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Review by Tiernan Henry
Outside The Point are two huge billboards, and for the past couple of weeks
drivers crossing the toll bridge, or heading for the docks (the waterfront
docks, I suppose) have been treated to the sight of a billboard-filling Bob
Dylan, in best guitar hero mode.
In all the years I’ve been a Bob fan these are the first Bob billboards I’ve
seen. Saw lots of posters in London in 1981, and lots of posters for Slane;
even had the full-page ad in the Minneapolis Star Tribune advertising the
Orpheum shows back in 1992.
But never a billboard.
It’s a hell of a photo too. For once it’s a recent shot, not one of the
recycled ones that Sony fall back on (usually from the Street Legal era)
when doing posters and press ads.
A hell of a photo, and, on Wednesday and Thursday night, a hell of a show.
Sure, the set lists are nothing extraordinary, and sure, he didn’t have any
guests, or do any of the songs I’d love him to cover when in Ireland (Lizzy’
s “Dancing in the Moonlight”, the Stars of Heaven’s “Sacred Heart Hotel”,
Microdisney’s “Town to Town”, or The Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks”, though to
be honest he delivered two hopped-up numbers from John Wesley Harding that
would have pleased any Undertone fan). But the shows, the shows were
If you’ve ever seen him live, you know that irrespective of the overall
quality of the show, you were guaranteed that there would always be a Bob
moment: when, in a phrase, or a gesture, or a look, it would all fall into
place. Angel wing time. Heart flutters, goose bumps.
I can remember most of those Bob moments stretching back over the past
20-plus years. Sure, I’ve lots and lots of shows on tape and cd, and while
that is great, it still pales compared to seeing him live, even if
expectations may not be (and probably can’t be) met.
Belfast a couple of years ago was really no more than an okay show,
brightened by a couple of gem-like moments. Liverpool in 96 was satisfying,
but not an awful lot more than that. The Point in 1995 was a joy.
But nothing, nothing could have prepared me for the two shows last week.
Start to finish they were everything you could have wished and hoped for.
In the zone, on target, top of his game, pick your sports cliché. He was
outrageously good both nights.
And here’s what I thought:
A very different crowd, much more mixed in sexes and ages than the previous
night. Same sort of buzz though. We had seats straight back, right above the
light desk, front row centre of the balcony, looking out over the standing
8pm showtime said the ticket, and about 8:20 on they came. And tonight we
had a light show. Last night there was no need for one. Tonight it was
integral and added another layer to proceedings.
So, “Duncan & Brady”? Nope. They rollicked right into it, but with “I Am The
Man, Thomas”, rapturously received even if only a handful knew the song.
Then, one from the distant past. Bob led the band into a beautiful and
moving “Song to Woody”.
I’d had my fill at Vicar Street, so anything he did tonight was fine with
me. Kazoo jams, mumbles, whatever. What I hadn’t dared to hope for was a
show as fine as the previous one, but that’s just what we got.
Acoustic it may have been, but it rocked as much as the 1978 version as Bob
tore into “It’s Alright Ma”, the “president” line still getting the big
cheer (possibly seen as a veiled reference to the Tribunals investigating
the financial finaglings of Charlie Haughey). “My Back Pages” had Larry on
fiddle, and a lovely thing it was too. Especially as Bob, with the handheld
mike, added some wonderful harp flourishes at the end.
“Tangled” did it again, setting 8000 people alight and letting loose a great
joyous mood in the Point. “Searching For A Soldier’s Grave” was a delicate
and gauzy beauty, setting up the outrageously funky “Country Pie”.
What came next was possibly the moment of moments (is there a Mafia phrase
for that?) for me, a truly breathtaking “Tryin’ To Get To Heaven”;
impossibly wistful with jazzy minor and diminished chords falling from the
fretboards. Sweet Jesus, it was astounding.
Bob turned up the heat with “Tombstone Blues” and then repeated his “Just
Like A Woman” timing of the previous night with a country-inflected and
fresh as a daisy “Simple Twist”.
