London, England


April 26, 2009

[Joseph Ashcroft], [Graham Cole], [Frank Ahern], [Trevor Townson], [Chris Morley], [Allan McInnes],
[Martin Gayford] [David Elek], [Darren Hirst], [PhilTheTill], [Geoff Marshall]

Review by Joseph Ashcroft

After years of dodging Bob Dylan live due to my parents amongst others
claiming he was ‘disastrous’ live in recent years I summoned up the
courage to go and see Bob live.  I am 23 years of age, have been listening
to Bob since I was about 17, and was so excited to see him if not a little
apprehensive.  The venue was brilliant, a really good atmosphere with
anticipation and excitement in the air.  Numerous celebrities were in
attendance, such as: Eric Clapton, Bill Nighy, James Mcavoy, Ryan Adams,
Roger Daltery.  Having listened to several bootlegs of Bob’s recent
performances, I was aware of what the concert would be like - Bob's
shattered vocals and strange singing. 

At about 8.20pm the lights went down and the classic “Columbia recording
artist Mr Bob Dylan” came on.  The band came out and a spritely, animated
Bob came jogging out, dressed with a  white cowboy hat on and they started
playing Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat – to which the audience rocked away.  I
wont give you a blow by blow over view, but it was very good….The setlist
did get a little bit saggy in the middle, and would of benefited from
playing something like ‘Not Dark Yet’ or something a little different from
the customary bluesy sound.  But overall it was brilliant and I thoroughly
enjoyed it.  I am going to see Bob at Liverpool arena on Friday, so it
will be nice to see him playing in a bigger venue.  Overall, delighted I
went, saw the man himself and really had a very good time.

Joseph Ashcroft


Review by Graham Cole

A few weeks ago, I was apparently one of thousands hammering away at the 
refresh button in the hope I’d get the magic “Tickets available” notice 
come up, instead of the “Sold out” or “This site has crashed” stuff that 
most of us eventually suffered. But luck was on my side because my son 
Sam did get a couple of tickets, which meant a trip up the M3 yesterday 
to get the much sought after wristband and ticket that would get us into 
he lovely Roundhouse for last night’s show.  Back in 1968, I can remember 
the Doors and Jefferson Airplane on the same bill there, in the days when 
light shows were just that and the, ahem, aroma emanating from such places 
took you to an altogether different level, and that was well before the 
music started up!

And so, on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon, we duly collected our necessary 
its and pieces and joined the short 80-strong queue waiting to be the first 
into the standing area.  This line, of course, is where Bob Dylan shows 
actually start, as you recognise familiar faces, and chat to new friends 
about the night before or the tour so far.  It was great to see Paul and 
Bokkie again and catch up on a whole range of news.  And, given the somewhat 
unusual method of applying for tickets, tonight had an element of the special 
about it, didn’t it?  Rumours were flying about as fast as copies of Together 
Through Life are probably flying off record shop racks today.  Would there be 
an acoustic set?  Would he play stuff off the new album?  Will David Hidalgo 
make an appearance?  The usual what will he play tonight that he has never 
played live before?  Was that Bob busking in heavy disguise earlier in Camden 
Market, or cruising past the line in a bass-heavy Subaru to look at these good 
folks queuing to see him?  Or, put simply, does Bob actually do special?  Now 
that’s a tough one, because anyone who has ever seen him live will give you 
times when, yes, this song or songs, or even a whole show, was special for 
them.  And, of course, for every one of those idiosyncratic special moments, 
there is equally someone who couldn’t see it, who thought the harmonica was 
stilted, the guitar in the wrong key, or Bob’s vocals were being filtered 
a drain.

But tonight, well, no this was going to be different, just because that’s the 
thing with this extraordinary man, nothing is certain and so he probably will 
pull Copper Kettle out of the hat and stun us all with such a curio.
So, nearly twenty-four hours on (and I’m sorry I couldn’t post it last night 
after midnight, but hey, maybe age is beginning to catch up with me, and I do 
need that sleep after all), was it the show we hoped for?  Well, none of those 
dreams we cherished in the Spring sunshine made it to the setlist, and in truth, 
song-wise, it was really just another show on the tour, with the usual changes 
to the tunes played.  But, of course, in saying this, we must remember that that 
allows for anyone to look for and find the pearls they loved from Bob and the 
band’s two hours on stage.

