MAY 4 - MAY 12
(my eight reviews)
BRIGHTON CENTRE, BRIGHTON
There was something special about going to this
Bob Dylan concert, as it was my first Bob date
since Kilkenny; and so it has been anticipated
for some months. It is the first time my wife
and I left the Emerald Isle since coming back from
Portsmouth in September 2000 (so it was our first
show since then without Ron Wood clowning around).
Both in 2000 and now in 2002 we came to Britain
in order to see eight shows. The Brighton Centre
was packed and we were sitting on the balcony,
a little far away from the "action", but that is
what you have binoculars for. I must say, it was
a very enjoyable show.
One third of the 21 songs I had never seen live
(in 32 shows since 1981), the five "Love & Theft"
songs, as well as "S. H. B." ( ... watch the parking
meeeeeters) and "Man Of Constant Sorrow". Also I
had never seen before the acoustic version of
"I Shall Be Released", and certainly no acoustic
"If Not For You".
But even the frequently played songs were on a high
artistic level, with every musician on stage showing
what a brilliant craftsman he is. Jim Keltner was
working hard, and for my part delivered his goods.
This guy knows his stuff. The other four artists
I had seen at work many times before, strumming
away on their manifold stringed instruments, but
they all are getting better and better. Bob was
singing fine and strong throughout the evening.
One of the high points for me was the challenging
opener, "I AM THE MAN THOMAS", as I really love
Bob Dylan singing about Jesus Christ, believing
him that he is serious in doing so. I am looking
very much forward to hear "SOLID ROCK" at hopefully
some of the shows we are heading for.
"Can't Wait" was also really nice; and "Masters
Of War" was performed strong, convincing, and with
authority, as was "Sugar Baby". "Summer Days" I
really was looking forward to, and I was not at all
disappointed. Those guitars !!! What can I say ???
"Man Of Constant Sorrow" was one of the peaks of
the night. I loved every second of it, as I cherished
every note of "I SHALL BE RELEASED". That one was
so beautiful, with its purple lighting and the great
singing of Bob and the boys. The curtain closer,
"All Along The Watchtower", was certainly not the
first one I have seen, but it definitely was the
best one, with Bob's phrasing being somewhat different
than any other version I have heard before.
With all these setlist changes so far during this
finest European tour since 1981, we really do look
forward to some more nice surprises, as we arrived
in Bournemouth, where we will be standing tonight,
a little closer to the "action". This is not a bad
way to spend your vacation ;-)
INTERNATIONAL ARENA, BOURNEMOUTH
No, he did not sing "Isis", on the fifth day
of May, but Bob did once more sing fifteen
songs not performed in the previous show.
Three songs only he repeated in the main set;
the acoustic "If Not For You" (which is thought
to be in rememberance of George Harrison, now
that Bob is in Britain), the highly enjoyable
"S.H.B.", and "Summer Days", a song no Dylan
concert should be without these days.
Those guitars !!! But I mentioned them already
yesterday, did I ? From the encores he did
repeat the usual three.
For this show I was standing, pretty close to
the action, a little to the left, so I could
hear very good. I got to hear four songs I had
never seen live. For one the great opener,
"WAIT FOR THE LIGHT TO SHINE", which
appeared for the fifth time in Europe.
Also the first electric song, "Absolutely Sweet
Marie" was new to me, and I wonder if he played
it because in 1997 it also had been the first
electric song in Bournemouth. Two more L&T songs
I got to hear for the first time, a very nice
"Floater", and a very strong "Cry A While"
(I did not find any fault in Jim Keltner's
drumming all night).
Highlights from the songs I had seen before
were many, as this was a very very good show
indeed. "Desolation Row" featured seven verses
(Sell./ Cind./ Moon/ Across/ Einst./ Midnight/
Received), and Bob was with the lyrics all the time.
"Mama" was beautifully sung, and "Boots Of Spanish
Leather" (with nice red lighting) was sung even
more beautifully. "HARD RAIN", was strong as well,
but Bob's microphone created distorting feedback
noises during the last verse, causing him to sing
most of that verse off mike, as loud as he could,
before beckoning the audience to help him finish
with the last chorus.
"Don't Think Twice" had a very nice groove to it.
