page by Bill Pagel
Review by Ian Blagbrough
Cardiff International Arena (CIA which our cousins will appreciate) 9/23/00
sold out before me, so I was last here for 10/3/97, but that had a very good
vibe and warm appreciation from the crowd around me, fondly talking of an
excellent Cardiff 1995 concert. So, CIA draws a big crowd, and there is a
true, warm feeling towards the artist. This was well evident and reciprocated
tonight May 6th (a UK bank holiday). The set-list follows on from Brussels
and Paris, last week, it bears no real relationship to the 1997 tour and
features a wide cross section of Dylan's work, moreso than in Bournemouth,
as there is Solid Rock in there. Before the blow-by-blow which you might
not want to read, the main thrust is that this was excellent. Unlike
Bournemouth with its snarling, tonight there was singing, real harmony in
Humming Bird and Times, the voice on-song (sorry) from the off, and it kept
going. It did not break away by #8, but it did the silly three on one note
and then a very high note only occasionally, which was used to ruin
(or re-interpret) several famous songs in Bournemouth. 2.5 hours covering
real folk, some country, excellent R&B, a touch of lounge, powerful R&R,
the band are excellent. Finally, there is no obvious difficulty with Larry
Campbell, I cannot remember when Bob allowed a band member front and centre
twice, that is without him, to start songs. Larry takes lead as often as
Charlie, Dylan's turned back and close work with Charlie are more to do with
Bob working with Charlie than anything against Larry (you can read some
rubbish on rec.music.dylan). IMO Dylan trusts Larry who is an excellent
professional musician and because of that he is left to get on with it.
Finally, there were major smiles and kisses blown from Bob, real smiles two
nights in a row now, so get to a small venue if you can get a tic, what it
will all look like from the back of the NEC 100 m away on Friday is another
issue, but standing in row 10 with a great crowd with a real treat.
Blow-by-blow for (us) addicts:
7.30 arrives with Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, loud and clear,
played to common men, but not to any song and dance men (did not expect any
at this time). The black drapes display in white the huge all-seeing eye
with crown and flames, as on the naff-t-shirts. Anticipation, will it be
even better than Bournemouth?, or will it break the run of excellent Cardiff
gigs? Real buzz in the crowd. Lots of incense, how long will he keep us
waiting? Yet, the rock star must start late …
7.37 "L&G please welcome Columbia Recording Artist …", house-lights down and
we are away. The band in smart purple suits with black shirts, more country
or lounge than R&R. Dylan in a black suit with large gold buttons all up the
front and two at the back, applique black crosses on the sleeves, black tie
and white shirt, under a large white Stetson to get in the way for guitar
changes. The acoustic set opens with real harmony, Humming Bird, not just
the normal, are we in tune?, is my fold-back working? which other reviewers
have correctly mentioned. A real song, and into Times. Larry Campbell is
excellent on guitar and cittern, he is so talented a musician (without violin
tonight!). It's Alright, Ma sadly gets its cheer for a naked president, and
we move on smoothly to mouth-organ and Baby Blue. So, an excellent, up-tempo
opening acoustic set, nothing to fault, lots to enjoy. The first major
surprise opens the electric set (we are keeping strictly to the 15-5-1
pattern readers will know about) - Solid Rock, words not so clear at times,
but an excellent rock number. Positively 4th Street - who is he getting at,
or was it a long time ago? 6 down and nothing new, then Lonesome Day blues
ripped up the venue, it was excellent - loud, long, clear, well performed,
and Larry excels on slide-guitar. Closing here with Mobile and the Memphis
The black-back school-curtains are dragged aside to reveal pleated grey
school curtains on which the lighting can play. The second acoustic group
starts with an awesome Masters of War. Red and yellow beams flood the stage,
the singer is still going strong. The mouth-organ again and a most beautiful
and really clear version, you cannot believe how well enunciated these visions
of Jo-hanna were. There have been pleas in these pages to put TUIB to rest,
well - rather better, it has been re-invented. Larry takes a spot front and
centre with Bob, each in a single shaft of light, everything else pitch black,
one plays, the other sings, hit the first "Tangled" the stage floods with blue,
the band jump in, and we are really rocking. More mouth-organ, a lilting
(lounge like) Moonlight, floating lighting in blue and turquoise, the lava-lamp
effect on the backdrop, voice holding out well, no rasping, perhaps he is in
really good health? Summer days in golden light, no crowd intros here, but
pure R&B, mouth-organ in the Wicked Messenger, verses so mangled here I did not
recognise it at all, but well delivered as more up-tempo rock. RDW with Larry
on steel, Dylan plays with the band-intros, large cheers for each, Jim Keltner
(he of 6 songs on TOOM) working closely with Tony Garnier on the bass, Bob
jokes around with long-time Tony's name intro, much laughter on stage, and it
Away for 3 long mins, 9.25 the encores start, we have really cheered for them.
