Sheffield, England

Sheffield Arena

April 24, 2009

[Ian Corbridge],[Trevor Townson],[Chis Blackett],[Ulrike Keeling],
[Michael Burley],[Mike McHugh],[Chris & Wendy Aldridge]

Review by Ian Corbridge

Well I nearly didn’t get to this show but I’m so relieved that I did. Having already secured a ticket for Liverpool, it was really the quality and strength of the opening European shows which quickly convinced me I must make the effort to see Bob more than once on this UK visit – and that has to be one of my best decisions of the year so far.This first date of the UK leg of the tour kicked off in fine style at 7.40pm as Bob and his excellent band swept into a lively opener in Cat’s In The Well. Now this has never been a particular favourite of mine but this version was great and set the tone nicely for the show ahead. The sound was good and the band were amazing.Things Have Changed was followed by Baby Blue, most definitely one of my favourites, which was performed in excellent style with yet another new arrangement compared with what I had heard live before. The band were cooking.Boots of Spanish Leather was both haunting and sublime, aided by a change in the lighting, and Bob plucking away on his electric guitar. Bob really started to move and get animated throughout this one. Definitely a highlight.The Levee’s Gonna Break followed – now this song does not particularly stand out on Modern Times for me, but this live version which I had been hearing on this tour really takes it into a new dimension and completely rocks out. Based on what I had heard previously this was one song that I was hoping to get on the set list and I was not disappointed – fantastic stuff!! Again the stage lighting really enhanced the whole setting for this song.A trilogy from Love and Theft was up next, with a nice Sugar Baby followed by a very lively Tweedle Dee, and then Po’ Boy which was a welcome inclusion the set list as a song I had not witnessed live before.It’s Alright Ma was played in a similar rocking arrangement to other recent tours but was excellent nonetheless. For some reason this has never been a song I have chosen to listen to very often, but over recent years Bob’s live arrangements have gradually shifted my opinion on how good this song is.Of all the songs in the set, the one that took me slightly longer than any other to recognise was Make You Feel My Love but the mellow arrangement really captured the mood of the song.The whole band then completely changed gear with a storming Highway 61 the crowd were with them all the way. Love Sick followed and then a rollicking Thunder on the Mountain, which certainly does this fine song justice.Like a Rolling Stone closed the main set and was just immense; on several occasions during the song, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end and I just could not stop smiling – the augmentation of Bob’s organ sound really adds to this and this nearly took the roof off this Arena. The master was at work and clearly in his element.The encore was predictable but superb. Watchtower was extremely good in all respects, Spirit on the Water sauntered through in lovely fashion right through to the close which featured a nice harp solo from Bob. The new arrangement of Blowin’ In The Wind closed the show.For me, Bob and his band are producing the best live sound I have heard since the 1998 tour which has always held a special place in my heart. What’s more, my impression is that Bob is enjoying himself on stage more than ever. All in all, Sheffield proved to be a magnificent show which confirms that Bob remains in the ascendancy and has plenty of life in him yet.. and long may that be the case.


