page by Bill Pagel
Review by Markus Prieur
Last night in Birmingham my concert experience was much different than
last time I visited the NEC in 2000, when my wife and I ended up center
center at the rail. This time we were up in the tiers more than half an
arena away from the stage. So it was not loud at all for us, and we had to
use binoculars to observe any details, which made it all the harder to
enjoy the songs played often, or to cherish the few nuggets presented way
Having seen my sixth show in a week, I could choose to critizise the song
selection (spoiled as I am by now ;-), as I would have prefered different
choices in spots number 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19,
and 20. This is not to say that those songs were not good or worth
listening to, it is just that going to several shows you long for the
obscurer choices. But Bob Dylan does not conduct his concerts for those
going to several shows. Last night he conducted his show for another
British audience in another sold out huge arena.
And, looking at the setlist, I just have to ask myself: How would I have
experienced this show, and how would I view this setlist now, if this
would have been my only Bob date this year? (like last year's Kilkenny
show for me, with its newest song from 1973) I would have enjoyed all the
20 songs I have heard last night, without even considering to worry about
hearing the same songs for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th time in a week.
Pretty pathetic trap, actually. ;-) I would have been greatly pleased to
hear six songs from "Love & Theft", some nine crowd pleasing greatest
hits, and a handful of obscurer choices thrown in. For that is exactly
what we got to hear last night.
My personal favorites were the acoustic version of "Big Girl" (with some
new lines I did not get), an incredible tender and soft "Tomorrow Is A
Long Time", including a nice harp intro by Bob and extremely beautiful
harminies by Larry (This version was even more sublime than the one I saw
in Vicar Street.), my first "Tom Thumb" ever (first timers are always
enjoyable for me), and of course "Summer Days" with its magnificent
guitars. My 2nd "4th Time Around" (I had seen it before in Portsmouth) was
also quite enjoyable, as were my 3rd "Moonlight" (with lyrics more correct
than the previous night) and my 2nd "Sugar Baby" ("Look up, look up, seek
"Cry A While" was also very good last night, and I love to see Bob get
into the lyrics of his newer material. Speaking of lyrics, "12&35" is one
of those songs where I wouldn't care if Bob would sing out of the yellow
pages, so I simply try to enjoy the jam sessions. Last night, right after
the band introduction, Bob surprised us with a nice harp solo to finish
off this my 19th version of this song in twice as much shows I have seen.
Wouldn't it be great if Bob would replace the lyrics of this song with
harp playing throughout, permanently? (Rethorical question, you do not
have to reply. ;-)
Last night Bob repeated even the otherwise alternating acoustic encore
song, "FOREVER YOUNG" (http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/young.html), and there
were (only) 10 song changes to Manchester, not 15, 17, 14, or 16 (see how
spoiled you can get?), but still we got four new songs for Britain, making
it 62 songs now in six shows. With two London shows left, he might reach
70 songs yet. The top of my imaginary wish list would be: "Every Grain Of
Sand", "In The Garden", "I Believe In You", "Mississippi", "Po' Boy", and
"Cat's In The Well", to name just half a dozen.
But whatever we will get, I think I will not regret having seen my first
London shows, when we will head back to Ireland next week, as I don't
regret having come here to see any of the previous six shows. Bob Dylan
concerts simply are extremely worth seeing these days. So I am looking
forward to another two shows, less than four hours before the first one
will kick off with ... [???], followed by ... [???].
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 Stephen Cook
There is no doubt in my mind that every Dylan gig these days confirms
his position as the biggest living rock icon. Apart from introducing the
band members two thirds of the way through each set Dylan doesn't say a
word: but he doesn't need to. His music is enough, and you find yourself
staring at the small man in the oversized Stetson with growing awe and
I had seen the Cardiff gig on Monday (6th) - but this was awesome! The
set-list, the sound, Dylan's voice, everything.
Quite a different set than Monday's, and he kicked off with Maggie's
Farm, dispensing with the normal opening gospel/blugrass cover.