So what did we get for our money?  A lovely venue – the old engine shed looks 
fabulous, with lots of original-but-cleaned-up brickwork and the soot-free 
wooden rafters, enclosing a small auditorium, and an intimate stage for the boys.  
My deteriorating ears thought the sound was generally good and any errors here 
were down to the mix on individual songs.  So all was set for go, and a tightly-
packed crowd waited patiently until 8.15 (the O2 starting time) to see the 
roadies emerge and evidently change all the setlists (so yes, the hope rises, 
there would be numbers from TTL as well as an old rarity!).  And then at 8.23, 
with no Aaron Copeland, but the short verbals (different voice though), a back 
curtain parted and on they came to inevitable rapturous applause.

The setlist appears elsewhere of course, so I’ll mention things that struck me 
as Bob and the band wound though a nicely varied set.  Unusually for me, 
preferring the quieter tunes, I really loved most of the rockier numbers tonight 
so the opening Leopard-skin was a great opener, with hugely clear vocals against 
clear white lighting.  The tone hushed immediately for Don’t Think Twice, which as 
I look back on it, was probably my highlight of the evening.  It was soft and 
gentle, with some clear guitar picking that gave it an, at times, jaunty flow, 
and, with some really good harmonica work from the man, I even closed my eyes at 
one stage and saw Bob and Suze on that album cover …

I’m afraid that although it was quiet, Tangled was a mess to these ears, and I 
really only enjoyed the tiger stripes on the backdrop for this song.  The vocals 
seemed muddy, and the harp now perfunctory.  But then it was all change again for 
a slow, deep bluesy Million Miles with a lovely slinky sound, to be followed by 
another excellent rocky Rollin’ and Tumblin’ against a polka-dot lighting pattern 
(I always loved that shirt!).  Instrumentally, I thought Tryin’ to Get to Heaven 
steel had any real effect tonight.  Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum has never been a 
favourite of mine, but here he was confounding my expectations on this one (isn’t 
that how he works on us?) and I loved the ringing guitar that held this piece 
together so effectively.

In reviewing Sheffield and the O2, Ken Cowley used the terms nap opportunities 
and snoozefest for those parts of a show which rather lose their hold on the 
/watcher and maybe the next two or three songs were my Roundhouse snoozefest, and 
it was only when Po’ Boy came in that I started paying full attention again, even 
if I was knocked back temporarily by a substandard Highway 61 Revisited straight 
after.  For the record, I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) was 
awful, and this is a song I normally enjoy, and both Sugar Baby and High Water 
were bland.  But Ain’t Talkin’ got things back on track and from here on the 
hurly-burly into the encores was fine by me.  Talkin’, with it’s deep gold 
ighting, was again sultry and had Donnie grooving up and down with his violin, 
Summer Days was just slightly pre-season, but none the worse for that, and LARS, 
taken less anthemically than in the past was a lovely, firm version bringing out 
all the spite of the lyrics.

And so to the encores, and still no new songs nor surprises, but excellent, 
stylish closers to a great show, for these ears, with the usual brief 
announcements interspersed, including a joke at Stu’s expense, and a big hug, 
I think, through the darkness, for Denny.

So, what to make of it all?  I’ve read plenty of other less-than-happy reviews, 
but that’s fine by me.  Maybe it’s partly the glass-half-empty/glass-half-full 
syndrome and how you go into a show.  No it wasn’t perfect (shouldn’t we have 
given up on that hope a long time ago?), but there were plenty of highlights for 
me at any rate, and indeed for Sam, who came away glowing, especially when we 
found ourselves wondering whether to lie down in the road in front of the tour 
buses as they emerged from the security backlot and demand a photo! Or when we 
later found ourselves literally following (I prefer escorting!) the two buses 
towards the West (End?) and off into the night …

Me too, I’m heading off for another joint, on Tuesday to Cardiff, with Loraine 
this time, and with the same sense of hope, dreams, and anticipation that I 
have with every show I can get to.  Yes, I know I could be disappointed, though 
it doesn’t seem to happen, but I’ll always be looking for those fabulous pearls 
he drops most every night.  They may be few in number sometimes, but like Don’t 
Think Twice tonight, they shine long and brightly in my head at least.

