And, in this heroic, defiant, unique performance of 'Hard Rain', the
audience showed him that he did. What happened on 'Hard Rain', however,was
merely symbolic f the complete majesty of this show. Still reeling from the
blows, I will outline the highlights. 'Desolation Row' was gripping, one of
those versions that unravels as the verses progress, Bob pulling the noose
ever tighter, finding spontaneous rhythm in unlikely lines. 'Boots Of Spanish
Leather' was a tender delight, introduced by one of two harp openings
that seemed to have MEANING, to heighten the emotional fragility of the
performance. Bob laid his soul bare in many ways last night, and 'Boots'
was sung with such vulnerability, it made me feel the wounds that prompted
him to write it were still gaping. The other great harp intro came,
staggeringly, on 'Not Dark Yet', a solo that sounded not so much like
accompaniment to the song, as a structural foundation. Dylan's voice was
rich and powerful tonight, and its strength was imaculately conveyed as he
placed each line of 'Not Dark Yet' firmly in front of us. Maybe it was the
finest vocal of the evening. The 'Love And Theft' material was tremendous-
'Floater' saw great guitar work from Charlie, Bob providing the sprawling
images. 'Cry A-While' was brilliant, and I had to yell the fact at Bob.
Devastatingly raucous, I felt so happy for the many in the room who would
only have heard the album version, and could see the storming development
this song has been subjected to in the live arena. For if last night
proved anything, it is that Bob is a live performer above anything else.
And a comedian. He staggered like a drunk on stage, wiggled his leg, waved
his guitar, and played harp on 'Drifter's Escape' on one leg, holding his
left palm out to the crowd as he swayed. By the time Bob and the boys
ripped into 'Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat', they were having a ball, cracking
jokes with one another. The rapport between Bob and Charlie had been
established during the very first number, when Charlie missed his harmony
part on 'Wait For The Light To Shine' and Bob started giving him 'the
look'. In a hilarious piece of childishness during 'L-S P-B Hat', Bob
coaxed Charlie into taking a solo, and decided to introduce Keltner on
drums as Charlie let rip. This act of sabotage had Garnier, Sexton and
Dylan laughing for a good few minutes, a joy for the crowd to see them
having such fun.
Bouemouth therefore witnessed high farce, high drama and high art
when Bob Dylan played on May 5th. Nothing more can be asked of a
night's entertainment. But it was so much more than a night's
entertainment. For me, it felt like little short of spiritual epiphany.
Only Bob can take sky-high expectations, rip them up and cast them to
the wind in this way. He has never played better.
Review by David Page
This was a fantastic show from every way you look at it. Firstly the song
selection was really brilliant, secondly Bob and the Band all seemed to be
enjoying themselves as much as the audience and thirdly for anyone who
hadn't seen any of the songs from Love and Theft performed live a real
treat was in store. My wife and I arrived at the venue just before 6.00
and promptly joined the queue to get a good position. at just before 7.45
the band takes the stage and from the first number we knew that this was
to be one of those classic performances. Everyone was well up for it and
Wait for the Light To Shine was really well received. If Not For You
followed didn't get quite the same response, but from the opening of
Desolation Row the atmosphere was electric for the rest of the evening.
Everyone will have there own favourites but a set list that saw Absolutely
Sweet Marie, Subterranean Homesick Blues, A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall,
Don't Think Twice served up within the first hour had to be special.