Next up You're a Big Girl Now - brilliant. You could hear every word and
it was such a delight. It's Alright Ma followed, Dylan on good form but
a standard reading on this tour. Then: Bob picks up the harp, plays a
solo introduction and drifts into Tomorrow Is A Long Time. At this
stage I thought I was in Heaven, four songs in and already two from my
The middle section comprising Love & Theft songs (Tweedle Dee, Moonlight
and Cry A While) was outstanding. These new songs were written to be
played loud and live and the band seem so tight.
The second acoustic section started with Fourth Time Around and the
delivery was perfect with Bob having some
fun with the lines about "gum". Masters of War and Tangled Up in Blue
are standards in the setlist, as is Summer Days now. The band, and Bob
were beginning to rock when he slowed everything down and pulled out the
wonder of the evening.
Sugar Baby was delivered with such authority and feeling that it made
you shiver. If you didn't know better you would have thought this was
written thirty years ago with the rest of the best! But Bob was in no
mood to be too maudlin - before you could catch your breath he launched
into a blistering Wicked Messenger. I have heard this three times now on
the road and this performance surpassed all others. The guitars got
louder and heavier like a "metal duelling-banjos" and Bob seemed to be
totally at ease - posing and dancing (and smiling?).
After RDW 12&35, played with more enthusiasm than in Cardiff, the encore
started with Love-Sick, the second highlight of the night. Dylan's
lyrics and delivery left you spell-bound and, if you'd forgotten,
reinforced just what a tour-de-force the last two albums have been!
The evening was played out with the standards: LARS, Forever Young, and
Blowin in the Wind, and it was disappointing that there was no second
encore. But then, how much more did we want? This performance was truly
exceptional and if it left you wanting more, then that can be no bad
Review by Andrew Edgington
The Right Stuff - ever read it? Tom Wolfe account of the first astronauts.
The main theme is that those guys were made of the right stuff - super
competent; confident but modest; the best at their job; humorous; not
flashy. Bob and the Band were The Right Stuff last night at Birmingham.
Left a meeting at work announcing that I was off to see Bob Dylan, to
looks of a strange mixture of bemusement, pity, admiration, and curiosity.
Transformed from dark work suit to Bob T-shirt and jeans in a motorway
service station. Sped up the M5 past the spring lambs (ain't being hauled
to the market yet) and horribly commonplace violent yellow fields of oil
seed rape, past some wonderfully English places - Gloucester; Worcester;
Evesham, Tewkesbury - lots of church spires and glorious splashes of
whitethorn blossom in every hedgerow.
Survived that concrete bit of the M42 that unseats your eyeballs and
rattles your teeth and soon pulled into the NEC car park , full of
anticipation. Would to-night match up to Bournemouth last Sunday?
The NEC is a wonderful place - if you're fond of gigantic black smelly
aircraft hangars - and the security and seating arrangements last night
were the product of the mind of a 3 year old with a personality disorder (
but let's leave that for now - see postscript).
Got to my seat at 7.20 and the joss sticks were well in evidence. Copeland
again, with the eye logo large and impressive on the backdrop to the
stage. Equipped with binoculars, glasses and notebook I was properly set
up to record the set-list.
My friend in the cowboy hat arrived soon afterwards - dark (blue?) suit,
white shirt and yellow spotty tie - the boys were all in grey.
Tony on stand-up ; Larry on Mandolin. Nice start. One of many songs last
night done at a kind of walking pace. They've worked hard on this tour and
I wasn't surprised that it wasn't quite the high energy show we had last
You're a Big Girl Now
What a treat! A first for me, unfortunately spoiled by my good friend
Brummy Bert the World's most obnoxious security man (see postscript).
It's Allright Ma
Larry on cittern, Charlie on that handsome Dobro. Vocals were coming
across nice and clear. Bob wasn't straining but they quite rightly had him
out front in the mix and the overall impact and recognition was great.
