Reviews

Manchester, England
Manchester Arena
November 16, 2005


[Paul Clarke], [Ian Corbridge], [Tom Ashworth], [Richard August], [Michael Eakin], [Lynda Andersen]

Review by Paul Clarke



This was a truly memorable gig.  The arena was packed with a great buzz of anticipation.  We were
expecting a great night and we weren't let down for a single moment.  Maggie's Farm although a 
totally predictable opener was proof that this was a tight band who opened up rocking in a 
measured yet engaging way.  Dylan led them subtly and strongly - they performed really well as a 
unit.  She Belongs To Me was totally sublime - the addition of Donnie Herron on steels made this 
a beautiful sound, very mellow in parts - Bob delivered the words beautifully and seemed so 
totally engaged in the music.  It was great to have three songs from John Wesley Harding - Down 
Along The Cove and I'll Be Your Baby Tonight in the set as well were in the set as well as 
Watchtower.  Old songs which haven't seen the light of day too often (at least in UK gigs I have 
seen) but nonetheless played with freshness and depth.  Here was a man who seemed totally 
comfortable with himself.  Bob only ventured out from behind his keyboard twice with his harmonica 
but this was not the hunched and sometimes disengaged person we have sometimes seen in recent 
years.  He seemed totally at home, with a glint in his eye, exchanging smiles with the band and 
obviously enjoying himself.  Lay Lady Lay has never been one of my favourites - that is until 
tonight - here he really sang the words with the kind of passion that must have inspired him to 
write it - really blew me away.  The band played a full verse intro to Stuck Inside A  Mobile - 
they were solid and really rocking at this point - Bob again was on tremendous form, every line 
was clearly and purposefully delivered.  And then Ö Girl Of The North Country - yet another 
re-working of a familiar tune - a really sensual sound which really brought a lump to my throat.  
I would love to hear this band play more acoustic stuff - they dropped straight down from rocking 
hard and provided one of the most tender moments I have heard at a Dylan gig for many years - 
truly magical.  Then straight back into rocking with Highway 61 - a strong driving performance 
with Bob extending his voice further than he had done earlier in the set.  He seemed to really be 
in to performing tonight - jamming along to this with Tony Garnier, again putting real expression 
into every line.   A rocky Hard Rain preceded a jaunty Summer Days.  Both of these included 
measured guitar solos, whilst not technically that challenging were a really good fit.  Rolling 
Stone really brought the house down and quite rightly so.  Bob was virtually facing the audience 
by this stage and it is clear that this song is not just a crowd pleaser - he still means every 
word - he extended his voice beyond what I thought he had left for the chorus, it was like going 
back 20 years.  So in conclusion, a truly great night.  Really good set, the band were tight, and 
Bob was on tremendous form. 

[TOP]

Review by Ian Corbridge



Having just seen Bob for the first time in a couple of years, I felt compelled to share some 
brief thoughts about this great show. 

After only a few minutes into the set, I had come to the view that this is truly the best band 
Bob has played with for some years now. The guitars complemented the songs perfectly and the 
pedal steel was fantastic. Even Bob was on great form and in good humour, facing the crowd more 
than I have seen him do for many a year and even raising an audible laugh at one point!

As for the set, I'll leave the detailed dissection to others. However, I will share the 
following thoughts:
"	Maggie's Farm - a great opener and a great version
"	She Belongs to Me - totally sublime
"	Cry A While - this IS the blues
"	Lay, Lady, Lay - a truly delightful version
"	Memphis Blues - great rocking version
"	Baby Tonight - this was sensational and virtually brought the house down!
"	Down Along The Cove - great to hear this song
"	North Country - another re-working but probably the best one I have ever heard live
"	Hard Rain - a great performance
"	Rolling Stone - IMMENSE!

All in all a truly memorable night, and the anticipation that preceded the show carried through 
into the buzz that was around the Arena as we all left for home. Definitely a night that will not 
be forgotten by all who were there.

