page by Bill Pagel
Review by Markus Prieur
Newcastle revisited. For the second time my wife and I saw a Bob Dylan
concert at the Telewest Arena (we had been there on 19/09/00 as well). Our
seats in the very center of the 11th row provided a good view and an
excellent sound for us. The five craftsmen on stage again showed us what
kind of wonderful art they are able to create with their instruments.
There are simply no bad Bob Dylan concerts these days. I think the main
reason why some of us, who go to several shows, do not enjoy all the songs
the same way the majority of the audience does, is that we are spoiled,
have so many points of reference, and let our expectations get in the way.
["Oh, I wish he would have played ... in this spot." Oh, not ... again."
"Well, but the version of ... in ... was better than this."] It takes a
concious effort to not be fooled by this wrong approach to Bob's
performing art, and sometimes we do not succeed.
But Bob Dylan does not perform a show to please our high expectations. All
shows however are worth seeing, and often he does pull out surprises, and
plays simply great versions of some of your favorite songs. That is why I
spend my vacation once more going to several shows. But that is also why I
for my part focus on personal highlights in my reviews. Last night there
were of course some songs I enjoyed more than other songs, but that does
not give me the right to knock those other songs, for they still are
multiple times preferable to anything else performed by any other band or
artist out there.
My 36th Bob date started with my 2nd "WAIT FOR THE LIGHT TO SHINE"
[http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/light.html], followed by my 2nd "Song To
Woody", which was performed for the first time this year. Not a bad start
at all. A little later I saw my 6th "Love Minus Zero", delivered most
beautifully after starting with a nice harp solo. Next came the 14th
"SOLID ROCK" on this tour, a song I hoped to see once during these British
shows, and which I got to see already twice now in consecutive shows. With
four concerts to go to, chances are I will see it again. Observing Bob
singing these lyrics once more (as I did in Cardiff), I really do get the
impression, he intents to communicate to the audience, that he is serious
about the meaning of these words. A definite high point of the evening for
A harp solo by Bob always is nice to watch, and the three he did, when
starting "Just Like A Woman", "Tambourine Man", and "Blowing", would have
been even more enjoyable if some people would not have tried to sing along
with the melody. But no more about strange audience behaviour. On stage
the band played my 3rd "S.H.B" (you don't need a weatherman to know which
way the wind blows), which was immensely enjoyable. Also I got to hear my
4th "HARD RAIN" [http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/hardrain.html], a lyrical
feast in every show it appears in these days.
The finest peak of the Newcastle show was song number twelve, which was a
superb version of "STANDING IN THE DOORWAY"
[http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/doorway.html]. It was a bit surprising to
hear it again in Newcastle, as he performed it on that very stage before
in September 2000, which had been the first appearance of this gem in
Europe. And, to quote my review from back than, this song again "by itself
was worth the price of admission". The guitar playing by Bob on this song
last night was really beautiful.
Talking about guitars, "Summer Days" was next, Charlie played awesome on
this. The instrumental part between "you been teasing me" and "standing by
God's river", usually two or three minutes long, is the most enjoyable of
all the predictable parts of these shows for me. It simply gets to me
every time. The guitars I liked a lot also during "Love Sick", which Bob
even ended with a short guitar solo.
The only song, I never had seen before, was "If Dogs Run Free", which was
quite beautiful (it had no purple lighting however like the other songs in
that spot). During "Honest With Me" I really noticed and enjoyed the
incredible drumming of Jim Keltner and the fantastic guitar playing by
Larry Campbell. Some mighty fine musicians Bob's got with him on stage,
rolling out all those musical carpets for his various vocal gymnastics.
And they all do know how to rock hard, as the curtain closer, "Highway 61"
demonstrated once again.
14 song changes to Cardiff, 6 new songs for the British tour; 53 songs in
4 shows, no reason to complain. The Manchester Evening News Arena is next,
in a little over three hours, but nobody in that arena will be able to
predict what kind of news they will deliver this evening in Manchester. I
am hoping for gems like "Hallelujah I'm ready to go" or "Mississippi",
just to name two on my wish list. But I will take anything I get. It is
Bob's show after all, isn't it?
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 Eben Hensby
Kait and I headed over to England to try to see as many of the last five shows
we could (Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, and two London shows). I say "try"
because we were heading over without any tickets in hand - we were going to try
to acquire them once we got there. Luckily, it worked out and we saw all five
How did this come together? How did I end up going to England to see Bob Dylan?
Well, one day Kait, one of the people whom I had been with on the Texas-Louisiana
trip, brought the idea up and it was very appealing: seeing five Bob shows in
five days in a different continent. I had never been in England before. Also,
these five shows would put my concert total to 12 (double digits).
Anyway, we managed to net two tickets to the Newcastle show just before the show
(we had arrived in England earlier that day on a long flight, then there was a
long train ride to get from London to Newcastle). The tickets were ok but not
great, but Kait and I then managed to get down to the second row and stay there
for the whole show.