To-morrow is a Long Time
Wowee! Harp start, Larry augmenting the chorus lines - this is a GOOD IDEA
and I hope Bob continues with it. IMHO it's wonderful for audience
recognition. What a lovely song this is - it just shows what a vast array
of ideas; feelings and moods are covered by Bob's works.
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
Electric. This was a fairly slow walking pace. Bob's guitar work was that
infuriatingly weak nurdling that he slips into sometimes. Mind you, for
the rest of the evening he was on much better form, so I'll settle for one
Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee
Very clear vocal, and marvellous work from Jim - I think he has two pairs
of hands because I could have sworn I heard the bongos as well as the rest
of the percussion. This came across much better live than on the album -
much like Sugar Baby later on - hugely enjoyed by the audience.
Good grief - that's 7 straight songs and not one repeat from Bournemouth
on Sunday - I am clearly in a state of grace. Another very clear vocal
from Bob and some lovely exchanges between Charlie and Larry. Charlie's
playing was full of percussive effects and harmonics. Tony was back on
stand up bass, and brought the piece to an end with his bow.
Cry a While
I felt this was a bit better than on Sunday, but it still created some
bemusement around me and I just don't think it's a good one to do live.
To-night and Sunday I've been treated to nearly everything off L&T -
except of course the two stand-out tracks Mississippi and High Water (is
Bob saving these up for the world tours he'll make when he hits 70?) - but
I've had this one twice. Oh well!! The stop start beat and vocal
manipulations 'youbedonahorseanitranthewrongWAAAAAAAAAAY!' don't do it for
me I'm afraid.
Fourth Time Around
I am in heaven. This was absolutely beautiful. A delightful song. Nice red
curtains behind. Tony back on stand-up bass. Larry doing that distinctive
and poignant figure on his cittern. Controlled and clear vocal from Bob.
Masters of War
Charlie on Dobro again. Tony still on the stand-up. One of those top-class
arrangements that works so beautifully that you don't actually notice it .
This is what I mean about 'The Right Stuff'. To all appearances the boys
were just getting together and playin' a few tunes, but in reality they're
bringing years and years of experience, and huge talent to every song. All
built in this case on some moody drum work.
Tangled up in Blue
Blue lights of course. Neat guitar work building up from Larry, then Bob,
then Charlie. Surprisingly tuneful singing from Bob. He's still thinking
about this song, after all those years. Amazing..... right stuff. 12 songs
so far and only one repeat from Sunday.
Tony on stand-up again, left hand right down most of the time. Sunny
yellow/gold lighting. Larry played the smooth bits, with Charlie and Bob
supplying the rock and roll. Another marvellous song performed live.
Electric but Tony on stand-up. Better than the album. Walking pace again,
but everyone concentrating so hard. Careful phrasing from Bob, out in
front of a white kind of revolving star-burst effect.
Why did I write down Drifter's Escape? Because I always get these
conflated in my sick mind I suppose. Took me back to a great day 12 months
ago - hammering along the Music Highway from Nashville to Memphis with Joe
Cliburn, listening to Greil Marcus talking about Clothes Line Saga. Joe
said he'd like to hear Bob start Drifter's Escape, switch to Wicked
Messenger halfway through and then back again and see if anyone noticed!
Big shadows on the backdrop - very loud. Bob on harp at the end - a
Rainy Day Women
Larry on steel guitar (the yellow one). Done at walking pace - again. Cue
lots of waccy baccy in the audience. Bob harp at end - did he pick up the
wrong one like on that hilarious Letterman show Jokerman? He certainly
went back for a second harp. Introductions and little solos, followed by
the line up. I had a good look through the 'bins. They did look a bit
tired and flat I think, but is that surprising? For me, that was 15 songs
with only 2 repeats - unbelievable....but it could happen to you!
More gold lighting. Walking pace again. Haunting. I'd hoped against hope
that he'd play Not Dark Yet again - that was such a treat. But this is a
very strong song that grabs your attention and holds it throughout.