"Summer Days" just was great (I am really looking
forward to see it six more times), and being back
in the 12th spot, I knew that number 13 would be
something I would like very much. So I got to hear
my fifth "NOT DARK YET". It must have been the
first one ever starting with a harp solo, and it
was a great version (~ "... and I got to the sea"
~ The Bournemouth International Centre is located
right at the coast ~ ;-)
The band intro (with each member playing a solo)
during the extended jam session following "Pillbox"
was immensely entertaining, to say the least.
This band sure is fantastic. The song in purple
lighting in spot number 18 was "FOREVER YOUNG",
which featured nice vocal harmonies; and the second
encore was "Highway 61" this time, which showcased
Charlie Sexton's talent once more. To observe Bob's
look on his face as he was looking from three feet
distance into Charlie's face for quite a long time,
it was obvious that he was well pleased with him.
And rightly so ! I was well pleased as well with
all five artists on stage, and I have the feeling,
that I will be even more pleased in Cardiff tonight.
These shows are a pure pleasure.
INTERNATIONAL ARENA, CARDIFF
Since there was one day off (the only one
during this British marathon), I had no
deadline yesterday to type this review.
But something to review I do have indeed,
and I am glad I had some more time to do it.
As I looked again at the Cardiff setlist on
the morning after, I had an interesting thought.
If I would have been at home and would have read
the setlist online, I might have said: "Wow,
Solid Rock, oh, Visions and Moonlight, nice,
but otherwise just more of the same." But I was
not at home, I was in Cardiff, underneath those
left speakers, some 30 feet away from the
greatest living artist performing his 24th
concert of his finest European tour since 1981.
And, being fully aware that every concert
experience is subjective, I have to say,
that this show in Cardiff was many, many
times better than the setlist might suggest.
It is true, every song had been played at least
four times during this tour ("Baby Blue",
"Stuck" and "Things" appearing for the 5th time,
"4th Street" for the 6th time, "Visions" and
"Knocking" for the 7th time, etc. etc.), so
there were no real surprises concerning the
song selection, the biggest surprise being song
number two, which had rested for ten shows.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
On the way from Bournemouth to Cardiff my wife
and I had been listening to "Cardiff 23/09/00"
(which we also had attended), and I wondered
if Bob would top this show, which had been one
of the finest of the ten fine shows we had seen
that September. For my money he did top it, and
it would have been worth to cross the Irish see
just for this one concert, which seemed to have
one main objective; to demonstrate to every one
present the simple fact that Bob Dylan's voice
is the greatest instrument in music history. Period !!!
Personal highlights always stick to memory best,
so I will stick to those as well. "Humming Bird"
was my first one, a lovely song it is, with
brilliant harmonies. I really love Tony's bass
playing on all the openers. "Times", like I said,
had not been played for ten shows, so it was
surprising to hear these opening chords, instead
of another round of "Guess that tune". But what
followed was quite astonishing. For one Bob Dylan
had memorized all the lyrics of all the five verses
(gather/ writers/ senators/ mothers/ line). There
were no (I repeat: NO) half forgotten lines !!!
What was more, the phrasing was very strong and
Bob was really putting something special into
this old chestnut.
My 7th "Baby Blue" started with a nice harp solo.
Minutes later, as Bob had just finished the last
"strike another match" line, I said to my wife:
"The next words we will hear from him might be
'I'm hanging on' ". They were indeed the next words,
and we were quite joyful about that. I had seen
"SOLID ROCK" before, on my first Bob date in
November 1981, but to see him sing this bold
confession now, on my 35th Bob date, was sure
something very special to me. As I am hanging on
to the same Solid Rock, Bob was singing about
13 times so far since coming to Europe last month,
I do relate to these lyrics. And I believe Bob.
He won't let go no more the one, who has been
chastised, hated, and rejected for him.
This Jesus, Bob Dylan keeps singing about,
remains for him a wonderful Savior to know.
My 3rd "4th Street" was my first since 1994,
and my 2nd "L.D.B." was quite intense. Bob's
singing was brilliant throughout, and his vocal
delivery alone of my 3rd "Visions of Johanna"
would have been worth the price of admission.
Amazing stuff. The next song I had seen 26 times
before, so I had not planned on writing down
the following three words: "Tangled was outstanding".