Review by Trevor Townson

Some things can be hard to grasp first time around, sometimes you have to do a double take, you know, like reading and taking in a newspaper  headline, "Headless person in topless bar". Knowing how difficult it can be getting a Bob song live first time around even after hearing it a hundred times or more in your living room, taking Dad to this show was  probably as meaningless as taking him up onto Ilkley Moor without his hat to listento the wind blowing!  The day before the show I got such a terrible feeling that I had made abig mistake getting Dad front row - people will stand, he will get pushed  out, he will be crushed, he will be uncomfortable, he will be ill or hurtand I will have to call First Aid! I felt to have put myself under undue  pressure taking this pensioner who gave me the precious gift of humanlife to see Bob. I did it because I wanted him to see Bob.  Up close the sound would no doubt not be as good as further back but he would be able to see. I was not sure with his hearing  what it would sound like to  him anyway but up close he could at least see.  Mother had been worried and asked had I got Dad a seat, "well  yes" (sort of)! Suddenly the Fan Club ticket half way up the rafters seemed preferable oreven my first attempt up close on 3rd row. No matter it  was too late theinvite had been given and accepted so the following day it  was time topick up Dad and take our chances. Having been in our fair share of scrapes inthe past having braved together the football terraces and hooligans of the 1970's how bad could a music event be, Dad however was younger then, nownext time I buy a card he will be 78. As even hardened Dylan fans never really know what to expect from Bob it was any ones guess what Dad was expecting or would make of it, his  impressions of Bob were more those of the 1960's than now. It was pointless giving Dad a crash course in Bob as we all know what an impossible task that is.  Driving down I did however try and told Dad that if he is lucky Bob may play the guitar, "I thought he always played the guitar"  was my Dads reply, see what I mean, impossible task with only a few hours to go  when decades would be needed. Explaining the situation to Dad that although he had front he may not be front if people stand or push past suddenly Dad was up for it! If he hadbeen given front row that was where he was going to be, on the rail. Front rowbut with high stage and those black boxes all across the front, sitting Icould not see a lot but Dad to the side could actually see past the blackbox to see  Bob at the keyboard whilst still seated. That was the mainthing for me that Dad  could see as I had seen it before and would no doubt do so again God willing and could even get a lot just from listening but was praying we would be allowed to stand. Lights out, in the darkness people scrambling up front and my Dad stillin his seat, suddenly I grab his  shoulder and hoist him up onto the rail beside me and the first song  starts, "Cats In The Well" - Dad Is StandingAt The Rail! It was then just a case of enjoying the show in our own ways as it was  difficult to talk to Dad and have him hear me. Dad did however get a greatshow, as a friend of mine Patricia would say, "The full nine yards". One song with Bob on guitar plus fantastic centre stage Bob and harmonica Tweedle Dee and finally best of all for Dad the closing song, "Blowing  InThe Wind". Everything was delivered, even Bob's humour during the band introductions stating Stu being from Boston and having attended the teaparty. Dutifully my Dad clapped every song unlike the guy to the other side ofme who never clapped once, sorry, that was until Love Sick which was hair standing so even he clapped after that. Later I found out my Dad had indeed listened to the wind blowing picking out not more than the odd word here and there, he did say that he hadhowever understood every word of the penultimate song, Spirit On The Water and also really enjoyed the last song, Blowing In The Wind. Having told him already that it would be different and he acknowledged that on the wayback to the car as he was still humming it in its original guise as he knows it from the black and white era and the current TV ad!  For me another fantastic show, for Dad a unique experience. Dad has beento Graceland to experience and feel the Spirit of Elvis, the idol he would never get to see live. Tonight in Sheffield however he had experienced Bobvery alive and well and in excellent voice. Dad has always been interested in famous people so tonight he got to see one of them up close and reallyenjoyed the experience. Whilst most of the show to Dad was indeed like hearing wind blowing he did say later that he was really interested by Tony Garnier on bass and the interaction between him and Bob as he picked up on the unsaid and facial communication between them, he also commented on how his Dad, Grandad had played the violin in a band so was fascinated to see Donnie on violin ashe had never understood before how a violin (or his Dad) could be in a band, he thought Bobs band very talented, I told him they need to be, Brilliant. Trevor Townson 


Review by Chis Blackett

I have seen Bob on numerous occasions on the NET and never really beendissapointed. It would need to be a really poor show to change that and,as I am obviously blinkered and obsessed, it wasn't and it didn't.  This was my daughters first Dylan show and, at thirty years old, I washoping it would be a good one for her too. Once again the man delivered. 'It's all over now baby blue'', 'Things have changed', and then  'Boots ofSpanish leather'  was almost the best segment I have witnessed. I wasalready in that mesmerised state I have had so many times before when thestage lights dimmed and the backdrop became a starlit night. I wassomewhere in that night sky looking down on a boat sailing to Italy, BobDylan had his guitar strapped on and was pleading for his love to comehome unspoiled. It was so beautifully performed I didn't want it to end, Iwanted more extra verses, the song to be sung again, anything!  Anythingto keep that private moment, that wonderful feeling alive. Of course itended but from that point on it didn't matter to me what was on the setlist. I had my moment and I won't forget it. My daughter was sat next to a lady from San Francisco who had retired inJanuary and was on the Bob trail through Europe. I think that sort ofdedication, the enthusiasm surrounding us and the quality of Bob'sperformance took her by suprise. She couldn't take her eyes off thedimunitive figure behind the keyboard. Afterwards she enthused about theclarity of his words, she had expected blurring! She talked about thegreat little leg moves he makes, the smiles and facial contortions hepulls. Although she knew most of the songs he performed she was amazed atthe way he had tranformed or progressed them. In short her posivity mademe realise all over again how great a performer he is and took me back tomy early Dylan days. Once again he has re-scored his songbook but capturedthe very heart of them all over again.  And this was Sheffield,  another venue on the long tour that is part of Bob Dylan's life. For me it was just a chance to re-affirm what I alreadyknew. He has been a constant companion since 1965 when, as a 13 year oldboy in Wallsend, I first bought a Bob Dylan record.  He will remain so. Isincerely hope he can record several more albums and that I can be aroundto buy. One more show for me this time round, roll on Liverpool. Thanks Bob Dylanfor another great night. Chis Blackett