Like a Rolling Stone
Blinding lights on us all at each chorus - I took the chance to have a
good look round. The place was pretty well full (unlike 2000). Again,
Tony played his jumbo bass - the one with that Duane Eddy twang. This has
always been a favourite of mine, Charlie and Larry's vocals on the chorus
lines add some emphasis to a song which Bob is delivering in a reflective,
thoughtful kind of style these days.
Honest With Me
Larry on slide guitar. How could the crowd not love this one - it's an
absolute cracker live. Hard work all round - probably the most energised
song of the whole set.
Blowin in the Wind
Tony back with his jumbo bass. Nice conclusion. He still brings something
to this song.
No second encore...... lights up and Anchors Away to get us out.
All in all a 9/10 evening. A lovely set list from my point of view.
Excellent musicianship all round, controlled and clear singing. Walking
pace songs for the most part. But not much sweat in evidence. Not much
joking and interplay . A 'Right Stuff' performance.
Seating arrangements around me were a complete mess. The sound board set
up near me occupied about half an acre and about 50 people had tickets for
seats that weren't there. They erected a totally ridiculous blue barrier
in front of our section which meant that those in the front seats couldn't
actually see that stage when seated. So everyone stood and the 'unseated'
mingled in the gangways. I wandered forward with plenty of others but for
some reason Brummy Bert the most stupid security man on earth, picked me
out to confront. There we were, eyeball to eyeball, 'Go back to your
seat!'... 'NO!'....'Go Back to your seat!'....'NO!' etc etc, as 'Big Girl
Now' was playing live for probably the only time in my life. Being a
normal, peaceful kind of person I don't actually like short people
standing so close to me that I can smell their breath so I told him I
wished to complain and could he call his boss? This didn't go down too
well and he moved a little closer to allow me to inspect his hairline. At
this point his boss - bigger, beefier, louder - materialised and the two
of them linked arms and pushed everyone back . At least, I wasn't being
singled out now and we eventually got settled. For the rest of the evening
the unseated; the drunk; the 'I'm going to sneak down to the front'
brigade; and everyone else who wanted to move around seemed to gravitate
to my area so Brummy Bert (job description - Irritate and annoy customers
with boorish behaviour at all times) was kept very busy. I hope he enjoyed
trying to ruin everyone's evening.
Review by Michael Bamford
Well the miserable sods standing at front of stage got what they deserved
tonight only one encore. Taking my daughter with me tonight to her first
BOB concert we had high expectations particularly as we had dead centre
seats 4 rows back A very mixed set with notable highlights for me You're a
big girl now, Tomorrow is a long time, a beautiful rendition of 4th Time
around and a ripping Wicked Messenger. However the apathy of the "fans" in
front of stage must have got to Bob and the Band, gone was the enjoyment,
energy and smiles of Brighton and Bournemouth. In its place a very
workmanlike performance with Bob again taking some excellent leads but
little of the animation shown in the first 2 concerts of this UK tour.
Must say though at this point how well Bob looks at the moment and how
much he seems to be enjoying playing with these excellent musicians. These
must have been the so called "listening fans" stood around front of stage
who will no doubt be discussing in great depth the fact that Bobs mike was
off for the 1st few bars of Maggies Farm or that on several occasions he
forgot a few words here and there or that it wasn't as good a show tonight
as Birmingham 2000 or Manchester 66 or when ever. I only hope the crowd in
London on Saturday night respond more positively to what, in my opinion of
the 3 shows I've seen so far, is turning into one of the best tours for
quality of oerformance and variety of set list that I've seen in a long
time. Please enjoy Bob whilst we have him !!!!
Review by Ian Blagbrough
The NEC Birmingham (England) is a cavernous beast, nothing better than
impersonal. It takes 12,000 with a few hundred standing, mostly faraway
seats, from my back row position, it was a full 50 m to where the ants were
performing. I was last here for Sept 2000, and today's concert sold-out
even without the excellent publicity that this tour has received in the UK.
