London, England

Royal Albert Hall

November 26, 2013

[Fran Scott], [Espen Aas], [Steve Haynes], [Martin Gayford], [Mr. Jinx], [Craig Hatfield]

Review by Fran Scott

A sparkling performance tonight. Bob was sans hat, sans reticence, sans

So many highlights - She Belongs To Me, What Good Am I, Love Sick, Pay in
Blood, Simple Twist Of Fate, Forgetful Heart, Soon After Midnight. Long
and Wasted Years was gripping.

The band were excellent, Charlie Sexton's shimmering guitar on Tangled up
in Blue a particular joy to behold. The gentler arrangements have afforded
the set a greater consistency and allowed for more expression in Dylan's

The sound was mixed wonderfully well, perhaps those magic mushrooms
hanging from the ceiling at this opulent red-velvet venue work after all.

At the very end, after a brief discussion with Garnier and Sexton - Roll
On John.

Fran Scott


Review by Espen Aas

After 47 years, Dylan returned to Royal Albert Hall last night. The last
time he walked off that stage, on 27 May 1966, he did not return to
touring again until eight years later. No idea what will happen after this
tour... The three shows at the Albert Hall were quickly sold out, I was
lucky to get a ticket at all. I was seated on the east gallery - behind
the stage. I did not expect much of a view, but as I have attended the
venue for several classical concerts, I knew the odds for good sound were
high. Royal Albert Hall is about 25 minutes away from home with the tube,
and the venue has many entrances. That means you don't need to queue up
for hours as you have to do at many other arenas. It took me less than
five minutes to enter door 3, and then found my seat, at row two, behind
the band. I quickly realized this was a very good spot. When the
guitar-tech came around to check Stu Kimball's guitar, he was really
close. Even managed to get a nice Instagram of him. The ticket said
concert-start at 19.30. As I have seen Dylan quite often, I knew he would
be on quite quickly after that. The tickets said special guests, but none
showed up. We didn't need any either. As predicted, 19.34 I could hear
Kimball's guitar, and the band came on - launching into Things Have
Changed as predicted. I've seen him do this a few times now, and I've been
worried each time for the voice. He has sometimes sounded like an angry
crow when he spat out the words. Not tonight, this was the good old
Dylan-voice, or at least close to it. A good rocking version, with Dylan
center stage - putting us all in the right mood. I wasn't expecting too
much from the next song She Belongs To Me Although he has been doing it in
most shows since this summer, it has failed to stick to me. I have rarely
liked the NET-versions of the songs, but preferred the 1978-arrangements
of all things.. This was the only song he also performed the last time he
was at this venue. In 1966 he opened with it, acoustic. This was of course
entirely different, but I enjoyed the arrangements and there were huge
cheers when Dylan pulled out his harmonica as well. Lights went out; I
could see Dylan moving behind the grand piano, standing and the launched
into the rough Beyond Here Lies Nothing' It is a great live-song, and I
enjoy hearing it. It has been done with Donnie Herron on trumpet, with
Dylan on guitar, and for the last few tours with grand piano. It works
every time. Not sure how many people knew the songs as such, but great
applause. A mix of various greatest hits and later albums must have made
it into the British homes and computers. I was ready for one of my
all-time favorite songs, from one of my favorite albums. What Good Am I? I
don't know what it is with "Oh Mercy", but I love the album. Always has.
And this song in particular and Dylan delivered it perfectly, the
arrangements, the vocals, just perfect. Goose-bumps all over. It has been
part of the set for most of the tours this year, and if he continues to
tour after this year, I hope he continues to do it. More upbeat tempo as
it was time for evening's first song from "Tempest", it was Duquesne
Whistle Not a great songs as such, but a fun live-song, and I could see
them enjoy doing it. Dylan seemed relaxed, and enjoyed both the
performance by his band-members and the songs he played. I was looking
forward to the next number, Waiting For You This is most likely the song
least people have heard before, unless they saw the film it was written
for, the "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" from 2002. Never seen
the film, just bought the soundtrack for this song. Lovely song, and great
to hear live. Rarely played until recently. Dylan played it twice in
London in 2005 (Brixton Academy), but then it was not played again until
this tour. Dylan left the piano and wandered out the middle of the stage
again. It was time for one of my favorite songs from the latest album, the
raspy Pay In Blood It almost sounded as if he did the voice he has on the
"Tempest"-album, the raspy, sore voice. I loved it. He bowed to all of us
sitting at the back, and once again I was reminded of how close we
actually were. He wandered back to the piano, and they did the first of
two songs from "Blood On The Tracks", one his most performed songs,
Tangled Up In Blue A long-time favorite of mine, but the best performances