Perfectly sandwiched between this acoustic rocker
and "Summer Days" (the only repetition of the main
set from the previous show) was a simply beautiful
"Moonlight", which was the second song of the night
I had never seen live (making it 13 songs in
3 shows, 8 of them from L&T).
After the always hugely enjoyable "Summer Days"
(did I ever mentioned those guitars?) it was clear
to me once more that Bob was intent to deliver
a top class show, as he set aside his harp to end
"Wicked Messenger" before the song even started.
"Things Have Changed" sure is a different experience
when not appearing almost every night as it did
in September 2000. The "purple lighting" song,
"Knocking", had again those nice strong harmonies,
with Bob singing this way, and Larry and Charlie
singing that way. Very interesting to watch them
do this. The same they did also with "Blowing",
which was sung by Bob in a very beautiful soft
voice during the verses, and more intense
during the chorus.
It is easy to tell by my ramblings that Dylan's
vocal performance in Cardiff impressed me big time,
and indeed I did feel great awe and respect for
this man's artistic output these days, as I was
standing for the second time in this Welsh venue.
So don't be fooled by the setlist (;-), which
nevertheless had seventeen (!!!) changes to
Bournemouth, featuring eleven songs played neither
in Bournemouth nor Brighton. We did see 63 songs
in 3 shows, and 47 different ones; and I do believe
Bob Dylan will pull out some more real surprises,
as he hits those large British arenas.
But no matter what the last five setlists might
look like, the artistic performances of this finest
band on this planet will be great and worth seeing,
no matter what the critics say. Whoever does not
like this art created on stage, does not have to
go again. I do like it, so I'm ready to go, less
than three hours before showtime in Newcastle.
TELEWEST ARENA, NEWCASTLE
Newcastle revisited. For the second time my wife
and I saw a Bob Dylan concert at the Telewest Arena
(we had been there on 19/09/00 as well). Our seats
in the very center of the 11th row provided a good
view and an excellent sound for us. The five craftsmen
on stage again showed us what kind of wonderful
art they are able to create with their instruments.
There are simply no bad Bob Dylan concerts these days.
I think the main reason why some of us, who go to
several shows, do not enjoy all the songs the same
way the majority of the audience does, is that we
are spoiled, have so many points of reference,
and let our expectations get in the way. ["Oh, I
wish he would have played ... in this spot." Oh,
not ... again." "Well, but the version of ...
in ... was better than this."] It takes a concious
effort to not be fooled by this wrong approach to
Bob's performing art, and sometimes we do not succeed.
But Bob Dylan does not perform a show to please our
high expectations. All shows however are worth seeing,
and often he does pull out surprises, and plays
simply great versions of some of your favorite songs.
That is why I spend my vacation once more going to
several shows. But that is also why I for my part
focus on personal highlights in my reviews.
Last night there were of course some songs I enjoyed
more than other songs, but that does not give me the
right to knock those other songs, for they still are
multiple times preferable to anything else performed
by any other band or artist out there.
My 36th Bob date started with my 2nd
"WAIT FOR THE LIGHT TO SHINE", followed by my 2nd
"Song To Woody", which was performed for the first
time this year. Not a bad start at all. A little
later I saw my 6th "Love Minus Zero", delivered most
beautifully after starting with a nice harp solo.
Next came the 14th "SOLID ROCK" on this tour, a song
I hoped to see once during these British shows,
and which I got to see already twice now in consecutive
shows. With four concerts to go to, chances are I will
see it again. Observing Bob singing these lyrics
once more (as I did in Cardiff), I really do get the
impression, he intents to communicate to the audience,
that he is serious about the meaning of these words.
A definite high point of the evening for me.
A harp solo by Bob always is nice to watch, and
the three he did, when starting "Just Like A Woman",
"Tambourine Man", and "Blowing", would have been
even more enjoyable if some people would not have
tried to sing along with the melody. But no more
about strange audience behaviour. On stage the band
played my 3rd "S.H.B" (you don't need a weatherman
to know which way the wind blows), which was
immensely enjoyable. Also I got to hear my 4th
"HARD RAIN", a lyrical feast in every show it
appears in these days.
The finest peak of the Newcastle show was song
number twelve, which was a superb version of
"STANDING IN THE DOORWAY". It was a bit surprising
to hear it again in Newcastle, as he performed it
on that very stage before in September 2000, which
had been the first appearance of this gem in Europe.
