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Review by Alessandro Cavazutti
The Arena is full tonight. Bob and the band show up at
8:15 and go straight into Duncan and Brady. I enjoy
hearing this song, it's a good opener, fast and
amusing. Next we have Ramona. Nothing special to say
about it..a good version, sung properly. I feel like
Bob is still warming up. By the 3rd song Bob is ready
to amaze us. He treats us with an unbelievable It's
alright ma. One of the best version i've ever heard
him sing. Powerful, strong..each and every line is
sung with great committment, even rage,sometimes and
heartfelt. 4th time around is pretty good. Now we know
this is gonna be a great night. Bob is inspired,
focused and he's rockin the place like no one else
could. 'Tangled' and 'Soldier's grave' slip away and
we get Country pie, usual pretty rocking version. The
band is great and tight and the best is always yet to
come....Standing in the doorway is a bit too rocking
for my taste. Bob fails to catch the mood of it. It'd
need a quiter arrangement to me. Tombstone blues is
adrenaline...fast rocking beat and Bob 'rides' the
song with some excellent phrasing. Then comes the
highlight of the night to me...Larry opens with some
chords i cant recognize...they sound 'Twist of fate'
style but i know it's not like that...what's this???
then Bob goes 'the air is getting hotter...' i cant
believe this version of Trying to get to heaven.
Swingy, jazzy..Bob underlining every single word, it's
just unbelievable and breathtaking... and my mind is
blown away...Wicked messenger has a great arrangement
these days. Hard and fast rockin beat..pure fun.
After the usual formation we have a pretty good Things
have changed and a surprisingly good Like a rolling
stone. I've probably heard this song too many times in
the last few years but tonight's treatment is really
convincing. If dogs run free is a pure delight. Bob's
careful phrasing is mindblowing again..Not much more
left to say 'cept that Watchtower was the usual
'rockin fun'and 'Released' really works in this
acoustic arrangement. H61 and Blowin get the show to
an end...the 'formation' again and they're gone.
What a night...hope Bob will preserve this shape for a
long time...His voice, his singing, his mood and the
way the band plays...there's really nothing more i
could ask for.
Review by John Pritchard
This was about the twelfth time I've seen Bob and one of the very best
going back to an including the Earls Court "Street Legal" shows
in1976.Lucky enough to have standing tickets three friends(all Dylan
newcomers) and I were able to get close and really enjoy the atmosphere.My
mate Chris is a Zep man and had always taken the rise out of my love for
Bob's music but he admitted to being amazed by how punchy the show
was,even in the accoustic sections whilst Mark and Tanya were pretty
unprepared but loved it too.
Bob on form,mangled a few old lyrics into unrecognisability but gave
perfect workings of the new songs and to rarities like Dogs Run Free.The
set list you can all find elsewhere but let me highlight Tangled up in
Blue which was about as good a live reading as ever I have heard with a
real build up of tension - this band gets better and better.Tombstone and
Pill Box were scorching - Trying to Get to Heaven beautiful and a
confirmed new classic I feel. You would find it hard to believe how good I
Shall be Released and Blowin in the Wind can sound after all these years
but the harmonies were perfect and the feeling down my spine look it was
20 or 30 years ago. With what is going on in Israel and Yugoslavia Dylan
is the voice of a new generation all over again.
Thank you Bob for still being there- I just wish you had done Visions of
Johanna but that was not for us tonite.
We even got a few words " thank you ladies and gentlemen,it's good to be
back in Britain,Great Britain -- Battle of Britain --- seems there's still
a battle going on --- RAF---Winston Churchill ----- this country has been
a big influence ---- its good to be back -- and I guess we'll be back
again" ----- Yes please and make it soon. They are going to pull down
Wembley Stadium this weekend but here in the Arena THE music of the 20th
Century burnt as strong as ever into the 21st .The age range tonite was
probably 18 to 65 and u can't get better than that at 59 years on and
Review by Mick Bamford
This tour gets better and better and last night is not
what I would call a "greatest hits" show, some unusual
and in some cases unheard versions of lesser known
songs, if that can be said of Bobs vast repertoire.
