page by Bill Pagel
Review by Simon
Got to Brighton about 7, parked up. The Brighton Center is quite a small
venue, outside was a crowd of fans, after a short time queing got into the
standing area, already a crowd up at the front. Still, got a good central
position about 18 feet back.
Bob and band were out fairly prompt 15 mins after the ticket start time, I
am the Man, sung strongly, seemed like the voice had warmed up from the
off. Then If Not for You, corny ol' song that it is, but somehow those few
words seem so powerful in Bob's hands, loved the way he sang "lay awake
all night" .
It's all Right Ma, pretty near perfect. To Ramona, tender and as all night
near 100% on the lyrics.
The first Love & Theft song was a revelation Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum,
the band sounded fine, and Bob nailed the song with a hammer ringing.
Bob's singing sounded better than the recordings I have heard from this
year of the Love & Theft songs.
Can't Wait followed, atmospheric lighting for this one, and a slightly new
arrangement for me, worked well. By this time I was thinking this concert
was special. maybe not a real gem, but so professional and confident.
Next up the first song that I did not identify straight off, Subterranean
HSB, wow, this was something else, stucatto vocal delivery, razor sharp
jumpy guitars and rythems.
Next up the bump & grind of Lonesome day blues, this song hit home hard,
that blues sound was real fresh in this band's hands, and the vocal was
again spot on, growled and rough in keeping with the song.
Thoughtfull harp intro for Tambourine Man, sung with enough passion to
bring tears welling in my eyes.
Masters of War next was a jolt, after the dreamy beauty of the previous
song the cold reality of our modern world. I wished he had done another
pretty song, I did not want to lose that good feeling.
Tangled tends to bore me a little, but the opening with first Larry
playing solo in a white spotlight, the Bob joining in also getting a
spotlight, made for an interesting start. The song soared in places enough
to make you forget you had heard it at nearly every concert over the past
3 years or longer?
Sugar Babe - outstanding, softly sung, Bob's voice caressing the sounds.
Then, wam bam Summer Days, crazy guitar workouts, really humming. Colds
Iron, good, maybe not outstanding but good!
Rainy Day Women, Ok, helped a lot by Larry's steel guitar.
Bob and the band line up, soak up the applause, back after a few minutes
with the newly jigged Man of Constant Sorrow, hit the spot again with this
one. LARS, Ok, then again this guitar solo from Charlie put this
performance into a higher league. Bob put in some nifty noodling of his
own. I Shall be Released, great harmonies, lighting.
Honest With Me, again Larry got the song onto a higher plain, Bob was
motoring though this one too, in top gear.
BITW, fine, again great harmonies, then would they come back for another
song? we made some noise ourselves and were rewarded with AATW, wow
Charlie did it again with his solo, searing metal sounds. Bob had a vocal
shift, new to me, but effective.
Then out into the evening, fireworks going off over the sea, did the town
put them on for Bob, I would like to think they were honouring him, but
maybe it was just the Holiday weekend.
Review by Richard Maynard
Bob Dylan's last UK tour suggested reasons for optimism and a return to
form. His latest appearance would suggest that optimism was not misplaced.
From the minute he walked on stage in Brighton, it was obvious that the
new relaxed, confident Dylan was here to stay, at least for a while. If
Bob spent the 80s producing lacklustre albums (Oh Mercy excepted), and the
90s playing lacklustre shows, then his current live outings seem
determined to draw a line under that, with a set drawn almost entirely
from the 60s or his current material (only If Not For You made it from the
1970s). What was noticeable was the confidence Bob obviously feels with
his newest material, including no fewer than three songs from Love & Theft
and a cracking Cold Irons Bound from Time Out Of Mind. Musically Dylan
sounds the most together he's been since the GE Smith period, while the
addition of Jim Keltner, one of the most sought-after drummers in the
world, suggests he means business. And his voice, so long a cross between
a bark and croak, is back to the Dylan voice we know and love. Even the
crowd pleasers like Blowing In The Wind and All Along the Watchtower were
given a fresh new sound, and at two and a half hours, these must be the
longest shows we've seen Bob play for years. There have been times over
the last decade when watching Bob has been like watching certain football
teams - moments of brilliance and long periods of mediocrity. I am happy
to report he's at the top of his game again. Richard Maynard Newbury
Review by Markus Prieur
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.
[http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/man.html] 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".
