May 2, 2009
Review by Paul Ryan
Strange to tell, I've been on a Bob-free break since the autumn. Not quite
as thought out as the Bob-fasts that some others used to employ as
preparation for extended tour pilgrimages, but effective nonetheless. Not
a single download and, to be brutally honest about it, I've felt quite
liberated about that.
Since the tour started I've weakened a bit and read some of the reviews.
And I listened to the new album this afternoon. (It's far from being bad,
but I am glad it's only 45 minutes or so in length. As soon as I got Love
and Theft, I played it through half-a-dozen times in a row and then many
times thereafter. Modern Times I played twice - ever. Let's see about this
one . . . ) Still hadn't heard any recent live stuff, though.
Tonight's show in Glasgow started with Maggie's Farm, which was tight with
decent vocal. Following that was Don't Think Twice, which was equally well
I fell to musing about how I might describe the concert. What came to mind
was something along the lines of: "the band has found an efficient groove,
which it carries over from song to song, with some small variations in
arrangement and tempo serving as faint acknowledgements of the original
tunes concerned". It wouldn't have been a rave review, but I would have
elaborated a bit to make it sound less grudging.
While I was musing, the groove was transformed into a 12-bar over which
Bob sang the lyrics of one of songs. (In fact, it was 'Till I Fell In Love
With You, but it wouldn't really have mattered what it was; the words were
subordinate to the rhythm.) And then on it went to become the next song.
Various tabloid-style summations went through my mind: Beyond Here Lies
The Next Song and so on.
But something was bothering me about this line of thought. None of my
descriptions was quite hitting the mark. Then it dawned on me . . . the
simple truth was that I was enjoying myself. Perhaps it was the effect of
the Bob-fast. Perhaps it was the fact that my son is now 16, so I no
longer have to spend half my time worrying about whether he can see
properly. No matter the explanation, this was so much better than the last
few times I'd seen Bob and his band.
The band is the same. It's not that they were playing much better. The
answer was straightforward: as always, it's all about Bob. He can't sing
and he can't dance (not that he ever could), but what he isn't anymore is
that bent-double old geezer with the wolfman voice. (God! The awfulness of
the Sam Cooke tribute . . .) Now, he's as upright as any soon-to-be 68
year-old can reasonably expect to be. Whilst his vocal range remains
limited, he's actually carrying the tune for a change.
Hattie Carroll was pretty good. It was Christopher Ricks who first drew
my attention to this song, pointing out among other features the use of
the dramatic pause in "William Zanzinger with a . . six month sentence".
Clearly, Bob's aware of the Ricks observation, because - old ham that he
is - he both extended the pausing almost to parody and doubled it up for
good measure, to become something akin to ""William Zanzinger . . . . . .
with a . . . . . . . six month sentence".
Whilst I'd still prefer to hear High Water, what we got was a
more-than-decent rendition of Levee's Gonna Break. The groove was being
sustained. Then came Workingman's Blues.
Now, as I've said, Modern Times is far from my favourite album. In the
same way as the L&T songs really blossomed live, however - even the
not-so-good ones - the same has been true for the MT ones (even the real
clunkers). I'm one of those who were appalled by Dylan's appeal during
Live Aid on behalf of US farmers. I still think it was inappropriate, but
I've learned to look upon that more charitably. The Civil Rights struggle
is so long ago now that the songs that drew on it for inspiration are now
either period-piece curios or reduced to being concert sing-alongs,
stripped of any context and meaning. WMB, on the other hand, speaks to
today, to those of us in the West who are experiencing an inexorable
economic decline, reinforced by the karmic payback for colonial
exploitation that is outsourcing to the developing nations. We're all
Mid-West farmers now, and Bob nails it in this song. I don't know - or
care - if tonight's performance of WMB was among his best or not, but for
me it was the highlight of the show.
And on it went. Hollis Brown was perhaps the weakest of the night, but
that's not to say it was bad. Even Honest With Me was half-good, which it
has no right to be. At previous concerts I've experienced a pronounced
mid-show dip, but that didn't happen tonight.
The main set ended with a really-quite-good LARS and the encore set
started with a decent AATW. Then came the dip: not even tonight's groove
could make a silk purse out of the sow's ear that is Spirit On The Water.
The finale of BITW made a valiant attempt at rescuing matters.
If this is what fasting results in, then I recommend it to you all. Now
that I've broken my fast, I wonder how I'll find Edinburgh tomorrow. It
may not matter because, as sure as fate, Bob will put on a different show
Review by Jan P. Jessen
I have have witnessed more than thirty Dylan shows since 1984. While I
was at his concert in Glasgow, I felt that it was the best Dylan concert
that I had ever been to.
One reason for this was that Dylan's singing voice has improved
considereably - I can't remember having heard his voice so strong since
the mid-90's. I can't understand why this fact hasn't been reported by
others in the audiences or by professional reviewers on this tour. Already
when I heard Dylan's voice in Copenhagen on this tour, it was obvious to
me that things had changed for the better. Dylan's physical ability to
sing his own songs is the foundation on which his career lies - so any
improvement of his singing voice is of essential importance.
His selection of songs was well-balanced between newer and older stuff
and well-known and lesser known songs.
Dylans delivery of songs was excellent: Every word was pronounced and
sung thoroughly throughout the entire show. His punctuation was funny
and stunning at times.
The audience was wild and enthusiatic - which gave the whole experience
an extra thrill.