Wait For The Light To Shine
Bob and the band came out in great form, giving us this opener. The crowd
was on their feet cheering and it looked as though we would be getting a
Song To Woody
I was looking forward to this second slot because this is the one that Bob
has recently been pulling out surprise after surprise. Because of some of
the recent surprises, when Bob started Song To Woody I thought, "rats, a
relatively common song" but I then thought, "am I crazy? This is great!".
And it was. I love the way the first verse starts with just Bob on guitar
and then the band comes in.
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
Around this point one notices that it is no longer George Recelli on drums
but rather it is Jim Keltner: he plays the drums differently. Anyway, I've
heard this song many times recently and this version was good but not great.
Love Minus Zero/No Limit
This song was lovely, having three things I love: pedal steel, harp, and
great phrasing. The way Bob sung "juuuudge" was beautiful. Unfortunately,
this was to be the end of a very good acoustic set which, had the show
continued like it, would have made the show excellent. In this song, the
venue security started to get us all to sit down.
We sat the rest of the show up until the encores. There was some woman
behind us who got very mad whenever anyone tried to stand. Also, security
was tight (though I think they would have let us stand if we had just done
it). The result was that it put Kait and I in an off-mood because there we
were in second row just sitting there as Bob went on through rocking songs.
But it didn't just affect us, it affected Bob. It was visibly clear that Bob
was getting frustrated as he played his songs and the crowd barely reacted.
They didn't even clap very much. Bob didn't smile once, he didn't even really
move much as he just couldn't get into it. His guitar playing was horrible
but it was clear he wasn't even trying. At times, he just stood there looking
out at the crowd, probably wondering if we were even alive. It was clear to me
that the audience didn't come for music - they came to see a display. They
should've stayed home and watched television or something; I don't understand
why they bothered coming. Anyway, this show was the worst Bob show I've seen
and I'm not exaggerating: it was disappointing.
The electric set opened with one of the gems I'd been hoping to hear. A great
rocker…and we were just sitting there.
Just Like A Woman
Like Love Minus Zero, this song had two things I love: pedal steel and harp,
but it was missing the third: great phrasing. Bob wasn't really into the show
from here on with a few exceptions.
Subterranean Homesick Blues
As this song started up, I couldn't figure out what it was. Then when Bob
started the first line, I was quite pleased. The current arrangement of this
song rocks! I love it.
Cry A While
Another great rocker (I think Bob was trying to get some crowd response),
Bob's phrasing hitting a peak in the first two lines of the second-to-last
verse: he sort of builds up in his tone.
Mr. Tambourine Man
Though this concert was far from great, Bob did seem to find some life for
this song. His singing and phrasing were great, as he used his higher tender
voice. This song was certainly one of the highlights in a show without many.
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
I don't really care for the current arrangement of this song and this version
wasn't one to change my mind.
Tangled Up In Blue
Before this song started, I turned to Kait and said something like, "I'll bet
Bob plays Tangled next, just to try to get the crowd into it" and sure enough
he did. But even this song, which usually has the crowd on its feet dancing
and whatnot, had no effect on the spectators in Newcastle.
Standing In The Doorway
I must admit I wasn't really listening to this closely because the show
seemed to me to be a lost cause and I was rather disappointed by the whole
thing. After the show some singled this out as a highlight, but, for perhaps
the reasons stated, I didn't think it was.
It should be criminal to sit down throughout this song, but apparently it
can be done. This is despite the long instrumental jam - and it is a long
jam. In the early 2002 tour, the jam was a minute or so, now it goes on for
Cold Irons Bound
I really love the start of this song: the spine-tingling cymbals, the
rumbling drums, and the deep-digging guitar riffs. The rest was just ok.
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
The Newcastle show was my eighth show but nonetheless this was my first
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat. Bob was playing lots of rockers tonight, but
they had little visible effect, even on Bob who wasn't getting into them.
Like A Rolling Stone
If Dogs Run Free
Honest With Me
Blowin' In The Wind
Highway 61 Revisited
After the Formation, Bob and the band returned and went into Love Sick. At
this point, the crowd was finally on their feet and into it. It was sort of
like the show was starting over as Bob finally started to get into it after a
few encore songs. Of course, it was too little too late.
In Honest With Me, I looked at my watch when he sings "9:45" and, as Arthur
had pointed out to me during the fall 2001 tour, he sings it at 9:45! I find
it hard to believe that's a coincidence.
After Blowin' In The Wind, we were all cheering. I was just thinking that if
I were Bob I wouldn't bother coming back out (I was thinking this before Love
Sick as well). When he did, I was hoping for All Along The Watchtower (which
absolutely kicked ass in earlier 2002) but they rolled into Highway 61 Revisited.
Bob was finally getting into it with knee bends and his eyebrows shooting up,
but, as I already said, it was too little too late.
The Newcastle show was over, and so far Kait and I were immensely disappointed.
The crowd was horrible, security was bad, Bob's guitar solos were terrible, his
harmonica was less than great, and he just wasn't trying with his performance
in general. But I had faith that Bob would do much better the next night in
Manchester…I mean, how couldn't he? With that reassurance, we got ready for
page by Bill Pagel
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