Manchester, England

October 28, 2015

[Stephen Stigs], [Chris Euesden], [Trevor Townson], [Tony Kenwright], [J.W. Mahoney], [Dave Burrows]

Review by Stephen Stigs

Via Boblinks I follow Bob all over the world, but for one night per tour
when he comes to England I get to see him in person.  Occasionally I might
see him more than once in a year, e.g in 2011 when he played Finsbury Park
in the Summer (great vocals), and then in the Autumn at Manchester Arena
(terrible sound that night), but normally the constraints of life allow
for one gig only.  The last time was Blackpool in 2013, which for me was
one of the great concerts.  Tonight is the eleventh time I’ve seen Bob
over a period of 34 years, the majority since 1998, at the beginning of
what seemed like a major change in style - and those years have been
fascinating and a pleasure to behold.  My better half said I was smiling
like a Cheshire Cat when he came on stage, and I must say I was pleased to
see him.

Tonight is similar to Blackpool, but as always with Bob, there’s a
different take on things; generally the song arrangements to my mind have
a subtle jazzy/swing feel to them, with the songs from Tempest undergoing
further evolution.  It goes without saying that the band are brilliant in
their delivery and support of the main man, but Bob’s vocals are notably
exceptional, and as has been said before on this tour, he seems happy and
enjoying himself – even indulging in a smile at one point.  His piano
playing (while not quite evoking the old elk walking across the keyboards
analogy), after a few early stumbles gets better and better as the night
goes on, with what looks like encouragement and support from Donnie
Herron.  NB If I wanted to experience rote-played, night-after-night
musical perfection, there are many musicians I could go and see, but
that’s not the point, I want to see a unique performance, which is what
I get each time I see Bob, idiosyncrasies ‘n’ all.

The “Sinatra” songs are okay - Why Try to Change Me Now, being a
favourite - but generally I much prefer Bob’s own work.  The stand out
song of the night for me is a sublime re-take on Tangled Up In Blue (with
a change to some lyrics to these ears, but I may be wrong), with vocal
inflexions in full use, and at one very brief moment even sounding like
the original recording.  It is the masterpiece of the night, and what
going to see Bob is all about, and I and many others are standing at the
end of it.  Elsewhere Duquesne Whistle moves along at a pace, and has a
slightly higher vocal register to it which works brilliantly, Spirit on
the Water (a personal favourite), is presented beautifully, and Long and
Wasted Years is delivered with the musical attack slightly pared down,
allowing the lyrics to rule supreme.   Blowing in the Wind is one of those
songs that I normally think I don’t need to hear ever again, but
tonight’s reading is rendered fascinating by the superb delivery and
poignancy.  Love Sick, although a favourite generally, doesn’t work as a
closer for me, and I can’t help thinking that last time out it worked
better as the final song of the first set.  Overall though, it’s another
fantastic gig and another fine take on the great, great talent that is Bob
Dylan.  Cheers Bob, keep on coming back to see us, you’re amazing.

Stephen Stigs


Review by Chris Euesden

Before this performance I made a point of not checking the previous shows
set lists or reading the reviews, although word had filtered through that 
the Albert Hall shows had received a five star report in one of the UK's 
national papers. Part of the pleasure of going to see a Bob Dylan show 
has pretty much been its unpredictability since the Never Ending Tour 
began back in the late eighties. The last run of shows a couple of years 
ago in Europe stuck pretty much to the same running order with one or 
two notable exceptions so I preferred to be kept in the dark as to what 
was going to happen tonight.
Well in its own way, this show was unpredictable.  Listening to the audience 
comments as they were leaving was, as always, interesting. 'Where were 
the hits?' After all this time some of the Dylan audience still think he's going 
to rely on nostalgia to sustain his role as a performer. Not a chance, there 
were only two nods to his icon defining past in tonight's twenty song show. 
A rendition of She Belongs to Me early in the set and Blowin' in The Wind. 
One of the two encores, which was arranged more in line with the Stevie 
Wonder version of that song than the original. The fact that the opening 
number was 'Things Have Changed' should have been the clue.