Nice to hear the third song of the 3 standard openers
tonight, Duncan and Brady, and then moving quickly on
to a moving rendition of To Ramona, there seems to be
a slight touch of echo on Bobs mike taking away some
of the growl for this beautiful love song. It's
alright Ma was a little lighter tonight, not as much
emphasis on the last few words of each verse but still
an excellent rendition all the same.
That little tinkling guitar introduction and what was
one the songs of the night for me, 4th Time Around.
Bob quietly with feeling singing this rendition not
far different to the original. A Standard version of
Tangled up in Blue with Larry playing the riff on
guitar now rather than mandolin ala Bucky Baxter, and
then a sing along Searching for a Soldiers Grave.
The electric set opens with Country Pie now firmly
ensconced in this spot with Charlie given his chance
to show what he can do, what an excellent addition to
the band he is. Another surprise tonight Standing in
The Doorway sticking closely to the TOOM version. A
quick run through of Tombstone Blues with Bob grinning
at the audience, he seems to be enjoying this show or
is it this unusual move of keeping the older "regular
fans" off the front of the stage (it must be boring
for Bob to see the same old, tired, haggard faces
every night peering up at him) and bringing younger
more enthusiastic fans to the front into a kind of
reserved standing area?
The crooning version of Trying to get to Heaven with
Charlie playing the almost jazz type rhythm guitar and
then into a blistering Wicked Messenger with Charlie
and Larry flashing off licks with each other.
Bob then goes into the band introduction leading off
with a short rap of how they enjoy playing in GREAT
Britain plenty of emphasis on GREAT and then going on
about the Battle of Britain, the RAF and Winston
Churchill before promising to be coming back again,
whether this means after the short break or for
another tour who knows!
A rocking Leopardskin Pill Box hat leads into the
break, what is all this straightfaced posing about? as
usual Larry is the 1st to crack breaking into a broad
grin before leading the band off.
Back with Things have Changed and a much rockier,
louder Like a Rolling Stone with a crescendo of noise
on each chorus with I think Larry playing the riff on
Then the 1st time in Britain for If Dogs Run Free with
Charlie playing the smoochy jazzy rhythm again, an
unusual but very effective arrangement for this one.
Charlie quickly grabs his electric and blasts into the
familiar introduction to All along the Watchtower he
really goes for it tonight with some marvelous howling
licks all the way through, Bob is in great voice.
Then into the last 3 numbers, Larry and Charlie
harmonizing on I Shall be Released, a rocking Highway
61 and the standard Blowing in the Wind and then the
straight faced pose again.
Well thats the last of my shows this time round and I
cant leave without repeating what Bob has said about
his Band some of the finest musicians around, they
really complement Bob, come back soon.
Review by Idham R.
Well, apart from the fact that Dylan came on very, late (20:15ish) the
concert was just ELECTRIFYINGLY FANTASTIC!!. My last concert for the year
(unless he decides to do another UK round) but enjoyable nevertheless...
Opened with Duncan and Brady - a song which I have been dying to hear live
since Aberdeen was opened with Hallelujah (Ready to go), and Portsmouth
with Somebody Touched me.
Then came To Ramona which was just beautiful.
The crowd remained silent during the following two songs which were Its
Alright Ma (I'm only bleeding) - for which Bob's voice was just brilliant
and Forth Time Around. Bob gave us, the London crowd, the Happy London
crowd a bow, as a way of thanks. Which I thought was cool, and never saw
Bob do that before.
The London crowd got pumped when the opening chords for Tangled up in Blue
were struck. That got everyone going. According to Bill Pagels site (for
which I have have referred to - with thanks) Bob played the harp, can't
remember him doing so, but perhaps I was so struck at the fact that I'm
seeing Bob again...Apart from that, Bob enjoyed it. He was dancing
around, doing his jigs and all.
