Reviews

London, England

The SSE Arena, Wembley

May 9, 2017


[Joe Neanor], [Mick Gold], [Martin Gayford], [Laurette Maillet]

Review by Joe Neanor



"Sitting in block N13, at the back of Wembley Arena, made for a
challenging concert going experience.  Bob was up there somewhere on that
gloomly, stage in the far distance but where? Most of the time it was
struggle to see him, even if you knew where to look. Unsurprisingly quite
a few people in my block gave up and walked out during the show. Others
who stayed complained about not being able to see much. Bob's personal
contribution to help matters, as the star of the show, was to remove his
hat for most of the concert. 

A cheer went up during the show when, presumably by mistake, momentarily
the stage lighting flashed up brilliant bright, "just for a second there I
thought I saw something move" .  What do I know about the business-end of
show business? Nothing.  But if I was working on behalf of a performer as
idiosyncratic as Bob, with his current preferences for a back-lit stage
and no big screens, my priority would be venue suitably for both him and
the audience.  

The sound was good though, in terms of, Bob's singing, the band and the
hall acoustics. Bob seemed stronger in the first part of the show. He
repeated a verse in Desolation Row, but sung it better the second time
around!  Same set list as at London Palladium. 

Joe Neanor

[TOP]

Review by Mick Gold



So here we are. He doesn't touch his  guitar. He doesn't reach for his
harp. Yet this was only apparent when I thought  about it afterwards.
We're in the presence of a new Bob. He sits solemnly at the  piano. He
hauls the mike stand round the stage like a send-up of the way Rod 
Stewart used to do it.  He  looks defiant when he sings his Great American
Songbook. They don't do a lot for  me. I kept feeling "OK he can do
competent versions of Old Black Magic and  Melancholy Mood but they sound
slightly karaoke." As if he were coasting. Maybe  it's just the language
of those songs doesn't connect with me in the same way as  the dark poetry
of Dylan's greatest work. There was an interesting guitar lick driving
Tangled Up In Blue, and  instead of "Some are mathemetcians / Some are
carpenters' wives", Bob gave us  these more ominous lines to ponder:
ďSome of them went down in  the ground / Some of the names are written
in flames / Some of íem just skipped  townĒ. The  highlight for me was
Love Sick featuring a really ominous vocal and ingenious  piano playing.
It was both dark and melodic. I enjoyed Don't Think Twice, that  kind of
cool arrogance (You just kinda wasted my precious time) worked well with 
an older voice. Desolation Row featured a lively reggae rhythm which 
carried  the  story effectively. Blowin' In The Wind reminded me what a
gorgeous tune it is.  Ballad Of A Thin Man was delivered with bone
rattling relish. For a cavernous  concrete barn, the sound was superb. 

Mick Gold 

[TOP]

Review by Martin Gayford



Bob is getting better as the tour progresses, and the tour was already one
of the best in years. Last nightís highlights were a notch up from the
Palladium, especially the Highway 61 songs and the best of the Tempest
songs. Ballad Of A Thin Man was fantastic last night, as was Desolation
Row. I have a feeling he sang the Cinderella verse twice, maybe Iím
wrong, but if he did, it didnít matter. Using the binoculars from the
lady next to me in Row 18 of A3, I could see how great - and remarkably
'himselfí - he looked, and how at ease and happy he seemed singing those
50 year old songs that donít sound old at all. Apart from Stormy Weather
and Autumn Leaves, Iím still bored with most of the standards, but it
doesnít matter. When the energy, and quality of his voice is there in
the originals, itís really something. Donít Think Twice, Pay In Blood,
Tangled Up In Blue (very nice last night, all on piano), Love Sick (ditto)
and L&WYears were all brilliant. And the added treat of an iconic,
silhouetted hatless Bob for half the show. Imagine if he made a new album
soon, recorded with the energy and vocal control he has at the moment.

