Bayonne, France

Bayonne Arena

July 20 2012

[Mark A. Hoddy], [Myles Flynn], [Angel Uriarte]

Review by Mark A. Hoddy

Libby and I live just outside of Bordeaux so Bayonne was a perfect venue for us and we 
also adore both French and Spanish side of the Pays Basque.  We arrived in good time 
into the beautiful town of Bayonne, the sun was shining with a good temperature and a 
gentle breeze off the River Grive was sure to be perfect for Bob's concert.  The concert 
was being held at the Arènes de Bayonne, a classic bull ring but more importantly a 
French stronghold for bull fighting.  The hotel was central so we had time to wander
into town for something to eat before the 21:30 ShowTime, I had heard of a great little 
restaurant called the Café du Marche serving traditional Basque dishes. The restaurant
had a great bustling ambience with organised chaos and the typically local dishes such as 
'chipirones marines au piment d'Espelette a la plancha' and 'cochon au lait' was delicious 
as was a Basque red wine from the region of Irouleguy.  This set us in fine mood for a 
Bob concert and we headed on foot to the Arènes de Bayonne, it was a beautiful walk 
passing through the old town with its half timbers and shutters throwing out the national 
Basque colours of red and green from a white wall background, passing the Gothic 
Cathédrale of Sainte-Marie who's magnificent cloisters watch down on you from high 
above the narrow streets we rounded the massive citadel and up towards the Arenes 
when we caught a glimpse of Bob's black tour bus!  The Arènes was bathed in warm 
sunshine even now at 9pm and the circular shape adorned with bullfighters, the mustard 
yellow trims and dark red shutters made a dream setting!  We got inside quickly without
fuss and a there was a definite air of excitement, we had a cold beer then made our way 
inside to the open air arena.  The inside was stunning and before I noticed the amazing 
white stone seating I spotted what I had been hearing about this year, Bob's big black 
grand piano on the right of the set!  I had selected the seats at a perfect height above 
the number 1 staircase so nobody would be in front of us, there was good legroom from 
the aisle and we were just off centre as I knew bob would be facing us from his left of
the stage.   The atmosphere was buzzing; the standing area below us was steadily filling 
up and the cries from the red and white dressed nut sellers hopping up, down and 
between the spectators made good comedy.  The crowd were aware it was now 
9:30pm and after a bit of encouraging cheering the band entered just afterwards with 
Bob coming out last dressed immaculately in white trousers and shoes, black jacket, 
bootlace tie and a white wide brimmed hat.  With no introductions the band blasted into 
a racy version of Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, Bob at the keyboard, without a second's 
pause Bob slid effortlessly over to the grand piano and gave a brilliantly clean voiced 
Love Minus Zero/No Limit and you could really here the keys and just how good Bob is on
the piano.  Again no pause and Bob was up to centre stage with the harmonica for 
Things Have Changed the clear lyrics telling exactly the way it is now! Bob stayed centre 
stage for the start of Tangled Up In Blue, Stu backing excellently on acoustic guitar 
before moving back to the grand piano and playing some really excellent melodies in 
synch with Charlie's lead guitar, now Bobs legs were moving under the piano and he 
took on a half sit down half stand up pose with some right handed piano playing and left 
hand harmonica, brilliant. The crowd were going now and he speeded up the tempo 
staying at the piano with a raspy loud Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, Donnie pulled out 
his electric mandolin, Tony swopped onto the stand up bass and George excelled on the 
drums for a controlled and perfect Desolation Row.  Bob was obviously enjoying the new 
piano sound and stayed half seated to the piano for a bouncy The Levee's Gonna Break, 
then a real treat as if to say "hey people this is my song by the way and this is how it's 
done", a really fantastic Make You Feel My Love.  Honest With Me came next with lovely 
harmonica then a spot on version of Spirit On The Water, still at the grand piano the band 
belted out Highway 61 Revisited before Bob came to the front of the stage to surprise us 
all with the best ever version of Forgetful Heart, he dominated the stage and led the band 
in style arms out wide and sung beautifully, this is the Dylan of today, the next invention, 
just brilliant! A blistering Thunder On The Mountain lifted the tempo once more with Bob 
really in the groove now and then what I was waiting for Ballad Of A Thin Man and Bob on 
the piano, the vocals were superb with an eerie echo after each line really creating the 
mood of the song.  Then he introduced the band and slipped with ease into a classic and 
solid Like a Rolling Stone, I have heard All Along the Watchtower live many times but 
tonight's version was just so special and Bob's grand piano changed the song making it so 
much more personal.  The band came to the stage front to loud applause and Bob stood 
for a good while pointing with two hands and open armed to the crowd and then back to 
him, he skipped off and the lights went down.  I wasn't sure if he would come back out 
after such a great last song but he let the crowd wait a good few minutes before the 
encore of Blowin' In The Wind and as was the theme of the evening Bob was back 
behind the grand piano.  A last goodbye from Bob and the band and he was gone. 
Wow! What a performance from the band and I just love this grand piano sound!

Mark A. Hoddy


Review by Myles Flynn

What a terrific venue for Bob to play, the old bull ring in the heart of Bayonne, on a lovely
sunny evening.

The whole band were in good form throughout, from a rocking Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat
to get the crowd started, through to a tender Blowing In The Wind to close the show 
some two hours later.

Bob really seems to be enjoying himself on stage these days. His centre stage performance 
of Things Have Changed was one of the most animated I have seen from him in years. It 
was great stuff. There were also wonderful versions of Tangled Up In Blue and 
Forgetful Heart. 

Friends ask me why I still bother going to see Bob in concert, the answer is simple, it's for
nights like this. 

Myles Flynn


Review by Angel Uriarte

Such a small place like this Bullring with the arena not even filled, could have made for a 
wonderful set of songs, but we had to go through Tweedle Dee, The leeve and Honest....
which I have to say sound quite more bearable with this jazz disguise. There was a gift, 
however, with Love minuns zero, only, so early that you can't believe he even sang it 
after a while.

So, all what these Bob shows seem to be about is arriving to Ballad of a thin man. Even 
Desolation row has lost its climax which is not to say that it always welcome. The song 
that made the show for me was Forgetful heart, above Make you feel my love, cause for
this one you really need to have someone in your arms, like one of those good looking
mademoiselles that were all around.

I have come to enjoy Spirit on the water as it is played now, in spite of its  never ending 
feeling , it grows on you. Highway 61 should be dropped from the setlists, this band is not
able to make it what Bob  once said  about how good bands should sound: like throwing 
horses off a cliff. Instead, it is Thunder on the mountain that is played this way.

Tony had a great night trying to guess how was Bob going top end a song, and when he 
did he smiled with admiration and relief. The jacket that Bob is wearing really looks too big 
for his chest, someone has suggested it might be a bulletproof vest....

All along the watchtower, like the rolling stone, were arranged differently which was good 
for a change, and the wind blew to our hearts once again.

The audience sitting in the bullring had a respectable age, and  as such showed Bob all 
the love and respect that he deserves. 

It was the birthday of "Zampa" the guy I went with to Bayonne, a real die hard fan, and 
the only man i know of to have fallen off the Eiffel tower and have survived afer three 
days in coma.Not quite the same as falling off a Bob show, but you have to survive to 
that too.


Click Here
to return to the
Main Page

page by Bill Pagel

Tour Guide
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location