Graham Cole


Review by Frank Ahern

A brief review of the Roundhouse concert:  The reviewing press will no
doubt once again be lamenting the desecration of  Dylan's old hits (yawn,
yawn), will be recording incredulity at the harsh, croaking voice, and
will be expressing indignation at the fact that  Bob didn't say Hello to
his audience.  All of which is irrelevant to the real experience of the
actual concert.  

It wasn't one of the best - the set list was a little disappointing and 
contained no surprises - but in many ways it affirmed what is important 
and enduring about Dylan:  his desire never to stand still with his 
material, his ability to create new and subtle meanings by manipulating 
his (much damaged) voice, and the sheer mystique of his presence as he 
leads his band through the evening.

Interestingly, two thirds of the set consisted of songs written in the 
last twelve years - i.e. songs that suit the limited vocal range
his voice now has, and he was drawn particularly to 'Love and Theft'
songs. The over-done and never very interesting 'Tweedle Dee and Tweedle
Dum' was the weakest of these. In contrast he gave us a very powerful
'Sugar Baby' and a sublime 'Po' Boy'.   The great strength in these and in
the driving 'Summer Days' and  'Highway 61 Revisited' was precisely that
raddled voice that still has real power  and layers of  texture to it.  

Where Dylan is clever is in adapting arrangements of old songs so that he 
can operate expressively within his constrained vocal range while at the 
same time offering emotionally true readings of them.  Accordingly, he 
gave good accounts of  'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right' and 'Tangled
Up in Blue' and once again breathed meaningful life in his old anthem,
'Like a Rolling Stone'.  On the other hand, his arrangement of  'I Don't
Believe You' - ill-suited to his vocal range - reduced the song to a
repetitive and empty shell of  its original.  

The highlight for me was 'Tryin' to Get to Heaven'-  poignant, plangent
and triumphant in its new arrangement, a great centre-piece to a fine

Frank Ahern


Review by Trevor Townson

They say that bad luck comes in threes, I however say that if I did  not
have any bad luck I would not have any luck at all. Having suffered the 
housing crash and the credit crash this year already what a joy that on 
Wednesday 25th March, not yet a third of the way through the year, we 
suffer the computer crash sending reverberations of yet more gloom and 
disappointment world wide. I had made a stupid error thinking that I could
fit purchasing a ticket into my work schedule, cannot take longer than 15
minutes tops! Failing to get a ticket and realising that there is no 
suck'cess like failure and that failure is no suck'cess at all, having put
it  off all my life there was only one thing to be done, it was time for
me to find a buddy.

Black Wednesday was soon put behind me as into my life enters my buddy, 
Anthony (Tony).

I was already in London from the 02 the previous night, a show that I was 
quite surprised some hardened fans had decided not to go to, I guess I was
doing it for completeness myself more than anything and could have given
it a  miss. From where I was sitting to the side however the sound was
fantastic  so it was a case of sitting back, listening and ticking it off
the list,  that is not saying it was in any way bad just that I am not
reviewing that  show.

I arrived at the Roundhouse a little before 11am and there was already a 
lot of people in line for the ticket office, I was told people had been
there since 7.15am. At 11.00 the first people started to collect their 
tickets and then walk a few yards to another rail forming the queue for 
the door, which was not by the way on the sunny side of the street. 

Tony was coming from out of town so all there was for me to do was to keep
in touch and await his arrival which he eventually did slightly ahead of 
schedule about 1.30. The ticket queue had settled down by then so we
simply went in and collected our tickets and arm bands before joining a
slightly longer line than we had expected. 

We found ourselves behind a guy from Sri Lanka called Asela, that is not
to say Asela had put in the effort to get there as he was now actually
living in London so in fact he had made hardly any effort at all compared 
to me or my buddy but we quickly formed a group of three. This was only the
second Bob Dylan concert Asela had been to the first being Wembley in
1984 which was interestingly the same tour that I first saw Bob perform

Later in the afternoon some guy comes around handing out booklets  
"Revolution In The Air, The Songs Of Bob Dylan Vol. 1: 1957-73". Bloody 
hell I say, 1957 how far are they going to go back? They are just not
trying why not make it 1947, surely someone must have a bootleg of him
singing Happy  Birthday at a pals birthday party or a carol at his school
nativity play.

