May 11, 2017
Review by Pete Cummins
Please Please Please! Bob Dylan, film and record this beautiful concert.
I was so fortunate to be in the 7th row with a perfect view and a brilliant
sound, I was also armed with my vintage Zeiss binoculars and was able to
see the show as if I was sitting on the stage.
And what a show ! I am a total fan of Bob, ever since I heard Highway 61
I was blown away, and sewn up like a pillow case. I play music and always
play at least one Dylan song at ever gig I do.
The set he is currently playing is challenging, both for the band and
particularly for the audience, he hasn't made it easy for the audience,
playing a selection, that half the audience is unfamiliar with, and you could
feel the unease, and that's the reason why I wanted to experience the
whole thing again, I felt I only absorbed 25% of what they did.
However for the real Dylan lovers it was superb! He was Duke Ellington,
he was Frank Sinatra, he was Blind Willie McTell, he was Big Joe Turner,
but importantly he was Bob Dylan.
Lovely start with Stu Kimball on Gibson acoustic which brought in the
whole band in for Things have Changed, into Don't Think Twice and then
Highway 61 Revisited, I'm there dude!
The balance between the band and Bob is just right and the sound
engineers have to be recognised here.
Don't Try to Change Me Now is very soulful and emotional and you can
see from the position I'm in, how committed he is to these songs from
Bob Dylan is truly unique, there is nobody like him, nobody as steadfast
and as stubborn in his pursuit of his ambition, really there is no compromise
he just plays what he want to play and that is why he has endured and
continues to grow as an artist.
The inclusion of songs like Pay in Blood, Melancholy Mood and Dequesne
Whistle lead into a beautiful version of Stormy Weather and then a
great arrangement of Tangled Up in Blue, this brings the audience up,
but then it's Early Roman Kings, Spirit On the Water and Love Sick and
the majority of the audience clearly do not know this stuff.
That's what made it so great for me, to hear the master play what he
wanted to play, no pandering to the audience, a true artist at work.
The vibe between Bob and steel guitar player Donnie Herron is obviously
very important since the move to the Sinatra songs as Donnie is now a
key player in those arrangements, it is also very charming, after one song
Donnie applauded Bob and in the dark Bob walked over to him and they
shook hands, a truly lovely moment that probably went unnoticed, but
it was a moment that displayed the love and respect between the singer
and a fabulous band that at times sounded like an orchestra.
I think if you listened to Theme Time Radio you would understand the
depth of Bob's knowledge of the art of music, and you would truly
appreciate what happened in Dublin tonight. And that is why it should
be filmed and recorded.
Review by Colin Lacey
Strong show, no surprises in set list. That band is astounding. Surely one
of Bob's most sympathetic? Singer is good too - and band plays around his
weaknesses as well as his strengths, which tonight were many, including
some delicious phrasing and delivery. Spirit on the Water - for me a
throwaway- here turned into a memorably deep jazz groove.
Dylan looked pleased throughout. Standouts included opener Things Have
Changed, Desolation Row, Long And Wasted Years and closer Thin Man.
But highlight was a hugely emotional Autumn Leaves - devastating.
Audience was interesting - mix of Bob veterans, newbies and casuals.
Anyone I spoke to loved it.
Very good Bob show. He's doing his thing as well as he has in years - this
show could rank in top ten of 20-plus I've seen.
But that band is something else.
Review by Ted Coakley
A rare occasion when not a single seat was unoccupied- shows the value of
publicity even to a man like Dylan. We began at 8.12 and finished at
10pm. This was a solid , sound show which can only be looked at in its
entirety rather than single highlights. The band were the usual members
not that Dylan told us- he did not speak a word. But what a backing band
but they cannot get any better, surely. The only instrument Bob played was
the keyboard but his voice was superb. The songs of the Great American
Songbook were well received and fitted in excellently- a change from what
could have been expected from his Dublin Adelphi Cinema concert 51 years
ago; but things have changed .
No, there was no standing ovation at the end due the newbies not knowing
what to make of it and oldies knowing that Dylan cares little about such
And let me say this: I had the feeling that some of the songs were going
to go straight into jazz like a cross between Miles Davis and Steely Dan
but they, finally turned in Dylan and thankfully.
Review by Ken Cowley
Having not seen many shows in recent years, I was very much looking forward
to Bob's final European show in Dublin last Thursday. The question was, would
12,000 fans of mixed levels of Dylan-fandom be as open to the current
(somewhat) challenging setlist? Also, as we know, Bob's level of audience
interaction is pretty much non-existent these days, although to be fair his music
communicates for him. Anyway, despite these challenges, I believe the sheer
quality of performance on the stage of the 3Arena (formerly known as the
Point Depot) won them over and indeed there have already been very positive
reviews of the show in the mainstream press.
Despite some minor negatives (no harmonica, and perhaps one or two tired
sounding songs) I thoroughly enjoyed this concert. Nearly every song was
strong, and even old warhorses like Don't Think Twice were superb, this one
being currently given a lovely country twist and sung 'straight' in a nice low
register. Actually Bob sings everything tonight with great care and attention
and it is really amazing to think that at 76 he is singing better now than he did
8 or 10 years ago.
