Cork, Ireland
The Docklands
June 25, 2006

[Colin Lacey], [John Dunne], [Gary Whyte], [Liam Carson], [Markus Prieur]

Review by Colin Lacey

Just got back from the show, so a few short words. First, great venue - a
big top marquee - and a mellow crowd on a nice evening. Dylan came on to
usual fanfare after they had closed the beer lines outside in a bid to get
everyone in front of the stage. Came on about 8.15 with Maggie's Farm, in
absolutely great voice. Rough edges seem to be smoothed out considerably.
He also appears to be phrasing slightly behind the beat on occasion, which
makes for an interesting approach, although this seemed to be forgotten as
the show progressed. Next up was She Belongs To Me, which was nice, and
well received. Tweedle Dee was the usual momentum breaker - I went for a
beer. Back in time for a really nice Just Like A Woman, with a new space
inserted for crowd singalong in the chorus I hadn't herd before. Nice
version. Memphis Blues must go. Ugh - it's deathly boring by now and the
best I can say about this one is that it seemed mercifully short. Blind
Willie was a surprise, and well presented. I've heard better though.
Watching the River Flow could have been any bar band or any 12 bar blues.
What is wrong with these guys? Obviously they must be great musicians, but
there's a reticence there that just holds them back - maybe it will shake
itself out as the tour progresses, but tonight they were tentative at
times when they should have just kicked it to touch. I'm referring to
KImball in particular here. He can play, but he really needs to cut loose.
Thin Man had a nice loping, edgy riff. They led into  Sweet Marie with a
longish violin intro and it was a couple lines in before I recognised what
was going on. A ho-hum version though. Boots of Spanish was sweet. Cold
Irons Bound was probably the highlight, with great dynamics. This band is
really good at times - here they did crack up a storm. They're just not
loose enough though. I was thinking throughout that now that Dylan's organ
is up in the mix a little - there were hints of The Band at moments - that
it would be nice to bring in a keyboardist who knows what he's doing to
add a much- needed texture to some of the songs. Don't Think Twice pleased
the crowd and Summer Days was auto-pilot. Back for the usual Rolling Stone
and Watchtower, which were cursory, and no different to earlier this year,
or last year. Overall a solid show - 6 out of 10 perhaps. Dylan sang well
and played some nice harp. Double enjoyment for me as it was my 12 year
old son Luke's first rock concert (he loved it). But there was no real 
sense of a full engagement with the material and he badly needs some new
blood in the group. Drummer and bassist apart, these guys are not the
Band, they're the Bland. Shake it up, Bob

Colin Lacey


Review by John Dunne

Only the second night of the tour, of course, but the voice is in better
shape than I have heard it over the past five or six years. This, in fact,
was a magisterial display of committed, expressive singing: From the
moment he opened his mouth, it was apparent that, tonight, Bob Dyan was
breathing fire. And he needed to be because, too often, the band seemed to
be stone cold, their playing as statuesque as Denny Freeman's stance. And
occasionally it was worse than that: Their uncertainity on Absolutely
Sweet Marie, for instance, was that of young lads practising in the school
hall.  Surely it's not to much to ask that they learn the right chords?
For most of the show, Donnie Herron stared at Dylan as if looking for help
with a strange instrument he'd just been landed with, and I still can't
understand why Dylan lets someone like Stu Kimball within an ass's roar of
the stage. To call his playing basic would be flattery: His  casual
strumming on All Along the Watchtower, for instance, was an insult to the
commitment shown by his boss. And make no mistake,  Dylan works very hard
on stage; I was only yards away and could plainly see every strained
muscle, every bead of sweat. To sum up, this was a compelling, memorable
concert, made so by a staggering performance by Bob Dylan himself with
little or no help from his friends.

John Dunne


Review by Gary Whyte

Was there last night, great to see a legend again, but christ that was
borderline crap.

He's going through the motions. Here I am, now lets see if I can piss you
all off. 

A wedding band would have performed tighter than that, it's as if he is
challenging people to walk out, does he long for the days of being booed
on stage???