Actually Asela was already through and had speed read the whole booklet
in well under a minute gathering all the information and was "absolutely
spot on" to find reference to the late Bert  Cartwright, the most
knowledgeable of Dylan-Bible scholars. I was alarmed to find that Clinton
had not made us aware of the fact earlier and astonished to hear such
news as I had never been made aware that Bert was ill.

Up to that point the most interesting thing to happen in over three hours 
was to see a car parked across the road gradually develop a slow puncture.
Well that is apart from the arrival of two blacked out black buses, oh
and yes a little later a small executive mini bus stopped at the lights
in front of us with Tony Garnier sat in the front with the window down,
he was safe m until the American fans saw him, bet he was pleased by the time  the
lights turned green and he could depart with a slightly  relieved wave of
his hand !   

Outside, the Roundhouse staff were interacting a lot with the fans in the 
queue and were there with them all day. I had to put one guy straight
however by  telling him they would run when he said they had assessed the
situation and  crowd and did not expect any incident with the entry from
what they  could see of the people in line. "They will run, believe me
they will run"  I told him. 

In the end they controlled the entry very well, the first GA Dylan  show I
have ever attended without any running and pushing, the odd incident of 
queue jumping but to the rail you walked as people entered in small groups
under  threat of going to the back of the queue. Controlling the entry is
not  impossible it just needs managing, really all you need is someone who
can talk  to the people to tell them how it is going to be as generally
most  people like to be guided and for things to be fair, if the person
telling them  can do it more in the manner of Clint Eastwood, "Now I am
going to explain  this only once, this is how it is going to be", so much
the better!

The three of us enter together and find ourselves two to three back from 
the rail behind what Tony called the Hair Bear Bunch, probably two of the 
tallest guys at the front. Tony suggested I try work his way more but that
would  have meant making far too much space back so I decided we split
East West away  from one another. 

They say if you have two clocks you never have the right time. Around me 
were many clocks all ticking different so I did not have a clue what  time
it was, all I know is the show started very late and I was cursing under

Came to pass that was not the reason for the delay but a change to the set
 list was. Everything comes to he who waits so eventually before us we
have in  almost as large as life form Bob and his Band.

By now my slight repositioning had found me somehow surrounded by Bob 
Rock Chicks, seven of the most gorgeous young ladies in the place and  I
stood head and shoulders above them all. I do not think Bob could actually
see  them but he probably saw me surrounded by space and found himself
thinking  what is that guys problem. Bob Chicks were all around me below
the line of his  sight but they could all see him as the bopped and jived
around in the dark 
 beneath me. 

I was stood there looking at Bob large as life in front of me singing 
"Trying To Get To Heaven Before They Close The Door" and I just wanted to
shout  "Hey Bob the door is still open and I just stepped through it ! " 

Standing head and shoulders above the Bob Rock Chicks who all have  long
hair does not come without a down side and that is entanglement!  It was a
problem clapping as I could not easily manoeuvre my hands clear of all 
the surrounding hair. I had noticed this earlier on by having to abandon
my Polo  Mints due to similar difficulties and limitations of arm

There was only three things I could do, hope to somehow become double 
jointed during the introduction so that I could raise my hands backwards, 
hope that he sings Like A Rolling Stone every song so that I would only
need to  raise my hands once and continue clapping throughout the whole
show with only a  minor chance of being considered a Looney or, devise a
scheme to raise my hands  using my existing joints to avoid the hair that
encircled me. Being an engineer  I decided on the later and soon devised a
means of raising my arms like a  Pheonix from the flames. OK so there was
still the odd occasion of  entanglement but at least they thought it was
their fault now and it was them  catching my watch strap through their

Earlier I had been looking at the stage set up (as you sadly do, not a lot
 else to do among the Rock Chicks at my age) and noticed some huge
 right above Bobs keyboard. It came to pass later, the price of fame, as I
felt like shouting, "Help. help, someone please help, Mr Dylan is melting
away".  No worries, Bob we were melting too, even your Rock Chicks!