Ian Corbridge

[TOP]

Review by Tom Ashworth



As slow drabs of smoke hit the mellow tense atmospheric air of the giant
arena. strange classical music played over the tannoy when all of a sudden
it went dark and a voiceover gave us a 50 second history of Dylan. Then
within a flash the man running like an excited child charged behind his
keyboards and burst into a bluesy version of maggies farm worthy of the
Newport folk festival.

1. maggies farm 8/10

great performance with a slightly faster yet long rhythm to it, word
perfect and well worth the money for the tickets already

2/3 she belongs to me/cry a while 6/10

these 2 songs did seem to melt into the general atmosphere

4 lay lady lay 8/10

although he suffered some up singing in his first verse he quickly changed
his style and he was off and i havenít heard a live version like it

5. most likely you go your way 7/10

this lead me to believe that Kimball wasn't a good enough guitarist but
still a beautiful suttle number

6. millions of miles 8/10

never had been one of my favourite Dylan songs but when Dylan go going and
started hopping around behind his keyboard i was absolutely entranced

7. stuck inside of mobile 8/10

one of the best musical performances of the night and has lead me to
believe Donnie Herron is worthy of a knighthood

8. Iíll be your baby tonight 9/10

NOTE PERFECT!!!!, some of the old school people had been moaning about him
going off on vocal tangents but this one earned a standing ovation and
never have i seen the MEN rise up like that

9. man in the long black coat 6/10

as with cry a while it did drift off and the band seemed to struggle for
some unapparent reason

10. down along the cove 7/10

beautiful singing but i preferred the pacier version but very strong and
powerful, but the bluesy tones to it kept dragging me into another world

11. girl of the north country (acoustic) 7/10

very good, alot slower and more soothing than i have heard before

12. highway 61 10/10

best song of the night, amps were cranked up and of they went and for that
song they let rip absolutely amazing

13. hard rain 8/10

i do prefer the solo acoustic version of it but when the crowd got the
rhythm and started singing there was an atmosphere no one could resist

14. summer days 7/10

i donít think anyone recognised this number but its was just so
classically jazzy that everyone stood and stayed stood howling words they
didn't even know

encore

Dylan stayed off stage for a very long time and not a soul moved

15. rolling stone 8/10

one of the few songs he lost his singing on but the audience kept it up
for him but once again i felt Kimball wasn't good enough

16. all along the watchtower 9/10

everything i said about Kimball was wrong, they practically played the
Hendrix version and the guitar was perfect

an amazing night an mixed with the strange old man dancing his feet off
and the great atmosphere it lead to being an amazing night

the band

stu Kimball - lead guitar - wasn't impressed at all until all along the
watchtower, this man was hiding something throughout the show but playing
the full solos in the Hendrix version of all along the watchtower changed
me

denny freeman - rhythm guitar - wasn't noticed very much but did his job
very smoothly

Donnie Herron - lap steel/banjo - this guy was amazing and made the show
good to great

George recile - drums - certainly did alot better or the songs where eh
could let loose on the drums where he was very good but on the gentler
bluesier songs he was very consistent

Tony garnier - bass - was very noticeable still the stand up bass kicked
in then he showed where his talents lay

bob Dylan - the master himself, great singing about from the odd loss of
tune, and perfect keyboards, his harmonica was the best i have ever known
since i first heard when the ship comes in And he sure can dance when he
left his keyboards to walk around with the harmonica

[TOP]

Review by Richard August



MEN Arena again, not a great venue where the sound bounces around too
much.

Quite an early start and straight into Maggie's Farm, loud and perfectly
executed. Bob standing at his keyboards dressed in black. His voice sounds
good and he reels off a great version of She Belongs to Me and a confused
Cry a While.

Lay Lady Lay was sung with great feeling and showed that there is a lot of
life in the old dog.MLYGYW was so so and then into the highlight, an
unbelievable version of Million Miles. This song was outstanding and the
band had warmed up and gave it everything. Stuck Inside of Mobile was a
great version of one of my favourite songs. 

Then another highlight, my son waltzes around the kitchen with his mother
to the original I'll be your Baby Tonight, this version would not lend
itself to a waltz but it was superb, is Bob in love?. Man in a Long Black
Coat was a little incoherent at times but the feeling of menace was there.
Down along the Cove rocked along and was for me another standout song.
Girl of the North Country showed that Bob can still sing, none of that
'up' nonsense.