And, to quote my review from back then, this song
again "by itself was worth the price of admission".
The guitar playing by Bob on this song last night
was really beautiful.
Talking about guitars, "Summer Days" was next,
Charlie played awesome on this. The instrumental
part between "you been teasing me" and "standing
by God's river", usually two or three minutes long,
is the most enjoyable of all the predictable parts
of these shows for me. It simply gets to me every time.
The guitars I liked a lot also during "Love Sick",
which Bob even ended with a short guitar solo.
The only song, I never had seen before, was
"If Dogs Run Free", which was quite beautiful
(it had no purple lighting however like the
other songs in that spot). During "Honest With Me"
I really noticed and enjoyed the incredible drumming
of Jim Keltner and the fantastic guitar playing
by Larry Campbell. Some mighty fine musicians
Bob's got with him on stage, rolling out all those
musical carpets for his various vocal gymnastics.
And they all do know how to rock hard, as the curtain
closer, "Highway 61" demonstrated once again.
14 song changes to Cardiff, 6 new songs for the
British tour; 53 songs in 4 shows, no reason to
complain. The Manchester Evening News Arena is next,
in a little over three hours, but nobody in that arena
will be able to predict what kind of news they will
deliver this evening in Manchester. I am hoping for
gems like "Hallelujah I'm ready to go" or "Mississippi",
just to name two on my wish list. But I will take
anything I get. It is Bob's show after all, isn't it?
M.E.N. ARENA, MANCHESTER
So what kind of news did Bob Dylan deliver
last evening at the Mancester Evening News Arena?
This oval bowl full of people was almost cooking
over by the time those spotlights illuminated
the place during the choruses of "Like A Rollin Stone".
It was quite a sight from our floor (Block A, Row Q)
seats. But not many people on the floor used their
seats during this exremely energetic and powerful show,
containing no cover song at all, but only Dylan's
News number one was: "I ain't gonna work on Maggie's
farm no more", sung with acoustic guitar (Charlie
on electric), as first song. For more than three
years now Bob Dylan has started his shows with
acoustic cover songs, so this choice was quite
a surprise. It was presented with the same steam as
some of the other openers, similar to "Duncan And Brady".
Next news item on the list was the second acoustic
version ever of "SEŅOR", a song which my wife and
I had seen five times already from 1995 to 1998.
But we both love this song very much, and last night
it was a mighty fine version we heard. First early
peak of the show.
"It's Alright Ma" was quite strong, and our third
"One Too Many Mornings" since 1994, starting with
a nice harp solo, sung softly and tender, was the
next highlight for me, finishing the first acoustic
set. The first electric set started with a powerful
"Memphis Blues", and I hardly could believe what
Jim Keltner did with this song on his drums. It
was quite amazing, and it was not the last time
that night that I stood in awe of this great musician.
I would not mind if Bob would ask him to stick
around longer than Sunday next.
Another version of "Moonlight" followed, with Bob
making up for some lyrical mistakes in the first
part by singing all the better in the second part
of the song. Next was the second appearance in
2002 of the rare "I Don't Believe You", in my
opinion prompted by Bob's presence in Manchester,
where he prefaced this song 36 years ago with
"It used to be like that, and now it goes like this."
(Maybe this had also been the reason for the
inclusion of "One Too Many Mornings", which he
prefaced in 1966 with "If you only just wouldn't
clap so hard" ;-) Last night's version was very
enjoyable, starting with harmonica, and featuring
very nice guitar playing.
"Lonesome Day Blues" was quite intense again,
with Bob belting out the lyrics. ("IIII'm gonna
taaaame the proud"). Back on acoustic guitar,
Bob scolded the "Masters Of War" one more time,
and Jim's drumming fascinated me once more.
Our fourth "Visions Of Johanna" within the last two years
was next, featuring the longest word in Dylan's lyric book
before another "Don't Think Twice" started with harmonica,
causing the most appreciative audience to break into
rounds of applause, an exercise they repeated after each
verse. And rightly so. Most people present do not see Bob
Dylan very often, so they want to hear some greatest hits.
And what they got last night was great indeed, as Bob
performed all his hits really well.