I would like to review this show against another review made by Neil 
McCormick and say I agree with almost everything that Neil says but can
also  understand in a way why it is so. However, Neil said, "His voice, 
his most potent instrument is ruined beyond repair", this is untrue, Bob
is  just not using it right and no doubt knows it, he certainly does not
need Neil  or me to tell him.

What about the word changes in Po Boy from "Freddy or not ..." to "Jenny
 not ...", Po Boy either way I guess it is bye and bye.

Going out we hit a wall of a queue, Tony was stopping over so it was a
 at the bar for him so off he went. Asela and me stood in line to get out
but the  line was not moving so I asked him if he would like a Coke before
 leaving whilst waiting as I was thirsty and had a long journey  back.

We stood talking at the bar drinking our Coke as Bianca Jagger walks by, 
Asela tells me about his return to England from Sri Lanka and I was glad
that he  had come back, my day would not have been the same without him
but eventually we  bade farewell remembering that there are some people
that, you do not  forget, even meeting them one time or two.

Tony and I would be meeting soon again as we both have front row  tickets
at Birmingham mid week and my friend Patricia will be with me there too 
(absolutely no chance of Shelter From The Storm Pat so no cause to 

Away back to the hotel on foot, pick up the car and away to the M1  and
back home North where I belong, the curve on the entry to the M1 from 
Brents Cross must have been designed by a Yorkshire man, a perfect curve,
the  curve of a Battle of Britain spitfire pilot banking away and flying
back to  base, back home, mission accomplished, press the accelerator to
the  floor and go, Brilliant.     

Trevor Townson


Review by Chris Morley

What  a joy this show was and at a great intimate venue (the smallest in
which i have seen Bob in what is now counting in double figures). the show
was a mix of 1960/70  with the most recent records and i do not recall
hearing any track played live in the same style as last night. leopard
skin pill box got the night off to a real jumping start followed by older
tracks which were so incredible in effect that they became like  an
evolution of the originals. million miles and the next 2 tracks were less
changed than the originals but saw Bob really getting into the night.
highlights were summer days,LARS which was pushed to the limits of energy.
by my count only 5 tracks were played the previous night so Bob is clearly
intent on keeping everyone guessing..long may it be so.

i reckon for atmosphere this was the best show i have yet seen since
Blackbushe so roll on Birmingham


Review by Allan McInnes

" I came down from Edinburgh on the train on Saturday morning and had a 
grest time meeting old friends over the weekend. I really loved Camden 
Town - great street life.

I have seen Bob a lot over the years and know not to build my hopes up too
much as far as hearing any rareity is concerned. I was hoping however this
might be different given the so called intimate atmosphere of The 
Roundhouse and that the new album was out next day.

To be honest I was a bit disappointed, not by the quality of the band, but
the overall ambience of the event.

My ticket was Main Space standing. All this standing at shows is fine for
people who are prepared to lie about on the pavement in all weathers for
about 8 hours but should you really have to put yourself thru all that 
just to get a decent view of the band?

Bob was due on at 8pm. The Roundouse opened their doors at 7 pm thus 
creating a ginormous queue that went up hills, down hills and over a 
bridge. I kid you not. I started queing at 7.25  and made it in at 8.10 pm
with hundreds still to make it. How come the Roundhouse did not have the
foresight to open the doors at 6 pm say?

By the time I gained entry there was no danger of getting a decent spot.
Added to that I'm only a wee guy so the most I saw was Bob's hat 
occasionaly when he started up at about 8.45 pm.

By the way Bob, if your reading this, what the hells wrong with erecting a
big screen at the Arena events at least?

From the fans perspective, whats wrong with just sitting down and doing 
the hand jive -  Bob just might even be stunned by our communal audacity
and delve into some of the 2 or 300 songs he has hardly ever performed for
about the last 20 years.

When all's said and done I still enjoyed the night with Tangled Up and 
Charlie Paton being my highlights.

