Blackpool, England

Opera House Theatre

November 22, 2013

[Stephen Davey], [Jim Carney]

Review by Stephen Davey


I think sometimes reviews are buffered with details of the venue, it's
location and the writers journey - but here it's best just to get to the
heart of the matter: last night Bob Dylan was simply extraordinary.

The start was slow but Bob certainly sounded crisper and clearer than in
recent years, just as earlier reviews had informed me. Things Have Changed
is a routine opener so I sat back and waited for signs that things have
changed and what unfolded in the next 17 songs astounded me. The first
half just grew and grew and the closing song Lovesick was the finest I've
ever heard it and a sense of semi-shock had by now descended into the
crowd. When Bob announced the short break he left to an ovation many wont
receive at the end of a concert. We were in his hands and it was becoming
one of those nights where you become acutely aware that you're a
privileged witness to something special.

The second half was simply spellbinding (and I'm not being over nostalgic
here, I've been to over 40 shows across Europe and have never felt so
compelled to write a review). Every song was crafted to suit Bob's new
subtle and clean delivery and played to total silence, which briefly
turned to cries of adulation and declarations of love in the intermittent
moments of preparation for the next song. By the time of Soon After
Midnight the crowd was ready to burst and then came , for me, the show's
highlight in Long And Wasted Years. It was probably the best song I've
ever heard Bob sing, and I've previously declared 2005's Shelter From The
Storm in Dublin as untouchable! It takes a lot for song to make a grown
man gasp but for those few minutes I was in a special place. When it
finished it was a pure eruption, the words that came out of my mouth noted
a sincere deceleration of love. But he couldn't hear me as 3,000 others
were shouting similar.

The encore for me has always been a nod to those who didn't recognise all
the other songs, a time for Bob to play a couple of appeasing classics. As
such it's never been my favourite part of the concert, but even Watchtower
sounded fresh and different and for the first time in years I loved it.
And Blowing In The Wind as a closer is perfect for Bob novices, but it
can't be argued that wrapping up a set of mostly new songs with a classic
from over half a century ago is clever and fitting. And as I'm sure you've
guessed - he nailed it. The harmonica playing was excellent throughout but
as he moved to centre stage to finish this final number he charmed the
audience to their feet and then he gestured the end and the lights came

Bob stood there, looking. Concealing a grin. He knew full well what he'd
just done. 

I'll be there again tonight and tomorrow. It can't be this good every
night....or can it ?

Stephen Davey
Wirral, England 


Review by Jim Carney

Most of the things written about this tour have been accurate. It has
represented a complete change in direction for Bob, and must surely be
compared with other great recent tours - 2000, 2003, and 2005. And Friday
night in Blackpool was magical. I've seen to many great concerts over the
years to say that this was the best I've ever been to, but my wife, who
has seen a fair few too, says this was her favourite. There were no low
points, and several highs. Before the intermission Waiting for You, Pay in
Blood, and Love Sick soared. When Bob came back, High Water was
magnificent (though nothing will ever touch the version I heard in the
Point in Dublin in November 2005), as was Scarlet Town, Long and Wasted
Years and two great encores. But the pinnacle of the concert was an
unforgettable Forgetful Heart, a spellbound audience rising to its feet in
appreciation at the end. Earlier in the afternoon, in the Galleon Pub, we
had a great show from tribute band Simply Dylan, led by a terrific Dylan
interpreter, John O'Connell. John played an amazing set, drawing chiefly
from Desire, Blood on the Tracks, Street Legal, and Slow Train Coming,
with a nod also to Saved and a stellar Heart of Mine from Shot of Love. In
particular, John made Street Legal sound like probably the greatest album
ever made with fantastic versions of Baby Stop Crying, Senor, Changing of
the Guard and True Love Tends to Forget. But on a Friday afternoon, in the
bleak mid-winter, in a cosy pub in Blackpool, listening to great Bob Dylan
songs, anticipating a Bob Dylan concert, I reflected on all those years
ago when I got my first radio, and Baby Stop Crying was in the charts, and
I was hooked straight away, and how much happiness listening to Bob Dylan
has given me through so many years. I for one am grateful to this truly
great man.

Jim Carney


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