Nottingham, England

Capital FM Arena

October 11, 2011

[Steve Haynes], [Mick Gold], [Simon Freeman], [Peter Higginson], [Andrew Johnson]

Review by Steve Haynes

The venue was no more charming than in 2005 but as the crowd generally
agreed that sitting down gave evryone the best chance of a view our seats
in he second block back, centre stage were pretty good

Mark Knopfler's set was OK for me - I didn't know many of the numbers but
they were warmly received - although it did seem to be a long set and this
seemed to have consequences later on

After the mellow soundscapes from Knopflers band my overriding feeling of
Bob's set was of it being a really hard edged tough sound with vocals
barked out - for me to varying effect.  Highlights of the eveining for me
started with "Can't Wait" , followed up later by Not Dark Yet, one of my
favourites - to a backdrop that looked very like the Modern Times cover
and  Nettie Moore, where Bob really seemd to open himself up to the
audience physically and emotionally in a way I hadn't seen before.

I particularly enjoyed Thin Man, with an interesting echo effect on some
of eh chorus and a confrontational sound and stance that demanded
attention. After that I thought things got a bit rushed - the set list
posted says no encore - which is right, but we got "the 14" songs just
straight through. the band introduction was perfunctory even by usual
standards and LARS was a brief outing before an apparently sudden
conclusion - I was just left wondering if thee whole concert had overrun
and certainly felt Bob's set didn't develop or vary in the way I've seen
before.  A good evening if not a great one - some interesting "duelling"
between Bob on the organ and Charlie Sexton on guitar.  Tony Garnier and
George Recile were a long way back and in the shadows, but exerted a
powerful force throughout.  One of the great pleasures for me last night
was to introduce Oscar my youngest son to his first Bob Dylan concert -
not quite sure what he made of it - but he said he was fascinated to
eventually see the man I've raved about for all of his life (and well
before that)

Looking forward to Hammersmith in November one great thing that remains
for any gig is the anticipation and not knowing what to expect

Steve Haynes


Review by Mick Gold

I  enjoyed Nottingham more than I expected. Hours of therapeutic fun
copying old  photographs with his paint brush seems to have had a good
effect,  producing a show that managed to be relaxed and memorable.  1.
Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat kicked things off to a  promising start, with a
guttural croak on vocals and energy in the  guitars. 2. Love Sick featured
a harp solo delivered in sharp,  staccato bursts. 3. Just Like Tom
Thumb’s Blues. This wrecked ballad of  being eaten alive in some Mexican
whorehouse managed to sound enthusiastic and  not in the least cynical. 4.
There were weird plangent metallic echoes in the  repeated guitar chords
of Can’t Wait. 5 During Watching The River Flow, Bob enthusiastically 
jabbed at his keyboards, seeming to produce random sounds delivered with 
virtuoso style, while the band worked up a symphony of sound in the 
background. 6. A simple insistent rhythm energised Not Dark yet.  Despite
the gnarled vocals, there was something relaxed about the  tempo. A warm
fatalism replaced a sense of tragedy. 7. High water risin’—risin’ 
night and day. Indeed it was. Lovely banjo from Donnie. 8. Visions of
Johanna featured  a relaxed tempo and a ridiculous re-arrangement into a
more conventional song  structure. “The ghost of electricity howls in
the bones of her face” sounded  just like a country & western ballad. 9.
Highway 61 Revisited  sounded ominous. It was a very dark set delivered
with great good humour, a  smiling harbinger of doom.  10. Nettie Moore
lacked the  thudding, cardiac drum beat of the Modern Times recording, but
the open sound of  the guitars let more light into the song, generating a
less claustrophobic  version.. 11. Thunder on the Mountain  featured a
voice cracking under the weight of the lyrics. 12. Ballad of a Thin Man.
Very melodramatic. Dark stage,  the band lit from beneath. Gothic Bob
prowling the stage, mike in hand, like a  Mephistophelean stand-up comic.
Electronic delays on the vocals sent phrases  like “You’ ve been with
the professors” ricocheting around the hall. There was no polite leaving
the stage and returning for the  encore. They just rolled straight into
Like A Rolling Stone and All Along The  Watchtower – as though we all
knew what was coming and there was no reason to  string it out. People
around me, a young man and a woman aged about 60,  sat with their eyes
closed and their heads bobbing up and down enthusiastically,  each
communing with their own private Bob.