However it was Summer Days that really made the night for me, it certainly
pleased the young lady in front of me who really shook her thing. I don't
know if there's a Django Reindhart influence there but Charlie's guitar
playing was fabulous, the sort of thing I could well imagine being played
in a 1930's jazz cafe. Next up came Not Dark Yet, it was nice that
something from Time Out Of Mind had been retained, and tonight's
performance was particularly haunting. Drifter's Escape was then given the
works, and led to a really knock out version of Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat
complete with band introductions. At this point I think that it is worth
mentioning how surprised I was seeing Jim Keltner on the drums. I don't
know why or how long he has been in the chair but the job could have been
made for him. For the first encore Not Fade Away was followed Rolling
Stone, Forever Young, Honest With Me - another real treat from Love and
Theft, and the ever present Blowin' In The Wind. Charlie and Larry really
do the business on a lot of the vocal harmonies and bring an added
dimension to some of the songs. The lighting engineers are also well
worthy of mention, the effects during this first encore were superb! It
was a shame that all good things come to an end but this crowd were not in
the going home mood and their perseverance brought Bob and the band back
for a brilliant rendition of Highway 61 Revisited. This was the first show
I had been to outside London since Blackbushe in 1978. I really enjoyed
standing near the front of the stage (I was originally a bit miffed when
all the seated area had been sold) and certainly enjoyed meeting so many
other like minded fans. Hope everyone enjoys the rest of the tour.
Review by Michael Bamford
Having just read the reviews of Brighton I do sometimes wonder where some
of the people who "review" Bobs concerts have been, some of them certainly
weren't at the same show that I was.
Having just got back home from a near 700 mile round trip a quick word or
two about Brighton, Bob + the Band = Brilliant - a truely rocking night !!!
Now onto Stalag Luft Bournemouth which passes as a concert venue, talk
about the security being "jobsworth" tonight, in my seat, on the ledge
with seats which passes as a balcony we were surrounded by spotters for
cameras, videos cigarettes and even people breathing in the standing area.
More people evicted tonight than I've ever seen before. Security running about
in front of us all evening spoiling what was to start with an atrocious
viewing area. My wife was glad I didn't take my camera to this show.
Anyway as for the Boys well what can you say - it justs gets better. From
a Rocking Brighton to a more bluesy night in Bournemouth with gentle
acoustic numbers where Bob caressed every word, to his creation of the
longest word in the English alphabet
:-"Johnny'sinthebasementmixingpthemedicineI monthepavement etc etc" every
line rolled into one word a brilliant version of Subterranean, what does
it matter if he forgets the words, so what! we all know them anyway. What
an interesting end if the song stopped dead after "the vandals took the
handles". Problems with his mike on Hard rain but a rousing audience
rendition of the final chorus brought big grins all around the stage.
Summerdays, it certainly was, with Charlie up to now on both nights
prowling around his part of the stage like a pent up beast and now
released to rip into an awesome jam session with Bob and Larry. Bob
throughout both Brighton and Bournemouth played some excellent lead
guitar, and more than held his own with the Boys during this session. Tony
spent less time coaching Jim Keltner tonight and patrolled the back of the
stage, with a huge grin on his face for most of the night, I'd have loved
to have heard Bobs little aside to him which left both of them laughing.
Another highlight was the version of Not Fade away the 1st time I've heard
it live, Jim had a good thrash on this one. Everyone on stage seemed to
thoroughly enjoy, what on both nights, was a truly appreciative audience
and and for a split second you wondered if we may have a third encore but
no. Ah well back to work until Friday when I catch up with Bob again in
Review by Ian Blagbrough
Bournemouth International Centre (BIC), we were all last gathered here for
10/02/97, and that had a very good vibe and warm appreciation from the crowd,
fondly talking of an excellent concert the night before. So, BIC sells out,
it is a small venue (maybe 2,000? certainly not 3,000), you are close to Dylan
and his band (I was standing centre in the 11th row) and there is a true, warm
feeling towards the artist on the important Dylan Isis date the 5th of May.
The set-list (revised?) is spot on, with HWY61 as the real encore. The songs
are all early period pieces or from L&T also with Not Dark Yet. There is the
inclusion of Not Fade Away. The main thrust is that this was good, but not
excellent. There was a little good singing, but a lot of snarling tonight,
lots of three on one note and then a very high note tunes, which was used to
ruin (or re-interpret) several classics: LARS, Forever Young, BITW. 2.5
hours covering real folk, some country, excellent R&B, a touch of lounge,
powerful R&R, the band are excellent. Larry takes lead as often as Charlie,
Dylan shares the lead between all three (equally?). Genuine smiles and lots
of warmth (literally) from the crowd. The band had fun, and aspects were
excellent, but not the encores, of the more work-a-day type.
