Dublin, Ireland

The O2

May 6, 2009

[Ger Daly], [Angel Uriarte], [Hattie Carroll], [Markus Prieur], [Brian Steedman]

Review by Ger Daly

A great show. My dad's first, he knew exactly how Bob is sounding these
days, listens in to TTRH,  a fan renewed. But finally seeing the man in
person surpassed his expectations. The band (they look like the blues
brothers says dad), Dylan's look (like a chanel suit with yellow piping!)
but most of all my dad noted the playing from all involved. It was very
tight indeed. 

Wicked messenger was odd in it's mood, just forboding in it's defiance,
very well rehearsed. Girl of the North Country delicate and quite
mournful, already the mood was becoming pretty dark in the house, this was
where Bob wanted to take us, well just for a while. 

Man in the Long Black Coat creeped us out but we were eager for so much
more by now. A slight relief in Stuck Inside of Mobile, jaunty crowd
pleaser and just as well too, this slot yesterday had Just like a Woman
which had us all singing along already. Then back to the slow gloom that
Bob wasn't going to shake off that easy, Blind Willie McTell was very
moving, the voice cracking, the music grasping for another chance. 

Desolation Row was a surprise to hear here, the sound in the venue perfect
and Tony's work especially exquisite. It was Tony's playing I kept
noticing tonight, a brilliant musician indeed, Bob is so lucky to have
found him all those year's ago. 

It's Alright Ma, good version, more sixties! Po' Boy gorgeous playing from
Bob. Highway 61 fine indeed, tighter than yesterday, noticed dad really
diggin it, happy days.

Ballad of a Thin Man was biting, just mean as should be. The arrangement
on I Don't believe You melting round the room, nice one. Ain't
Talkin', alone on the edge of the world, no one else can sing a song like
this in this way. Very unique and powerful.

That ol barnstormer Summer Days went down real well, the whole joint
gettin down to it, I remembered a few years ago it really was just a giant
oversized barn but minus the sawdust on the floor, which tonight we
brought along (just kiddin')! All the playing so honed in and sounding
fresh out of the box, guitars cracklin. Whenever Love and Theft's forties
juke joint hop sound appeared it had us smiling like 2 clean shaven

Again I'm loving this Like a Rolling Stone song, now where did that come
from? what happened to the 6 min dirge? Again the extra vamping and no one
sure when Bob was goin to come back in.

Encore's were all go. All Along the Watchtower with Bob sounding like the
mad baying old goblin who had warned us all along. If You Ever go to
Houston not as lively as yesterday, crowd didn't seem to respond to this
new one, to these ears the organ was turned down when it needs to be good
and loud. A surprise of Spirit on the Water played with great care. Blowin
in the Wind.. ah please Bob don't go. 

Bob and band put their all into tonight's performance. Would have been a
treat to hear another new one from Together Through Life, or more guitar
from our man in black and yellow piping. But in my book it's fine when
kept hoping then surprised and then even let down, it's a live on the
road, ever enfolding show, how the performers feel on the night is what we
get. Long may they roam. Can't wait to catch em again. Ger Daly

Again many thanks for your wonderful site and the time you take.


Review by Angel Uriarte

A young father from Israel with his ten year old son, Highway 61 being this 
little boy his favourite album.  A man in his mid sixties who is seeing Bob for 
the first time in life and remembers how he was shocked when he heard 
Blowing in the wind when he was 15.He has a seat, but will stand close to 
the stage with me for more than an hour before the concert starts. A 
young couple who will marry soon explains to me after the show that they 
came with the girl's parents. A woman in her midlife doesn't mind to wait 
at the entrance from as early as one pm only to be at the rail.  So Bob has 
finally covered all ages. 

The place was full both days. The second night the set was packed with 
hard core songs and bluesy ones one after the other, you know, the Blind 
Willie and Po Boy, the Desolation Row and It's All Right Ma. Hard stuff. But 
I would say the band leaves all work to Bob and Tony in these songs, the 
guitarmen could be seen relaxing a bit. 

Wicked messenger opened the door to a not uptempo show. I could see 
clearly in all the members of the band that they were not going to sweat 
tonite. This song always falls a bit rude to me, but since Bob is treating it 
a bit differently, it's ok this time.

For all of you who don't like Summer days, here is one to beat all bad 
comments. Really. And listen to the Watchtower tonite, cause it came 
really new too. Houston again, so sweet a ballad, fits perfectly.

Man in the long coat, very much appreciated. Ballad of thin man extended 
to no end and for exquisite tastes only. Spirit in the water live falls behind 
the studio version, but watch Bob suddenly enjoying  himself with it at the 
end, adding unexpected harp. Highway rocked, as always. Rolling Stone 
doesn't let you down. For all the beauty that Girl from the north country 
conceals, I am never able to grasp it, it always passes like a north wind.

