Reviews

Glasgow, Scotland

SECC Clyde Auditorium

May 7, 2017


[Jim Borrows], [Paul Ryan], [Simon Freeman], [John Hayes], [Nancy Cobb]

Review by Jim Borrows



Tonight it was our good fortune to have Bob Dylan and his Band in our home 
town, back at the Clyde Auditorium, or "Armadillo" as it's known, because of its 
external shape. Last time he was here it was for 3 nights and I managed to get 
to 2 of them, this time we're graced with just one gig. We parked the car and 
made the usual trek towards the covered walkway that runs from Finnieston 
high over the Clydeside Expressway to the venue. It seems like there are very 
few people walking in the direction of the venue till we reach the start of the 
walkway, then we're all suddenly brought together, concentrated into this 
narrow tunnel-like passage. There's often a busker playing at one or two of 
the corners, and the sound, amplified in the restricted space, reverberates 
right up the passageway. Sure enough, we weren't disappointed tonight.  If 
you're not yet thinking much about what's to come at the gig, this brings the
expectation of the music into sharp focus.

Although there's one surprise to come that we don't know about yet, we're 
sure we're going to be pretty familiar with the set list. Sometimes that can 
make us a little complacent, but strangely tonight that doesn't happen. 
Somehow we are even more attentive as we look for slight variations in the 
performance. "Ah, Bob's taken off his hat for this number!" And did I imagine 
it, or did he really linger a bit longer standing in the centre of the stage, 
mid-way through Tangled Up In Blue, before returning to the piano? It 
seemed like he might not turn towards the piano at all at one point, he 
appeared to be transfixed - gazing out to his appreciative audience perhaps?

The songs are all delivered with evident passion and as usual the band are 
flawless. The arrangements are very tight indeed. So tight that they seem to 
allow the band members only the minimum scope for improvisation - my only 
minor criticism. It would be good to see Charlie and Stu let loose a bit more 
in the likes of Highway 61.

Highlights for me were Ballad of a Thin Man, Pay in Blood, and an amazing 
Tangled Up In Blue. When the band starts up the first few bars of Tangled 
it's like some magical phenomenon just crept on to the stage and energised 
them all, and the audience can feel it as it seeps out towards us. There are 
so many changes of lyrics from the original that it's hard to keep track. I'm 
sure it can't be right, but it feels like every time I hear it I detect a new line 
or two. Marvellous!

And our Glasgow surprise - included at no.5 was This Nearly Was Mine, a 
first time live performance I think?

This was a great gig, we were fully absorbed all night. Although I wasn't 
expecting any harmonica it wasn't until just before the encore that I thought 
about it and realised I hadn't missed it! And tonight's sound quality was the 
best of the 3 gigs I've taken in on this European tour, certainly from where 
we were at the back of the stalls. Were the band somehow more engaged 
tonight? It seemed like it, and Bob was in good voice throughout. I believe 
I'm even warming to the Sinatra numbers!

All 4 of us went home very happy, young Paul at his 4th Bob gig delighted 
to have heard BITW live for the first time.

Jim Borrows.

[TOP]

Review by Paul Ryan



There was a point during tonightís show when my mind drifted back to the
two Glasgow concerts Dylan performed in February 1991.

Same location as today, though not quite the same venue.  The SECC is no
longer used much for gigs, which is a blessing as it is a soulless barn;
instead itís now mainly a set of exhibition halls.  (Tonight, though, The
Deftones were appearing there, poor things.)

In its latest incarnation the site has a collection of venues.  The latest
addition is the Hydro, which is well appointed, but also so enormous that
your best bet is watching the giant screens rather than trying to make out
the matchstick figures on the stage.

Best of the lot is the Armadillo, which is where Bob played last time he
was in town and also where he has come back to tonight.  The sightlines
are great throughout this auditorium and the sound is decent.

Perhaps it was the fact that this is an all-seated venue, perhaps it was
the advancing ages of both the performers and the audience; but there was
a different vibe in evidence.  Indeed, it was almost sedate, by which I
donít mean that the tempos were all laid-back.

When I first started going to gigs, the admission cost was about the same
as you were paying for an album (LP, of course).   That meant that it was
usually more of a night out than a musical pilgrimage.  Iíve even
witnessed ones where some folk never actually made it out of the bar,
except to go home at the end of the night.

Back then concerts were rowdy events, particularly in this city. 
Audiences were prepared to display displeasure at a sub-standard
performance or even at being kept waiting longer than they thought was
reasonable.   Many a support act was booed off stage, just for the sake of
it.

Nowadays, however, it costs a small fortune to attend a gig.  No-one wants
to waste that investment.   Certainly, tonight the audience seemed
downright respectful, even if there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing (both
to bar and toilet).

Thatís not the only difference compared with 1991.  At that stage in the
NET journey, the one thing you could be sure of was that Bob would mangle
his greatest hits, rendering many unrecognisable to the casual fan.  It
worked sometimes (and some years), but you couldnít guarantee things in
advance.  Still, there was an attractiveness about the risk-taking.

Now, I have to admit that Iím not much taken with Bobís latest persona,
that of Sinatra impersonator.   Itís a shame that he hadnít the confidence
to release Triplicate first Ė itís clearly what he always had in mind for
the overall project Ė which would have spared us the earlier two albums. 
Having caught up on the set-lists for the earlier dates on this tour, I
wasnít much looking forward to the third of the songs that would be drawn
from this new repertoire.