I used to care, but … then LARS, tonight not the usual "only a crowd pleaser",
but much more animated singer-songwriter, good guitar work from Bob can you
believe it? Just decided how under-used the two singers are, when the ooo-ing
from the backing girls (Larry and Charlie) starts, an excellent Knockin'.
Well, I've been honest with you, and then BTW and its close harmonies. Lots
of bright crowd-lighting, but still good stage-work is going on. Some of the
silly three words to one note and then a very high almost falsetto (try it to
"how-man-y" now up for "roads", one-note for "must-a-man-walk" up now for
"down", try going much higher than that, you'll have the effect, try ruining,
re-interpreting for some, Forever Young, it can be done, it was at Bournemouth
yesterday). There were few one- or two-note guitar solos, lots of good guitar
work. At the back, un-sung hero Tony works constantly hard with signals to
Jim. They are back to prove mainstream R&R is well within their grasp with
Watchtower, the crowd go wild. Just a brief reminder that in Oct 1997 we got
11 and 4 encores, and were well pleased, tonight 21 songs altogether in 2.5
hours (only 5 were "repeats" from Oct '97). This was an excellent show, there
will be others as good, but I doubt if any better. Blowing of kisses, smiling,
waving, soaking up the loud cheers and they are away, we continue to yell.
Ian S. Blagbrough
Review by Markus Prieur
Since there was one day off (the only one during this British marathon), I
had no deadline yesterday to type this review. But something to review I
do have indeed, and I am glad I had some more time to do it.
As I looked again at the Cardiff setlist on the morning after, I had an
interesting thought. If I would have been at home and would have read the
setlist online, I might have said: "Wow, Solid Rock, oh, Visions and
Moonlight, nice, but otherwise just more of the same." But I was not at
home, I was in Cardiff, underneath those left speakers, some 30 feet away
from the greatest living artist performing his 24th concert of his finest
European tour since 1981.
And, being fully aware that every concert experience is subjective, I have
to say, that this show in Cardiff was many, many times better than the
setlist might suggest. It is true, every song had been played at least
four times during this tour ("Baby Blue", "Stuck" and "Things" appearing
for the 5th time, "4th Street" for the 6th time, "Visions" and "Knocking"
for the 7th time, etc. etc.), so there were no real surprises concerning
the song selection, the biggest surprise being song number two, which had
rested for ten shows. But I am getting ahead of myself.
On the way from Bournemouth to Cardiff my wife and I had been listening to
"Cardiff 23/09/00" (which we also had attended), and I wondered if Bob
would top this show, which had been one of the finest of the ten fine
shows we had seen that September. For my money he did top it, and it would
have been worth to cross the Irish see just for this one concert, which
seemed to have one main objective; to demonstrate to every one present the
simple fact that Bob Dylan's voice is the greatest instrument in music
history. Period !!!
Personal highlights always stick to memory best, so I will stick to those
as well. "Humming Bird" was my first one, a lovely song it is, with
brilliant harmonies. I really love Tony's bass playing on all the openers.
"Times", like I said, had not been played for ten shows, so it was
surprising to hear these opening chords, instead of another round of
"Guess that tune". But what followed was quite astonishing. For one Bob
Dylan had memorized all the lyrics of all the five verses (gather/
writers/ senators/ mothers/ line). There were no (I repeat: NO) half
forgotten lines !!! What was more, the phrasing was very strong and Bob
was really putting something special into this old chestnut.
My 7th "Baby Blue" started with a nice harp solo. Minutes later, as Bob
had just finished the last "strike another match" line, I said to my wife:
"The next words we will hear from him might be 'I'm hanging on' ". They
were indeed the next words, and we were quite joyful about that. I had
seen "SOLID ROCK" before, on my first Bob date in November 1981, but to
see him sing this bold confession now, on my 35th Bob date, was sure
something very special to me. As I am hanging on to the same Solid Rock,
Bob was singing about 13 times so far since coming to Europe last month, I
do relate to these lyrics. And I believe Bob. He won't let go no more the
one, who has been chastised, hated, and rejected for him. This Jesus, Bob
Dylan keeps singing about, remains for him a wonderful Savior to know.