If people of Bob's staff might read this: If you see him say hello - and
Jan P. Jessen
Review by Trevor Townson
Why does time speed up and evaporate rapidly when you are in a rush. This
was the case with me on the morning of this show. Having had a bit of a
late night after the Liverpool show I decided on a rather longer lie in than
planned listening to the Saturday slot Frank Skinner has on Absolute
I had awoken to Frank the previous weekend prior to travelling down to the
02 in London and he had mentioned that he too would be attending the O2
show. This week on his show he gave a bit of a review of it basically
saying as much as he loved Bob and had all his albums and movies etc and
like most of us Bob had played a large part in his life, Bob was Rubbish!
He was quite amusing saying how does Bob sound so good on his albums but
incomprehensible live, he put it down to electronics in the studio
filtering it all out and as Bob does not have such a luxury live all you
get is that unfiltered, unpurified drone. Amusing really as I have gotten
out of the habit of defending Bob as though he is some personal
possession of mine that I must protect probably only to make me feel
better in that my own judgement is good. Frank did close the review out
by playing "Positively 4th Street" so you never got an angle on how truly
serious or tongue in cheek he was being.
I was at the 02 but my opinion was different but then again perhaps my
ears are more a tuned to the drone than the ears of Frank, anyway the
place was full to capacity. There is a Yorkshire saying, "Where tha's muck
tha's money", also it is true that there can be a lot of money to be made
from rubbish so Bob helps to prove that point too.
Actually I believe Bob did what must have been his best ever, well in my
presence at any rate, "Till I Fell In Love With You" at the O2, well at
least it would have been if I had been up closer but unfortunately that
cannot always be the case.
Time speeding up or my movements slowing down there just seemed so much
to do before setting off that in the end I felt there was some mysterious
force at work that was going to prevent my seeing Bob again. Finally
throwing everything in the car for my Scotland trip and leaving the cat
with enough food to feed the local cats home I was on my way.
Bob visiting Glasgow is an opportunity to meet up with Chris again, in
fact the only time that I ever see Chris is when Bob is in his town. I first
met up with Chris at the SECC in November 2005, I was carrying a spare
ticket for 4th row and I saw Chris at the ticket office pondering whether
to buy a ticket for what were only available at that time, really poor
After deliberating for some time Chris eventually walks away from the
ticket office. I thought he was heading out to try the touts but he told
me later that he was walking home, he did not know too much about ticket
touts or how they operated and was not interested even if he could have
afforded what they were asking and he felt probably not.
Thinking that he was off to the touts I rushed to catch up with him as he
is leaving and asked him if he was looking for a ticket as I had a spare
fan club ticket for the fourth row. He looked like he could not believe it
but then his expression turned to one of disappointment as he realised the
amount that I would be asking for such a ticket, "Face value" I tell him.
Deal done instantly so in we go together with Chris more than happy to
give me extra above face value for the ticket.
Inside Chris is staring at the stage in amazement, he had never been so
close up and turning to look behind he points to the area at the rear of
the arena where he has sat to see Bob previously, well to hear Bob
actually as from such a distance he could not see a lot. I told him that
if we got really lucky we may get a bit closer still if they allow people
to stand up front so told him to watch out as the lights go out.
Sure enough as the lights go out people stand and start to go forward
and Chris is up and following as he wanders right up front with me close
behind. Towards the front I get stopped by an official in a yellow shirt
but I simply tell him "I am with him" pointing at Chris and the guy just
lets me through as if being with Chris meant something, I think I
confused the guy by the way that I said it!
Together we are allowed up front to join others standing and Chris stares
at the show in amazement never having seen things so close up before.
Prior to the show starting and us leaving our seats we had chatted but
only Chris could get one over on me as I mentioned having bumped into Bob
in 2003, no one could better that at a Bob show surely then Chris does just
that by saying he saw the Dalai Lama in Glasgow before he became really
famous in the West, also that he received a personal blessing from
another high Lama being escorted through the city.
Just when you think you have a winning hand, someone comes up with a
pair of greater God's in theirs, Cock.
Chris really enjoyed that show but I felt bad about him having paid me
extra above face for the ticket so having taken his phone number, a few
days after the show I call him up. He is not in but his partner is and
goes on to say just how much Chris had enjoyed the show and has just not
stopped talking about it. I explain the extra money Chris had paid me for
the ticket and asked does he have a particular favourite charity as I
would like to send the extra he gave to me there.
Unbeknown to Chris Amnesty International have benefited every time he has
seen Bob then and since.
Chris and I subsequently enjoyed the 2007 show together and then this show
in 2009, both times from excellent seats in the front block. Being a Glaswegian
Chris needs to say everything to me at least two times before I understand
him but at least it pans the conversation out between us.
This tour all the shows have been great so it is difficult to say just which
one has been the best. I guess we all have our favourite because we prefer
a particular set list at a certain show or the way Bob sings or phrases the
songs for them better than others. For Chris I believe this was the best
show of the three we have seen together just for Every Grain Of Sand
which was done in a way I have never heard it before and was probably
for both of us ticket paid for.
Chris also commented that he had never seen Bob so animated and in contact
with the audience and he loved that.
Poor old Stu Kimball was not so animated during The Levee's Gonna Break,
in fact he was making little movement at all as he stood arms to his side
wearing his guitar but not playing it once as he moved around slightly on
the spot looking bored. Guess there is not a lot he can do if he is not
allowed or invited to contribute to a number.
Chris had got his fix and went away a happy man until next time Bob
visits Glasgow, I had enjoyed yet again another fantastic show and would
do so again the following night in Edinburgh, England, Brilliant.
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