The Undertone moment followed, with a recklessly speeding “Wicked Messenger”
, jerking to a halt and then trying for the land speed record, punctuated
with Bob’s extraordinarily tight, evocative harp playing.
“Leopard Skin” ended the first set.
“Love Sick” opened proceedings for part two, not as funky as at the Grammy’s
but more worn and weary. Then it was on with the house lights and the
8000-part harmony on the chorus of “Rolling Stone”. Sure, it’s a cheap trick
to turn on the house lights as the chorus swings around, and sure we can
wonder deep into the night just who is alone, Bob or us, but as a communal
celebration of a song it was just right. It’s a sight and sound to behold
“Don’t Think Twice” or “Don’t Try and Sing Along” followed, and we all
swayed and swooned. Then it was revving up time again, as the band tore into
and along “Highway 61”, the devil, the highway patrol and an armed gang on
“Blowin’” followed beautifully, and “Rainy Day Women” got everyone on their
feet. The house lights came on, and cheering became boos. Bob wasn’t getting
away just yet, and sure enough, he eased us into the night with that most
beautiful and gentle of prayers, “Forever Young”.
Two nights. Two shows. Thirty-eight songs, with only seven repeats.
It was all too much and not half enough.
Review by Markus Prieur
As my wife is driving us toward Belfast and beyond, I am trying to put
some thoughts to paper, hoping to find Internet access before crossing
over to Scotland (I did, as I type this in Larne Library).
Yesterday I wrote that "Vicar Street" was the finest concert (to date) on
Irish soil. Well, that was yesterday. "The Point" was way better. Our
position in the venue unfortunately wasn't, as we stood at the back of the
standing area, close to the board, where one man handled the finest light
show I was ever able to behold (Bob should include him in the intros).
Bob was much more animated last night and repeated merely three songs from
the "Vicar Street" main set and four more from the encores. He performed
three songs for the first time in Europe: "The Wicked Messenger" (same
incandescent light and ending with harp as "Drifter's Escape" the night
before), "Searching for a Soldier's Grave" and the opener, which I
expected least, as he dad not performed it for half a year, "I AM THE MAN
THOMAS". This song heads the list of 12 songs on my website (Not Dark
Yet), where the lyrics are to be found. Look at these nail scars. The
ever-surprising-Bob pulled out some more nuggets. Four songs (including
"Song to Woody") I had never seen, five more only once in 22 shows. The
last song, "Forever Young", I had not seen since Cincinnati 1981,
"Tombstone Blues" and "It's alright Ma" not since Hamburg 1984. The
Tombstone was rock and rolled away last night and "Forever Young" is a
much nicer closer than "RDW". Bob sang it like a loving uncle giving g!
ood advice to his favorite nephews. The raising of his eyebrows while
singing "may you have a strong foundation" sure was a memorable sight
through my binoculars. "Simple Twist Of Fate" was simply beautiful. It is
my favorite 70s-song before 79. "My Back Pages" had both nice violin and
harmonica, and "H61" had Mr. Sexton play a great guitar solo. The audience
clearly enjoyed the band rocking this old 1878 Depot building.
But all this (not even the opener I was hoping to see Bob perform but once
on this tour) ain't no match to the second electric song, which I had the
pleasure and honor to witness for the second time in 501 days. It was the
absolute show stopper, as nobody seemed to recognize the "new" slow
arrangement of this gem, which Bob had not performed since Horsens in May.
Not only the speed, but also the melody and phrasing was reinvented. The
last verse was dropped, and the end of the other four went like:
...tryin', tryin' to get to heaven, before they close, close the door."
Real slow, and with a new tune. Absolutely amazing! If there was but one
song for me to take to this imaginary island (we all play that game, don't
we?), it would be this performance of "TRYIN' TO GET TO HEAVEN", which I
heard and saw last night in Dublin. It was like Bob opening his heart
(which is in the Highlands as we should know) for a few minutes, telling
us exactly where he stands. Last night he really wa!
s getting to the point.