7.30 arrives with Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, weakly playing
to us common men, but nothing happens and no song and dance men (I did not
expect any at this time). Lots of incense, how long will he keep us waiting?
The rock start must be late …
7.43 "L&G please welcome Columbia Recording Artist …", house-lights down and
we are away. The band in black suits or a long frock-coat for Larry, looking
the song and dance men parts. Dylan has large silver buttons on the trouser
seams, more country or lounge than R&R. Dylan is wearing a large white
Stetson, Tony also with a broad-brimmed hat, facial hair in evidence (goatees)
for those old-enough to grow something. The acoustic set opens with Wait For
The Light To Shine, Larry is immediately excellent on mandolin, good backing
vocals, real harmony (who are those girls?). Then a sweet If Not For You,
more postcard sales on Desolation Row, and mouth-organ for a closing with
Mama, You Been On My Mind. Clear sound, looking all in good health, getting
on with it, all very professional. The 15-5-1 set list arrangement, means
now the electric Fender party can start, where are you tonight Sweet Marie?
and a sweet and captivating Floater. Much interest in the new outing for
SHB with Larry on slide-guitar. It was a poungin version but the lyrics did
suffer (surely not a lack of actual rehearsal, given it is 30+ years? -
anyway they did suffer a lot). I've cried and so you can Cry a While,
really powerful, so venomous.
Backing curtains are dragged away for a red lit stage and a beautiful, really
delicate Boots, some good work on the mouth-organ. Now the first of three
noteworthy points. Hard rain does not get going so well, a few more lyric
problems delivered at what must have been approaching double-speed in the
verse, but then terrible distortion from the Dylan mike, fear of an electric
shock and more terrible distortion on the next line, cause him to be discrete
and keep away from the mike, right now alongside Tony, back centre stage.
Instead of using one of the two other singing mikes, there and waiting, he
belts out the words for the band? for us?, anyway, we pick it up, we know
the lyrics (quite well actually) and we finish the number with and for him,
keeping to time, but not going up high at the end of each and every line.
This causes much laughter and enjoyment from all four guitarists, we get
smiles, broad grins and warm encouragement, it makes this first set of songs
so memorable. There was real sympathy and warmth to overcome the real
problem. Of course, Hard Rain as such was lost, but the bond between singer
and crowd lasts now for the rest of the evening. Deep blue lighting for a
deep blue version of DTTIAR, lovely, moving, a class act. Back to the Fender
party for an awesome Summer Days, in yellow-golden lighting, mouth organ into
NDY from TOOM, and even moreso for the Drifter's Escape, mangled lyrics, but,
note this, Bob hopping towards us, waving with the off hand during the long,
long mouth-organ solo. If you have seen those youths practising the kung-fu
or tai-chi "heron" move, then a flapping one-legged tambourine man whilst
playing mouth-organ was an amusing sight, to us, and to the band. More
laughter, more smiles (at a Dylan gig). This powerful R&R breaks out in to
Leopard-Skin PBH, full tilt R&B, band intros loud cheers. It is 100 mins
now of excellent entertainment. In this set, Dylan was dancing, mainly left
leg, some duck walks, mainly remember the laughter on stage, the clear
enjoyment. A good set-list, played very well, Jim Keltner played well,
but Tony Garnier is working very hard with him, it is 9.23.
After 5 mins, the encores set as such, we have cheered for them. Can we
continue the great atmosphere? Here an idiot leaps to scale the cables for
the speaker stack suspended above us, far left. Security take action. The
many speakers sway high overhead, he was high on something (speaker cables).
