June 24, 2010
Review by Fran Scott
PERFORMANCE ART IN DALI COUNTRY
Bob threw himself into a tremendously engaging performance tonight under the
clear, moonlit midsummer skies of Barcelona. While varied in quality, the
concert was bookended by some exceptional performances.
More light than shade throughout as the sound was turned right up and the
delicate numbers were limited to Just Like a Woman and Girl of the North
Ballad of a Thin Man, which closed the main set, was simply outstanding.
Breathtakingly good. Dylan at the centre mike, nailing the phrasing and blasting
the harmonica at the delighted Catalan crowd.
Bob hardly looked at the band all night - he was focused on the crowd from the
word go in a way I've not seen on recent tours. Senor was delivered like a
storyteller, his arms thrown forwards for effect as the tale unfolded at the
front of the stage.
The middle of the concert was a little ordinary but by no means dull. Too many
of the arrangements had a strident marching beat to them which made the songs
feel stilted. I would have preferred the rhythm section to have been a little
less prominent and Tangled Up in Blue didn't quite work for me.
However, Dylan's desire to connect with his audience was manifest throughout and
it will be this that hangs in the memory.
Review by Guillem Turon Mallol
For me not as special as in 1993 or Encamp 2008, and not even at the great
level of Barcelona '95 and '99, but a good show.
It could be said it was wild Dylan. There was a concert of Kiss in Palau
Sant Jordi (less than 1km from Poble Espanyol) at the same time and seems he
wanted to show everyone that he is who was really powerful tonight in Barcelona.
At this point one has to be used that his voice is not the same anymore and he
is reciting more than singing. Besides, the sound was not as good as other
times. I hardly heard Donnie and guitars and keyboard where very loud. Specially
Bob's guitar. His first 2 or 3 notes have frightened even himself. Then some
problems with the harp mic too in Thin Man that seemed to annoy him. But all in
all, a very powerful Bob, a wild Bob, with lots of energy. That was showed soon
with Rainy day women, Señor and Watching the river flow (I'm not a grat fan of
that one too but it worked well). I'm not very fond of singalongs too, but today
it helped in Just like a woman and Like a rolling stone, and probably that made
us get the 3rd encore. And he seemed to be considering a 4th one.* ** *
It was funny how Bob began playing a very simple melody in the keyboard
before Like a Rolling STone that I didn't recognize. The band seemed to
laugh about it.
The highlight for me was the song I was hoping the most to hear: Cold irons
bound. I never had heard it live and it was worth the wait. Impressing. Then
followed a grat Love sick and Highway 61 in the best part of the show for me,
followed by a great low that I think made fall almost everyone in depression:
Spirit in the water. Bob seemed to me out of tune in that on the keyboard and on
I couldn't help comparing with my last one, in Encamp, by the songs he
played there too (High water, Thin Man, Blowin' in the wind... The only
doubt for me is Thunder on the mountain). Not being bad today, all of them
where better to me in Encamp. But that was a very special night.
Guillem Turon Mallol
Comment by Jaume Saurí
Guillem said: "It was funny how Bob began playing a very simple melody in the
keyboard before Like a Rolling Stone that I didn't recognize. The band seemed to
laugh about it."
To me, this "simple melody" was "Make You Feel My Love". I'm waiting the bootleg
to confirm this perception. And the highlight of the show, imo, was "High
Water", with the work of Donnie (banjo) audible for once.
Review by Trevor Townson
Sometimes when Bob tours the States he will do venues at minor league
baseball parks. Most times that Bob tours the UK it is generally to the same old
familiar sites in the large cities. If Bob intends to continue touring at his current
rate why could he not include some variation by including at least some stops
at a few minor league football clubs.
Most of these clubs are in small towns where it is only the local football club
that puts them on the map at all and I think it would be a great boost and
probably the biggest claim to fame that has happened to them in years if Bob
Dylan were to come to town to play for them one time.
My first Bob Dylan concert was at a football ground but in a larger city.
Probably the concert was held at the football ground because at that time the
city did not have an adequate music venue. These small towns though are never
going to have an adequate music venue but the football grounds tend to keep
standing through thick and thin. Great as that particular football club is, even
now over 25 years later still it appreciates Bob’s visit by including him in
the section of the club web site usually reserved for famous football players
as it includes a photo of Bob from the time and a caption saying “Made one
appearance at Saint James Park in July 1984, entertained a large crowd, but
left under freedom of contract”.