I have always enjoyed aspects of the Dylan gigs here, I came up the two hour
drive from Bath with a strong hope, following on from Bournemouth and Cardiff,
but then there is always room for some doubt with a Dylan gig. Here again,
immediately there is IMO a true, warm feeling towards the artist. The
audience is mainly wanting or needing to be seated, they are elderly enough
to know the line-up for Deep Purple here next month.
The set-list follows on from Bournemouth and Cardiff, and elsewhere this week,
if you wanted to get ready for a gig then it must be Blonde on Blonde and L&T
that you turn to, but rewatch that MTV Unplugged video and you will be really
well-prepared for acoustic bass. Before the blow-by-blow which you might not
want to read, the main thrust is that this was really good overall, parts were
excellent. Unlike Bournemouth with its snarling, tonight there was singing,
real harmony. The voice 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 e.g.
the new version of Forever Young. In two hours covering real folk, some
country, excellent R&B, a touch of lounge, powerful R&R, the band are excellent.
Finally, there was further proof, if any is required that 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 or sing
one! Larry and Charlie share the lead with Bob. We did not cheer enough for
a genuine encore, but also this is the middle of 5 straight nights, so perhaps
2 hours and 20 songs were enough. Actually, I do not think we raised our game
as much, being mainly seated and 50 m away, there was enough room for a Dallas
Cowboys game between me and Bob. Finally, small venues are better, or 8-9,000,
but all standing with general admission. It did work in the NEC arena, but it
did not work as well. If it works here it will work anywhere, get a ticket!
7.30 arrives with Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, loud and clear,
played to an audience still arriving by the thousand, no real interest. The
black drapes display in white the huge all-seeing eye with crown and flames,
naff merchandising is available. Anticipation is high, incense is high, will
it break the run of excellent gigs? How long will he keep us waiting?
Hundreds still to enter, no real interest, he is always late, the house-lights
go out -
7.43 The ludicrous "L&G please welcome Columbia Recording Artist …", and
immediately we are away. The band (stick insects) in smart pale blue-grey
suits (confederate you might say), hard to be sure from this distance under
the lighting, the song and dance man in black with the large white Stetson.
Certainly more country or lounge than R&R. The acoustic set opens, but not
with a sound check, what is happening here, he is not working on Maggie's
farm any more. Larry is excellent on mandolin. The concert has started.
Hundreds more decide to find a seat. So, a real song and into You're A Big
Girl Now. Actually, the singer-songwriter is having fun with us here, I
suspect that he is in really good health, rude health even. So those all
important Dylan lyrics are reworked, into whatever you want with "find you
in somebody's room, but I don't care to LOOK, just put my order in with the
COOK, - pause- hang my coat up on a HOOK", lots of genuine smiles and laughter
sets the early tone, see playing about with "gum" later. It's Alright, Ma
gets its sad cheer for a naked president, and we move on smoothly to
mouth-organ (lots of cheers, before it is played that is) and a beautiful,
tender, deeply felt Tomorrow Is A Long Time, sung straight by Larry (note)
with Bob's harmonies over (a highlight). An excellent, opening acoustic set,
nothing to fault, lots to enjoy. Hundreds still to enter, security - well it
is more than my jobsworth etc.
The next surprise after Maggie's is the choice of the "so-called" electric set
(we are keeping strictly to the 15-5 pattern readers will know about), but
this is electric folk, and certainly no Fender party. There is no R&R here,
a nod towards R&B, but much more Blonde-on -Blonde and electric folk. So we
are lost in the rain, and it is past Easter time, lets not put on any airs,
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues was clear and moving. It was really well delivered,
perhaps this was tonight's real treat. 5 down, nothing new, then T Dee & T Dum
continues to keep us smiling, loud, long, well performed, still good clarity,
at this distance our hopes are in the sound system. So lets do songs from the
new L&T album, lets take a walk in the (lounge like) moonlight together, the
lava-lamp effect on the backdrop. Actually, I've cried for you baby, so now
its your turn to. Excellent work on the double-bass, more of this later, and
the slide guitar are preludes of enjoyment soon to come. Some leave for the
The black-back school-curtains are dragged aside to reveal the pleated grey
school curtains on which the lighting can play. The second acoustic group
starts with an awesome Fourth Time Around, ask here for some-Jamaican rum,
spit out your gum, you have a crutch, don't ask for mine, this was another
highlight. Bob has serious fun leaning and questioning "gum", more laughter.