The band throw back one or two hats (PBH) from the stage, a deluge is not
required. Loud and clear is Not Fade Away, good harmonies on this Petty and
Hardin classic, made famous by the Rolling Stones after Buddy Holly, but as
the Stones always perform LARS it all seemed appropriate. Next up LARS, crowd
pleaser, band more going through the motions, the voice given out to high
falsetto re-interpretations. Purple lighting and a mouth-organ intro for
Forever Young which was butchered by the new "tune", great lyrics poorly
delivered. I've been Honest with you, and then BITW. Lots of crowd lighting,
but the moment has really passed. They answer our screams with an up-tempo
H61 revisited jam session as true encore. Lots of laughs and (aspects of) a
very good show, but the voice faded later. We give forth more screams, real
adulation, and then they are away. Note also, that sitting centre stage
throughout is a figurine, a brown skinned doll, talk of James Brown? on
rec.music.dylan, but it was there, next to Oscar and it was beyond me. A
brief reminder that in Oct 1997 we got 11 and 4 encores, and were well
pleased, tonight 21 songs in 2.5 hours (only 3 were "repeats" from Oct '97
Sweet Marie, LSkinPBH and LARS).
Ian S. Blagbrough
Review by Jim Bishop
Listen to a recording of this incredible Bournemouth show and you may miss
one of the most staggering 'Bob moments' ever witnessed.
It happened during 'Hard Rain'. Bob had delivered most of a beautifully
focussed and extremely moving rendition of the song when the unthinkable
happened. The microphone began to 'feed back'. We looked on, frozen in
horror, as Bob made several attempts to get close to it and deliver the
remainder of the song, but every time he moved near, a horrible wailing
sound issued. For a moment it seemed as if he might simply give up. Most
mortals would have thrown in the towel right there. Bob, on the other
hand, simply stepped right away from the microphone and - completely
inaudibly - continued to sing. From his utterly committed facial
expressions, it was clear that he was still totally connected to the
lyric. He continued to sing, even though we could not hear a word of it.
The final chorus came, and we all bellowed the refrain on behalf of the
silenced Bob. Between us, somehow, we snatched the song from disaster.
It was goosebump stuff.
Now, you will already have read the set list. I need not tell you
therefore what an incredible privilege it was to be at Bournemouth. I
just wanted to point to the 'Hard Rain' incident because it seems to me as
clear a demonstration of Bob's absolute integrity and dignity as a
performer as it is possible to find.
Even though he was 'silenced' by a technological problem, his first
responsibility was still to deliver the song rather than save his own
Bob has said that his songs have a life of their own. This time, instead
of raising the dead, healing the sick and writing Love & Theft, he simply
proved his point again. It seems that he does not even need sound to sing
his song, only his willpower, a crowd and the moment.
May his song always be sung.... even in silence.
Review by Andrew Edgington
How good was Bournemouth 2002? Well - I took 3 non-Bob fans and
they all enjoyed it hugely, so who am I to argue?
I'd been looking forward to hearing some examples of the rich
and varied sets Bob has been serving up on this tour.
Subterranean had been scoring heavily for me in Arlo's Pool,
so that was my main hope. And, of course, anything from L&T was
going to be a treat. I was hoping I'd hear a few songs with
a passing resemblance to the album versions before Bob's usual
deconstruction job. And how would Jim Keltner sound? All in
all there was a lot to look forward to as we drove down through
Salisbury Plain and across the rolling fields of Wiltshire and
Dorset for a day beside the seaside on the 5th day of May,
(and was Isis possible?).
Having checked into our friendly hotel - you know the kind of thing
...... faded red carpets; odd shaped rooms with dodgy plumbing;
a nice greeting from Basil Fawlty 'Bob Dylan?...oh yes... he used
to be a singer didn't he?' - we went for a stroll along the prom
in a brisk breeze.
I must say Bournemouth was looking a bit tired and tacky compared
to my memories of holidaying there in the 60's. It has more than
its fair share of burger bars, candy floss stalls, grubby gift shops
and litter. And not many obvious Bob fans around either.
