Review by Jim Scott
The main point is that it was a great show. Bob was in fine voice and
even finer spirits so that though he chose to concentrate on material
from the mid sixties, as is his prerogative, the overall effect was
tremendous. From the start Dylan was engaged both with his group and
with his audience and, at least by his own recent standards,
inter-reacted a lot with the latter.
Fans all know that apart from extremely rare visits to "Scottish"
universities and Irish children’s hospitals as well as regularly
visiting seedy clubs where punk groups play, Bob doesn't get out a lot
on his never ending tour. As a result he misses some amazing sights.
In a fleeting visit to Valencia for the show, 3 hours were enough to
take in the fact that the river around the city centre was diverted 40
years ago to avoid repeated floods, to view the military headquarters
where one of the leaders of the attempted coup in 1981 ordered his tanks
onto the streets, to visit the exquisite rococco church of San Juan del
Hospital where the preparations for the Papal visit next day were in
full swing and where the sight of exquisitely dressed penitents queing
in droves for confession was one I hadn’t seen so fully since St
Laurence’s Drumchapel circa 1963. Though the dress code there was very
different indeed) The Valencia evidence does suggest that the Catholic
church in Europe will soon be 99% female, 100% middle class and 101%
Opus Dei. There was time as well for spotting in the main square 1 of
only 2 “half heads of state” in the world, the Bishop of Seu d'Urgell
who is co-prince of Andorra. To cap it all, when we got back to the park
where the show took place, we found that the Spanish army had erected a
tent right outside the main entrance. Maybe they knew something we
didn't. But apparently Bob didn’t see any of this.
I think the set list was very similar to the night before in Cap Roig,
though he didn't repeat Summer Days and he did do Tom Thumb’s Blues.
Maggie's Farm opened the show in great style, Dylan's voice was very
strong indeed and reasonably tuneful too. Times are a' changing
certainly impressed me. He seemed to sing the song as if he believed
every word. Likewise, later in the set, with Masters of War. In the past
I have heard him sing these, and many others, and come to the sad
conclusion that he was only going through the motions but I certainly
didn’t feel so tonight. But it is chastening to remember how old these
songs, the singer and this listener are. And just how little things have
changed in the intervening 40 years.
Down along the cove was done very well. I don’t agree with the
criticisms I have read here of Memphis Blues. It was also great. Tom
Thumb’s Blues too. Surely there are few more exquisite lines than the
couplet “ I started out on Burgundy…”
Positively 4th street was a treat. Musically. Though the question of
repeating the bile after all these years is an interesting one. Does he
still feel like that or is he just singing a song? I wanted (and believe
that I got) the former “above” yet I hope for the latter “now”.
Was it just my imagination or did the audience react with noticeable
coolness to Tweedle Dum? Why is the song so reviled here? Is it because
we don’t understand it? Ricks doesn’t even mention it. So no hope of
Girl from the north country was one of the least satisfying songs for
me. He uses a new tune which I have heard him use before but which sadly
I don’t much like.
As for the band. I have no problems and no complaints.
The 2 closing songs were performed with enormous verve and style. Show
biz at its best? Dylan mumbled some very brief comment after he
introduced the band but I didn’t catch it.By his standards his hand
signals at the end count as positively effusive.
As always I ask myself afterwards why I keep going as it seems puerile
for a grown man to take such an interest. I tell myself that it is still
possible at a Dylan concert to get quite a few glimpses at what is
transcendent in life. And if I keep going maybe I’ll eventually hear
Series of Dreams. Or Brownsville Girl. Or George Jackson.
Review by Tim Birch
..and I'm, um, up here playing this piano thing."
Valencia this weekend is Yellow. For the visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVl.
The town hall announced Thursday that from 4pm on Friday the whole of the
centre of the city was to be closed to traffic. The preparations and organisation
for this 26 hour visit have been staggering, a whole bridge closed off to make a
stage and altar for the pope's address, whole streets on either side of the Rìo
Turìa park closed to accommodate thousands of brand new plastic chairs and
more portaloos than you thought existed in the world. Why am I telling you all
this? Well, with all this going on, how does one get to a concert in the centre
of town? We decided to risk driving in and were prepared to walk the rest of
the way in. We needn't have worried, we got in to town in record time and
parked up, legally, within 100 metres of the entrance to Viveros with enough
time to get ourselves a leisurely drink and find a good spot to watch The Man
amongst the 4,000 odd strong audience.
At ten past nine His Bobness and his five piece arrived on stage dressed from
head to toe in black and roared into Maggie's Farm. Dylan parked sideways on
to the audience playing keyboards and actually smiling a lot. And there he
stayed, at the keyboard singing songs entirely from his back catalogue, each
with an entirely new arrangement - it was interesting to watch peoples faces
trying to work out just which song this next one was going to be as they
sound so different to the original. Dylan's voice is at turns raspy and breathy
and his phrasing on some of the songs is machine gun fast. He still plays his
harp, and every time he does the audience roars its approval! The band are
great and they seem to really enjoy playing with Dylan, though I noticed they
watch him like hawks, so one can only assume that the stories about him
changing arrangements midstream can only be true. For me - and most of the
audience, it would seem, the highlights of the evening were Mr Tambourine
Man, Positively 4th Street, Masters of War, Girl from the North Country and
Like a Rolling Stone - the latter was the first of a two song Encore which also
included All Along the Watchtower.
Just on two hours of his Bobness and well worth the wait. I have seen this
man several times over the years and it has to be said he is inconstistent - this
was certainly one of his better concerts, mainly because he genuinely seemed
to be enjoying himself. I remember seeing him at Wembley years ago when the
band were lit by the stage lights and Dylan was in shadow and plainly going
through the motions. I was with a complete Dylan Freak who admitted 5 songs
into the set that if this were anyone else he'd have walked out 3 songs back.
He would have approved of this performance.
As the evening in Viveros ended and before the launching into All along the
Watchtower Dylan finally spoke, introducing his band and ......"me, I'm, um,
up here playing this piano thing."
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