Review by Craig Grant
Right about now, Dylan’s on stage in Dublin. Maybe he’s singing
“Highlands”. More likely, though, he’s not. As one of the punters
suggested, after a few of us failed to find tickets for anything less
than a hundred quid each, at the already infamous Dublin gig at Vicar
Street. Dylan doesn’t much care for partaking of expected action.
I was going to be at that gig in Aberdeen. Something about Dylan in
Aberdeen had a nice ring to it. And besides, it was near the Highlands,
from which my kin had sprang many a lost generation ago. And of course
there was that astrology conference in London, Labour Day weekend.
Three strikes across the plate and quicker than you can say fare thee
well to a true love of anyone’s, you’re on a plane from Vancouver to
London. Even if you don’t have a ticket.
If the Goddess in her Heaven hadn’t wanted there to be touts braying
outside Her concert halls, She would’ve created some sort of pest
repellent especially for them.
But things change. And can do so quicker than an Edinburgh minute. She
said, in the email, why don’t you come home, I miss you, don’t you love
me more than you love Bob?
The thought I dared not speak: I really need to find a Dylanhead for a
travelling companion through this strange veil of tears. (early to
mid-forties, an astrologer or a writer or maybe both, not a victim of
Big Tobacco, perhaps with a slight Romanesque cast to you nose, a
green-eyed redhead or a blue-eyed Jane, a true blue cinemaphile, from
the Emmylou Harris/Steve Earle branch of the Dylanhead family,
adventuresome, a risk taker, doesn’t mind it when I pop the top off a
beer and watch some Saskatchewan Roughriders on the telly, listen to
some Expos on the internet, only wants one long romantic walk down by
the water per month? Or even some of the above? Well, see email
address way below toot swit.....)
Compromise, of course, is essential in life. I said I’d come home after
I saw Dylan in Dublin, which also, you know, has a certain ring to it.
And there’s something about the allure of a Dylan gig in a nightclub.
I’d seen him at the Rage in Vancouver, a couple years back, at the start
of the Bob, Van and Joni Trek. Many backroads lead to Mecca, and not a
few of them lead through smoky nightclubs where Dylan is on the stage. -
and the flip of a coin cast me down upon drizzly Thomas Street, outside
Vicar Street (hey, it’s Dublin.....)
After talking to Markus and his lovely wife (see his Vicar Street review
above) and watching Bono and the Edge and Elvis make their way into
Vicar Street, and hearing the burly owner tell us for the fifth time,
ain’t no way guys, not here, not now, not ever, even though the girl
with the tent on her back and the NEED A TICKET sign got in (so we heard
later; miracles do happen for some; there is that church across the
street from Vicar Street after all) the other saddened Dylanheads and I
drowned our sorrows in the bar next door to Vicar Street, and talked of
great shows we’ve seen and how the ‘heart thing’ seems to have altered
Bob’s attitude to the music, and how he’s had this great old bluesman’s
voice since his early 20s and now seems to have grown into it, and then
we dropped to speculating about the show the next night, at the Point
and somehow between the fourth and fifth Guinness a Santa Claus type
joined us and between the sixth and seventh Guinness I somehow had a
ticket to the Point in my pocket and all was all well with the world.
I was thinking, as I wandered the mezzanine at the Point, sipping coffee
and Baileys, that it’d sure be nice to very casually spark up a
scintillating conversation with one of these wild and beautiful Dublin
Dylanhead women who were queueing up for beer and maybe fall in love and
live happily ever after. I had five picked out. Dreamer that I am.
(Further to that personals ad above: if you kind of fancy shy men, that
would be a bonus..... if you don’t mind taking the initiative in things
from time to time.....)
I had a surprise waiting for me, though, when I finally made my way to
my seat. Santa had also sold a ticket to a wild and beautiful Dublin
woman, she was sitting in the seat next to mine.
I couldn’t help but smile when I saw her, and she smiled back.
Her name was Margaret.