My 3rd "4th Street" was my first since 1994, and my 2nd "L.D.B." was quite
intense. Bob's singing was brilliant throughout, and his vocal delivery
alone of my 3rd "Visions of Johanna" would have been worth the price of
admission. Amazing stuff. The next song I had seen 26 times before, so I
had not planned on writing down the following three words: "Tangled was
outstanding". Perfectly sandwiched between this acoustic rocker and
"Summer Days" (the only repetition of the main set from the previous show)
was a simply beautiful "Moonlight", which was the second song of the night
I had never seen live (making it 13 songs in 3 shows, 8 of them from
After the always hugely enjoyable "Summer Days" (did I ever mentioned
those guitars?) it was clear to me once more that Bob was intent to
deliver a top class show, as he set aside his harp to end "Wicked
Messenger" before the song even started. "Things Have Changed" sure is a
different experience when not appearing almost every night as it did in
September 2000. The "purple lighting" song, "Knocking", had again those
nice strong harmonies, with Bob singing this way, and Larry and Charlie
singing that way. Very interesting to watch them do this. The same they
did also with "Blowing", which was sung by Bob in a very beautiful soft
voice during the verses, and more intense during the chorus.
It is easy to tell by my ramblings that Dylan's vocal performance in
Cardiff impressed me big time, and indeed I did feel great awe and respect
for this man's artistic output these days, as I was standing for the
second time in this Welsh venue. So don't be fooled by the setlist (;-),
which nevertheless had seventeen (!!!) changes to Bournemouth, featuring
eleven songs played neither in Bournemouth nor Brighton. We did see 63
songs in 3 shows, and 47 different ones; and I do believe Bob Dylan will
pull out some more real surprises, as he hits those large British
But no matter what the last five setlists might look like, the artistic
performances of this finest band on this planet will be great and worth
seeing, no matter what the critics say. Whoever does not like this art
created on stage, does not have to go again. I do like it, so I'm ready to
go, less than three hours before showtime in Newcastle.
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 Linda Edwards
After the last Cardiff Dylan concert in September 2000 we thought it couldn't
get any better.
We were wrong . Last Monday (6th May) the packed all-ages audience experienced
a generous 2 hr 20 minutes worth of magic as Bob, in his 61st year, in suite and
white stetson, steered us through a varied collection of his back pages.
He was again supported by the excellent Larry Campbell and Charlie Sexton,
muscular bass player Tony Garnier and Jim Keltner (who toured Europe with Neil
Young And Booker T & the MGs), although on a personal note I preferred former
drummer David Kemper who always seemed to hold both skill and intuition well in
place giving a complex subtlety to things.
We got off to a slow yet nicely paced four song acoustic set, - "Humming Bird"
country and laid back, then into a well-arranged but non-vibrant "Times" where
we got that kind of mumble he has been doing followed by high note nevertheless
the band provided definition and there was wonderful strong cohesion on "It's
Alright Ma". The acoustics ended with "Baby Blue" which for me would have been
mediocre had it not been lifted by the winsome harp.
Then without warning we were thrust into "Solid Rock" with punchy bass by
Tony Garnier and some great vocals. "Positively 4th" came in ballad form and
"Lonesome Day" was traditional 12 bar delivered with tight precision and
receiving mega applause.
The low point of the concert was undoubtedly the lackluster "Memphis Blues
but the re-worked arrangement of "Masters of War" was spit out - and fabulous.
We were now warming up to something special and it came. "Visions of J." What a
superb extended harp intro, and his voice did something great on this track. It
was almost liquid, flowing but without too much sentiment, leaving you aching
for more. An eternal moment, I could have stayed there forever.
There followed 11 more songs - a masterful version of "Tangled up in Blue", great
flare and disregard on "Summer Days" and a slower "Rainy Day Women".
The first encore gave us a tight "Thing have Changed" and then far off lightening
flared on to the audience during "Rolling Stone" which is now resigned to being
his theme tune.
Oh but it was not over yet. No No No. The best was yet to be. We were given the
performance of a lifetime on the acoustic "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" - here the
lighting flushed everyone in majestic purple, and with an apocalytic hush the
audience stilled. Not even a cough . The hairs on my neck lifted; it was simply
magnificent. I want that version that night at my funeral, it was quite simply
the best I have ever heard from him.
The concert finished long and strong with a gripping version of "All along the
Watchtower" prefixed with the first bar from the musical "Exodus".
Thank you Bob for a glorious performance. When I am old I shall sit in that
rockin'chair sipping Rioja and blowing smoke rings and remember it all, and smile.
page by Bill Pagel
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