Iím not going to lie to you: I didnít really warm much to most of these
newer songs tonight.  What I did find interesting, however, was that he
seemed Ė to me, at least Ė to take more risks with them.  That Old Black
Magic, for example, stood out: melody and tempo transformed from the
traditional readings, to become almost a stomp.  (Compare it to Rod
Stewartís anaemic croon of a version Ö On the other hand, who can beat
Ella?)

As for Bobís own songs, the comments from earlier in this tour apply
equally tonight.  The opener, Things Have Changed, set things up nicely:
his voice sounded as clear as Iíve heard in many a year.  Early Roman
Kings has developed into a real treasure.   TUIB in particular was
magnificent.

Then there was Spirit On The Water.  I have to say that Iím not fond of
this song, as itís just a shuffle with some so-so lyrics loosely tacked
on.  In concert, previously it even had me nostalgic for Summer Days,
which is not something I would have thought 15 years ago that Iíd ever had
ended up saying.

The version tonight was different, however.  Newly melodic, and played
with verve to boot.   The lyrics are still not ďwhoppiní goodĒ, but
musically it was a treat.

I took three adult children with me tonight.   They were all enthused,
possibly even more so than myself.  My work here is done, therefore. 
Klaatu barada nikto

[TOP]

Review by Simon Freeman



When the dust settles and the obituaries have been written, the witnesses
will know they have been in the presence of greatness. This was one of the
transcendent Dylan shows, a thing of great beauty. This set list is the
art, it is Dylan in the now, the present and my is it chilling.

I don't think I have seen Dylan's Sinatra renditions sung with such brutal
honesty. The debut of This Nearly Was Mine set the scene, but Stormy
Weather, That Old Black Magic and Autumn Leaves brought you to tears so
beautifully played and honestly sung.

I couldn't go on writing this without remarking specifically on the
musicianship of this remarkable band. Charlie in particular tonight gave a
virtuoso performance.

Why does he do this and why do people look bewildered - reference the
encore.

If I never see a great work of art in my lifetime again I will be sure to
take good care of my memories of the Armadillo.

Thank you Bob and the boys 

[TOP]

Review by John Hayes



It's funny how a quiet lazy Sunday can change in a matter of minutes.

Having dismissed the option of buying over inflated prices for the Glasgow
show and also deciding against travelling further afield this time I had
resigned myself to simply reading reviews rather than writing one.

My friend Andy, called me and asked what my plans for the day were. Not
much was my answer.  A good friend of his Rusty and his wife Val had 2
tickets and a hotel room in Glasgow, but were unable to attend due to ill
health,  Would we like the tickets and room? It took 0.5 seconds to decide

After picking up the tickets en route we set off for Glasgow with Andy at
the wheel. So a few hours of talking football and listening to obscure
bootlegs all the way down was not a bad start.

On our arrival after checking in to our room (twin beds, not a double,
fortunately ) we went for a curry and a few beers, waiting for the arrival
of the Bob faithful

We were seated about as far away from the stage as was physically
possible, but were happy just to be there.

The setlist was much as expected having checked out previous nights ones.

Neither of us recognised the new debut of "This Nearly Was Mine" to be
honest as we are like many others bigger fans of stuff up to and including
Tempest.

My own personal view on it all, was that I was glad to hear To Ramona for
the first time, more than happy with most of the rest of the set and
Desolation Row was in itself worth the trip down for sure.

There is always an increasing chance that a tour may well be his last, so
I am also glad to have been there for that reason too

So before we knew it, it was chucking out time, with a keen, fan shouting
for Like a Rolling Stone, when the rest of the audience pretty much all
knew that it would not happen and that Bob would not even bother to say
goodnight

So thanks again anyway Bob, see you again next year maybe

Thanks in particular to Andy for driving down and for not snoring too
much. Thanks also to Rusty for the tickets and for being prepared for us
racking up a £3000 bar tab :)

This morning a hearty breakfast followed by Bob CDs all the way back in
the car of course, with us accompanying him very tunefully

[TOP]

Review by Nancy Cobb



What is a man, what has he got    If not himself, then he has not

Everyone's talking about 50 years....Pet Sounds, Blonde on Blonde.  But I
would say that Dylan's show tonight encompassed 50 years of music ENDING
with the sixties and rock n roll.   Starting with the teens and ragtime,
early soulful blues, melodic jazz, latin rhythms, country swing, then 50's
and 60's rock and urban blues.  Bob and his Band can play the songs any
and every way!  I even heard some classical riffs - a fugue in SITW and
modernist string plucking in the greatest Desolation I have ever heard.  I
got the impression that Dylan is building his repertoire ...stretching and
bending notes and words, changing the meaning by the nuances of the music
and phrasing, each song a jewel on a necklace which has a two hour life
for the lucky ones who experience it.  And the voice gets stronger and
stronger....no harmonica and I didn't miss it ....TUIB and Desolation
slowed down for more emphasis and understanding.  There are amazing
emotional mood changes in the set list ...just one example, going from the
rollicking Texas style waltz of BHLN to the searing heartbreak of This
Nearly was Mine ...tears started rolling down my face when I heard the
opening notes and Dylan's first words.  Right on to Pay in Blood and the
state of the world today.

Everyone mentions Frank Sinatra, but there are other influences.  Ethyl,
Bessie, and Billie and what about Al Jolson and Jimmy Durante for putting
feelings into a song?  I do not know how Dylan and the Band did That Old
Black Magic with a straight face.  I couldn't stop laughing.  Speaking of
fun, Bob's jacket and pants had red and green twinkles of some sort.  Even
his hair which popped out periodically from under his hat had highlights
(haha).

[TOP]

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