The second electric set started with another high point
for us, our third "BLIND WILLIE MCTELL",
a masterpiece sung masterfully; and featuring another
great guitar solo by Charlie, preceding the "God is in
His Heaven, and we all want what's His" line.
The next peak followed straight away, as "Summer Days"
gets more enjoyable each day. I know, I have mentioned
those guitars in every review, but last night I thought
the tin roof would lift off the arena. Amazing! Hot!
Music at its absolute finest !!!
The "Drifter's Escape" featured some interesting ever
changing shadows of the band members on the curtain,
and once more I have to mention those impressive drums.
I was hoping for "Cat's In The Well" to close the main set,
but it was not to be (yet ;-). But the crowd loved their
"12&35", as they did love the rocking encores,
"Rolling Stone", "Honest With Me", and "Watchtower"
(This band really rocks!). But they also loved the
slower acoustic hits, like the ever present "Blowing",
or another very nice "FOREVER YOUNG", which both featured
those strong harmonies by Larry and Charlie again. Very effective.
A great show; Manchester special. 5 more songs for Britain 2002,
that's 58 in 5 shows. The NEC in Birmingham is the next arena
we are going to revisit tonight. It will be packed, it will
be loud, and it will be good. And there will be more surprises.
Some tours are like a gold rush. Three hours to go.
Last night in Birmingham my concert experience
was much different than last time I visited the
NEC in 2000, when my wife and I ended up center
center at the rail. This time we were up in the
tiers more than half an arena away from the stage.
So it was not loud at all for us, and we had to
use binoculars to observe any details, which made
it all the harder to enjoy the songs played often,
or to cherish the few nuggets presented way down yonder.
Having seen my sixth show in a week, I could
choose to critizise the song selection (spoiled
as I am by now ;-), as I would have prefered
different choices in spots number 1, 3, 6, 7, 8,
10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20.
This is not to say that those songs were not good
or worth listening to, it is just that going to
several shows you long for the obscurer choices.
But Bob Dylan does not conduct his concerts for
those going to several shows. Last night he
conducted his show for another British audience
in another sold out huge arena.
And, looking at the setlist, I just have to ask
myself: How would I have experienced this show,
and how would I view this setlist now, if this
would have been my only Bob date this year? (like
last year's Kilkenny show for me, with its newest
song from 1973) I would have enjoyed all the 20
songs I have heard last night, without even
considering to worry about hearing the same songs
for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th time in a week.
Pretty pathetic trap, actually. ;-) I would have
been greatly pleased to hear six songs from "Love
& Theft", some nine crowd pleasing greatest hits,
and a handful of obscurer choices thrown in.
For that is exactly what we got to hear last night.
My personal favorites were the acoustic version
of "Big Girl" (with some new lines I did not get),
an incredible tender and soft "Tomorrow Is A Long Time",
including a nice harp intro by Bob and extremely
beautiful harminies by Larry (This version was even
more sublime than the one I saw in Vicar Street.),
my first "Tom Thumb" ever (first timers are always
enjoyable for me), and of course "Summer Days" with
its magnificent guitars. My 2nd "4th Time Around"
(I had seen it before in Portsmouth) was also quite
enjoyable, as were my 3rd "Moonlight" (with lyrics
more correct than the previous night) and my 2nd
"Sugar Baby" ("Look up, look up, seek your Maker").
"Cry A While" was also very good last night, and
I love to see Bob get into the lyrics of his newer
material. Speaking of lyrics, "12&35" is one of
those songs where I wouldn't care if Bob would sing
out of the yellow pages, so I simply try to enjoy
the jam sessions. Last night, right after the band
introduction, Bob surprised us with a nice harp solo
to finish off this my 19th version of this song in
twice as much shows I have seen. Wouldn't it be great
if Bob would replace the lyrics of this song with
harp playing throughout, permanently? (Rethorical
question, you do not have to reply. ;-)
Last night Bob repeated even the otherwise
alternating acoustic encore song, "FOREVER YOUNG",
and there were (only) 10 song changes to Manchester,
not 15, 17, 14, or 16 (see how spoiled you can get?),
but still we got four new songs for Britain,
making it 62 songs now in six shows. With two
London shows left, he might reach 70 songs yet.