Too bad she smoked. And already had a bloke sitting right beside her.
Oh well. Maybe we can be friends. Maybe she’ll dump Michael (sorry,
Michael, but you must be used to having men fall in love with Margaret
all the time) and the cancer stick habit (odds are it’ll kill you,
Margaret, but you know that already), and we can live happily ever
after, on one of the three hundred and fifty-four islands that waft and
sway beyond the western shores of Ireland. One to visit for each day of
the year, as Margaret put it, before she told me about a wild pot
smoking party she had in a motorhome, on one of the islands, with BLOOD
ON THE TRACKS on the stereo, and how she’d converted at least three
people to the Church of Bobness.
And then the lights went down. And the band came out. And Bob launched
into I AM THE MAN, THOMAS. Which you would’ve thought he’d have opened
with at Vicar Street, since the nightclub is on Thomas Street, but you
According to Markus, who keeps track of such things, this would be the
first time that this old Stanley Brothers song has been performed
outside the US, and one of the few songs where Dylan sings from the POV
of Jesus. (Another one that springs immediately to mind is SHELTER FROM
THE STORM, but whether that’s Jesus seeking shelter from the storm is, I
know, arguable, and then, of course, there’s certain songs on those
albums from the early 80s, which are highly under-rated, if you ask me;
have yourself a toke sometime and listen to PRESSING ON, on the SAVED
For those of you who have never heard the song, poor sods. Something
about the chords ignites a tiny flame in your cerebellum, and the chorus
won’t let you go to sleep..... Markus has the lyrics on his web site,
with a cool graphic - a sacred graphic, actually - at
By the way, anyone who’s interested in Dylan’s recent obsession with
Stanley Brothers tunes should check out the short article about same in
the COLLECTIONS edition of MOJO, now on newstands - and at news agents -
everywhere......and hey, that all- Dylan issue of Q next month should be
worth a peek, huh?
When the song was over, Margaret said she didn’t know what song that
was. So I told her. Told her who wrote. He opened with it in
Missoula, I said. Or was that Pullman?
And then Dylan sang SONG TO WOODY. And I relaxed. Tried to let the
music wash over me. Tried to ignore the presence of this beautiful
woman next to me. (She was wearing some kind of black leather bib
overall gear; she had this wild exuberance when she clapped; she was
sipping Irish whiskey from a mickie and she passed it to me; she was the
wild woman of Dublin that I’d been hoping to meet; it’s really too bad
she smoked..... and had that bloke.....((sorry, Michael, really,
truly.....; Michael is, Margaret explained, as she introduced us, a
brilliant musician. Great, just great.....)
This version of StW isn’t quite as affecting as the version available
for download on Bob’s offical website. But it was still a pretty
version. Bob’s voice seemed strong, well rested. One of the best
reasons to catch him early in a tour, even if a few of the other
dynamics of the performance are a little rusty..... like his stage
presence, which was at this point, still a little, um, wooden......
By the time Bob started singing, It’s Alright Ma, I thought of Jesus, up
on the cross, bleeding, and I thought of Woody, in his hospital room,
wondering who the hell this wild, fuzzy-haired kid was, strumming his
guitar. And no, Bob, there ain’t much that’s really sacred..... Except
maybe wild Dublin women in leather overalls. She was wearing some kind
of black lacy camisole number underneath it. I had a licentious thought
or two, Bob, while you were singing that song.
It was while you were singing the next song that she got up and left.
Just like that. She missed your harp solo, Bob. That exquisite,
beautiful harp solo you did during MY BACK PAGES.
Which is a song about reincarnation, really, isn’t it? If you think
When she came back, she had tobacco on her breath, and all my wild
erotic dreams crumbled to ash. Just can’t fantasize about a woman quite
the same way, once you know that her kisses would taste like an
ashtray. But you smoke, Bob. You would really like Margaret.