But arguably, he saves the best vocals for the so-called 'Sinatra-songs'.
Personally, I am very fond of his three (or five, if you consider 'Triplicate' to
be a set of three) American-standards albums, as I think these songs are in
their own way just as important to American music as any Bob Dylan song, and
Bob inhabits them in a very personal way. On stage, he takes these songs a
step further, singing them from centre stage in great declamatory style with
gorgeous phrasing and not inconsiderable range. Particular highlights for me
included; Why Try to Change Me Now, Melancholy Mood and Autumn Leaves.
And even a somewhat throw-away song like Old Black Magic wins over the
audience on the night, with its lively fun arrangement. All or Nothing at All
was also very enjoyable (complete with superb Charlie guitar solo) albeit I
thought Stormy Weather was less successful.
Indeed, speaking of arrangements, it is impossible to give this band enough
credit. They have really gelled in to a superb unit, capable of almost any
genre, and are 'locked-in' on every song with tight appropriate backing. It's
hard to single any of them out, but the versatility of George on drums and
the subtle guitar solos and fills of Charlie are particularly noteworthy, as is
Donnie Herron's pedal-steel which underpins the 'Sinatra songs' just as much
in-concert as it did on those 5 discs. When Donnie Herron joined Bob's band
in 2005 we knew from his previous work that he was a capable proponent of
western-swing/honky-tonk style pedal-steel, but for some reason he always
seemed to be very low in the mix in the Dylan band. Who knew he would
end up taking such a dominant role and that he was so accomplished at this
gorgeous small-band country-jazz playing. But all 5 of the band, including
band-leader Tony, deserve a lot of credit, as indeed does Bob's own piano
tinkling which fits in nicely, including his flirtation tonight with a snatch of
Fairytale of New York just prior to Desolation Row.
Speaking of Desolation Row, this major Dylan song is currently being played
very well, and is nicely placed towards the end of the main set, just at the
point where the audience might be wondering would they be hearing
another well known song or not! Of the other well-known songs done
tonight, some fare better than others. It could be argued that Highway 61
is reduced to a somewhat pedestrian blues-shuffle. I would make the same
case for Things Have Changed and Early Roman Kings, which seems to have
been re-arranged and has lost a bit of its bluesy crunch. Blowin in the Wind
is a bit ho-hum, and the band seem to lose themselves somewhat on
Tangled up in Blue (a re-arrangement too far at this stage, I think). But
Ballad of a Thin Man is a strong closing song, and some of Bob's recent
compositions from the 'Tempest' album are still performed very well, even
if they have lost a touch of their 2013-era impact, eg Pay in Blood and
Long & Wasted Years. Regarding other less-well known Dylan compositions
which Bob has played to death somewhat in recent years (Spirit on the
Water, Beyond Here Lies Nothing and Soon After Midnight) these were all
quite enjoyable on the night due mainly to the strength of the band's
So, a lovely show to end his European tour, in a big arena but one with
perfect acoustics and (despite the floor being allocated way too many
corporate tickets) an appreciative crowd as ever for Bob in Ireland,
including a very happy looking Christy Moore in the 2nd row! Bob is
currently singing well, looks highly engaged (albeit he he moves a little
slower around the stage these days), working with a superb band and
obviously quite happy with his current static set-list and the emphasis
on the old standards. If it was to be his last European jaunt (hopefully
not!) he went out in some considerable style.
Comments by John O' Callaghan
Bob Dylan's music keeps on giving, refusing to stand still. The second
song of the night 'Don't think twice...' was written back in 1962, a mere
55 years ago. Back then Leonard Cohen was not on the music map, neither
was Pink Flyod, The Kinks, The Doors, David Bowie, and so many other
artists who have come and gone. Some have died, some have gone their
separate ways and other artists just had their day.
'Don't think twice..' was sung on a summer's evening in 2017 in Dublin,
with a freshness and intensity that belied it's over half a century of
existence. Somewhere therein perhaps lies the secret of musical longevity
which very few artists have seemed to match.
John O' Callaghan
Review by Tiernan Henry
last night, Dublin, was my only show this time round. I knew what to
expect and knew what not to expect. Our seats were great, five rows from
the front, smack dab in front of the piano. Not since Madison in November
1991 have I been sitting so close to him, and five rows back was just
right - could see almost everything (lost most of Charlie's midriff and
guitars behind the piano) - unlike the front row where people were
standing or craning their necks to see anything. Could see the sweat
dripping off his brow, could see him bowing to Donnie who reciprocated
with applause after something they were focused on worked, could see him
telling George something that made George laugh out loud. Was able to see
him plinking away at the intro to Fairytale. I think I've seen enough of
the "standards" for now, yet, having said that, "Autumn Leaves" was
astonishing. But he sang wonderfully, he sashayed his way around the
middle of the stage, he and the band are completely in sync with each
other and he had some hat on/hat off moments. He's not for everyone, which
is fine; maybe the promoters should put provisos on the show
announcements: this may not be the Bob Dylan you're looking for. It was
great. Maybe next year he'll do the great Shane McGowan songbook - revive
the old Dylan & the Nearly Dead tour.
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