London, England

Royal Albert Hall

November 27, 2013

[High Barney], [Dominic Nasmyth-Miller]

Review by Hugh Barney

Four 'Long and Wasted Years' since my last Bob Dylan gig in 2009.  Four
long and wasted years but worth the wait.  Things have certainly changed:
Bob Dylan giving us probably the most cared for and cherished performance
I have seen for over 20 years.

Since hearing the bootleg from Paris (12 Nov 13) I could tell the band
were sounding better than they had since the late 90's.  Charlie Sexton on
guitar making a welcome return bringing that exciting edge to the sound
and leaving Stu Kimball to do what he does best, providing some consistent
rhythm guitar. 

This is my 11th Bob Dylan concert, also my first in the Royal Albert Hall.
 It is a venue Bob has not played since his controversial dual acoustic /
electric tour in 1996.  Bob has not played Newcastle Upon Tyne since 2007,
 so this event became a pilgrimage for us, possibly to see His Bobness for
one last time.  Myself and Simon Warren grabbed the train to London Kings
Cross arriving around 4pm.  A quick tube to South Kensington, the land of
the embassies, Knightsbridge and University College London.  We walked
through the old Victorian underpass where a busker played a very good Lay
Lady Lay putting us further in the mood.  Passed 'Neons burning bright'
and into to a small reasonably priced Italian restaurant.  Then onto meet
Pete our host for the evening outside the Royal Albert Hall.  On and on
and the crack is good.  We spend our money on merchandise, grab a beer and
are in our seats by 7:10 pm. 

Apart from a major diversion in Italy, the set lists have been pretty much
static this tour, so we mostly knew in advance what we were going to get.
But this has been to everyone's advantage as the result is more polished
and slick.  There are rumours that this tour is being recorded for a long
awaited (26 years, Columbia !) live album.

What we got was a carefully blended mix of old songs, classics and six out
of nineteen from the new album Tempest.  After what seemed like a warm up
number,  'Things Have Changed',  Bob went straight into 'She belongs to
me' and I think we would happily have watched it through a 'keyhole
peeping' down upon our knees.  It was great that the audience did not
'start out standing' though it really isn't necessary in the Royal Albert
Hall which was clearly designed to enable everyone to see the stage no
matter where you end up seated.  What a great venue and what a great
sounding room. Bob's harmonica playing was great.

Highlights for me were:-

'Pay In Blood' - Bob totally enjoyed this, twisting at the hips, visibly
restraining himself from breaking into a Mick Jagger style dance.  The
effect was mesmerizing.  It was like watching a snarling pirate telling
you what is going to happen if you don't walk the plank.  He literally
looked like a roaring lion.  His 'lived in voice' was made for this song
and it has not sounded this good for 20 years. 

Tangled Up In Blue: A beautiful new version. Bob played on the piano and
played it more like a Van Morrison number.  Those ivories tinkling away
with exquisite timing.  There were new lyrics in various places that I
have not heard before,  will have search out the bootleg to hear them

A great Love Sick completed the first half, followed by a 15 minute

The second half started with 'High Water' which is always good. 

Then came Simple Twist of Fate:  Another beautiful rendition done with
great care.  A saxophone didn't play but a couple in the seats below stood
up and started smooching and then dirty dancing.  We kept out eyes on Bob.

Spirit On the Water.  Always liked this song. I'll never forget the couple
in their 60's dancing to this at the back of the auditorium at Sheffield
in 2007. Again beautifully sung.  Very romantic indeed,  a fact that was
not lost on the young couple in front who again stood up blocking the view
of some people above who began to get annoyed.  When they stood up to
dirty dance again to 'Soon After Midnight' the stewards were called and
they were ushered out. Between them they'd drunk a bottle of spirits and
were gone beyond reason.  Fortunately our view had not been blocked so the
whole thing is just another tale to tell.

So to the finale.  A great thoughtful and regretful 'Long and Wasted
Years'.  I didn't like this song when I first heard it, thought it was too
rough, but it is growing on me.  This performance will make me go back to
the album and listen again.  Bob expertly snarled and growled his way
through it, putting a smile on my face. 