of the songs belongs back in time. The arrangements he did with Charlie
Sexton and Larry Campbell between 1999 and 2002 were perfect (with strong
competition from the 1984-arranngements). I knew I wouldn't enjoy this as
much, but it was fun watching Sexton at work. He is very eager, and it is
a pity that his guitar is somewhat low in the final mix at each show - he
is a fantastic guitar-player, and I think the songs would do better with
more of him in there. For what it is worth, I would love to hear him do
back-up vocals on this song again as well... One of the evening's biggest
cheers came with Love Sick The opening track from another great album of
so-called recent years, the excellent Time Out Of Mind-album. People
cheered immediately as the small man stood in front of the crowd and sang
how sick he was of love. When they were done, it was time for a break.
When the intermission ended, I knew they were up for another regular song
from recent tours, High Water (for Charlie Patton) Another great
live-song, and always best when Donnie Herron plays the banjo. Dylan
center stage still, singing and playing harmonica. He returned to the
piano for the second "Blood On The Tracks"-song, one I've heard him do
many times before, a lovely song Simple Twist Of Fate As with "Tangled..."
I guess I've attached myself to earlier arrangements. It was some kind of
argument going on between security and two blokes near the stage as well,
so I lost my attention. It was OK, but one of the least interesting
performances of the evening for me. Much more fun when they went on to
Early Roman Kings Which, despite its typical and predictable
blues-arrangements, works great live. And especially Dylan and Sexton
seemed to enjoy doing it. Lots of smiles and giggles. George Receli has
some great drumming on this too. I remember how highly Keith Richards
spoke of Receli, and thought about that many times during the show, as I
watched his work from behind the stage. Great drummer indeed. A highlight
of the evening as they continued with Forgetful Heart Center stage again,
with harp, and Tony Garnier used bow on his bass, whilst Donnie Herron
played the violin. Such a great song, such a great vocal-performance. I
could have continued listening to that for another 15 minutes I am sure..
Perhaps it was because this was so lovely, perhaps it was because I have
never liked it too much, but the next song Spirit It On The Water just
passed away for me, well, until huge parts of the audience yelled "NO!" at
the usual places in the song ("Over the hill" and "past my prime").
Wondering if so many people have listened to live recordings from the last
years, or if they've attended so many shows....? A parade of great songs
came next: Scarlet Town Is another great song from "Tempest", love the
arrangements and the way Dylan delivered the vocals. He could no doubt
done it center stage, even if the piano was nice too. More dimmed lights
as we got to Soon After Midnight As with "Spirit...", I have never been a
great fan of the song, not sure why. But you need a couple of those in a
show to enjoy the really juicy bits. Such as Long And Wasted Years¨ Which
was another highlight! Dylan center stage again, Donnie Herron worked
brilliantly on this one too. Huge applause, Dylan gathered the
un-introduced band (why did he stop doing that...?), they bowed and went
out. Luckily they returned, and gave us the great rock'n'roll moment of
the evening All Along The Watchtower of course. A song Dylan has done more
than 2.000 times live, sometimes fantastic, sometimes not so good. Luckily
we were in for the first category. Having said that, a bit more fuzz and
volume on Sexton's guitar would have made it close to perfect. The hall
was ecstatic. I was very curious to see whether this was it...or....they
didn't leave! A few words were exchanged on stage, Dylan made his second
ever performance of his tribute to John Lennon Roll On, John My absolute
highlight of the evening. Beautifully sung. Somehow, I never imagined he
would play it live at all when I first heard the album. Now he has done it
twice. Maybe he will do it for tonight and tomorrow too. This was the best
show I have seen him to since 2002 (and I've seen a few since then). The
whole show lasted just over two hours. The man has returned to Royal
Albert Hall - it was a great return.


Review by Steve Haynes

When he was awarded the legion d'honneur  recently there was much positive
comment about Bob Dylan being an enemy of nostalgia. Clearly in the
context of having an unmatched back catalogue of over 50 years of gems,
taking a tour based very heavily on his latest studio album is testament
to that attitude.  However coming back to the Albert Hall after such a
long absence must have caused Bob reason to reflect.   I've been lucky
enough to see a number of great Dylan concerts  in other London venues -
Hammersmith and Brixton in particular, but this was clearly going to be
special.  In preparation for the gig  I re-watched the Albert Hall portion
of Don't look Back and also the famous taxi cab ride with John Lennon -
just to remember again where he's been and what the world was like back
then.  But taking Bob's lead I too wanted to avoid nostalgia and arrived
just looking forward to another new night, already having enjoyed
Amsterdam and Blackpool immensely.

