MAY 6, 2002
INTERNATIONAL ARENA, CARDIFF,
1. HUMMING BIRD @
2. THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' @
3. IT'S ALRIGHT, MA (I'M ONLY BLEEDING) @
4. IT'S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE @
5. SOLID ROCK
6. POSITIVELY 4TH STREET
7. LONESOME DAY BLUES
8. STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE WITH THE MEMPHIS BLUES AGAIN
9. MASTERS OF WAR @
10. VISIONS OF JOHANNA @
11. TANGLED UP IN BLUE @
13. SUMMER DAYS
14. THE WICKED MESSENGER
15. RAINY DAY WOMEN #12 & 35
16. THINGS HAVE CHANGED
17. LIKE A ROLLING STONE
18. KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR @
19. HONEST WITH ME
20. BLOWIN' IN THE WIND @
21. ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
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.