Mick Gold


Review by Simon Freeman

For those of us who had the delight of Bob's 'song and dance man' act at
the Braehead in a wet and windy Glasgow last Saturday, perhaps
the subtle lyrical change in Bob's menacing and mean Love Sick at
Nottingham Arena should have come as no surprise. That wonderful
pre-histoplasmosis line of 'my feet are so tired, my brain is so
wired' had suddenly in a quick shoe shuffle become 'my brain is so tired,
my feet are so wired'. When followed by the writing block frustrations of
Watching the River Flow and a what appeared to be a complete re write of
Cant Wait, a clear rendition of which unfortunately the dire Nottingham
Arena acoustics did not allow, we are left thinking that Bob is now
entering another performance artist phase as opposed to writing phase.  
Based on the two shows I have seen so far then that bodes well. Nottingham
was a reverential concert to the great late albums. Suddently Watchtower
and Rolling Stone sounded lame but the songs from Time Out of Mind and
Love and Theft were reborn. I dont think Bob has sounded this good in
ages, and Charlie has been on fire.   Rolling on to Cardiff a much better
venue tonight.


Review by Peter Higginson

Dylan came on in shadow against a plain backdrop and kicked off with a standard
bluesy Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat.  Red piping on the suit, black cowboy hat.  The
voice like a cement mixer that has collided with a foghorn, rasping and croaking
like a man on his deathbed, shadows falling all around the stage.

But- his energy is amazing and he 
totally controls this band which is like an industrial machine- firing 
off sparks as it bolts together the dark parts of Dylan's past vision. 
The concert started for real with Love Sick: "I'm walking through 
streets that are dead"- his main 
point about the real- it's always dark.

Stu Kimball has a great sound on his guitars and on the stand-out tracks- Can't
Wait and an awesome (scary) Ballad of a Thin Man, he thraped and cut the strings
so we got this deadly dark sound that has a kinship with the grand chaos that
was 1966.

Bob was trying so hard to put it over- not a word as usual to the audience, but
still able to communicate a thrilling vision of the darkness he has always

I've seen him everywhere 
and in every period but -though the moves are sometimes well known, he 
still has this edge which puts him above the next best- Mark Knopfler 
actually- who is sweeter, more professional and more likeable in his 
common touch with the audience, but can't quite touch the nerve of the 
darkness Bob can mine with cutting edge chops of word and sound.

There's just a touch of The Wizard of Oz behind Dylan's entire career- he's a
little man pulling strings behind a huge phantasmogoric screen in reality- but
this wizard's act is still the best thing to see in Modern Culture.


Review by Andrew Johnson

Given the inevitable limitations of the soulless arenas in which most of
us are forced to view Dylan these days, this Nottingham set was a
magnificent triumph that surpassed all expectations and certainly trumped
what had been an undeniably good experience in the even more grim
surroundings of the Manchester venue the previous night. Leopard Skin Pill
Box Hat was as good an opener as I have heard for a while and Love Sick
was far more enjoyable for me than when I hear it on Time Out Of Mind. But
things just got better, with a staggering array of changes from 24 hours
earlier that introduced some welcome change of pace in the form of the
ever-poignant Not Dark Yet and the superb Nettie Moore, the latter less
intense and insistent than when I last heard it at Sheffield but a treat
nevertheless. With Ballad Of A Thin Man progressing almost seamlessly into
the regular encore diet of All Along The Watchtower and Like A Rolling
Stone (their customary running order reversed) proceedings were terminated
in what bordered on indecent haste but this was an evening with Bob to
remember for all the right reasons. Rarely in recent times can he have
been so upbeat and centre stage and the sweat that cascaded from the brim
of his hat like a waterfall was a striking testament to his considerable
endeavours. Those who have abandoned his live gigs citing the law of
diminishing returns should have a rethink.


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