April 10, 2014
Review by Padraig MacColgain
I had missed out on tickets through the lottery when Bob played Japan in
2010 and again this year. I was really depressed as I had seen him 4 times
before but not since 2001 and I wanted to see how he was playing the new
material which I think has been getting better and better with each album.
Then one morning in March the radio station we listen to, Inter-FM,
announced that you should listen after 7am if you are interested in Bob
Dylan. As I was getting ready for work, I told my eldest to see what they
were on about. When I got back, she told me that extra shows had been
added for Tokyo and could be ordered from the Inter-FM website. I logged
on and got my tickets for 10th April in 2 minutes. If only life could
always be that simple.
The show was due to start at 7pm at Zepp DiverCity in Odaiba, the
reclaimed land in the middle of Tokyo Bay. Zepp concert venues are
springing up all over Tokyo and Japan. So much so that there are 2 in
Odaiba. They are small and intimate and seem to be mainly standing. We
arrived at 6:30pm and they were already letting people into the hall in
order of where they were to stand. We were in Block B 638 and 639 and when
we got there the stewards were calling out for Block B 240 and increasing
in increments of 20. When we got in the venue was doing good business in
T-shirts and programs. Although the tickets were 13,000 yen ($125), we
also had to cough up 500 yen for obligatory drink. I guess they have to make
their money somehow.
The hall itself was very nice. It is divided into three standing Blocks,
A, B and C, on the first floor and a small upstairs seating area. There
were crash barriers throughout the hall and people duly stood in the area
that they had been assigned. Had I been 25 or 30 years younger, I would
have made it my mission to duck under all the barriers and make it up to
the front of the stage, However, I was not and as I was with my
mother-in-law, who was born in the same year as Bob, we stood where we
were told and enjoyed the show. The floor seems to be fairly flat but as I
am 6 ft (still tall in Japan), I could see all of the stage and all of the
band. My mother-in-law had to move around all the time as people kept
blocking her view. I felt sorry for the young lady standing behind me but
not enough to give her my spot.
Bob came out right on time and from the first minute just blew me away.
His voice was strong and warm, and he was definitely on "form" and his band
were deadly. I could not do justice to songs, and fortunately Harada san has
already provided the set list, but they were all clear and crisp and very
tight. The highlights for me were the wonderful, and inevitable,
rewritings of Tangled Up In Blue and Simple Twist of Fate. I felt that he
was holding off on singing the line until the audience had started,
knowing that he had already changed it. Prue brilliance. He has always
had fantastic timing and he still does. I was delighted to see the
audience give such a great response to the new stuff, particularly Long
And Wasted Years, which included references to himself being over the
hill - Nooooo! All Along The Watchtower was also special.
I guess the most unusual part of the show is the 20 minutes or so
intermission. They announced it at the start but I thought that it would
be closer to the end and much shorter. Had this been in Ireland, the bar
would have been swamped and people would have come back with arms full of
beer. However here people just stood around talking and being very polite
to each other. The encores we excellent and Bob's harp playing was great,
as it had been throughout the performance. I was surprised that he never
picked up the guitar during the show. He was either standing in front
singing and playing the harp or standing playing the piano at the side.
After the Blowing In The Wind the band came to the front of the stage with
Bob and stood there for a couple of minutes before walking off. The house
lights came up and that was it. An unbelievable experience.
As we made our way out of the crowded exits I noticed how packed it was
and that I would not like to be here if there was an evacuation. The doors
were not all opened and the corridor around the hall was long and narrow.
I guess that they would have opened more doors if there was the need but
it did take us a long time to file out. The retailers were still doing
good business and it seems that the DVDs were very popular. In fact there
was a line of people out the door. The wind was howling as we made our way
back to the station, but as it was April, there was no outrageous snow. I
felt sorry for the merchandise peddler from England who set up his stall
on route to the station as all his pictures of Bob were literally blowing
in the wind. OK, I will stop there and hope I can get tickets when he
comes back again in 4 years.
Review by Richard from England
I went to see Bob on Thursday in Tokyo. My first concert in 12 years or
so. Bob was in fine voice, but the sound system was not great, like it was
too small to handle the volume they were putting through it. That's funny
because the recording I'm listening to from a few days earlier sounds
perfectly all right. Hmm. He didn't look very strong; never picked up a
guitar, but held on to the mic stand a lot. He did a good job with a
powerful voice, anyway. He didn't play anything I particularly wanted to
hear, as usual,but i'm glad he played mostly recent-ish songs. i was able
to understand a couple of songs that i couldn't get before.
Pay In Blood and Early Roman Kings and Watchtower got the biggest crowd
reactions and were the best played. He spat out the words of Pay In Blood:
never heard it done like that before. The way he sang "pumping out his
piss" took my breath away. And the people at the front reacted nicely,
ooohing and aahing appropriately, and cheering every reprise. Some of the
less bluesy tunes suffered from a lack of direction, a sludge-like sound,
which might have been due to the sound system. His voice was wonderfully
clear, every new line clear when the instruments and speakers' limitations
didn't get in the way. His harmonica work was mostly effective and loud.
