Dublin, Ireland


May 11, 2017

[Pete Cummins], [Colin Lacey], [Ted Coakley], [Ken Cowley], [John O' Callaghan], [Tiernan Henry]

Review by Pete Cummins

Please Please Please! Bob Dylan, film and record this beautiful concert.

I was so fortunate to be in the 7th row with a perfect view and a brilliant 
sound, I was also armed with my vintage Zeiss binoculars and was able to 
see the show as if I was sitting on the stage.

And what a show ! I am a total fan of Bob, ever since I heard Highway 61 
I was blown away, and sewn up like a pillow case. I play music and always 
play at least one Dylan song at ever gig I do.

The set he is currently playing is challenging, both for the band and 
particularly for the audience, he hasn't made it easy for the audience, 
playing a selection, that half the audience is unfamiliar with, and you could 
feel the unease, and that's the reason why I wanted to experience the 
whole thing again, I felt I only absorbed 25% of what they did.  

However for the real Dylan lovers it was superb! He was Duke Ellington,
he was Frank Sinatra, he was Blind Willie McTell, he was Big Joe Turner, 
but importantly he was Bob Dylan.

Lovely start with Stu Kimball on Gibson acoustic which brought in the 
whole band in for Things have Changed, into Don't Think Twice and then 
Highway 61 Revisited, I'm there dude!

The balance between the band and Bob is just right and the sound 
engineers have to be recognised here.

Don't Try to Change Me Now is very soulful and emotional and you can 
see from the position I'm in, how committed he is to these songs from 
his childhood. 

Bob Dylan is truly unique, there is nobody like him, nobody as steadfast 
and as stubborn in his pursuit of his ambition, really there is no compromise
he just plays what he want to play and that is why he has endured and 
continues to grow as an artist.

The inclusion of songs like Pay in Blood, Melancholy Mood and Dequesne 
Whistle lead into a beautiful version of Stormy Weather and then a 
great arrangement of Tangled Up in Blue, this brings the audience up, 
but then it's Early Roman Kings, Spirit On the Water and Love Sick and 
the majority of the audience clearly do not know this stuff.

That's what made it so great for me, to hear the master play what he 
wanted to play, no pandering to the audience, a true artist at work.

The vibe between Bob and steel guitar player Donnie Herron is obviously 
very important since the move to the Sinatra songs as Donnie is now a 
key player in those arrangements, it is also very charming, after one song 
Donnie applauded Bob and in the dark Bob walked over to him and they 
shook hands, a truly lovely moment that probably went unnoticed, but
it was a moment that displayed the love and respect between the singer 
and a fabulous band that at times sounded like an orchestra.

I think if you listened to Theme Time Radio you would understand the 
depth of Bob's knowledge of the art of music, and you would truly 
appreciate what happened in Dublin tonight. And that is why it should 
be filmed and recorded.

Pete Cummins


Review by Colin Lacey

Strong show, no surprises in set list. That band is astounding. Surely one
of Bob's most sympathetic? Singer is good too - and band plays around his
weaknesses as well as his strengths, which tonight were many, including
some delicious phrasing and delivery. Spirit on the Water - for me a
throwaway- here turned into a memorably deep jazz groove. 

Dylan looked pleased throughout.  Standouts included opener Things Have
Changed, Desolation Row, Long And Wasted Years and closer Thin Man. 

But highlight was a hugely emotional Autumn Leaves - devastating. 

Audience was interesting - mix of Bob veterans, newbies and casuals.
Anyone I spoke to loved it. 

Very good Bob show. He's doing his thing as well as he has in years - this
show could rank in top ten of 20-plus I've seen. 

But that band is something else.


Review by Ted Coakley

A rare occasion when not a single seat was unoccupied- shows the value of
publicity even to a man like Dylan. We began  at 8.12 and finished at
10pm. This was a solid , sound show which can only be looked at in its
entirety rather than single highlights. The band were the usual members
not that Dylan told us- he did not speak a word. But what a backing band
but they cannot get any better, surely. The only instrument Bob played was
the keyboard but his voice was superb. The songs of the Great American
Songbook were well received and fitted in excellently- a change from what
could have been expected from his  Dublin Adelphi Cinema concert 51 years
ago; but things have changed .

No, there was no standing ovation at the end due the newbies not knowing
what to make of it and oldies knowing that Dylan cares little about such
an item.

And let me say this: I had the feeling that some of the songs were going
to go straight into jazz like a cross between Miles Davis and Steely Dan
but they, finally turned in Dylan and thankfully.

Ted Coakley


Review by Ken Cowley

Having not seen many shows in recent years, I was very much looking forward 
to Bob's final European show in Dublin last Thursday.  The question was, would 
12,000 fans of mixed levels of Dylan-fandom be as open to the current 
(somewhat) challenging setlist? Also, as we know, Bob's level of audience 
interaction is pretty much non-existent these days, although to be fair his music 
communicates for him.  Anyway, despite these challenges, I believe the sheer 
quality of performance on the stage of the 3Arena (formerly known as the 
Point Depot) won them over and indeed there have already been very positive 
reviews of the show in the mainstream press.

Despite some minor negatives (no harmonica, and perhaps one or two tired 
sounding songs) I thoroughly enjoyed this concert.  Nearly every song was 
strong, and even old warhorses like Don't Think Twice were superb, this one 
being currently given a lovely country twist and sung 'straight' in a nice low 
register. Actually Bob sings everything tonight with great care and attention 
and it is really amazing to think that at 76 he is singing better now than he did 
8 or 10 years ago.