Especially you. Since you’re so much younger now. Ever since that
near-death heart thing. (What’d you see, Bob, as you walked along the
edge of that deep mountain valley, singing, perhaps, THE TOMBSTONE
Which, for people who keep track of such things, was the #9 slot. Right
after a smoky, jazzy lounge lizard version of TRYIN’ TO GET TO HEAVEN.
I swear I saw the ghost of Frank Sinatra up in the rafters, sayin’ yeah,
man, that’s the way to do it, now you’re goin’ in the right direction.
Three songs after SEARCHIN’ FOR A SOLDIER’S GRAVE.
Which I heard for the first time at the Gorge.
You basic epiphanic Bobness epiphany.
Another song he’s never done in Europe. Markus, somewhere in the crowd,
would be very happy, I knew.
I felt like saying to Margaret, you know, all these songs about death,
I’m just a little bit worried about Bob’s health. There’s a lengthy
Jupiter/Pluto opposition happening all fall, thanks to Jupiter’s
retrograde motion, and it falls right on Bob’s Venus, in his sixth house
of health. All I can say is that he was wise to turn down Bono’s
invitation to go for a drink, the night before, as reported in the
press. He needs to rest, Reduce stress. Cut back on the cigarettes.
But of course, I kept that to myself. I hate people who yak while Bob’s
Speaking of yakking, I’m starting to blather. Good concert, Bob.
Especially after you loosened up a bit. Started to do the tip-toe deal,
and a shake sugaree aspect inveigled itself into your persona.
When it concluded, with a stirring rendition of FOREVER YOUNG, I was
deeply in love with Margaret, but no, she and Michael didn’t want to go
to the Celt for a drink. Let them fade off away ahead of me, in the
crowd. But it touched my heart when Margaret looked back, and waved
good-bye, before the crowd swallowed her up.
And so I went alone, to the Celt.
There was a great traditional folk band there, singing fine music while
a ruddy face woman passed a hat around. The place was packed, and
smoky. Damn that Big Tobacco.
Downed a quick Jameson’s. When in Dublin, ya know..... And then I went
to my b & b around the corner, the Townhouse, a fine establishment,
crawled into bed, and dreamed of Bob, and Margaret, and Frank, while the
tune to I AM THE MAN, THOMAS thumped through my mind like a hammer on a
Dylan in Dublin. It’ll have a very nice ring, in my memories, for a
long time to come.
The next morning, truckers protesting the fuel tax starting shutting
Dublin down. I just barely got out of town, before the gridlock set
Flew back to Vancouver from Glasgow with the sun stationed at at a
perpetual three-thirty stance.
It’s not bad being home.
But I’d much rather be in the highlands, with Bob on stage.....
..... with some wild woman of Dublin beside me......
If you’re out there, don’t be shy, drop me an email.......
Maybe we can see a Dylan concert together before his death obsession
drives him into doing the unthinkable..... Hanging up his rock and roll
shoes....... Driving a nail into the NeverEnding Tour.
After all, he did open with DUNCAN AND BRADY at Vicar Street, and some
of the punters who wandered into the bar, after the show, made a point
about that song’s lyrics. Something about how the narrator is gettin’
awful tired of his job.....
Review by Michael Farry
Nineteen songs, a very focussed Dylan, an excellent band, many surprises,
a very enthusiastic capacity crowd - what a concert!
This really was a look back over a whole career from Song to Woody to two
choices from TOOM - Love Sick and a special favourite of mine - Tryin' to
get to Heaven. He began with I Am the Man, Thomas, which I hadn't heard
before - a real treat and a reminder of an important phase of his career.
Highlights? Many - the acoustic My Back Pages with Bob doing a single
handed harp solo, a fresh sounding Like a Rolling Stone that had the
audience wild, a brilliant Don't Think Twice (another personal favourite)
and a Blowin' in the Wind that sounded like it had been written only
yesterday. When he played Rainy Day Women at then end of the encore and
left I thought it really was the end. No! he returned and did an acoustic
Forever Young that seemed to sum up everything about the night. If he's
playing near you go and see him. Hey Bob come back to Ireland soon!
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