The top of my imaginary wish list would be:
"Every Grain Of Sand", "In The Garden",
"I Believe In You", "Mississippi", "Po' Boy",
and "Cat's In The Well", to name just half a dozen.
But whatever we will get, I think I will not regret
having seen my first London shows, when we will head
back to Ireland next week, as I don't regret having
come here to see any of the previous six shows.
Bob Dylan concerts simply are extremely worth seeing
these days. So I am looking forward to another two
shows, less than four hours before the first one
will kick off with ... [???], followed by ... [???].
LONDON ARENA DOCKLANDS, LONDON
Featuring only 19 songs, being the shortest show
on this tour so far, the first of the two concerts
by Bob Dylan in London was excellent, a faultless
performance! It had been the first appearance of
the world's best and most important artist in
Europe's largest city after September 11th, so
I for my part was very pleased that two of the
first five songs he sang were about Jesus Christ.
As in Brighton a week before, the show kicked off
with a strong and energetic "I AM THE MAN THOMAS",
being the seventh time during this tour this song
had been performed. "Times" ended with a harp solo,
and the fifth "Ma" in a row featured great drums.
"Baby Blue" started with harmonica, and as five
days before in Cardiff, it was followed by Bob
Dylan's confession that he still is "hanging on
to a SOLID ROCK"; and solid rock it was indeed,
this brilliant song, rocking the 15th European
venue on this tour. A true high point.
My personal concert experience however went downhill
from that hight point, not because of the performance
on stage, which remained strong throughout, but
because of "Gestapo like" security behaviour, for
they were starting to clear the aisles, which had
been filling up during an early stage run followed
by a continuous stage walk. Gradually we were moved
back to our original seats, which were on a corner
of a block on the right side on the floor (the first
5 songs I saw from the center behind the first block
of rows), so security remained our major obstacle
to enjoy this great show, as they constantly kept
clearing the aisles, asking everybody walking towards
the front for their tickets, in a futile attempt to
have everybody stand in front of their own seat only.
Most disturbing indeed.
All the 19 songs I had seen before during this
vacation in Britain, but some of them only once
or twice, so it was a pleasure to hear another
"Floater"; and the second appearance of
"BLIND WILLIE MCTELL" within 49 hours,
including another great guitar solo by Charlie,
did not bother me at all. "Summer Days" was a pure
invitation to dance, and the first London version
(including those great guitars which I believe
I had mentioned before ;-), was as good as it gets.
The most redeeming part of "Pillbox" for me is
always the band intro, especially when every
member gets to play a short solo (I'm still not
giving up hope to hear "Cat's In The Well" tonight ;-).
After a short break Bob cut short the encores by
two songs (not only by one song like the day before
in B'ham), but he did it in a very interesting way,
by cutting them at the front and in the middle,
thus leaving out the first acoustic encore,
and moving up the ever present "Rolling Stone"
to start this shorter part two of the show.
This was a most effective surprise to my ears
at least, as it was unexpected; and a powerful
version it was, very fitting in this spot,
making this 26th version I have seen in 39 shows
the most enjoyable version I can recall.
Following this "Rolling Stone" directly with
"Honest With Me" kept the energy flowing; and
another "Blowing" (starting with a harp intro
once more) preceded the final song of the night,
a smoking version of "Watchtower", which was one
for the history books. Rock at it should be,
with great drumming by Jim Keltner.
What more can you ask for?
One more show with this fine band in London tonight,
four hours ahead of us, hopefully with less
disturbances by security. I checked our seats already
last night, they will be in the fourth row, but all
the way to the left side, 70 and 71. I suspect it
will be another top performance, and it might even
include some more surprises. "Mississippi" would
be nice, wouldn't it?
LONDON ARENA DOCKLANDS, LONDON
Checking our 4th row seats (70 + 71) again
before the show, my wife and I had to find out,
they were almost beside the stage, with a view
obstructed by speakers, so we would have seen
only the front part of Bob's mike stand.
Fortunately we were offered row 10, (55 + 56)
spots by two nice Ladies from the other side
of the Atlantic, as they intended to really
go up front. But when the same appalling security
as the day before showed them back to their seats
during "Stuck", we had to move into the aisle.
(Thanks anyway again to Miss Lucy and to Mary J.)