This time around I was delighted to be going with my wife - long-standing
companion in life and Dylan concerts, also our oldest son George.. Last
time George and I saw him, we were right at the front in the NIA at
Birmingham.  In complete reverse this time we were in the "choir" area,
almost directly behind the band - and where I thought it could be a bit
odd, but they were the only seats I could get / afford.  In fact it was
odd, but in a brilliant way - we looked out on to the packed Albert Hall -
almost saw it through the bands eyes.  We saw the master at work and
caught his glances and communication to the band as well as seeing the
twitches and stances at the piano from a completely different vantage

For me the musical highlights up to the encores were similar to those
before - I just love this version of Forgetful Heart - the violin playing
is heartbreakingly beautiful and last night I thought Bob's voice on this
track was particularly fine.  Spirit on the water seemed to last a long
time - I felt there were some extra verses? -  there was also a slightly 
extended jam from the band (only one of the night, and what looked like
playful interplay with the audience (someone in the front would need to
confirm!)  the two Blood on the Tracks numbers were fine and Love Sick and
High Water were delivered with punch and conviction.

So what did make the night special?

1.       Walking the corridors of the Albert Hall beforehand gave a chance
to see photographs some of the other great performers who have appeared
there beforehand  - in the Elgar room alone there was Hendrix, Sinatra,
the Beatles and Marvin Gaye to mention just a few - a great sense of place

2.       At various times between songs and before intermission and encore
Bob made a point of looking up and (I thought)  thanking those "in the
choir" who had been behind him (physically and emotionally) all the
concert.  I don't count, but may have seen him 20 times or so,  and really
think this was the most I've sensed  him obviously appreciating his
audience  - he really seemed to want to play "to the big crowd and the
cheap seats".....

3.        ......And of course it ended with Roll On John.  I would have
been delighted to hear Blowing in the Wind again, but having seen the set
list for the last night at Blackpool I was hoping.  When he gathered the
key members of the band after AATW this hope increased and the first
chords left me and the whole audience transfixed.  It sent tingles up the
spine just listening to it - what it felt like to perform it, with all
that it represented, you could only guess.  It was a fine way to end a
fine evening - I felt privileged to be there

Steve Haynes


Review by Martin Gayford

After last night's concert I thought, he could perform the entire Tempest
album and just leave it at that.  The Tempest songs were so powerful, and
in almost every case more so than on the album, especially the opening and
closing songs which have the most ragged vocals on the record.  Last
night, Duquesne Whistle really soared and Roll On John was perfectly
tender and mournful, in the way Bob has of effortlessly pitching the
perfect mood.  Pay In Blood, although in it's major key form on Tempest is
one of my favourites, was terrifyingly good and Long & Wasted Years -
clearly the cue for the polite Albert Hall crowd to finally stand -
triumphantly euphoric.  It shows how good the songs on Tempest are, and I
do hope that - as it seems may be the case - these shows are being
recorded for a new live album.  I loved hearing She Belongs To Me with
it's Modern Times style new look, and What Good Am I? of course, but it
seemed that the new songs are what this show is really about.  Until
tonight of course, when obviously he'll play Black Diamond Bay, Lily,
Rosemary & The Jack Of Hearts and all of World Gone Wrong.