Allan McInnes


Review by Martin Gayford

A great day yesterday - the hot sunshine as we sat in line helped take 
our minds off the little man doing David Blue impersonations at the
queuers.  Getting into the Roundhouse was calm and orderly (although I
was forced to put both the vegetable pasties I'd bought in the bin before
I could go in), and we made it to a nice spot 5 people back from the
front, with a clear view of Bob and his legs.  With the exception of two
couples who slurped and groped their way through the 80 minute wait, and
the inevitable 'pushing through' of less polite folks - bless 'em - as
well as the occasional near fight during the show ("You pushed passed
me", "Excuse me, I did NOT!"), the crowd was laid back and well behaved.
Not sure if I can say the same for Bob, though.  The show started really
positively with Don't Think Twice and Tangled Up In Blue which, along
with Po' Boy and Tryin' To Get To Heaven were the highlights of the night
for me.  Million Miles was good too.  By the time Rollin' & Tumblin'
started, something was causing Bob to fret frown, shake his head and
glare at Stu Kimbell quite a bit.  He also just stood, leaning one hand
on the keyboard for a bit, turning his back to the crowd a few times,
which I'd never seen him do before (worth the price of admission alone!!).  
Bob's spotlight was very bright, and he theatrically wiped a pool
of sweat from his nose at one point, so maybe that was a problem, but
during the band intros, Bob said something about Stu going to rehab ("No,
no, no.."?), to which Stu glared at Bob and asked Tony to repeat it. The
arrangement of Po' Boy is lovely, with more of a punch than on the album,
great harmonica as on the old songs at the start.  Actually, almost every
song had quite a punch, it's just that when things didn't seem to be
working smoothly for him, the punch was more of a kicking to the ground
than an rousing fist in the air.  I don't mind, as I get a thrill from
being 15 feet from him (he looked great and quite weird, as he usually
does, and actually very much like the 1965 picture in the programme with
the Fender bass) but it was more of a 'let's pop in and catch Bob trying
some things out' show than a 'classic' show, and certainly no surprises.
And no guitar.  And almost none of the songs I'd hoped for.  But - it
was great to see him, and good to have my expectations dashed once again.


Review by David Elek

This was approximately my 50th Dylan show since 1978, and unfortunately the 
worst. Even worse than 87 and 91 and 2005…In between those years, there 
were of course great shows. Or at least concerts with occasional highlights. 
Last night there were none.

Any thoughts of pleasant surprises in the setlist, given that this was the most 
intimate show Dylan has ever played in London, were dispelled. Much of the 
blame lies with the current band. They are really dull. Turgid, unispiring and just 
not very good, apart from long-time stalwart Tony Garnier on bass. They are 
just a wall of noise; you can barely hear Dylan´s voice through the mire. 
Sometimes they even play in differing keys. The days of top-notch players like 
Charlie Sexton are long-gone. Probably Dylan persists with this lot because
next to them his own playing is acceptable.

I last saw him in 2007 at a relatively small venue (Philipshalle Düsseldorf) and 
perhaps 25% of it was magic. Modern Times had recently come out and those 
songs were fresh; the enthusiasm, carried over to the older songs as well. Then 
in 2008, he didn´t play in either UK or Germany, so I didn´t go. When this year´s 
tour was announced, I decided I didn´t want to spoil the memory of my last 
show by seeing him in a huge arena with this band playing the same old setlists 
in ever-decreasing quality. Then I got very lucky and managed to obtain a ticket 
to the Roundhouse, expecting something special. It was not to be.

Last night the setlist was poor, arrangements were shoddy, Dylan´s voice was 
shot – I think he may have “sung” a few lines of Rolling Stone and Tryin´ to get 
to Heaven – the rest was just noise. Still, at least the noise covered up the 
interminable constant chatter from the audience. I don´t know why some 
people bother to go to concerts these days, certainly not to hear music. I had 
occasion to ask several times for people around me to stop talking during songs, 
and was met with looks of having offended them.

Dylan himself seemed to be enjoying it, lots of smiling, some of it probably even 
genuine. Still, you wonder why he bothers to put out a new record – it´s 
released today, I´m sure it will be quite good, at least better than the shows – 
and then not play even a single song from it. Instead, he fills 50% of his set 
list with not even the best songs from his last 3 albums – Million Miles, Rollin´ 
and Tumblin´,  Tweedle Dee, Sugar Baby, High Water, Po Boy, Ain´t Talkin, 
Summer Days, Spirit on the Water – in arrangements which make them all 
sound the same.