And my first timer friend got his Blowing in the wind after so many years.
He had remained stoically there, he could have been sitting, but chose to 
suffer the heat and elbow room while listenning with  interest and 


Review by Hattie Carroll

Firstly, a big thanks to O2 for the new venue,its a vast improvement on
the old Point,especially the sound quality which was fantastic. Must admit
I was a little disapointed with the set list from the first night,with 
the exception of course of the Premier of "Houston", however, Bobs
seemingly improved mood,and the tightness of the band, did augar well for
the second show..We were not to be disapointed a second time ! From the
moment they struck into Wicked Messenger I had the much longed for feeling
of a "great show" beginning...Bob was on fire !, to most seasoned Dylan
freaks, I think the Set List speaks for itself,and I will leave it to
others to dissect it.From my point of view,after 150 plus shows this was
right up there.Totally Fan***** tastic. Comisserations to my friends
Nick,John,and Danny who couldnt make the trip....sorry guys you missed a
classic. To anyone else who was there and didnt enjoy..a simple
message..Dont go again, Dylan isnt for you, Dublin 6th May was The Man at
the height of his powers, and as Lamb Chop would have said...They dont
deserve you Bobby.


Review by Markus Prieur

Whereas during the first show on the 5th of May Bob Dylan seemed to have
more fun, the second night on the 6th of May seemed overall to be more
serious to me, all business, with less clowning around. Granted, the first
night had serious songs as well, as the second one had its share of fun
and rocking songs, but the balance seemed to be shifted somehow. Anyway, I
was glad to be back, this time directly at the rail, to see the last show
of this European spring tour of 2009. And what a show it was, with Bob
Dylan singing extremely focused for a longer period of time than I can
recall in my recent concert experiences. This concert, Dylan’s 25th on
the Emerald Isle, was a grand finale of a fine tour, and I am glad I went
up from Cork to Dublin for those two unique shows, my 62nd and my 63rd Bob
date, twelve of them on this island (all the Irish shows since Vicar

Ok, this time the repeats from the first night were not only two of the
three last songs of the second, as it had been back in November 2005, but
a grand total of seven of the seventeen songs from the first night were
among the eighteen songs played during the second night, one of the best
of these being a repeat I can easily live with, the still fantastic
“Ain’t Talkin’”, again as song number twelve in the set (and this
time one of only two “Modern Times” songs during his second Irish show
since the release of that album). Also interesting was “Stuck Inside Of
Mobile” with no harp solos on the second night, whereas he did play four
harp solos during this song the night before. The other very memorable
repeat was another very fine performance of the brand new “If You Ever
Go To Houston”, which featured two short harp solos this time, and was
sung even better and more focused than on the first night. Very enjoyable
to see it live for a second time around, still working extremely well in a
live setting.

The show started strong with great rocking arrangement of “The Wicked
Messenger”, followed by two songs with Bob playing guitar, the second of
which was an early peak for me, an outstandingly beautiful and focused
version of “Man In The Long Black Coat”, which was the first one I saw
live since 2003 (within the same walls). It was also one of only three of
the 28 songs we heard on both nights written and released between 1967 and
2001. The other two were “Under The Red Sky” from the first night, and
the fifth song of the second night, a very focused “Blind Willie
McTell”, for the second time performed in Ireland (after Cork 2006).
This was followed by a fine rendition of “Desolation Row”, which was
the first of seven songs during the show which featured Dylan on harp, the
most intense of which was a very strong version of “Ballad Of A Thin
Man”, which I also saw last in Cork in 2006.

Which leaves me to mention my personal peak of the show, which was the
only song of the night I had not yet seen live before, and had never hoped
to see live before this tour was already two weeks old, an awesomely jaw
dropping and focused rendition of “PO’ BOY” (with harp and all, and
the strongest delivery during the last verse). “PO’ BOY” is one of
my two favorite tracks on “Love & Theft” (the other one,
"MISSISSIPPI", I had the pleasure to witness already in Jérez in 2008).
After “PO’ BOY was recorded, it was performed live very rarely from
2001 to 2005, and only in the US; before almost four years later, in April
2009, Dylan surprised a lucky German audience in Saarbrücken during one
of those fine Sunday shows with his first ever European performance of
"PO' BOY". This was followed by eight more appearances of this gem in
front of French, Dutch, Italian, English, and Scottish audiences, before
Dylan decided to play it one more time in Europe, this time to the Irish.
So during the last month of the 2009 spring tour Bob Dylan chose to
perform "PO' BOY" ten times, which is more often than all eight US
performances from 2001 to 2005 combined. And to be present during one of
those European performances of "PO' BOY", especially during a mighty fine
one as the Dublin version, was worth the trip alone, even without the two
versions of “If You Ever Go To Houston” and the 26 songs I had already
seen before. Well done, Bob.

