October 8, 2011
Review by Paul Ryan
Well, well, well . . . what a difference a couple of years make. I last saw Bob
when he played in Scotland in May 2009.
One of the things that struck me most about the film "I'm Not There" was how
inspired was the choice of Cate Blanchett. Not just that she's a good actress,
but more that being a woman made her perfect for portraying the Dylan of 1966.
There used to be much discussion about supposed clues in Dylan's lyrics that
revealed his secret homosexuality. Several of the lines in Ballad Of A Thin
Man, for example. Don't have it to hand, but I'm sure that Michael Gray's "Song
And Dance Man" covered the matter. It was all puerile stuff, of course.
What was certainly true, though, was that there was always something about
Dylan that was . . . well, the word I've seen used before is "camp". I
prefer "fey" myself, but let's not debate such finer points just now. And
Cate got it just right. The small steps, weight on the front of the foot,
Dylan opened tonight with two songs at the keyboard. (Just my luck to be
staring at the back of his head.) In my comments on the May 2009 Glasgow
concert I referred to the pleasing groove that the band got into. This time it
seemed that I'd be saying much the same thing.
Until, that is, the third song came around. Bob left the keyboard and came
centre-stage. We were then treated to a rendition of Things Have Changed that
it's going to be very difficult to describe in any way that does justice to it.
He danced. He pranced. He gestured. He acted it out. He . . . oh well, you
just have to see the video. Perhaps not "camp" exactly, but - this may be
stretching things a bit - Kid Creole did come to mind at one point. It was Bob
Dylan doing Cate Blanchett.
This continued for Tangled Up In Blue, except that - in keeping with the
lyrics - the campness went and he seemed more conventionally macho.
Microphone in right hand, left hand with thumb in belt loop.
Then came Honest With Me. All trace of campness disappeared completely. He was
the front man for a rock band. Legs apart (not quite "akimbo") he strutted the
stage, bouncing around. For those of you in the UK, he did the Vic & Bob dance
(the one they do with their hands on their thighs).
Some songs back at the keyboard. (A really good Hattie Carroll, which
pleased Number One son.) Then back to centre-stage for Tryin' To Get To
Heaven. Again, he acted out the song for us. Tremendous stuff.
I'm not going to comment on every song. I said in 2009 that I had enjoyed
the concert because the groove the band had got into was consistently good. I
meant every word at the time, but re-reading it now, there's more than a hint of
damning with faint praise. This time I want to say something very different. I
really didn't pay attention to the sound quality, because I was too busy
watching the show. I don't know what the audio recordings are going to be like.
All I know is this: Bob was having fun and that meant that we did too. That's
fun as in F-U-N.
I hope tomorrow is as good. I've long since given up on downloading every
show. (I still haven't cleared my backlog in any case.) But I've never
lost faith. Tonight my faith was both rewarded and justified.
Two shows in Glasgow was going to be enough for me. Now, I'm wondering if I can
find an excuse to be in London in November.
Review by Robert Muir
Just got home from tonight's gig. Was a little nervous as had heard so many
stories about the acoustics of this venue. Shouldn't have bothered. Bob and his
band nailed it. I have been going to Dylan concerts since 1978 (Earls Court
15/06/78 - and just about all UK appearances since) and have never seen Bob so
animated when centre stage as he was tonight. Not even in the past when it was
just him, his guitar and a mouth harp. He really is a "Song and Dance Man"! A
great one at that. Won't go into a blow by blow account but the highlights for
me tonight were (in no particular order): Baby Blue; Trying to get to Heaven;
Tangled up in Blue and Honest with Me. Bob looked as though he was enjoying
himself tonight - and it came through in his delivery. Can't wait until tomorrow
night now. Won't be there early though. Mark Knopfler's set was mediocre and
disappointing at best.
Review by Jennifer Martin
My friend, Trevor Townson introduced me to Bob Dylan. His Bob Dylan, that is!
I, of course, thought that I knew who Bob Dylan was as I am practically a
contemporary of his and grew up in the sixties listening to him as we all did, my
generation. His 'protest' songs were legendary, even back then. But that was
all I knew of him until, that is, Trevor came into my life. Trevor is the ultimate
fan, he has been to so many of Bob's concerts that the word fan (abbreviated
from the noun fanatic, of course) could have been invented for him and the
legions of like-minded souls out there. But what makes the Bob 'fans' different
is their utter and complete devotion, they endure hell and high water to get to
their idol, to be in his presence, as often as their circumstances allow. They will
happily spend hours queuing in uncomfortable places, dive into their pockets to
get to Bob venues all round the world as often as they can and they are never
disappointed. They can analyse the different approaches to the way Bob sings,
to what his voice is like on any occasion, to the extra words or verses that Bob
puts into even his most well know songs, in other words, they know 'their' Bob.
But, here I am hearing about this legend, this genius, this poet say what you like
and its probably all true about him and so, I need to see, for myself, this man,
this Bob, this present day Bob. Saturday 8th October, 2011, I am queuing at
the Braeside Arena for several hours alongside the dedicated fans who wish to
get as close to Bob as possible. They are of all ages, all nationalities, all cultures
with only that one aim. They are a good-natured lot and they are a pleasure to
be a part of for all those hours. When we are finally released into the venue,
Trevor manages to 'grab' a bit of the rail, centre stage for me and how lucky I
am, quickly becomes evident! But first, comes Mark Knopfler and his superb
musicians who entertain us royally and the crowd are very generous and happy
as they show, with their applause. Then the set is cleared and Bob's set is
The atmosphere changes immediately and, even before Bob enters the stage,
its electric, the buzz is palpable and I have never been present at anything like it.
It is wonderful and so is the man, the Bob Dylan of yesterday and to-day, there,
a few feet away from me, as I cling onto my piece of rail! It must have taken
a few songs before I connect with earth again, I am so, well, mesmerised, I
suppose. What is it about him, I can't even begin to know, and it would be
presumptuous of me to even attempt to put it into words when there are all
of those devoted fans who, perhaps, could. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed
every bit of it that night, and the following night when we did it all again. And
then, down to Manchester to M.E.N arena where I have to say, is it my
imagination or is he really getting better and better? Poor, Trevor, in the
meanwhile has to put up with me banging on and on, as is the way with
converts!!! We're off to Cardiff and Bournemouth next and I can't wait!!!!
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