Review by Ulrike Keeling

After a quite enjoyable train ride through England's green and pleasantland I found my seat in that steel shuttle somewhere in the attic.I wouldprefer a haystack to that kind of seating which felt like a perch.Anyway it reached 7:30 sharp and I spotted that guy with 75 % chocolate inhis voice preparing to make his intro but nobody showed up. Because of myattic point of view I can't say much about the latest fashion trend onstage so I'll give the intro guy a little space here since I'm certainly afan of his voice. Wearing a light coloured shirt with rolled up sleeves heappeared like the real working man. By & by the band came out and I wasable to adore his voice once more.It's gonna be fun was the last thing I heard around me before the bandstruck up. The fun started with Cats. From my point of view now the wholeshow had the character of a theatrical play with some cats and kittys inthere, some old, some young.. just been born if they start to run free.May the Lord have mercy on us all!Along came Baby Blue. It wasn't only thefinishing point of the overture it came with an amazing harp solo at theend. I guess Dylan is the only man who could satisfy a woman by simplyplaying harp. And like some overtures that are better than the playitself, so was this last night's highlight.Next we saw a drunken kitty ended up in one big lie. The boots from acrossthat lonesome ocean was yesterday a wrongly fitted something, confusingplayer and audience.He didn't repeat mistakes and Sugarbaby was sent down the line. I love Sugar Baby performed by this band pure & voiceless it would feellike..well it came as number 'sechs'.Bob freed himself by dancing to Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum. Po' Boy! butthings are gonna be all right by and by.Still bleeding, rarely feeling the only escape hatch is leading to Highway61. If you'll hear that Hitchcock staccato tune you'll know he made itthere and the clock ticked.For the grand finale there was thunder, if it is a good grand finale therewill always be thunder bringing down the stones. The stone had a littleblop of cream on it that made you ask for more and come back.To get your GCSE levels in this country you only need really threeimportant words Yeah, Whatever, Init. There encore was in chronologicalorder:Yeah!Whatever!Init!Coloured in with little harp pieces here and there all along on the wayOUT.Ulrike KeelingNottingham


Review by Michael Burley

First of all a context- I have been a Bob Dylan fan for 30 years- I listento his music most days and know most songs reasonably well. I have alsoseen him quiet a few times.The last few weeks I have followed the European tour on You-Tube so knewwhat to expect last night. I write as a fan.I was quite disappointed last night, The sound was like mud, Bob Dylan'smumble is getting worse and the constant rockabilly arrangement of everysong is tiring. It took me three minutes to recognize "Boots of Spanish Leather" likewise"It's alright Ma (it's only bleeding) .The highlights were the songs off "Modern Times" which are at leastrecognizable."Like a Rolling Stone" is a song full of vitriol and anger and almosthatred - this was sung in the same mumble as every other song - need somepassion!At the end of the day they are Bob's songs and his gift to us all- he cando what he likes with them but I was a little bored and felt he could"throw us a bone" every now and then.Saying that "all along the watchtower" was fantastic- It really rocked.I had never heard him sing "make you fell my love"  live- which I love-the harp solos were sublime.Bought a great t shirt I guess this was the last time a lot of these songs will be played as newalbum out MondayCan't waitMichael


Comments by Mike McHugh

One again at the show the old and the young, the sick and the lame, thedrunk and the sober, those to love it and those who will loathe it but amassed audience there to see what he had to give and he gives it allforever bringing back that something that some may say was loosened fromhis previous tight grip -  everything still there in those words of thesongs and everyone swaying to the rhythms of these legendary songs wasgreat. magic moments indeed!


Comments by Chris & Wendy Aldridge

Outside the streets were fillin’ up, the window was open wideA gentle breeze was blowin’, you could feel it from insideHe made his usual entrance lookin’so dandy and so fineYou may call me Terry; you may call me TimmyYou may call Bobby, you may call me Zimmy Why wait any longer for the one you loveWhen he’s standing in front of youWell the last thing I remember before I stripped and kneeledWas a trainload of fools bogged down  in a magnetic fieldA gypsy  with a broken flag and a flashing ringSaid, “Son, this ain’t a dream no more, it’s the real thingYes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving freeSilhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sandsWith all memory and fate driven deep beneath the wavesLet me forget about today until tomorrowAnd if we never meet again, baby, remember meHow my lone guitar played sweet for you that old time melodyAnd the harmonica around my neck, I blew it for you, freeNo one else could play that tune, you know it was up to meAre you so fast that you cannot see that I must have solitudeWhen I am in the darkness, why do you intrude?Do you know my world, do you know my kindOr must I explain?Will you let me be myselfOr is your love in vain?There’s a white diamond gloom on the dark side of this roomAnd a pathway that leads to the starsIf you don’t believe there’s a price for this sweet paradiseRemind me to show the scarsI have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the nightIn the violence of a summers dream, in the chill of a wintry lightIn the bitter dance of loneliness fading into spaceIn the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten faceWell, the Book of Leviticus and DeuteronomyThe law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachersIn the smoke of the twilight on a milk white steadMichelangelo indeed could’ve carved out your featuresResting in the fields, far from the turbulent spaceHalf asleep near the stars with a small dog licking your faceCrickets are chirpin’, the water is highThere’s a soft cotton dress on the line hangin’ dryWindow wide open, African treesBent over backwards from a hurricane breezeNot a word of goodbye, not even a noteShe gone with the man In the long black coatShe wears an Egyptian ringThat sparkles before she speaksWell  God is in His heavenAnd we all want what’s hisBut power and greed and corruptible seedSeem to be all there isLot of water under the bridge, lot of other stuff tooDon’t get up gentlemen, I’m only passing through


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