London, England

Royal Albert Hall

October 24, 2015

[Craig Hatfield], [Joe Neanor], [Trevor Townson]

Review by Craig Hatfield

The Royal Albert Hall is a beautiful building. A memorial to Victorian
Britain. It's a delight to behold. So tonight is not necessarily all about
Bob. We're all a little bit touristy too. So I'm a little ruffled as the
first thing I'm told as I enter the auditorium, 20 minutes before the band
are due on stage, is to turn my phone off. "Bob Dylan has asked that
nobody takes any photographs tonight. Not even now. Please turn your
phones off." Sorry Bob, I transgressed your rules. With a couple of
minutes to showtime Bruce turns to me to suggest that things might be
running late, "There's no sign of things getting started yet." Maybe Bruce
was getting a bit concerned after reports about One Direction's recent
last minute postponement. "Bob'll be on, dead on time." I assure him.
"Everything will run like clockwork." "Wanna bet?" asks Bruce. Two minutes
later I'm collecting 50p off of Bruce, then I dutifully put my phone away.
OK Bob? The last time I saw Dylan was nearly two years ago, in this very
Hall. The first thing I notice is that there's no overblown introduction.
No "Ladies and gentlemen please welcome the poet laureate of rock n
roll..." etc. In fact, no introduction at all. The band just amble on with
Bob in their midst. Last time, Bob stood centre-stage, definitely, like a
gunslinger. This time he just shuffles forward. Like an old man shuffling
forwards. The next thing I notice is that his voice seems less barbed.
Less like 'gargling broken glass', more plain old 'sore throat'. But a
rich, mellow, sore throat coated in Benelyn. Tonight's voice is
beautifully suited to the slow Sinatra numbers. And these songs are the
most enjoyable ones of the set, and generally receive the warmest
reception. Which is a good thing. The set is heavy on recency. 10 out of
the 20 songs are from the last two albums, and 2 further songs are other
Sinatra numbers. But the first half ends with an old familiar, although a
little more mangled than, Tangled Up In Blue delivered in third, rather
than first, person. There were lines about "the radio blasting out the
news" when I was expecting something about Bob "standing on the side of
the road with rain falling" on his shoes. And I think he missed out the
entire verse where "She was working in a topless place" Shortly after this
Bob speaks!!! I can't tell you what he said, but it was obviously
something about going off for a short break. The second half follows the
format of the previous three Albert Hall shows until song number 13 when
Bob decides to drop my favourite song from 'Shadows In The Night' in
favour of 'Where Are You?' Bugger! I was looking forward to 'The Night We
Called It A Day'. I offer Bruce the opportunity to win his 50p back if he
shouts out "Judas!" He declines. But by and large I have to say that these
slowed down, quieter, clearer, numbers are the way forward! As another
Dylan friend put it, "Wouldn't it be great if he gave some of his own
numbers the same treatment." Perhaps. Or perhaps it's just that this
approach suits most of us in the Hall tonight who, let's face it, are
approaching our slow and shuffling years. So, in closing; Ok Bob, I may
have stolen a few photos of a still filling-up Albert Hall two hours ago,
but you owe me 'The Night We Called It A Day'. That, and maybe a cheeky
little surprise off of the Christmas Album next time? :-D

Craig Hatfield
Cambridge, England


Review by Joe Neanor

Bob sang his heart out tonight, his affection and respect for the Shadows In 
The Night songs demonstrated throughout the show. I suspected Bob could 
sing when I heard Nashville Skyline way back when and so may be less surprised 
than others by his ability to deliver a melody. While the Sinatra covers he 
performed mean more to Bob than me it was fun to see him enjoy himself in 
crooner mode and do his shuffling, swaying dance steps that only he can get 
away with. He even inspired a couple to waltz in the Royal Albert Hall gallery, 
a wide balcony that runs around the top of the venue where you stand to 
peer down on the show from a height close to the roofline.

For me though the Tempest songs were the best part of the show.  Bob may 
passably sing Sinatra but I doubt that Ol' Blue Eyes could have done justice to 
Scarlet Town, a strictly no dancing zone.

The piano seemed pretty much a prop. Looking down on Bob during the first 
part of the show it didn't seem that he did a lot of actual playing as he perched 
on a seat turned short side on to the keyboard, presumably so he can turn 
towards the audience more easily. Lyric sheets were spread across the top of 
the piano but Bob didn't need such things when at the front of the stage, 
where he sung freely and confidently.

Dapper as always, his Saturday night blue stage jacket featured crossed cutlasses 
and other patterns.