The crowds went back to silent during Searching for a Soldiers Grave - a
song that is really starting to grow on me.
The opening electric set (which seems to be a running theme) was Country
Pie which rocked the Wembley crowd.
Standing in the doorway came up next. A slow song to allow the crowds to
recouperate after hearing Country Pie. I love the song.
Tombstone Blues came up next, but the next song was a total surprise.
Well, not quite, Trying to Get to Heaven, but it was the style it was done
in that shocked/amazed the Wembley audience. It was very bluesy/jazzy and
done in red backdrop - totally different to the album version, and unless
you know the lyrics then you would only have recgonised it by the chorus.
It was fantastic. I was amazed on how graciously done this song was sung.
I loved it.
The next song I love too, Wicked Messenger. Then came the introduction in
which I witnessed (first time in my life) Bob talking to the crowds. How
he was saying how he grew up in London (something, something) RAF. I
liked it, no matter what he said.
Then came Leopard Skin to end the main set.
Things Have Changed opened the encore to a great reception from the high
demanding (they wanted more) London crowd. Like A Rolling Stone came up
next and things slowed down a notch with If Dogs Run Free. The chords for
All Along the Watchtower excited the people of north west London, with the
concert winding down with I Shall Be Released and topping off with Blowin
In the Wind.
All in all a great concert, a great UK 2000 tour all around, and, wishing,
hoping, praying that Bob comes back. Perhaps do a show from my back
garden. The London crowd will get to see Bob again tomorrow, and I sure
wish that they have as much fun as I did, this evening. Enjoy, and thanks
Review by Thomas Birch
Well. I saw Bob play at Hyde Park with the Who and so
forth in 1996, but was only young at the time, and to
my eternal shame I didn't pay much attention. I am now
a card-carrying Bob Dylan freak, and this was my first
Dylan gig proper... I suppose this is still part of
the Never-Ending Tour (well, it must be, as the tour
doesn't end), and I was amazed...
I'd expected shambolic, occasionally inspired Bob.
Instead I got in control, full-voiced, icon Bob. The
band took to the stage in matching red suits, and the
Bob came on in black, and they played "Duncan & Brady"
- the intro sounding somewhat reminiscent of "Changing
of the Guards." After that (and the applause), came
"To Ramona," given a full band performance, complete
with mandolin soloes.
Next up was a simply incredible rendition of "It's
Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" which really sent
shivers up the spine. I couldn't believe how
incredibly good they all sounded! "4th Time Around"
followed - one of my favourites, and I hadn't been
expecting a performance of this. The bit about "I
thought I'd go look through her drawer," gets me every
time. And the bouzouki suited the song down to the
Next was a phenomenal "Tangled Up In Blue" - perhaps
the high point of the night, with several lengthy
guitar soloes from Bob, who changed the lyric to the
third-person perspective for most of the song.
"Searching For A Soldier's Grave" was country-fied and
full of nice harmonies (rather like the Band,
actually), and then "Country Pie" boasted some
scorching Telecaster interplay between the guitarists.
"Standing in the Doorway" is a serious contender for
my favourite Bob song, and here it got a sensitive,
faithful reading. I loved it. "Tombstone Blues," on
the other hand, is not one of my favourites, but here,
such was the vigour and command of the performance,
that I was won over and enjoyed every second - Bob
casting his "guitar hero" poses across the stage, as
he did all night.
"Trying to Get to Heaven" was given a jazzy recasting,
which suited the mood of the song perfectly, and then
came a very heavy version of "The Wicked Messenger"
which was almost Led Zeppelin-esque in its execution.
Bob's first (and last) harmonica performance of the
evening was worth the wait, too. Bob then talked
(gasp!) to the audience about England in "his day"
(the war and so on - most amusing!), and introduced
his band, until it was time for "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box
Hat," which was gutsy, muscular, and thoroughly
enjoyable. They left the stage to rapturous applause.