Then the encore.  We expected 'All Along the Watch tower',  which has come
full circle and nearly been brought back home to the John Wesley Harding
version.  Stu Kimball bashed out those three chords Am F and G that only a
genius like Dylan could cone up with and that sound so atmospheric. Dark,
mysterious and biblically sounding as always and the hour was getting

Then the last song.  Would it be 'Roll on John' as per the night before or
'Blowing in the wind' ?  Simon was hoping for 'Roll On John',  I was
hoping for Blowing in the wind', which had sounded so good on the Paris
bootleg.  Looks like my coin was 'tossed into the cup' and the result was
the best 'Blowing in the Wind' I've ever seen or heard.

In short: a great show with Bob sounding, looking great and blowing his
harmonica with spell binding effect.


Review by Dominic Nasmyth-Miller

“A throaty rattle, rasped lyrics and a grumpy enigma” the subjective
components of the account, courtesy of the Evening Standard, regarding
Bob’s first night at the Royal Albert Hall.

Being mindful that it is easy to loose objectivity when immersed in
something, as opposed to being on the periphery, but the recent shows have
provided an equal measure of consistency and quality. So with that in
mind, it would be appropriate to suggest, that the 5,272 present for the
second set of the residency would consider the content, along with those
who attended yesterday and indeed those attending the third - still yet to
come, slightly differently.

With Face Value currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery and
the highly recommended Mood Swings at The Halcyon Gallery (added to which
the opportunity to view hangings of versions of Train Tracks is provided,
along with Revisionist Art in the basement) turned the provision of a
concert into a Bobfest.

Observation of those at the bars inside the venue and those standing
in-line provides insight into the full spectrum of those captured by the
man and his music. Some similar and some considered differently, although
the categories into which we would consider ourselves to fall are no doubt
not the ones into which we would feel comfortable should we be mindful of
the placements made by others doing the same.

Conversations-had with those in attendance continue to make-up the
experience, many routine others significantly less so. It was a privilege
to stand alongside Hungarian Dan calling home during Love Sick so his
family can share the live experience of being at a Bob Dylan Concert. As
was to witness the compassion Fredericka displayed through the nursing of
an injured pigeon, smuggled within her handbag into the concert hall, as
Dove Rescue was unable to take new referrals until the following morning.
Maybe it was the nature of the venue but how refreshing to be greeted by
security as guests; maybe because of their welcoming nature and the
absence of body-frisking and bag checks so often adopted by other
locations, that the pigeon just may make it through.

History Student Kate starts her holiday in Paris having seen Bob the night
before, prior to which awareness dawned to both that the same shows,
relived in the memories of each and personal in their moments are equally
shared by others.  

As for the songs, they filled the auditorium. Deep, dark and beautiful
with highlights, many. It is interesting to acknowledge that songs that
may not be chosen on selected favourite playlists somehow become staple
preferences when played live; Simple Twist of Fate being such an

Duquesne Whistle was a pistol crack which raised the tempo following a
beautiful soulful rendition of What Good Am I? during which Tony’s
stand-up base drew out and played emotions rare and raw, and again later
in the same within Scarlet Town.

Soon After Midnight teased and tempted audience members to dance as they
had so done in 2007 during renditions of When The Deal Goes Down.
Forgetful Heart, Long And Wasted Years stood-out above – with Bob
standing alone, centre stage, vocals haunting; as was the harp solo to
conclude Blowin’ in the wind – breathed in as a life-form by those
seated below and those above within the gallery.

Unfortunately hawkers hadn’t updated the front picture on their
t-shirts, choosing to continue to display a portrait from the last outing
to this historic building 47 years ago, despite the 2013 dates printed on
the reverse, therefore souvenir purchases were declined on this occasion.
However, the frequent service on the Circle Line from South Kensington and
the prompt arrival at London Liverpool Street at 22:27 enabled the 22:30
Suffolk bound train at Platform 9 to be boarded, with the result being
home, soon after midnight.

Dominic Nasmyth-Miller


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