It was Dylan's latest incarnation as a lounge crooner which stood out tonight. 
Four songs in he sang 'What'll I Do' from the Shadows in the Night, Frank 
Sinatra covers album. It was an electric moment and the audience reaction 
confirmed this. The relevance of this material for many of Dylan's audience is 
clear, he didn't need to write these songs they were already there, and he's 
performing them with immense respect. The band arrangements are equally 
dedicated and they complete his homage to the originals. Tonight Dylan sang 
3 more songs from the Shadows album I'm A Fool to Want You, Why Try to 
Change Me Now and Autumn Leaves plus 2 which may well be out-takes 
from the sessions for that album. Melancholy Moon and All or Nothing at All. 
All were exquisite renditions. The crowd loved it. 

Dylan's road band are as tight as you would expect, with many miles of 
experience behind them and the bedrock of the arrangements are honed to 
a tee with great fluidity provided between guitars and pedal steel. The 
atmosphere is heightened with instrumental improvisation between each 
song. Stu Kimball's solo acoustic guitar picking introducing the first half 
opening number and a short electric guitar rendition kicking off the 
second set.   

The show's second song was She Belongs To Me, with a first taste of 
harmonica. Dylan moved over to the grand piano for the third song thumping 
out a boogie underneath the band as they pounded along on Beyond Here 
Lies Nothing. Duquesne Whistle followed What'll I Do. This live version quicker 
and heavier than the recorded original. It's clear this song is taking its place 
among the more celebrated songs in the Dylan canon. Then Melancholy Moon 
moving into the menacing Pay in Blood, more crooning with I'm A Fool To 
Want You and the first set closed with Tangled Up in Blue. Once again it 
almost seemed that Dylan was reinventing this song as he sang it. New lines 
thrown in to a familiar tale. The new words 'some of my friends are still around, 
some are deep in the ground' were as relevant as you could hope to this man, 
this night and this audience.

After the break it was the same formula, kicking off with Donnie Herron on
banjo for High Water, another Sinatra 'Why Try To Change Me Now', the 
bluesy roll of Early Roman Kings with Stu Kimball on maracas and then onto the 
Night We Called It a Day and Spirit On the Water, everyone in a glorious full on 
Texas Swing mode. More menace with Scarlet Town, more crooning with All 
or Nothing At All, the plaintive Long and Wasted Years, and who'd have 
guessed in 1965 listening to Highway 61 Revisited that 50 years later Dylan 
would be choosing the standard Autumn Leaves as his final song. Well, it is 

Two songs featured for the encore. Blowin' in the Wind, Dylan on piano, and 
then back to front of stage mike for a searing version of Lovesick with that on 
the beat guitar chord cutting right through from the dimly lit stage and echoing 
around the hall. Another Dylan classic from his more recent past which now 
holds a pride of place alongside his greatest songs.

There was no guitar from Bob Dylan tonight. He either stood at the centre 
stage mic, dressed like a riverboat gambler in a knee length drape coat, playing 
occasional harmonica, or he was seated stage right at the grand piano. 75 years 
old next May Bob Dylan is 'still on the road looking for another joint.' He's still 
reinventing his songs, his career and his performance. There are no signs that 
this is going to change. And if I was asked what I'd take away from tonight, 
I'd have to say that his rendition of 'What'll I do' for me, was one of the great
Bob Dylan moments.