Just like a woman was just about the highlight, but not thanks to dylan,
thank the crowd, he had us eating out of his hands, but he wouldn't even
acknowledge where he was, maybe he didn't know, didn't acknowledge the two
recent gigs he cancelled in Cork, once because of bad health the other
because he was too busy going on the lash with bono to bother coming down
to perform for his fans. You'd have to wonder really. How would he have
felt if he went to woodie guthrie and he had given him the two fingers the
way he did to us.

I know you go to a live gig to see alternative versions of great songs,
but at least he could do is make each song sound different to the last.

If you saw him in his prime, remember it, if you didn't, get the DVD and
stay at home.


Review by Liam Carson

Where to start? I'd been to Kilkenny the day before - but I'm not a great
fan of outdoor gigs. Highlights there were a sinister "Love Sick" and a
driving "Masters of War". But Cork was the one I was looking forward to.
The venue was much better - a large fairground marquee. The man arrived on
stage an uncharacteristic 15 minutes late. Kicked off with "Maggie's Farm"
and "She Belongs to Me" again - but here the sound was vastly superior to
Kilkenny. Every word of "She Belongs to Me" was caressed, twisted,
unfolded, nuanced. It was lovely. Then into the now utterly tedious
"Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee" - I am sick to death of this song, and it
was a vocal mess between strained high notes and up-singing. Just as my
heart began to sink, out came a gorgeous "Just Like a Woman". Sung with
tenderness, affection - and leaving spaces in the chorus for a rousing
audience sing-along. Thus five thousand voices in unison - a truly
affecting moment. "Memphis Blues" is another song that has been flogged to
death in recent years, and needs retirement. 

First major treat of the night was "Blind Willie McTell", with wonderful
bluesy hoedown banjo from Donnie Herron. "Watching the River Flow" was
plodding, workmanlike. Then followed by a stunning "Ballad of a Thin Man",
sung with venom, gusto, precision. "Absolutely Sweet Marie" had a great
arrangement between Dylan's swirling hurdy-gurdy organ and Herron's
Waterboys style fiddle.

Stonking highlight without a doubt was a completely reworked "Cold Irons
Bound", now fashioned as a creeping swamp blues, full of menace and
tension. I've never heard it sound so utterly dark and cutting.

The encores? Well, predictable - but delightful. "All Along the
Watchtower" now comes with a stop-start staccato delivery that is

Overall, a fine gig - a few duff songs, but with more great moments. I
love Dylan's organ sound - it's a nod to the "wild mercury sound" and
quite hypnotic.  But there wasn't the wonderful diversity evidenced in the
set-lists of his last superb Dublin gigs ("Shelter from the Storm",
"Senor", "High Water", "I Dreamed I saw St. Augustine", "Every Grain of
Sand"). Still, you can't complain too much really. Between constant
touring, a cracking and hilarious radio show, a beautiful memoir, a new
album, the man is a continuing source of great art and great fun.


Review by Markus Prieur

Having seen the Kilkenny show from the grand stand, far away from the
stage, my wife and I experienced the Bob Dylan concert in Cork much closer
to the action, at the rail, our favorite spot for watching the greatest
living artist re-creating his songs. This 55th Bob date of mine was very
special for me, not only because sickness had forced him to cancel both
previous appointments with a County Cork audience in 1997 and 2003, both
of which we planned to be a part of; but mainly because for almost seven
years now the countryside outside of Cork City is our residence of choice,
after having moved here to this beautiful part of Europe from our native
Germany in 1999.

So when it was announced that Dylan would play "Live at the Marquee" (a
huge tent where several artists perform over the course of two weeks), a
dream came true. Bob Dylan in Cork City, for the very first time, and
then, after standing in a not so long line only from 5pm on, ending up at
the rail for this event, just in front of the left of two speakers put up
in front of the stage (for those who would not hear much from the main
speakers), we enjoyed a perfect sight and sound last Sunday, witnessing
Bob and his band perform fifteen songs, including ten repeats from the
previous show, but not one boring minute.