Review by Mr. Jinx

Walking  up from sunny South Kensington tube station past tall, red brick
mews houses, it  struck me anew what an imposing building the Royal Albert
Hall is.  To be outside it is to gaze upon a  Victorian space ship,
somehow landed plop right next to the park.  And inside it is red, plush
and  spherical like some giant ornate womb. Dylan  took the stage without
his customary hat – a shock of grey hair at odds with his  youthful
stride.  He had a real look  of purpose about him, a job to do.   Things 
Have Changed was pleasant, but in truth it was a pipe-opener for Bob.  She
Belongs To Me was the first  highpoint of what proved to be a tremendous
show.  It was tenderly delivered and the band  was simpatico to a fault,
Charlie craning his neck to watch Bob’s every move and  Donnie looking
on like a concerned midwife. The  highs came thick and slow: Tangled Up In
Blue was re-written to tell the  well-worn tale in a fresh way and yet the
essence of its message (keep on  keeping on) somehow remained intact.  The
arrangement of this old warhorse has never sounded better.  It allows
Bob’s vocal to probe and  explore the dusty corners of the song.  It
does not crowd him or bludgeon.  Simply wonderful. Forgetful Heart was
pin-drop perfect too.  Plaintive harp breaks (sobs) punctuated  the song
and Bob sang his little Minnesotan heart out.   Lovesick was measured,
sleek and dark.  It ticked and tocked like a mighty clock  . . . perhaps
the last clock at the end of all  time? Pay In  Blood was raw and visceral
and Scarlet Town prowled the hall like Jack the  Ripper from Whitechapel. 
 Long  And Wasted Years was just APOCALYPTIC.  This was the performance of
the night, hands down.  I think I saw paint blistering on the  facades of
the rear stalls.  There  was a whiff of sulphur in the air.  The body
count  rose. The  only song where Bob allowed himself a breather was
Watchtower.  This was a rather perfunctory version,  but considering all
that had preceded it hardly  mattered. Roll On  John, debuted in Blackpool
last time out, was sung again in the Albert  Hall.  It was a sincere
reading,  tender and true.  Fab, in fact.  For me it went way beyond the
album  version.  I had to dab my eyes and I  was not alone.  People around
me  seemed very moved that Bob would sing this tribute to our fellow
countryman  here. Earlier  on in the day we visited the Halycon Gallery to
see Bob’s exhibition of ironwork  and art.  Apparently he had visited 
the gallery at 10 pm the previous evening and he had been “all
smiles”.  It is a hoot of a show.  I won’t spoil it for you but one of
the  pieces mentions Griel Marcus in connection with a sperm bank!  And
the bullet holes in the car doors  were shot by Bob himself in his studio!
 Go see it if you can.  And go  and see Bob in concert too.  He is  in
thunderous form.  Bloody and  unbowed. One  final thing, I was at the
stage door as Bob came out after the show.  He was wearing his hoodie and
was  hustled past the crowd and into the car right next to me.  He looked
at me for a moment and like  all the others there I just waved at him and
shouted thank you.  Then his driver sped him away into the  damp London

Mr  Jinx 


Review by Craig Hatfield

Curiously, this old venue seemed to have shrouds of smoke lifting as I
took my seat. Not cigarettes, obviously, not in this day and age. Dry-ice
then? No, that’s hardly Bob, is it? Cordite? Maybe.

And then Bob took his place, centre-stage, and immediately affected a
gunslinger’s stance; feet apart, hands loose at his hips, as though he was
preparing to be quick on the draw should anybody fire any ‘Judas’ bullets
his way. But of course that never was the Albert Hall. That never was this
crowd. This iconic venue demands a more reverential audience.

Early into the second number of the night Bob takes out his harmonica and
gives it wheeze. The applause that this simple act brings-on shows how
reverential we all are. He’s tickled our chins and we’ve rolled over.

One review I read over the weekend lamented the fact that his set was
heavy on recency; words of a hack on a free junket. But our tickets are
paid for, and most of us here tonight have heard the old classics many a
time before. What wows us tonight is the chance to hear some of the more
modern classics, live for the first time. Besides, being no tired old
hack, I’d done a simple bit of homework. I’d looked-up the set list from
recent shows. I knew (as much as you can with Dylan) what to expect.

Throughout the night there were many knowing glances shared with my mate
Peter, usually as we suddenly recognise an altered tune, or when an
earlier-pondered lyric cuts through the haze and lodges like shrapnel. The
titular line of ‘Pay In Blood’ is spat out like a cobra’s venom. Duquesne
Whistle is speeded up, but loses a little momentum for it. Forgetful
Heart, on the other hand, is slowed down a notch and its rusty barbs just
dig deeper.

More vintage classics like ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’ and ‘Tangled Up In Blue’
are songs I’ve known all my adult life, yet I find myself shifting towards
the edge of my seat straining to listen like it’s the first time, keen to
catch any changes and come to terms with the resulting nuance.

On his last night in Blackpool Dylan threw a curve-ball. His nod to Lennon
was pulled out of the bag. Would he do the same tonight? Or would he offer
a different treat? Joking with one of my fellow ‘Dylan friends’ the day
before, we wondered if he might do ‘A Day In The Life’ tonight, with its
line about the Albert Hall. He didn’t, of course, but when he finished
with ‘Roll On John’ I was stupidly excited by the line “I read the news
today, oh boy!” The Albert Hall certainly is a big hole to fill. But
Dylan’s canon is a big whole with which to fill it.

Craig Hatfield
(P.S. Thanks to Ged & Glenn)


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