Chris Euesden
York, UK


Review by Trevor Townson

Did you hear that guy who whooped during Long And Wasted Years first
night, really sounded like me but it wasn't, anyway it sounded to come
from the centre and we were to the side, you were right beside me so you
know that it wasn't me, I have said in review that I would never shout out
again but I fully understand why somebody else may feel compelled, I
recently shouted out during the same song at the Royal Albert Hall, so
really spooky how it sounded just like me and you thought that it did too,
you need to give Bob your thoughts on the show by the way, that would
probably interest him as much as  anything I have to say, why do so many
ladies enjoy Shelter From The Storm, it was never going to happen for you
these nights, no way would Bob fit that song into what he is presently
doing, anyway you did not like the slowed down version he was doing last
so probably no great loss, you said on the way back that you thought that
the show was brilliant anyway, non of us ever get the songs we think we
would really love to hear, well apart from when I got I Believe In You,
somewhere or other then shortly after somewhere else, moments like that
when they happen really stick with you in every detail for the rest of
your life, in any case there are just too many songs and infinate
versions, what is Bob supposed to do, a four hundred song set list and
keep singing for weeks in the hope that he satisfies almost everybody,
can't please all of the people all of the time, he could perhaps please
some of the people some of the time, we can be a pretty self centred lot
at times, all of us can be guilty of it, whether we be the Italian. the
English man or the Jew, we believe that ours is the only conceivable point
of view, Bob really has come out with some fantastic statements over the
years, "just because they like my stuff don't mean that they own me", if
not exactly that it was something along those lines, another thing with
Bob, you really do have to get your facts right, I have not slept for
instance since saying Bob played the spoons whilst performing ISIS during
Rolling Thunder Review, a chill went down my spine and I broke out into a
cold sweat whilst waking with a start in the early morning having realised
it could have been Romance in Durango, I was going from memory of
something I saw years ago, some clip from that grainy home movie that Bob
filmed on that super 8 cine camera that he stole from Joan Baez, again a
first for the world from Bob, the Epic Selfie, taken years ahead of it's
time, talking of time, this is confession time for me, this will sit me
right outside of true Dylan fans, I have never seen the complete movie of
McDonald and Clara, only true Dylan devotees have ever sat through that
epic which made Hearts of Fire seem entertaining, cannot knock that
concert footage though, here is another little known Dylan fact for you,
the fast forward button on the VHS video recorder only came into existance
because the designer was a true Dylan fan who had actually sat through the
complete movie, he took pity on the world and in the greatest act of
compassion since Atisha went to Tibet, he gave the world the fast forward
feature, this brought the most fantastic concert footage ever recorded to
be available to all lesser Dylan devottees and anyone in the world
fortunate to stumble upon it, an additional advantageous spin off was that
it also quickly made available all the best bits of pornography ever
recorded to every man in the world, to my knowledge McDonald and Clara has
been removed from this present world system and, as such, is not even a
part of my collection, not even as a bootleg in even poorer quality than
originally fimed, as such I can only rely on an ever dimming recollection
of Bob playing the spoons with Rolex as once seen on YouTube before the
great legal cull, following that only the great Tangled Up In Blue footage
still remains, may be someday will take mercy on the world
and post the appropriate footage once more for all to see again, not being
sure of the exact historical facts relating to the spoons memory, I should
have left this out of my review, a bit like the fact that you can be the
most inteligent person in the world before you open your mouth, I should
have limited my print, Bob once said, and before anyone corrects me on
this, something to the effect that, if he went to a Frank Sinatra show, he
would never dream of telling Frank what to sing, he would just enjoy what
he was given, we can no longer go to a Frank Sinatra show but we can
fortunatley still go to a Bob Dylan show, we can go with preconceived
points of view or we can go with a more open mind to enjoy the moment, was
my enjoyment of the performance tonight and the previous night less
enjoyable because Bob did not perform I Believe In You for me again, I
remember attending a talk given by Daniel Kramer in Birmingham, he said
that he had seen Bob perform many times over the years and that he had
always been different but he had always been good, that quite simply sums
up my own experiences of attending Bob's shows, anyone attending these
shows would be an idiot, sorry, I mean a fool, to say they had not been
entertained, unless you had attended and Bob Dylan is just not your thing,
then question something else of yourself, why did you go in the first
place, or better still, what did you gain from the experience, even if
that gain was just confirmation that Bob Dylan is just not your thing,
either way people could gain a true life experience and move on for the
better, I did not attend these shows with a totally closed mind, perhaps a
little shuttered, that was a shame really, but what bit of openness in
those shutters that remained did allow a little bit of sunshine to get
through, remember that bit in Don't Look Back when those fans disagreed as
they left the concert, one saying to the other something to the effect of
accusing Bob of selling out and becoming a pop star, "not many pop singers
can give a performance like that", well should we all not now be saying
"not many crooners can give a performance like that", It was quite lively
tonight actually, a few people stumbling down to the front only to be
turned around by security, some even calling out, calling out what should
not be called out, may god forgive them for by the way for they know not
what they do, that train ticket that I got for Cardiff by the way is so
off peak that I almost get there a day early, probably sitting on a milk
crate with my feet on a mail bag, look at the time now, only a hour and a
half before I need to be getting up and off to the station, best get off
to bed now, I must have been rambling on for ages now, you are OK though,
trains back to Yorkshire are every half hour from Piccadilly,
International travellers are not so lucky, where are you by the way, have
you gone to bed already, don't say that I have been talking to myself
again all this time with nobody listening, Briliant! 