He did an excellent piano solo during Watchtower. I remember thinking at
some point, who's playing that lovely twinkling sound? Then i focused on
it and realized that it was his old electric piano. He could have let the
band play a bit more freely; Charlie would have made some enjoyable
extended endings. Afterwards I asked a guy who follows Bob around and he
said "you picked a good 'un" to go to, though the night before was really
All in all, not an evening i'll forget in a hurry. Whenever i hear
"Tomorrow is Friday" i will remember the vehemence with which he sang it
at Zepp Diver City on April 10th, 2014. He sounded like he was ready to
string up Charles Darwin himself when he snarled, "dead or alive". I
wouldn't like to be in Darwin's shoes on judgement day, especially if Bob
is his judge - a theologically possible proposition!
Highs for me included: Pay In Blood, She Belongs To Me, Tangled, Waitng
For You [best version i've heard], High Water, Watchtower, Early Roman
Kings [almost as good as album version], Scarlet Town, Simple Twist of
Fate. That's too many highs! Can't help it!.He was too good! It was mighty
windy outside after the show, and an appropriate wild wind did howl!
Richard from England
Review by Laurette Maillet
I take my position quietly but surely 7th row in front of the center mic.
I can see the stage between the heads. Not too bad. They have air
conditioning on, so it is not too hot. 7:10 pm Stu takes the stage with
his strumming. Then the Band. Bob has the same suit as the 8th but a dark
shirt. Hat on until the middle of "Spirit on the water". I cannot see the
boots. "Things have changed" (not so much the set list though). "She
belongs to me"...cool! On the piano "Beyond here lies nothing"...complete
this time(on the 8th I had only half). "What good am I". No "Huck's tune"
tonight. The sound is a bit weird ; too much bass and George's drums sound
funky. Tony's bass guitar is vibrating under my feet! "Waiting for
you"...sweet waltz. I try some steps but we are packed, do not want to
disturb my neighbors. "Duquesne Whistle"...suddenly the public around me
is on fire. They react nicely to that song. Singing Woo! Woo! on George's
final bits of the music bridge. Bob looks happy and the Band seems to wake
up from the routine. "Pay in blood"...Bob is excited and picks up the mic
in his right hand, do some steps towards the first row...doing a little
show. Each phrase is getting a reaction from the public, some yea! yea!.
They are talking to Bob and Bob talks to us. "Tangled up in blue". "Love
sick"...beautifully done. Bob will say again "arigato"(thanks in Japanese)
before saying "we take a little break now, 5 minutes, we'll be back!" That
will be 20 or 25 minutes. Nobody around me moves. No drinking break. We
hardly hear any sound. As usual no photographs are allowed to be taken,
and it seems very well respected. No cell phones in the air blocking the
view. I heard here and then some "Bobby! Bobby!" but not in the middle of
a song and maybe not even from Japanese Fans. My type of public! Around me
some youngsters dressed casual, also few middle aged men dressed in ties
and suits, probably coming directly from work. WORK is the key word in
Stu is back...audience is clapping in unison.
"High water". An excellent performance by Donnie on the banjo. Donnie's
wild! Sweet "Simple twist of fate" followed by the most fantastic version
of "The early Roman kings". My mind used to drift away on that song that I
used to find a bit boring. But tonight it captures my attention. The
public around me is moving with the rhythm of the drums...papapapapa...pa
pa pa pa! Thanx Georgie! There is a total silence on "Forgetful heart".
Then my favorite at the time...on that Tour. "Spirit On The Water". A
really nice performance by Charlie. Feel like saying "thank you, Charlie!"
and I hear someone calling his name. Charlie looks thinner than ever and
Donnie also lost some weight. What happened? They do not like the Japanese
Fugu? "Scarlet Town" where I was born? "Soon After Midnight". My second
favorite among the sweet songs. "It's soon after midnight, And I've got a
date with a fairy queen "...a little Geisha, maybe?
"Long And Wasted Years"
The crowd reacts with each single phrase! yeah! yeah!
Bob looks tired now, his voice still clear but ...tired.
He did 4 shows in a row...mainly the same set list but powerful and well
delivered. I've seen a lot of the same Fans night after night. I've been
in different positions ; so close and so far. Always, always enjoying
myself! Such a great public! Bob knows. He signed two autographs and used
the word "arigato". The two encores are of course : 18. All Along The
Watchtower 19. Blowin' In The Wind
Arigato gozeimas...Bobby and the Band!
A special thanks to Jules and Jason who have been working hard on the
sound system. I have not seen Barron!
See you all in Sapporo.
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