Bob's voice was even stronger and even more focused during this second
show of the tour, but it was also much easier to focus as a listener with
less distractions, and up close to the stage. Even my favorite standard
songs like "Tweedle" become even more enjoyable, and to watch Bob and the
band jam from a few yards away during "River Flow" and during the closing
trio of songs is a special treat. The repetitions from the Kilkenny show I
did not mind at all (it's Bob's show after all, and he can play what he
wants), some of them were indeed welcome to my ears, not only the always
welcome "Tweedle", but also "Thin Man", with great guitar work by Denny
and harp ending by Bob, and "Sweet Marie", with Donnie on fiddle and bow.

Denny (yes, I like his hat) also shone on "Memphis Blues" (which featured
nice organ playing by Bob), and on the new fine and rocking arrangement of
"Cold Irons Bound", which I heard already on some spring recordings. Some
other beautiful songs were a focused "She Belongs To Me", with more harp
playing, and one of those great 2006 versions of "Don't Think Twice", also
with fine harp and organ playing by Bob, and more skillful parts from
Denny and Donnie. Those two as well as Tony and George are always fun to
watch in action, as well as in the interaction with their band leader, who
nodded and pointed to his boys a lot in Cork, making them deliver many a
fine contribution to the show.

Three songs from the fifteen songs we heard in Cork, all of which were not
performed on the previous night, stand out for me. The first peak was song
number four, "Just Like A Woman", already recognized with a cheer from the
audience during the second half of the long instrumental intro. What
happened as Bob sung this song, can only be described as one of the
coolest concert experiences one can hope for. In July 2001 I had been in
front of the stage during Bob's first show in Kilkenny, when this song was
last performed on Irish soil, and I had experienced a "festival crowd,
which, presented with greatest hits, tried (!) to sing along, in a way
they know the songs, which is, as we know, not the way Bob sings them.
This had an interesting (not necessarily nice) effect" [quote from my
review back then]

Not so in Cork 2006, for unlike Kilkenny 2001, where his response to the
crowd was simply to sing the way he sings the song, and ignore the
sing-along, he chose to interact with the audience this time around, but
that choice was made on the spur of the moment. For he was as surprised as
I was at the rail, when the crowd sang along during the chorus, and a loud
"juuuust liiike a womaaaan" landed on the stage, just in front of the drum
riser. Already the next one he let the audience sing alone, and subsequent
ones were simply repeated by Bob in an almost speaking manner, or
commented upon with "argghh", "yeah", or "that's right". The fine harp
solo played by Bob to end the song was a fitting response as well. I had
the feeling he enjoyed those few minutes as much as we did.

The next high point of the show was the first ever Irish appearance of one
of Dylan's masterpieces, the sublime 'Infidels' outtake "Blind Willie
McTell". I had seen this gem five times before, from 1998 to 2005, but
never before from the first row. The fresh arrangement of this song with
Donnie on banjo, combined with the new "organic" treatment, great drumming
by George, and a very focused vocal performance by Bob, made this one all
the more enjoyable. More nodding and pointing by Bob lead to another fine
guitar solo by Denny. Bob's phrasing was brilliant during this song,
especially during "God is in his heaven, and we all want what's his, but
power and greed, and corruptible seed, seem to be all that there is". 

Another peak of the Cork concert for me was the very beautiful rendition
of "Boots Of Spanish Leather", complete with great singing, very fitting
organ playing, acoustic Stu, fiddle and bow by Donnie, and Tony on standup
bass, ending with a harp and fiddle combination. I have seen many a great
version of this gem, and in recent years Bob seems to add a fresh one
every time he comes to Europe. Stuff like this is one of the main reasons
why I keep attending multiple shows during a tour, if I have the
opportunity. So there is no doubt that I am looking forward to see
whatever the greatest living artist chooses to re-create in
Gelsenkirchen's Amphitheater next Sunday. 

Markus Prieur


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