The first encore was "Things Have Changed" - a very
good song indeed, in my opinion, which was followed by
The Big One: "Like a Rolling Stone." Incredible. I've
used that adjective before, but it was. I'm only
eighteen, but this gig kicked the ass of almost every
gig I've ever seen (and I've seen quite a few). "If
Dogs Run Free" served as a breather, before an
incendiary "All Along the Watchtower" (best rock song
ever written? Probably), complete with Hendrixian
My friend doesn't much care for "I Shall Be Released,"
but like me with "Tombstone Blues," this delivery of
the song won him over. It had an almost reggae-ish
lilt to it, and more sumptous harmonies. You wanted to
sing along - but you wanted to listen even more! A
boogiesome "Highway 61 Revisited" with a vibrant vocal
from Bob preceded the night's closer, "Blowin' in the
Wind." More harmonies, a Bob guitar solo... almost
When Bob didn't return for a second encore (and I knew
he wouldn't) a few fools booed him - that's customary
in England, even if you loved the gig. The way I see
it: you don't boo a god. I just applauded some more.
Then, back at home, came the perfect end to the
perfect night. Another friend of mine turned up at my
place at midnight... with tickets for the next night's
gig! So... I'm going back tonight! Thanks for a great
gig, Bob - see you again this evening!
Review by Charlie Hopkins
Although I've been a fan since the early seventies this was the first time
I'd been able to get to see Dylan live. Having read the reviews for years
I had deliberately not set my expectations too high, knowing that quality
control could be erratic. For me just seeing Dylan in the flesh would be
enough - the possibility of a decent performance would be a bonus.
Arriving at the arena at 7.30 there was a distinct buzz in the air.
Reports of his earlier shows on this tour had been encouraging, and I
sensed a real air of anticipation. At 8.00 the arena was still half empty
but by 8.10 the auditorium was packed. At 8.15 the lights went down and on
strolled the band, immaculate in matching maroon suits with 3/4 length
jackets, Dylan in black with rhinestone boots - looking like they'd just
played an up-market cantina south of the border.
They hit the ground running with a pulsating (if unfamiliar) Duncan and
Brady, followed by To Ramona, bringing the atmosphere steadily to the
boil, and moving into full stride for It's Alright, Ma. A mesmerising,
staccato Tangled up in Blue showed the band hitting perfection, with the
pulsating rhythm section of David Kemper and Tony Garnier shifting gear
with easy precision. The facility with which Dylan, Larry Campbell and
Charlie Sexton interweaved lead guitar lines was stunning and, although
they played like a well-oiled, beautifully honed machine, there was never
any sense of a band going through the motions. Most surprising of all was
the fact that Dylan was enjoying every minute, teasing the crowd with
guitar-hero poses - he was positively animated!
This was a rejuvenated Dylan, with a rejuvenated back-catalogue. Far from
being a Greatest Hits set, with old favourites merely regurgitated as
crowd-pleasers, each song was fresh and alive, and the newer material from
Time Out of Mind (Standing in the Doorway/Trying to Get to Heaven) stood
comparison with his best work.
Before Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, Dylan treated us to a tongue-in cheek
eulogy full of references to Great Britain, Churchill and how we had stood
alone! Then the lights went up and the five band members stood in line
recreating a scene from The Gunfight at the OK Corral, eyeing the audience
to see if we really wanted an encore - if we deserved one, before exiting
Launching into the encore with the new single Things have Changed, Dylan
underlined the fact that his latest songs have heralded a return to form.
Blistering renditions of Like A Rolling Stone, All Along the Watchtower -
replete with Charlie Sexton's tribute to Jimi Hendrix - I Shall be
Released and Highway 61 Revisited maintained the momentum to the final,
valedictory Blowin' In The Wind.
Once again the band lined up, tempting us to think that we might even be
worthy of another dose of magic. But it wasn't to be, he left us calling
for more, knowing we'll be back.