[TOP]

Review by Laurette Maillet



Back to London after a nice trip inside the UK.
This will be my last show of the Tour spring 2017.
John offered me hospitality again. Meaning he's not fed up of me ... yet!
Thank you my dear friend. GOD bless you. I am over tired (I didnít sleep
much in the night bus from Liverpool to London) and also over excited. Not
a good combination of feelings! I take a metro to Picadilly, walk few
blocks, get tired of the crowd and decide to reach the Wembley Arena early
in the afternoon. I thought it would be in a "green" area as it is called
a Park. But no. This is a busy area in construction next to a huge
stadium. Crowded and noisy. Oh well! I spot the 2 "beat the street" buses
pulling inside the parking lot. Time for soundcheck. Mr. Dylan is a
professional musicien. I never saw him NOT arriving for the soundcheck
but... I don't know everything. F. Is standing there too. I get inside the
public library for a rest. Then I meet with John, Mike, Stephen. We have a
nice conversation about music. Stephen spots Charlie walking down the
street and managed to get a photo with him. Charlie is always seen around
the venue. Sometimes Tony also. 6.30 p.m. I put my sign out "If you have
an extra ticket you do not need. I will be happy to use it". F. Is not to
be seen so ... No more of the "free ticket". Scalpers are doing their
business. I am confident ... for a while. I move towards the metro
station. There is an incessant flow of people walking the path from the
metro station towards the venue. It reminds me of Le Zenith in Paris.
After half an hour I got trapped in my iner space. I donít see faces
anymore but just a flock of 'sheep'. I block my feelings. I build a wall
of glass around me. It seems also working the other side of that wall. No
one approaches me, no one smiles at me. I am a "ghost". No good at all!
7.	30 p.m. I wake up. I NEED† a ticket. For a while I am thinking of
buying one. That will be against my "principle". I just have to be more
faithful. My Good Samaritan must be somewhere among those 7 thousands
fans! My good star didn't shut off yet! I move closer to the venue. A nice
woman comes to me. "You need a ticket?" "Yes but I don't have money to pay
for it." "Ok. Follow me." Woah! SHE is the Good Samaritan. She gives me an
excellent seat; 12th row on the floor and in the aisle. I will be able to
'dance'. Stu is on time, so is Bob. He's wearing that beautifull suit with
the blue embroideries and the 2 spades. The one I love the best. And as a
special treat for me (ah!ah!) He will be hatless for most of the songs on
piano. I am on the side of the piano. Even doing the entire "Tangled up in
blue"† on piano. He repeats a line of "Desolation row". That makes him
just human. And at some point there is a flash of light on stage. I try
not to be disturb by the incessant movement of people in the aisle:
Getting to their seat late, going to the bar, going to the restroom, being
scolded by security for taking photos, leaving the show together. Even the
guy in front of me is scolded for using ... binoculars. (?). I focus on
Bob. He looks good and full of energy as I asked myself why he's doing so
many songs on a piano which is now positioned in diagonal. Except for the
first few rows ... he is invisible! By the time he sings "Automn leaves" I
am dreaming of moving to the front. For the first time on that Tour, I
wish to see him close. This is my last show. I see Bobby's† security
guard chatting with the venue security guard right in front of me (The one
garding the approach of the stage). He mentions him just to keep the crowd
from the rail. So ... I move slowly from my seat to the front row during
the break. I am right in front the piano! Woah! Really, really carefully
and respectfully I keep my stand: I donít touch the rail. When Bobby
comes back for the encore my heart jumps in my chest. He is RIGHT in front
of me. I see the sweat dripping from his face. I follow his lips on every
single line of "Blowing in the wind". I am in Heaven† on "Ballad of a
thin man". Half crying, half laughing! The salute is my last one. Goodbye
Bobby! That was such a delight to sail on that ship with you. So much Joy
and Love and Happiness. 

Thank you Bobby Dylan, the BAND and all the crew people.

[TOP]

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