Highway 61 displayed the band at great volume and wonderful skill. Then an
outstanding version of Hard Rain, I am often ambivalent about this song
sometimes hating it when Bob just chucks it away. Not this version, it was
fantastic, emotional and perfect. Summer Days was competent but not a
standout.

Encore songs were just great, my last concert was Van Morrison who just
goes through the motions at his encore. Not for Bob, these were crafted
and sounded all the better for it, it was lump in the throat time, and he
didn't have to exhalt the band to 'Play fuckin' loud'.  Like a Rolling
Stone and All Along the Watchtower are just outstanding songs and these
were superlative versions

This was Bob sounding like he cared, the songs and the audience seemed to
matter again and I was glad I gave him another chance. His voice was so
much stronger than the times I had seen him before. 

My three companions, one my 17 year old son were just thrilled with it
all. A great night for us all.

Regards
Richard August

[TOP]

Review by Michael Eakin



I had vowed that I wouldn't bother with Dylan live any more after the disappointment of my last
two visits, Wembley in 2000 and Liverpool in 2001. On both occasions I had felt they had been 
lacklustre performances, with a disappointing concentration on the early and mid 60s material. 
Great stuff of course, but hadn't he just released his best two albums in decades? Why not play 
them? 

But here I was, going again, although more in homage than in expectation. And damn me if the 
old buzzard doesn't go and prove me wrong. This was a far more enjoyable gig, with a tight band 
and a disciplined committed performance from Dylan himself. OK, so the bulk was still 60s 
stuff - but how great to hear three from John Wesley Harding. OK, so his voice isn't what it 
was, and was decidedly eccentric at times, but we never expected him to be Sinatra. OK, so he 
barely acknowledged the audience - but he seemed to be enjoying himself; he came away from the 
keyboard a couple of times to blow the harmonica, and his introduction of the band was, like 
the cod intro announcement, hilarious.

The band were great, looking like slightly tubby and older Moptops in their sharp grey suits, 
complementing Dylan's Man in the Long Black Coat look. Solid rhythm section, fluid double 
guitars, and Donnie Herron adding versatile colour on the pedal steel, mandolin et al. Numbers 
like Maggie's Farm, Summer Days, and Highway 61 rocked along nicely. Down Along the Cove and I 
Want to be your Baby tonight were sweetly played with the pedal steel coming into its own. And 
the 'acoustic' Hard Rain was the highlight for me, with Dylan signing those 43 year old lines 
(how many times must he have sung them?) with real power. The 'Love and Theft' and 'Time Out 
of Mind' numbers wouldn't have been my first choices, but they sounded fresh, and 'Summer Days' 
especially is a great live number And 'Rolling Stone', which we've all heard enough times for 
one lifetime was great too. It won't have meant a thing to him, I'm sure, but it was a little 
special to hear him sing it here in Manchester.

I must admit, I don't know what some newcomers to Dylan gigs would have made of it. He is a 
long way from a conventional concert performer, and I am sure some will have been put off by 
his stage manner, and possibly by the choice of material. I heard one woman say to her partner 
as she came out, 'I'd rather see Joan Baez any day'. But I guess for many, they'll just have 
been glad to have had the chance to see the man perform for an evening, as I remember feeling 
at Earls Court in 78.

But me, I was just relieved. Maybe it was because I had set my expectations so low; maybe it 
was because it really was much better than the last two times - probably a bit of both. Either 
way, it was a great night.

Michael Eakin

[TOP]

Comments by Lynda Andersen



After what I said about Aalborg I am so glad I didnt ebay my Manchester
tickets.After being so disappointed by Aalborg I literally shuffled to the
Manchester gig expecting the same, but what a difference, it was
excellent. She Belongs To Me was special . Not much upsinging,stronger
voice and most lyrics remembered, great sound and an enthusiastic
performance from all, my faith is restored and Im so glad. 

Lynda

[TOP]

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