Occasionally, he pulled out a harmonica to great cheers, and then proceded to 
blow into it like a 9 year old.

David Elek


Review by Darren Hirst

Immediately following Bob Dylan's shows in London this weekend I read
droves of reviews complaining. Now I would have expected them to complain
about some things - the engineering works that meant there was no tube
service heading in or out of North Greenwich on Saturday, the hours of
queuing outside of the Roundhouse on Sunday and the insensitivity of the
door staff in closing off the toilets, hours before the concert, to those
who were having to wait outside, perhaps. But whilst these matters got
their own fair share of deserved criticism, it was the artist's
performance which took the lion's share of negativity - a verdict which
left me rather bemused. One member of the public posted on a messageboard
that it was a good thing that Dylan insisted on not using the large
screens at the o2 and that he couldn't work out which one of the distant
figures on the stage was Mr Dylan - because if he couldn't have figured
that out, he would have marched down the front and punched poor Bob on the
nose. Now I've been a Dylan fan for over thirty years and I know all about
the variable quality of his live shows and his periodic apparent
disinterest in what the show amounts to and all the rest - but these shows
were Dylan at his idiosyncratic best. Sunday night the O2 was the host to
that other giant of popular music "Girls Aloud" and if you want to hear
crystal clear versions of all the hits just as they were originally
recorded, bright colours and dance routines then perhaps that was the show
you should have been at. But if you're going to see Bob Dylan at least
judge him on his ability to reach his apparent goals. He will trawl
through all his catalogue of songwriting and redesign the melodies on a
whim. He won't talk to the audience much if at all (let's be fair when he
has done this - for example, at his gospel shows in the early 80s, nobody
wanted to listen). He won't pick up his guitar and pretend this is 1962
just because you want him to. But if you want to hear an artist recreating
songs from his best known to his most obscure, then perhaps this is the
place for you. The fans are apparently quite happy with his current tour.
The band isn't the most adventurous. He changes the bulk of his setlist
most every night - although some of those who watch closest tell me that
they can guess what he is going to play according to what night of the
week it is. The opener changes each night - The Wicked Messenger, Rainy
Day Women, Maggie's Farm, Gotta Serve Somebody but often according to
which day the calendar shows. For example, Sunday night seems most likely
to be gospel night. One audience was recently treated to Gotta Serve
Somebody, I Believe in You, Every Grain of Sand and Tryin' to Get to
Heaven. Monday night had none of these. There is a kind of perverse logic
to all this.

The two nights, then, were very different affairs with the Roundhouse
proving the better show partially because of the increased intimacy and
better atmosphere of the smaller venue.

Highlights? Saturday had an excellent version of "Things Have Changed"
with Donnie Herron echoing the riff on violin. "The Lonesome Death of
Hattie Carroll" was all bent out of shape but still has power to make you
think about humanity's inability to treat all of society like human
beings. There was a powerful and echo-ey version of "The Ballad of Hollis
Brown" which was driven by Tony Garnier on double bass. "Po' Boy" and
"When the Deal Goes Down" were full of all that is best about Dylan's
current work and were drawn close to the versions that you would be
familiar with from the albums. For me, the best was "Workingman's Blues
#2" with Dylan cherishing each line and obviously enjoying himself.
Saturday also produced indistinct, poor versions of "Rollin' and Tumblin'"
and "Honest with Me" so this was far from a flawless show - but it was

Sunday was better. Nothing here was fumbled just different degrees of high
quality. The older songs "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right",
"Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat", "Tangled Up in Blue", "Like A Rolling Stone"
were straightforward enough renditions and kept the crowd on board when
perhaps the attention of the casual visitor might be tempted to drift.
"Million Miles" and "High water (for Charley Patton)" were rumbling,
threatening and apocalyptic. The peaks were "Ain't Talkin'" and "Tryin' to
get to Heaven" where the lyrics were biting and heartfelt.

So Dylan in London wasn't quite a triumph but this was a very good weekend
indeed for music . He will always divide opinion (for what it counts for,
I think it's probably part of his intention) but for those who get it,
these were shows we should be talking about for years to come.