But arguably, he saves the best vocals for the so-called 'Sinatra-songs'.  
Personally, I am very fond of his three (or five, if you consider 'Triplicate' to 
be a set of three) American-standards albums, as I think these songs are in 
their own way just as important to American music as any Bob Dylan song, and 
Bob inhabits them in a very personal way.  On stage, he takes these songs a 
step further, singing them from centre stage in great declamatory style with 
gorgeous phrasing and not inconsiderable range.  Particular highlights for me
included; Why Try to Change Me Now, Melancholy Mood and Autumn Leaves.  
And even a somewhat throw-away song like Old Black Magic wins over the 
audience on the night, with its lively fun arrangement.  All or Nothing at All 
was also very enjoyable (complete with superb Charlie guitar solo) albeit I 
thought Stormy Weather was less successful.

Indeed, speaking of arrangements, it is impossible to give this band enough 
credit.  They have really gelled in to a superb unit, capable of almost any 
genre, and are 'locked-in' on every song with tight appropriate backing. It's 
hard to single any of them out, but the versatility of George on drums and 
the subtle guitar solos and fills of Charlie are particularly noteworthy, as is 
Donnie Herron's pedal-steel which underpins the 'Sinatra songs' just as much 
in-concert as it did on those 5 discs.  When Donnie Herron joined Bob's band
in 2005 we knew from his previous work that he was a capable proponent of 
western-swing/honky-tonk style pedal-steel, but for some reason he always 
seemed to be very low in the mix in the Dylan band.  Who knew he would 
end up taking such a dominant role and that he was so accomplished at this 
gorgeous small-band country-jazz playing.  But all 5 of the band, including 
band-leader Tony, deserve a lot of credit, as indeed does Bob's own piano 
tinkling which fits in nicely, including his flirtation tonight with a snatch of 
Fairytale of New York just prior to Desolation Row.

Speaking of Desolation Row, this major Dylan song is currently being played 
very well, and is nicely placed towards the end of the main set, just at the 
point where the audience might be wondering would they be hearing 
another well known song or not!   Of the other well-known songs done 
tonight, some fare better than others.  It could be argued that Highway 61 
is reduced to a somewhat pedestrian blues-shuffle.  I would make the same 
case for Things Have Changed and Early Roman Kings, which seems to have 
been re-arranged and has lost a bit of its bluesy crunch.  Blowin in the Wind 
is a bit ho-hum, and the band seem to lose themselves somewhat on 
Tangled up in Blue (a re-arrangement too far at this stage, I think).  But 
Ballad of a Thin Man is a strong closing song, and some of Bob's recent 
compositions from the 'Tempest' album are still performed very well, even 
if they have lost a touch of their 2013-era impact, eg Pay in Blood and 
Long & Wasted Years.  Regarding other less-well known Dylan compositions 
which Bob has played to death somewhat in recent years (Spirit on the 
Water, Beyond Here Lies Nothing and Soon After Midnight) these were all 
quite enjoyable on the night due mainly to the strength of the band's 

So, a lovely show to end his European tour, in a big arena but one with 
perfect acoustics and (despite the floor being allocated way too many 
corporate tickets) an appreciative crowd as ever for Bob in Ireland, 
including a very happy looking Christy Moore in the 2nd row! Bob is 
currently singing well, looks highly engaged (albeit he he moves a little 
slower around the stage these days), working with a superb band and 
obviously quite happy with his current static set-list and the emphasis 
on the old standards.  If it was to be his last European jaunt (hopefully 
not!) he went out in some considerable style. 


Comments by John O' Callaghan

Bob Dylan's music keeps on giving, refusing to stand still. The second
song of the night 'Don't think twice...' was written back in 1962, a mere
55 years ago. Back  then Leonard Cohen was not on the music map, neither
was Pink Flyod, The Kinks, The Doors, David Bowie, and so many other
artists who have come and gone. Some have died, some have gone their
separate ways and other artists just had their day.  

'Don't think twice..'  was sung on a summer's evening in 2017 in Dublin,
with a freshness and intensity that belied it's over half a century of
existence. Somewhere therein perhaps lies the secret of musical longevity
which very few artists have seemed to match. 

John O' Callaghan


Review by Tiernan Henry

last night, Dublin, was my only show this time round. I knew what to
expect and knew what not to expect. Our seats were great, five rows from
the front, smack dab in front of the piano. Not since Madison in November
1991 have I been sitting so close to him, and five rows back was just
right - could see almost everything (lost most of Charlie's midriff and
guitars behind the piano) - unlike the front row where people were
standing or craning their necks to see anything. Could see the sweat
dripping off his brow, could see him bowing to Donnie who reciprocated
with applause after something they were focused on worked, could see him
telling George something that made George laugh out loud. Was able to see
him plinking away at the intro to Fairytale. I think I've seen enough of
the "standards" for now, yet, having said that, "Autumn Leaves" was
astonishing. But he sang wonderfully, he sashayed his way around the
middle of the stage, he and the band are completely in sync with each
other and he had some hat on/hat off moments. He's not for everyone, which
is fine; maybe the promoters should put provisos on the show
announcements: this may not be the Bob Dylan you're looking for. It was
great. Maybe next year he'll do the great Shane McGowan songbook - revive
the old Dylan & the Nearly Dead tour.



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