Review by Tony Kenwright

Where do I begin...on the boot-heels of Bobby's tour-bus moving like a
slowly dying candle thru the  streets of a dreary Manchester night filled
with resignation. A sense that the one road we've travelled for almost 50
years has now shattered and split. That the greatest artist of the 20th
century, the genius of the western world, has left the building and will
never again find his way back home.  For the fans who still believe that
he can do no wrong, who believe that Tempest was a great album and that he
really is uncovering something new in a tired collection of Sinatra
standards well what can I say....I could say that you are right from your
side? Except you're not, and that apart from the worst suit this side of
an Asda onesie the King is no longer wearing clothes. Nothing can damage
the legacy of Dylan's genius and influence over contemporary music nor can
anything diminish my enthusiasm for a collection of masterpieces that have
shaped my whole life. His songs sent me to countless concerts over the
years since that first gig in Liverpool back in '66. They even sent me on
a pilgrimage to Hibbing and Duluth just to walk in his footsteps, they
shone light on my dark days and made every happiness brighter just because
they were around.  But tonight? Well tonight was just sad, uninspired and
as lifeless as the 40 watt lights that failed to light the stage. I don't
want to dwell on it. Maybe if I can't bring good news I shouldn't bring
any but, when it comes to live performance I sense that from now on he'll
go his way, I'll go mine and doubt that the paths with bring us together


Review by J.W. Mahoney

Well, nobody in Manchester yelled “Judas” this time… Even though the two
finest songs Bob Dylan never finished, in that Glasgow hotel in 1966,
are only available on Disc 18 of the $600 “Cutting Edge” box set, “On A
Rainy Afternoon,” and “I Can’t Leave Her Behind…” and NOT on the
infinitely cheaper “Best of” CD.  But that’s late capitalism, no?  And
to expect His Bobness to do anything predictable or conciliatory is
But why is His Bobness playing the same set over and over and over and
over again?  NOBODY’S  DIALOGUING ABOUT IT, and it’s the Elephant in the
Room.  It’s a real mystery - that deserves respect as such – since,
excuse me, he’s never not an artist, with complex intentions...
Last year the trope was that it’s like Shakespeare, and you don’t
expect actors to change the lines every night…  And then Mr. Sinatra
came along to take up almost half the setlist, and ya gotta let Bobby
be Bobby & all, and we’re all just pleased as punch that he’s got a
dynamite band and he’s in voice, and he’s still alive – and if you
don’t LIKE the setlist, then don’t show up – it’s our choice.  The
newspaper reviews are all positive, and almost all the reviews on this
site are over-brimming with gratitude, so…?
Let’s get a shade academic.  In Murray Leeder’s “Haunting and
Minstrelsy in Bob Dylan’s ‘Masked and Anonymous’, he says, “Slavoj
Žižek writes that the dead return “because they were not properly
buried... The return of the dead is a sign of a disturbance in the
symbol rite, in the process of symbolization; the dead return as
collectors of some un-paid symbolic debt.”  Is this never-ending
setlist a funeral rite, continuously repeated because these songs
always fail to finally die?  Or because Bob Dylan’s own deep
unhappiness never has died?  Or a fully abstract “symbolic debt”?  Who
Every single song – from Dylan or Sinatra - carries a little – or a lot
– of heartbreak  - because the song’s sad, or despairing, or full of
inchoate fury, acute direct or indirect nostalgia, or hopeless hope –
or offers an existential reckoning – since the answer is, indeed,
blowing in the wind. 
So if you get off on watching Bob Dylan expose his entirely unhealed
psychic wounds night after night, then go see him at every single
concert in Europe and the UK.  Lap it up, if you have the money, and can
tell yourself you’re not seeing what’s right in front of you, in full
honesty.  And have yourself a whoppin’ good time.
But we all do wear the same thorny crown, so maybe some real curiosity 
& open compassion’s in order…?  And maybe not, but I don’t see why not. 
J.W. Mahoney


Review by Dave Burrows

Since the show,I’ve been thinking about the pure brilliance of Bob and
band.Before the gig I was worried about all the what ifs……….a few
bars into Things Have Changed,my worries vanished.By the wonderfully re
worded Tangled Up In Blue,I was grinning like an idiot.

Admittedly ,there were many positive signs in Bob’s vocal
subtleties on Tell Tale Signs ,quality writing on Tempest and superb
deliveries on Shadows In the Night .I’d underplayed the latter because
of what I feel are arrangements with too little emotion.In concert,they
transformed into works of genius.Bob on 5*+ form and Donnie Herron gliding
the steel guitar ,guiding his companeros within a perfect sound mix.

Thanks to Chris Eusden’s review for saving me many words and making the
points I wanted to express.

In Bob we trust.Thankfully.…..

Dave Burrows


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