Darren Hirst


Comments by PhilTheTill

Headed up to Camden Lock early to get wrist band for tonight's show,
lovely sunny day, went to Camden  market, great atmosphere, even dipped my
big toe into the Thames! Highlights of sitting outside a pub in Camden
were, a particular Irish guy being released that day from Wandsworth
Prison, was trying his very hardest to get back as soon as he could, he
duely got his wish in about 15 Min's when 3 police cars arrived & carted
him off. It was the Shinning greatest hits! Rumours abound that record
company people, jetting in to hear him, play his new album released
following day. They don't know Bob Most Bobheads & Bobcats very
disappointed with run of the mill show. Poor old Duncan had postponed his
trip to Bangladesh to see Bob at the Roundhose risking his lively hood to



Review by Geoff Marshall

There was definitely something going on. Between 8 o clock and 25
past, Bob's long-time mainstay ( the big guy with the long white hair
tied back in a plaited pony tail) sat with a couple of helpers on the
stage, obviously re-writing set-lists and placing them the around the
stage. Despite the huge sense of privilege that the couple of
thousand of us felt as having got tickets to such a small-venue gig,
the Dylanologists  in the crowd never thought this meant that either
the rumoured solo acoustic set, or that something from Together
Through Life would materialise. The disbelievers pointed out that we
had got London Calling back in 2005. Anything could happen and the
atmosphere crackled.

I had seen some clips of the Scandinavian shows on YouTube and was
worried about Bob's voice. The range has long gone but he had long ago
introduced a gorgeous, snarling delivery, leaning down hard and long
in to the notes ;ref Lonesome day Blues, live if you can get it. Bob
was up for it. He was going to work. He knew this was a special gig
and he wasn't about to let anyone down. We roared our lungs out in
approval and, guess what, he turned to us and smiled!

Other reviewers have gone through the set song by song. I will just
say that Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, never a favourite, was
delivered with huge energy and commitment . Bob finished with sweat
pouring off him. Tangled Up in Blue got some lyric changes, I think
from the Real Live album version but may be some new lines too. Sugar
baby was perfect while I Don't Believe just did not work. Bob seemed
bored with it from half way through. A storming new version of
Highway 61 got us roaring again and the LARS was majestic, a
whole-hearted, absolutely non-routine version that built to a
shuddering crescendo. As it ended Bob stepped to the front of the
stage with his arms raised in a "Well, folks what did you think of
THAT" gesture. We told him. He smiled and went back into the

For the encores, Bob almost ran to the front of the stage and with
the lights still down, did a great sideways shuffle almost the width
of the stage. You had to be down the front to see it and again, that
big smile. He was getting paid peanuts and was enjoying the sheer joy
of making a connection with a small audience.

There has been some controversy over a possible spat with Stu and
then a joke at his expense. What I saw that was serious was some
exchanges of stares - Stu smiling, Bob not. A little while later in a
insrumental break, Bob just stopped. He turned three-quarters away
from us, rested his left hand on the key board and did not move for
about 20 seconds. Tony tried to catch his eye. Then he swung back
into action.  When he introduced the band he was all good humour
again. Just down the road from the Roundhouse is a pub called the
Hawley Arms which is where the Camden music set hang out. Pete
Docherty and Amy Winehouse were regulars and still drop in. When
introducing Stu Bob said something like "Stu's just out of rehab. No,
no, no!"

Stu and the rest of the band laughed a lot at this. It may have been a
comment on some error Stu made, but my view is that is was a recognition
of where he was that prompted Bob to refer to Amy's biggest hit. He
doesn't miss much.

After 18 songs the lights were a while coming back on. Some thought we
would get more. The Dylanologists knew we wouldn't and we filed back out
into the night.

On a personal note I was at The Albert hall in '66 and have seen at least
show from every UK tour since. The Great Performances? '66 indeed, the
tour caught on the Budokan discs (you had to be there) and the best ever,
Hammersmith 2003 with its mesmerising Romance in Durango and a fistful of
other glories.  The Roundhouse, despite Bob being well into his 68th year,
was definitely in my all time top ten.


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