Trying to avoid confrontation with security,
we could move enough up front to stand almost
underneath the left speakers. Since security
focused on keeping the aisles clear everywhere
else but very close to the stage (where they
certainly would have greatly distracted Bob
and the band, as it was a noisy business,
conducted in a very disturbing manner for
everyone nearby), we ended up with rather
excellent sights and sounds to enjoy the
last of the eight shows we came to Britain for.
And what a show it was, with only 19 songs again,
but only seven repetitions from the night before,
most of which were well worth repeating, most of
all the brilliant opener, "I AM THE MAN THOMAS",
which Bob chose to sing for the third time in Britain
this month, thus having started eight shows each of
both his tours this year so far with this wonderful
song about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This is something he probably would not have done,
if he would not indeed be hanging on to this Solid
Rock, he sang about to 15 audiences in Europe during
this fine tour. He won't let go no more the nail
scarred hand of his wonderful Savior and risen Lord
that will lead him beyond the burning sand.
The nicest surprise of the night was the inclusion
of the second "If You See Her, Say Hello" of this
European tour. Performed acoustic, it started with
violin and harp, featuring some lyric changes, and
more violin by Larry throughout the song. The second
acoustic set (always three songs) deserves special
mentioning as well. Another soft "Mama", starting
with harp intro, preceded a good "HARD RAIN", which
always is a lyrical high point for me and welcome
to my ears, especially if it is followed by a
surprising and beautiful "FOREVER YOUNG",
which actually even benefits from a position
further up front in the set. (Very nice choice
indeed, as this also meant, that London remained
"un-tangled" this year ;-)
The only acoustic song during the encores was an
intense and surprising "Knocking", which knocked
"Blowing" off its post-"Honest With Me" position.
Which brings me to another observation I made last
night. Bob performed five songs from "Love & Theft"
during his set, and each and every one of those
performances he nailed (I mean NAILED), as if his
life depended on it (or to put it this way, as if
5000 copies of "L&T" would have to be sold right
after the show, and every one of them HAS to go).
He really put a lot into his newer lyrics (all his
other songs last night were at least 28 years old).
The way his voice delivered softly the lyrics of
"Moonlight" and "Sugar Baby", or the way he almost
yelled the words of "Cry A While" and "Honest With
Me", was simply amazing. (It was the last show of
the tour, so his voice can rest for a while now.)
"Summer Days" was brilliant as ever, and remains
my favorite "L&T" song I saw during these shows
(did I ever mentioned those guitars ? ;-), as
"Mississippi" did not appear at all in Europe ;-(
It is also great to watch how Bob can rely on
these outstanding musicians around him, who play
all those various styles with ease, together in
perfect harmony; and always on their toes (as they
had to be last night, when they started "Drifter's
Escape" and then Bob all of the sudden sang
"There was a Wicked Messenger"). They all seem
to really enjoy playing with Bob as well, even
during the songs played often, visible last night
during songs like "Rolling Stone" (which was again
more enjoyable for me as the first encore song
than it was as the second), and during the perfect
curtain closer, another rocking "Watchtower",
which might have been the last song in which we
could have seen Jim Keltner in Bob's band, a great
drummer, who had been introduced by Bob Dylan in
London in 1981 as "a legend in his own time".
Who knows who will beat the drums during the
next Bob Dylan concert?
Anyway, Bob Dylan in May 2002 sang 163 songs
in Britain (100 of them he performed in the
last five days alone). 63 different songs we
got to hear during these eight shows, 23 of
them but once, and a further 15 of them only
twice. There sure have been some nuggets worth
crossing the Irish Sea for, and worth driving
all those miles across Britain in our little
red Micra, which took me to 29 of my 40 Bob
dates by now.
As I type in this last review, having found
internet access in Swansea/Wales again on our
way back to Ireland (as I did before in September
2000, when I typed in the last of ten reviews
from Vicar Street to Portsmouth), I have to say
it was again a great way to spend our vacation,
as we also met many wonderful people along this
trip (some of which I already knew via email),
like Geoff and Jeff in Brighton, J. J. in
Bournemouth and beyond (I told him already
that I actually saw him yawning twice last
night during "12&35"), and the nice couple
from Tel Aviv (who flew in just for the two
London shows, after waiting in vain for nine
years on Bob to revisit Israel); just to name
a few. And of course we would do it again, anytime.