London, England

London Palladium

April 30, 2017

[Laurette Maillet], [Jim Scott]

Review by Laurette Maillet

I stand by the 2 Tour buses parked right on the streets.
It is improbable that Bob Dylan will pass in front of the Fans waiting
here too.

The Band arrives for the soundcheck, but no sign of Bob.
In fact, a black  car certainly droped him by a secret door, behind the
theater.  Only his guitar and some luggage are brought out from the
car to his Tour bus. I take a walk to the Halcyon Gallery, where there
is a Beaten Path exhibit. Nothing's much happening today.
I take photo as I am impressed by the size of some of the canvases.
Back to the Palladium,  few blocks away.

I eat a sandwich and drink a soda.
I say hello to some Fans who had been friendly with me.
2 good friends from Australia just arrived.
I start my search for a ticket.
Today I had the feeling, all day, to have been out of time and out of
Am I insane?
So be it!
A young gentlman hands me a ticket. I give him a hug.
I wait for Mr. R. , just to say hello. He's all by himself and looks
I regret I didn't ask him more about his mood but I am so happy for that
ticket. I move inside the venue where I will find my "sanity" back.
I am on the road for Bob Dylan.
I am on the upper level tonight. Still I have a good view on the stage.
My Good Samaritan is James and seated next to me. His wife couldn't find a
babysitter so he gave me the ticket. Thanks James.
Stu takes the stage.
Bobby's voice is weak. 
Either he is tired, either the sound is muffled on the top of the
Palladium. But definitively not the best performance. 
I notice Bob making a mistake on "Pay in blood". He started the wrong
verse on the second one.
Again he is trying a funny phrasing on "Early Roman kings" but drops it
rapidly. It didn't work tonight.
He looks tired to me. Maybe he had party with friends in London?
I am happy anyway. I enjoy.
The public is polite.
After the show I say goodbye to the Fans heading back to Europe.
I wait to say a word to Mr. R.
Don't see him anywhere!
What a strange day!
Good night all my friends. 
Have a safe travel.
Good night Bobby! Rest well in those 2 free days.
See you in  Cardiif.


Review by Jim Scott

The fact that Bob Dylan is in town is no longer of any significance for the
modern newsmedia. Pre-twitter, that is. The radio and tv in London appear
to have made no reference whatsoever to his 3 shows although in the print
media, Dylan is still feted by journalists of a certain age in some
broad-sheets  as a political and cultural hangover from the Cuba Missile
Crisis, from Flower Power and “Les événements de ’68.” 

On the street outside and within the Palladium Theatre itself, little if
any sense of anticipation. Well, at least not as compared to 3 or 4 decades

As for the show itself, as all who are reading here well know, the
virtually static set-list of songs can be split into 3 clear groups:
Classics (sic), more recent works and so-called Sinatra covers with the
opening song  “Things have changed” straddling the first 2 groups.

In reverse order: 

Though I claim to understand the role of Sinatra on US radio in Bob’s
childhood, these songs are not really his and are generally second rate, at
best, and seem out of place to me. One wonders why they are included at

Our elder son who bent my arm, slightly, to be his guest at the performance
alluded earlier in the afternoon, to a Dylan concert in London with Mark
Knopfler several years back. When we looked up the set list then, there
were only 15 songs. Yet today, several years later and with old father time
remorseless as ever for all involved, there are 21. And exactly 6 of them
are in the broad category of make-weights;  à la Francis Albert. 

Coincidence? A long term strategy to pass off fool’s  gold as the
genuine article ? I merely highlight the data.

Though number 1 son reached the opposite conclusion, I felt the performance
of these songs started weak and improved, slightly, as he went through them
with “Old Black Magic” the best of the bunch.

Breaking my very recent assertion, I’ll mention the Classics next.
Excellent.“To Ramona” was for me the only surprise of the night and a
welcome one at that, since, given my preferences, I didn’t register that
“Why try to change me now?” had been dropped. “Desolation row” was
the highlight from this group though all were well played. I don’t think
that I exaggerate if I say that you could have heard a pin drop on the
final verse “Yes, I received your letter yesterday…”   Amongst the
reprises, I didn’t get the same overwhelming sensation of passion and
commitment from the now standard violin-driven  “Blowing in the Wind”
as I had at Barcelona in July 2015. However on that occasion the whole
prior performance had, for me at least, been distinctly underwhelming
whereas tonight, overall, the show was better.  Much better.  To what
extent might that be because in Barcelona I was 150m from the stage on a
scaffolding structure in the open air whereas here I was in row 7 of a
surprisingly intimate theatre (which in the early 60s was home to what
might perhaps be classed as the British equivalent to the Ed Sullivan
Show) with excellent sightlines and positioned at right angles to the front
of the piano with an excellent view of Mr Dylan?

The remaining group are, for me, the hardest to pin down and to evaluate.
Over a period of just under 2 years, I have seen BD and heard these
“modern” songs live 4 times; Barcelona, twice in the RAH both ’15 and
’16 and now tonight. What do I make of them?

Most, I am told since the memory is failing, come from Tempest. Personally,
when I think of that album I always think of the opening song “about the
Titanic” where BD appears to say “Past it? I can write and sing songs
like this “to a band playing” “ and proceeds so to do. Most
effectively. And I like the John Lennon song too. But these other songs
tonight, with one exception noted below, don’t do much for me on that
album and I seldom listen to them there.

Yes Bob hasthem off to a t, yes the band is tight and regimented, yes
Duquesne Whistle was bright as a pin and engaging (and its performance
knocked the immediately previous “Sinatra standard” which the net
informs me was Melancholy Mood into a cocked hat) but even these
self-penned songs, with the minor exception of Spirit on the Water and the
major exception of Soon after Midnight, a beautifully melodic song with a
surfeit of emotion; whether genuine or of the “real tears” variety I
cannot tell, don’t pass muster. They are too minimalist. Too
specific?Too personal? Too hard to fathom? Too tuneless!!

They lack both melody and grandeur, the former especially a virtue which is
too seldom recognized in Dylan’s major works by the surfeit of
commentators who have paraded their prejeudices in the media over recent

On reflection, would the Nobel Committee have nailed its colours to the
mast for a song-writing career whose apogee was Early Roman Kings and Pay
in Blood?  “It’s a no brainer.”

Jim Scott


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