Then a deeply felt, powerful Masters of War. Red and yellow beams flood the
stage, the singer-songwriter is still going strong. There have been those
pleas in these pages to put TUIB to rest, well its re-invention is now
complete. Tonight, Larry takes a spot front and centre WITHOUT Bob, he
plays entirely through TUIB if you know the chords and the tune line, only
then is he joined by Bob in a 2nd spot, each in a single shaft of light,
everything else pitch black, one plays, the other sings, right through the
first verse, and then the stage floods with blue, the band jump in, and we
are really rocking.
Summer days in golden light, but pure R&B, spits out Sugar Baby. A brief
mention here for Tony Garnier who spins around his double-bass to show that
acoustic R&B has roots close to jazz. The strong 7-beat downward progression,
(one-two-three-four, double-time five-six, long seven), it is mouth-organ in
the Wicked Messenger, well delivered as a good example of R&R, but with
compound (cf German) nouns, compound sentences. Immediately recognised
chords for RDW with Larry on steel, Jim Keltner (he of 7 songs on TOOM)
working closely with Tony, Bob almost sings the name checks, cheers for each,
away they go it is 9.22.
Away for 3 long mins, 9.25 the encores/second set start, we have really
cheered for them. I'm sick of love, I'm love sick. Then LARS, tonight not
the usual "only a crowd pleaser", but a much more animated singer-songwriter.
As often at Birmingham, Forever Young, lots of crowd pleasure, some sing-along,
genuine applause. Some of the silly three words to one note and then a very
high almost falsetto ruining, re-interpreting for some, Forever Young. Well,
I've been honest with you (Larry excellent on slide), and then BITW and its
close harmonies and a new stop as in: the answer my friend is -pause- BITW.
There were only a few boring one- or two-note guitar solos (don't you just
love "re-interpretation", but when standing next to Larry and Charlie, please)
generally lots of good guitar work. At the back, un-sung hero Tony works
constantly hard with signals to Jim Keltner, who has nicely used brushes, and
underplayed rather than the reverse. We yell, but not enough, and they are a
way to the two black coaches and off to the hotel. Tonight 20 songs in 2
hours - with 6 off L&T, more lounge and R&B, less R&R. This was generally a
good show, Tom Thumb's Blues if you please, but it is a hard impersonal venue.
Everything was good, some a little better, the voice held up, but I'll be
queuing for Bournemouth, Cardiff, and Portsmouth tix next time. Yes, I'll see
him in anything, I'll stand in line.
A line to thank Bill Pagel for excellent, continuously excellent work. Here
comes May 24th.
Ian S. Blagbrough
Review by Eben Hensby
My seat wasn't great for this show: ten or so rows behind the soundboard mixer
on the floor. Nonetheless, I wouldn't complain about it: it offered an
interesting perspective. First, the sound was great. Second, the lighting
effects one doesn't notice from close up are wonderful. Third, we (the floor
section) stood the whole show anyway. Fourth, you can still see from there,
though not as much or as well when you're up close, but you can see.
This show turned out to be fairly good, with Bob using his softer vocals
throughout. At times I really dig his tender voice, just as I also dig his
rougher voice. At this show, he mainly used the tender voice. According to
someone who finds these things out, Bob was sick before this show so that might
explain why - who knows.
My biggest complaint about this show is that Larry was too quiet. I don't
understand why he's turned down so much in the mix. His vocals are down, his
guitar, his pedal steel…everything. It's frustrating and disappointing because
when you strain yourself you can hear that Larry is really doing a great job.