Markus Prieur


Review by Brian Steedman

Just back after a trip to the West of Ireland, so my first chance to comment.

This show has been well-covered, with some good enthusiastic reviews. I saw 
both Dublin shows with my friends Andy and JennyG across from the UK and, 
on both nights we were all on or close to the rail, and sat down with a few 
pints of the black stuff afterwards to check our reactions. We seemed generally 
to be in agreement about the whole thing, and most people we spoke with 
seemed to be of a similar frame of mind in their judgements. So I won't go 
through the whole thing, but pick up on a few things that I don't think have 
got the emphasis so far I would like to add in.

Bob clearly knows that here in Dublin he will get a big supportive audience 
reaction, and appreciates this. (In Sheffield the whole thing was at a much 
lower level of intensity, with clearly lots of less committed spectators.) On the 
5th, he was joking with the band, and seemed to be concentrating on a band 
feel; on the 6th, he and Tony and Donny stretched out more and left the 
guitars some way back. This was done by Bob in three ways ….. firstly, he 
played guitar and keyboards in a very dominant way, and the others stepped 
back to allow him the room he took, but also he pushed on with his voice in 
song after song and was especially forceful and emphatic in his singing; I think 
you hear this best in Long Black Coat and Desolation Row, but it is everywhere, 
really, in all the songs. And then there is the harp playing, which he was 
pushing into the gaps all over the place and even playing over his own 
one-handed keyboards figures, so that in these three ways it was a very 
dominating performance. Those of us who were close (and I was directly in 
front of his position) could see he was very serious and also aroused by 
the crowd. 

To my left there was a big group of youngsters who were RAVING, and Bob 
loved this reaction as much as he had done in Vigo last year, when he played 
Handy Dandy as a 'present' for the young crowd. On the Monday, he waved 
us forward to sing the chorus to Just Like a Woman with a graceful little hand 
gesture and a nod, but here on Tuesday there was a significant difference. 
Then he stepped back into the darkness after a song, turning leftwards round 
the keyboard and away from the crowd; here he turned rightwards INTO the 
crowd's gaze, and the light shone on him so we were able to see him and his 
face ……. He was ecstatic but seriously so, and made a repeated series of open 
handed gestures with both his hands, seeming to say "I can still do it, can't I?", 
with his body turned full towards us. He would do this for perhaps five seconds 
before turning back to get a new harp, or to check the next title. By the end 
of the evening he was leaving harps on the keyboard between songs in order 
to have them available, and was playing, in a quite driven way, subtle and 
forceful phrases. 

Desolation Row was VERY animated, with a very different feel to the last time 
I heard it played in Berlin a couple of years back, with Bob controlling the pace 
with hypnotically repeated keyboard figures, and driving the song on. The 
lovely jerkiness that begins to intrude into songs as the magic of their meaning 
works on Bob was everywhere, and it is well worth listening out for this on 
the excellent recording (thanks as ever tapers!!) ……. On Highway 61, for 
example.  Oh, and in Desolation Row there is one late figure in the guitar
playing that is straight from "Billy' by Denny, I think  - so shades of the tour's 
beginning!! As the song ends on a harmonica phrase, Bob waves his arm out in 
a sideways flourish to close the sound down that is full of confidence.

My feeling in all three of the concerts I have seen was that there were textual 
changes to some songs, but I will have to go back into the recordings to fix 
these. I recall last year we had smoked eyeballs rather than lids, and those 
kinds of witticisms seem everywhere - how wonderful! And all three concerts I 
have seen this year have had changes made to the song sheet at a late stage 
so that arrival on stage have been  uncharacteristically delayed, and my guess 
was that here in Dublin the changes were made in relation to 'Houston', which 
he must have felt that Dublin was the ideal venue to introduce. I felt that each 
concert was excellent, but I feel most of all that the 6th was OUTSTANDING, 
and MAJESTIC.  Indeed I really do think that the general tendency last year for 
things to tail off ahead of the encores was no longer happening and endings 
were upon us sadly and unexpectedly because things flowed so well.

As JennyG and I made our way back from Limerick, we came over the top of 
the Sleive Bloom 'Mountains' as a welcome detour off the N7. As we came 
round a bend in the steep road, we finally crossed the watershed, and the 
road led on downwards towards Dublin once more. We remembered again, 
with great pleasure, those wonderful two nights in the company of Bob and 
the band that had taken place far off in the direction we were now heading.

Brian Steedman


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