This was the fourth Dylan show I have seen at this venue over the past two years, 
each time from a different position in the hall. It seems to me that the higher up 
you go in this venue the soupier the sound quality gets. On Thursday night sitting 
in the lower down stalls I could clearly distinguish Bob's vocals, while on Saturday 
up in the gallery the music and vocals tended to mush together.

Bob chooses not to be his own tribute act and it was so nice to hear his reworking 
of the only song he has performed every time he has played this venue over the 
years, She Belongs To Me.
Joe Neanor


Review by Trevor Townson

Jenny; What; It's me; I know, who else calls at 3 in the morning; Just
returned from The Royal Albert Stalls again; Same again was it; Of course,
actually if it hadn't have been I would have complained and asked for my
money back due to the show failing to meet my expectations; I think you
are going to take over from your dad writing all those letters to the
authorities trying to right the wrongs in the world; Well the pen is
mightier than the sword and, as Benny Hill said, "far easier to write
with"; Your dad was really funny writing his letters to "The House" so to
speak; Yes, I think he ended up on Tony Blairs Christmas card list, but
writing to Chelsea Football Club about fans standing and spoiling his view
was a bit rich when it was the Burnley fans who were standing in front of
him and he was part of them being a life long Burnley supporter and having
travelled down on the supporters club bus with them all; He always stood
up for what he thought was right; Yes but in this case he wanted to be
sitting down for what he thought was right and as far as Chelsea Football
Club are concerned they would probably not care a hoot if all the Burnley
fans had got back on the bus and returned back to their cotton mills in
Lancashire before the kick off; Strange that you are so totally Yorkshire
in everything apart from the football club you support; Well they say that
parents screw you up and that is the part dad did to screw me up by making
me a life time Burnley supporter too; You missed a cracking match today in
the East Lancs derby, biggest match in the calendar against Blackburn; Yes
I must write to Bob and tell him not to set up his concert dates in future
if they are going to clash with my football; Anyway, you were wrong, Bob
has varied his set list so you were just not listening properly; Look this
is Bob Dylan not Rod Stewart, changing just one four word song for another
equally brief song consisting of only six words does not constitute a
change of set list in my book; Well people are raving about his new stuff;
Well I have never said that I do not like it and I have really enjoyed the
performances but they just do not rank up there with Billy first time live
in Stockholm for example; Well they are still first time live for you and
you missed it in your review; I am doing comments this time not reviews so
I am hardly going to go into too much detail about a couple of throw away
songs as far as Bob Dylan performing genius is concerned am I; Well you
hardly ever go into too much detail about the show; OK well here is some
then, firstly if I am honest the current set list is not exactly inundated
with my Bob Dylan Top Ten or even Top Twenty so I may struggle to rave; So
what is your Bob Top Ten; Don't be silly, no true Dylan fan could possibly
limit his favourites to just ten, with Bob you could do a Top Ten with
albums never mind just songs; So what stood out; Obviously Tangled Up In
Blue yet again, absolutely, absolutely better than ever, in fact probably
one of the best ever that I have heard; Well it is one of his classics;
Absolutely, a certain Top Tenner for all Dylan fans, the house loved it;
So what else; There is no what else, ticket paid for, even if I had been
sat in a Hot Seat again without Geisha Girl, close the book, time to go,
end of; that's all folks; You are beginning to sound like one of those
stick in the mud fans that annoy Bob, you should embrace his new stuff
more; Embrace his new stuff, embrace his new stuff, have you seen my
collection, is there an album missing, no, is there an album unplayed, no;
Well you have not got his latest Bootleg; Bloody hell and not bloody
likely to either have you seen the bloody price of it even before postage
and inport tax to the UK; You could afford it; May be, may be but there is
a principle here, anyway how many times do you need to listen to Like A
Rolling Stone with a change of key in just one verse, bit repetitive if
you ask me; Well you are at the Albert Hall listening to Bob being
repetitive, note and dance step perfect you said in your review, oops, I
mean comment; Look Bob should have packed a few of those albums in his
case for his Brit fans before he flew over, I could have handed him the
cash outside his bus, no tax man, no one any the wiser, Bob really could
do much more for his fans; You can't expect Bob to commit a crime just so
that you can have a cheap album; Look Bob is above the law, he walks with
Presidents and Popes for Christ sake and now sings Sinatra songs; Look
calm down, you sound to be missing Yorkshire but it will soon be time for
you to come home; Should have been a Keith Richards fan instead, he would
have slipped me an album past the tax men no problem, proper Rock n Roll
is Keith; So is that it, Tangled Up In Blue and nothing else; Well, Long
and Wasted Years was still good and Love Sick was not bad either, but the
best performance on this day in my book other than Bob's Tangled Up In
Blue was by Scott Arfield, Blackburn 0 Burnley 1, Brilliant! 


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