Review by Richard Maynard
IN the lottery that is watching Bob's shows these days, then this
performance must rank as a winning ticket. From the time he walked on
stage, Dylan looked more interested an animated than he has done for
years. Mumbling and croaking has given way to singing again, while the
need to turn tunes on their heads and mangle them has been replaced by
genuinely fresh and exciting interpretations. It could have been labelled
'Unplugged', as the bulk of the set was given a countrified, acoustic
sound, suggesting that Bob's been listening to a lot of Hank Williams
lately. Wearing a natty suit and tie, with the band wearing matching red
jackets, Dylan launched into the opener, Duncan and Brady, which had a lot
of heads scratching. To Ramona and It's Alright Ma were delivered with the
old passion, and, thankfully, without the dismantling and mashing up of
tunes that have so often plagued Bob's forays into his back catalogue.
Tangled Up In Blue was augmented with some wonderful lighting,
sillhoutting band members during the 'Tangled up in bluuuue' line. This
was a show not short of surprises - a rare outing for Country Pie, and an
extraordinary version of If Dogs Run Free, played in a jazzy style. The
most recent album, Time Out Of Mind, was not ignored, with Standing In The
Doorway and Trying To Get To Heaven He smiled, he danced about, he olayed
for two hours, and - gulp - he even spoke, a quirky little speech about
the Battle of Britain, Winston Churchill and the RAF. He'll be telling
jokes next. Returning for the first of seven encores, we were treated to
the new song, Things Have Changed, along with crowd-pleasers like Rolling
Stone, Highway 61 and I Shall Be Released. Having seen some fairly ragged
and ropey shows over the years, I came away from this one feeling that
more care had gone into arranging these songs than had done for a long
time. The whole show had united sound to it, and was largely free of the
electric thrash which replaced creativity in the early 90s. It was a
fitting place to spend National Poetry Day.
Review by Martin
I arrived at Wembly and joined the standing queue at about 5.30 and
watched the beautiful blue skies getting dark. The doors opened at 6.45,
and everyone got wristbands and after having a quick beer I wondered into
the Arena and tried to work out why there were two sections in front of
the stage. After noticing that Bobís minder was picking people out of the
crowd and sending them into the VIP area, I reminded him that I was the
first through the side door at Portsmouth, and he let me through. After
getting a new wristband, I found a place right at the front, slightly left
of Bobís mike. I talked to the people around me for awhile, and Bob came
on at about 8.10. He looked like he was ready to go, and sang Duncan &
Brady very well, emphasising the end of the chorus; ĎToo luuuuung!í, with
that crazy look in his eyes. To Ramona, Itís alright ma & 4th time around
were great too, and sung with real passion. After surviving Tangled up in
blue, the regular songs were good but nothing special. Standing in the
doorway and Trying to get to heaven were very nice though, and when
Tombstone blues appeared again, I decided it could be my favourite
electric song from these concerts. If dogs run free was lovely to hear,
even though he seemed to have a bit of trouble with the words, and I was
shocked at how powerful All along the watchtower was. His speech about
Great Britain was bizarre, of course, although I hadnít realised that he
may have been referring to the recent commemoration of the battle of
britain. It was nice to hear him say how heíd learnt about it when he was
growing up. Once again, it was a pleasure to be at the front and be able
to exchange glances with Bob. I am grateful to the gentleman who let me
in to the front - Iím sure I would have been frustrated if he hadnít,
because the arrangement seemed strange to say the least. But if the
reason that these fun and games are going on is that Bob is either tired
of seeing the same faces every night, or just to give some different
people a chance, I canít say I disagree with it. There seemed to be a lot
of young people there, many who hadnít seen Bob before, so it seems right
that on their only trip to see him they should get a chance of seeing him
up close. If the same group of people are always at the front of the
queue from the morning of the show (something many people arenít able to
do), then those people who are ecstatic at seeing Bob for the first time
donít have a chance of getting to the front. And from Bobís point of
view, imagine playing night after night in different venues and always
seeing the same people who scream and shout and applaud every song
regardless of how well itís performed.
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