The BIC sits quite proudly overlooking the promenade - a modern
design which makes quite a smug statement to the rest of the town
'No - I don't really belong here - I'm smart and modern and look
to the 21st century... not back to the Victorian era like the rest
Quite a few scalpers about before the show, and the hall was pretty
full when we arrived. Lots of bars where we were served quickly.
Security was firm but fair - I felt sorry for the woman in front who
owned up to having a camera on her bag and was turned back
emphatically. (Especially when the flashes were going off every
minute during the show itself).
Sometimes I enjoy the scrum of all standing shows and like to work
my way to the front, but my wife and friends weren't up to such
things and we settled for a pretty good central spot about two thirds
of the way back. Sound was excellent, and the high stage made for a
good view. It was warm - glad I had a bottle of water. But sorry I
forgot my glasses and binoculars so no set-list to jot down.
Last year when I saw him in USA Beethoven's 3rd was the preliminary
music but we had Copeland's Fanfare etc and Rodeo. 10 minutes later
the usual 'Good evening ladies and gentlemen.... etc' and there he was
.... deep in the backstage gloom ... a white cowboy hat and that
familiar jaunty step and we were into the first song. Bob wore white
hat throughout, white shirt and tie, and dark suit with double
The arena was very dark - too much so for any kind of notetaking, so
recording songs and instruments was out of the question. On the plus
side I could relax and enjoy it all a bit more. And I didn't have my
binoculars either. I could make out the Oscar on one of the amps,
but what was that big brown object on the next one? Answers, please..
Wait for the Light to Shine
Larry on mandolin - a rousing start that got everyone moving. Bob's
voice seemed to be pretty strong, and quite distinct and clear in the
If Not for You
Everyone recognised the nice descending chords, sweetly played by
Larry. This band sounds so good.
Another familiar start - everyone knows about those hanging postcards
- this was the first real opportunity to see how Jim Keltner's
top class drumming holds together a long piece. He gave it a solid,
clear, rolling structure with plenty of bass - ensuring that it came
over as the big song that it really is.
Mama you been on my Mind
Bob picked up a harp now, another change after years of finishing
songs this way. I didn't get it straight away - Don't Think Twice
came to mind until the 'sun cut flat' lyric. Personally, that
charming version with Joanie in New York, forgotten lyrics and all,
is just unbeatable, and I have heard better versions from the 90's,
was such a treat to hear this live. By now I was beginning to think
this could be a very special set.
Absolutely Sweet Marie
Regulation performance - Larry on pedal steel - made it sound a bit
like Bucky Baxter used to do it.
This and Cry a While from L&T should have been very special, but for
me they're perhaps the least interesting lyrically and musically
from the whole album. Floater meandered along with Bob's phrasing
robbing it of any coherence at all. Cry a While's slow/fast rhythm
changes may be fun to play, and you could see that all the band
thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, but I could see a lot of puzzled
looks and head-scratching all round. I feared that Bob was in danger
of losing the audience here. This one took me quite a while to enjoy
on the album and I can't say I enjoyed it live.
Subterranean Homesick Blues
However, the delicious jam in this sandwich was SHB!! This one has
been very good to me in the Pool and I'd hoped against hope that he'd
play it. It was done with an emphatic beat rather than as a rap,
and the opening lines of most verses weren't too clear - but Hey! I've
been trying to sing along to the album version for 35 years and still
can't do it so what can I expect!
Cry a While
See above - difficult and well received only by the faithful!
Boots of Spanish Leather
At this point I think we needed a lift and that's exactly what we
got. This was a delight. At the start, with the harp intro,
I thought we were getting Girl of the North Country - how many more
can I get wrong in one evening?! These days it's interesting how a
cheer goes up when the crowd recognise the song - in this case after
the very last line. But this was a treasure - lovely sensitive and
thoughtful phrasing from Bob.
A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall
Larry on cittern - more driving drums providing a marvellous solid
structure for this long song. Chorus lines by Bob alone - unlike
last year - and a lovely moment near the end. Bob's mike faltered
and failed. Charlie waved to us to help out, and so the last chorus
was a high volume audience effort - a bit like Robbie Williams but
minus the tattoos!