The show opened the same as last night's show in Manchester: with Maggie's
Farm. It's hard to tell whether I prefer this or not because I do love the
energy in the roots of the traditional/spiritual openers, but I also love
hearing more Bob songs.
You're A Big Girl Now
And the second slot again proved to be very special indeed. As a surprise
within a surprise, Bob had made a lyrical change. In the "in somebody's room"
verse, Bob sung something like, "I know where I could find you, but I ain't
a-gonna look / I place my order with the cook / and hang my coat upon the
hook." It's great Bob's rewriting parts, but that seems a bit silly to me.
The coolest part was that when Bob was singing it, the audience was hanging
on his words, then erupted into applause at the end of that verse. I was
impressed enough people knew what was going on.
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
It's too bad Bob doesn't offer some phrasing variations in this song: I always
listen for them and there certainly are plenty of words, time, and room to do
so, but it was sung relatively similar at each of the England shows. Mind you,
that's not bad or anything because the way he sings it is great, but hearing it
as many times as I did just causes it to lose effect on you.
Tomorrow Is A Long Time
Bob sung this very tenderly and I was nearly blown away. This is one of my
favourite Bob songs and the way it was performed was gorgeous. During the
chorus, Bob sung it with Larry (whose mic was so low that people on Charlie's
side reported seeing Larry's mouth move but hearing nothing). The second to
last chorus was sung stunningly well.
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
I don't think Bob's performed this very much since the famous rendition in New
York City on the fall 2001 tour, the first show there since September 11, so
this called up memories of that performance. (Mind you people didn't cheer
when he sung "New York City".)
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
I've been wondering if Jim's any good as Bob's drummer since I've seen him in
England: the songs which rocked under George Recelli have lost an edge since
Keltner. Some of them are harder to dance to - you almost have to supply your
own energy instead of having it all supplied to you through the music. But,
thankfully, Jim was very good in this song. Bob also sung it very well.
This was a great choice by Bob as his voice was very tender throughout - what
better song to sing that Moonlight if your voice is very smooth? There was an
unbelievably beautiful end riff played by Larry - tonight was Larry's night,
Cry A While
There's not much to be said about this: it rocked as usual, but if Bob is
going to play Cry A While or Lonesome Day Blues every show, I'd much rather
hear Lonesome Day Blues.
Fourth Time Around
This was another great surprise, as Bob's very tender vocals again caught my
attention. I thought this was a good version and some people I knew said
after the show they thought it was the best Fourth Time Around ever…I don't
know about that, but it was nice.
Masters Of War
Tangled Up In Blue
Bob played these two fan favourites but, other than that, they were nothing
Two Love And Theft songs followed, with the very cool Summer Days and then a
nice Sugar Baby. I still haven't heard a Sugar Baby that even comes close to
the ones under David Kemper as drummer.
The Wicked Messenger
I'm still not completely sure what it is Jim's doing with the drumming in this
song or Drifter's Escape…
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
Rainy Day started out as the regular fun end jam song, but then after Bob
introduced the band, he headed back to the harmonica table. He picked up a
harp and the harp mic and started moving about. For the first little bit,
the harp mic didn't work at all. When it did, Bob realized that he had the
wrong harp. After some scrounging around, he found the right harp and brought
it up to his singing mic. There he stood and gave a long, three(?) verse
harp solo. For the first verse, the harp solo consisted of about one note
blown over and over in an amateurish style. The next verse became more
adventuresome. The third verse was great and the band had gotten louder too
so it really rocked. This was a pleasant surprise to end the regular set.
A great rendition with an awesome guitar solo by Larry (turn Larry's guitar
Like A Rolling Stone
Honest With Me
Blowin' In The Wind
A fairly standard encore set, it was nonetheless quite good. Oh, and Bob
sung "9:45" exactly at 9:45 again in Honest With Me. ;)
This Birmingham show wasn't quite as good as the Manchester show, though it
did start off very strongly. Now, we're off to London for the first of two
shows at the Docklands Arena…
page by Bill Pagel
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