That particular football ground has been radically redeveloped since then to
the point of one of the stands being the tallest structure in the city but back
in 1984 this was not the case and I remember seeing people on the roof of an
adjacent building looking into the concert and enjoying Bobs music as they
danced in silhouette against a by then dark North East night sky.
Well I now find myself standing in Barcelona where Dad once stood too. Our
reasons for travelling here are of course different as dad was here to take in
some places of interest and to holiday but I was here for one reason only, yet
again to see Bob Dylan in concert.
Well I have seen Bob perform in many places, Music Arenas, Sports &
Conference Halls, Fields, Parks, Football Grounds and Music Clubs then even
one time in a Playhouse and a few times in an Academy and a Ballroom too as
well as in some open area like a desert in Portugal and then again once in a
Tent in Cork but I have never seen him perform in a Poble before so this was a
first and a must go to and see event.
Poble Espanyol means Spanish Village and is a tourist attraction of many
different types of Spanish buildings, a kind of architecture through the ages
type of thing but all assembled together in one place. Within this village of
pathways, restaurants and shops is the square and that is where the concert was
to be held.
I wandered up the hill to the village for about 5pm to find a fair queue of
people, longer than I had expected as this event was starting a bit later than
usual but I find out from a familiar face from the Netherlands standing towards
the front of the queue that he had been there since 2pm. Seemed strange somehow
as the village was at that time still open as a tourist attraction and coach
trips were still arriving and people going in as the Bob fans stood or sat on
the pavement queuing in wait for the main reason that they were there as two
black buses also stood in wait on the adjacent side road.
I was handed a second hand entrance ticket for the village for me to use so
that I could go in for a look around, purely to check out the lie of the
land you understand and there it was as soon as I stepped foot inside right
before me Bobs stage in the square with tourists milling around it in addition
to, it must be said, one or two familiar Bob fan faces as well.
Before returning back to the queue outside I had a walk around and it was clear
that wherever you were going to be in the small square you were going to have a
pretty good view. I was told later as I was standing in line that
there was a second queue inside formed by people who had a ticket for both the
village and the concert but nevertheless I managed to get a good central spot
just a few people back from the front.
Fortunate really as I had done my usual trick by coming totally unprepared
having had nothing to eat or drink in ages so by being that little bit further
back I managed to just reach a travelling beer seller who had wandered as far
forward into the crowd as it was possible to get.
One large beer please I ask, that will soon have me on the road to recovery
and quench that dehydration! Then people on the rail noticed, including my man
from the Netherlands, and they wanted me to get them a beer too so I am soon
employed to assist the beer seller in getting his survival fluid to the front as
beer and Euros are quickly passed hand to hand through the crowd.
The show was even later starting than planned due to what looked like a set
list change but eventually out they come onto the stage with just a
limited amount of daylight remaining and the crowd were up for it right from
the start singing along with “everybody must get stoned” during the opening
number. Senor was next and obviously well received by the crowd. Tony still had
the stool in place but I did not see him use it this night and later he was
spinning the large double bass around so it looks like he is getting over
whatever the problem was.
Quite a lot of crowd sing along tonight but Bob did not seem to mind at all
even phrasing Just Like A Woman perfectly in order to fit it in. One of
the biggest cheers of the night went to a song that was not played as
everyone thought it was going to be Boots Of Spanish Leather as the band start
Girl From The North Country with exactly the same opening jingle, Frustration.
High Water done as good as it gets with Donnie on banjo, Tony on stand up bass
and Bob on harmonica for just about half of the time of the whole number
including some body moves and crouching down which really got the audiences
It was a good set list and well performed but I do not know why or how
Spirit On The Water crept into it but my dad would have loved that one if he had
been there. The show was not however without gremlins of one kind or another
with things sometime sounding out of key particularly Bobs harmonica during Girl
From The North Country and there were other instances too as well as things
that just did not work. Bob included so much harmonica tonight it is not
possible to remember or detail but at one time he finds himself at centre stage
about to introduce more as he blows into his harmonica with bullet microphone
in hand to absolutely no effect at all, total silence.
Obviously an awkward moment and Bob is a master of making an awkward moment
even more so as he plods around wondering what to do and seems to take an age
to sort things out as first he returns the bullet microphone to its spot on the
drum stand whilst he includes a few hand claps before then returning to the
centre stage microphone as the band play on.
What was Bob to do? He could have returned to the centre stage microphone and
put his hands behind his back like that guy who don’t need a F’in guitar or
F’in piano. No need for a F’in harmonica either. In fact don’t even need a
F’in microphone as he can sing well hard without one being the worlds loudest
monotone singer and tambourine player and you need to be really well hard to
play an instrument like that in a rock band. Don’t even need a F’ in band or
group at all actually or even an F’in brother or career. Anyway careers are
for F’in losers and useless F’ers who need em to live on.