Don't Think Twice
Yet another favourite with good audience recognition, and more super
work from Larry. Songs like this are really held together by his
work - never flashy, always understated, but watch those hands working!
One of the highlights of the show for me. This song is such good fun.
Played with 100% commitment all round. Who could fail to enjoy it?
All the band were smiling and moving around and the audience loved it.
Not Dark Yet
I didn't expect this - such a lovely song and very sadly neglected
since TOOM was released. More harp work from Bob. This has always
been my favourite song on the album. Lovely work by Larry to set
the atmosphere and very clear vocals from Bob (maybe that's it - the
less often he sings 'em, the less he messes with the phrasing).
Back up to top speed and maximum weight with this one - another song
I find a bit oppressive but such strong lyrics and another emphatic
delivery by Bob who was still clearly enjoying himself. I like the
way the big white hat enhances the nodding and weaving of his head
as he snarls and growls the lines out. Exciting guitar exchanges
between Charlie and Larry.
Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat
The main set ended with this one, another 'near the top but not over
it' performance all round - very loud. Jim's pounding beat and a lot
of very hard work all round. Such a marvellous rocker!
Usual line up - everyone looking happy this time - last time I saw them
they looked a bit bored and tired.
Not Fade Away
Another one I thought I'd never hear. Booming bass beat from Jim,
supported by Tony. A very seriously heavy song delivered properly by
a serious star, as opposed to our memories of Mick Jagger's 60's
Like a Rolling Stone
This was, well, regulation I suppose. Bob's delivery of the punch lines
was so understated as to be non-existent. And each chorus was
accompanied by being blinded as they turned the white lights on the
audience. So .........5/10 for this one. Evryone's favourite of
I'm just glad I've heard better versions live.
What a relief. My wife told me if he didn't play this one she wouldn't
let me ever have anything to do with Bob Dylan ever again. Beautifully
delivered. One of about a dozen songs he performed with total clarity.
Every word clear and sharp.
Honest with Me
Larry on slide guitar - sensational work. Charlie letting rip as well.
He's capable of such restraint and self-control. For one so talented
the temptation to play the guitar god must be immense - but he's
always so controlled. You can see him thinking hard about coming up
with something different. Tony was out front rocking and weaving.
Blowin' in the Wind
A lovely lilting rendition - Bob's greatest quality is the 100%
commitment to every vocal performance. No sentimentality at all
- it's still a wonderful song and I found myself hoping that
all the younger folk in the audience would get a lifetime's pleasure
from it as I have.
I announced that it was sure to be All Along the Watchtower -
wrong again! Out came a rollicking H61 - another giant of a
song which brought everything to a fitting high point at the end
of a memorable evening.
Instant feedback from wife and friends was very positive - huge
admiration for the band's musicianship; Bob's energy and drive
- could we do as much at 60 - 2hours 30 odd minutes etc?;
wonderfully contrasting set-list with heavy rocking classics
mixed with some lovely lyrical acoustic favourites.
As we filed out I chatted to a Norwegian who'd taken in 5 or
6 shows across Europe. His motor-bike had broken down and was
abandoned in London. How was he going to get to Cardiff? Hope
he made it. We gladly supplied our tickets which 'a friend'
collected as souvenirs. Dylan followers are such nice people
Back at the hotel we trooped into the bar to be faced by a
roomful of 20 Chinese people on a family evening out. They
were clearly having a whale of a time. I asked if any of them
had been to the show. One of them beamed at me and said
(I'll swear to this) 'Aaah....Bob Dirrun....singer...yes?'
He then turned to his family and translated ... marvellous
response ...evryone nodding and laughing. Just a thought..
has Bob ever played Hong Kong? (answers on a postcard please)
So, all in all a smashing evening - great set-list (hey..no TUIB
when did that happen before?) and some lovely shades and contrasts.
Marvellous playing all round. Must track down a recording.
Roll on Birmingham!
page by Bill Pagel
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