He could have done that but no Bob is Bob so does the one thing he does
best by blasting harmonica directly into the centre stage stand up microphone to
blistering effect, that’s that sorted then.
To me the sound was not as good as I have recently been experiencing from up
front but it may have sounded great from elsewhere but it was not possible to
check that out. I think it had probably been a bit of a strange environment for
the sound guys to work in though as it was a little unique by being a fairly
tall solid stone enclosure with no roof on.
Despite the odds I am sure that they will come through as always but at least
next time you experience some gremlins in the show you will understand why.
It is only a means of moving forwards and improving things but sometimes it can
also add some Frustration, Brilliant!
Review by Alastair Morris
I'm a newbie to submitting a review but I had a wonderful evening in Poble
Espanol, Barcelona on 24.06.10.
The venue was spectacular, the balmy weather just added to the great
atmosphere and the crowd were so friendly. I was with four friends and
we had travelled from Scotland to see Bob. We met the legendary
'Jokerman' (Mikael Peterson) outside the gig and compared tales of
our favourite concerts.
To the gig itself. The highlights for me were Senor, Girl from the North
Country and a rousing version of Ballad of a Thin Man. These songs more
than made up for the dodgy sound although it was better the further
away you were from the stage. However I have got to say that Tangled Up
in Blue was dreadful...more like Mangled Up in Blue. But that's Bob for
you. He doesn't always get it right. All in all a gig to remember.
Review by Jim Scott
Seeing the real Bob at least?
I spoke to the girl behind the counter in my local record store before the
concert. She told me she had gone to see Bob at his last Poble Espanyol concert
in summer 2004. She was glad she had gone, she claimed, but it would be hard to
say she had been enthused by him. More a sense of duty than of pleasure, was
what she conveyed to me. "Do let me know how it goes," she said. As for the
Bruce Springsteen concert she saw around the same time; he was a charmer. A real
musical pro. He had paid attention to the audience and he had responded
positively to the obvious enthusiasm of the crowd. Whereas contrary Bob.... It
was hard to disagree. I seem to remember that in my review of a concert from
around then, maybe Valencia July 2006, I had written that "...after 13 or so
songs, Bob stole a single furtive glance at the thousands of enthusiastic fans."
So if even I notice this trait, what chance had the woman in the street of being
bowled over by Bob in that mood/ mode? Well tonight Bob was different. Very
different. Totally different. He seemed to want to engage with the audience. By
the middle of the first song he was centre stage, watching the crowd, responding
to the crowd in his own way, singing his heart out just like any other song and
dance man, all the way from Al Jolson via Little Orphan Anny and M Charles
Aznavour to President Johnson. As I presume others must have mentioned, Bob was
positively beaming with pleasure as he belted out song after song. With a strong
if fairly un-melodic voice. He engaged little with the band tonight and Donnie
Heron was able to relax for once as he didn´t have to shadow Bob´s every feint
or gesture on stage. True there were some minor elements of the posturing and
preening we have come used to over the decades but it was all kept in check as
he tore into his material with rare gusto. Nothing special in the set list
overall, I felt. I guess the second song was a tipping of the hat to the locals,
though someone might have told him that the Catalan version is "Senyor". Not
that you could hear that difference whatever language you were singing in!
Just Like a Woman was the only song where the band´s playing was at all
subtle or melodic as opposed to storming. It was sing-a-long-a-Bob time however
with the locals responding in spades. Our son informed me that Tangled Up in
Blue was pretty awful. I didn´t notice. Because I´m a fan? I´ll stand in line
for anything Bob serves up? The highlights for me? Without question the two
"closing" songs; Thin Man at no. 14 and Blowin´ in the Wind at no. 17. In the
first, Bob again challenged critics both to understand him and to do better than
him, just as locally Maradona challenged FCB president José Lluís Nuñez in
similar terms to come down from the directors´ box some decades later. Tonight
every note rang true in Bob´s performance. But it was the closing song which
brought the house down. In 1962 when Bob wrote "this anti-racist,
anti-militaristic, anti-totalitarian song par excellence", Spain was still 13
years short of the end of its dark night. And how the mainly young audience
responded tonight, fully 35 years after that particular nightmare ended. (Well
before most of them were born, let it be noted.) And Bob seemed to notice
that. Though he didn´t let on too much. Well not in a way which the casual
spectator or perhaps the girl from the record shop would have noticed. But as
for the fans, we all noticed!
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