[http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/released.html] 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 ;-)
NOT DARK YET
A WEBSITE FOCUSING ON SOME OF THE SONGS
PERFORMED OCCASIONALLY BY BOB DYLAN
IN 2002, IN 2001, IN 2000 AND IN 1999
Review by Toby Richards-Carpenter
Bob dug deep last night, and by the end of the show the raucous,
enthusiatic crowd at the Brighton Centre had been rewarded with a storming
rock show. Although warmly greeted by his first UK audience of the year,
Bob seemed a little weary and tired for the opening 5 songs or so, as
though he needed a lift... possibly a lift out of town. Subterrranean
Homesick Blues endured a false start, and once it finally got underway Bob
had trouble with the lyrics during the early portion of the song, glancing
across to Charlie for prompts. Things were not looking promising. But of
course, Bob thrives on adversity, and SHB proved to be the necessary spur
for Bob and the boys to find some purpose to the evening. The song was
strung out to a fearsome guitar-duelling crescendo, and it became apparent
that Bob was determined to PLAY his way into the show, to find a groove,
then the singing would follow. And so it proved. What came next was one of
the highlights of the evening, a STORMING 'Lonesome Day Blues' , Bob
belting out the lyric with menace and intent, revelling in the
juxtaposistion of images. By and large, the acoustic numbers last night
were ultra-conservative, both in song choice and delivery. What was
heartening was that all were performed with respect and commitment by Bob,
although he couldn't wait to get back to his electric guitar to bombard us
with some more fireworks. And 'Summer Days' had just that... fireworks! It
seemed to get louder and louder, the soloing more outrageous, exploring
the possibilities of this amazing little tune... The crowd loved it. The
band loved it. Bob had regained his sense of humour. 'Cold Irons Bound'
was little short of an assault, Bob placing each line with studied intent
bafore being interrupted by a barrage of electric energy. 'Rainy Day
Women' was extended into a playful workout; Bob was really enjoying his
playing by this stage.
Time for the encores, and 'Man Of Constant Sorrow' was great fun, Bob
revelling in the almost ridiculous power of this new arrangement. What
followed were faithful renditions of the usual suspects, that were lapped
up by a capacity crowd bathing in the feel-good vibe, locked in
communication with the performer. During 'Blowin' In The Wind' Bob,
typical of the balance of this evening's concert, withdrew from the mike
to play his little guitar parts, and played with such enthusiasm that he
quickly had to scurry back up to the mike to get his line in, otherwise
he'd need to play an instrumental verse and he clearly wanted to get back
on his electric. A faithful rendition nonetheless, and the band
disappeared to howls of approval, the cheering masses baying for one last
blast. Back they came for a final effort, greeted by a primal roar. We
heard a meandering psychedelic swirl, Keltner crashed both sticks down,
and off into an absolutely STONKING 'Watchtower', the indisputable
highlight of the evening for me. This great arrangement was shown to its
best effect last night, with Bob finding a remarkable rhythm in the lyric
that had the boys on stage cracking up, Bob hamming it for all it was
Bob had finally won through in Brighton: after an unsure, tentative start,
he managed to find space in the music, to eventually deliver performnaces
of lasting beauty and power. He left the stage with a broad grin plastered
across his face, blowing kisses to his adoring audience. What drama may
follow in Bournemouth tonight?
Review by Graham Cole
I'm sitting here wondering what Bob is doing this morning after a
wonderful first night of the UK leg of the European tour. What time does
he get up? Did he go for an early-morning stroll on the beach at Brighton
(assuming he may be staying in somewhere like the Grand??) or just a
lie-in and a relaxing morning before zipping along the coast for
preparations for tonight's gig at the Bournemouth International Centre.
We reckon he may pass through Southampton, where we live, on his way - do
we go and wait on a motorway slip road and watch out for the limo and
follow on ...?! Anyway, to last night and how was it after all the good
comments that have appeared on various sites about what he has been doing
in Europe? The answer, my friend, for two long-time fans was a tremendous
UK first-nighter. An excellent crowd, plenty of noise at the right
moments and rocking too, and only early on did the applause come in a bit
too soon, thus drowning out some of the little end-of-song flourishes.
The band were tight on everything, although I found the instrumentation on
Sugar Baby was very muddy, though not the vocals, and there were only a
couple of moments when one or two anxious glances were exchanged on stage.
The band seemed very happy with Larry seeming to laugh quite a bit and
Charlie rockin' more than anyone. I couldn't see Jim K up on the riser
but he was a sound and none-too-heavy-handed star alongside the wonderful
Tony G (he just looks so cool - Loraine thought his hat far superior to
Bob's and Bob's was pretty brill!). And Bob? well, he does those facial
twitches and contortions when he's singing - you either see them as grins
or grimaces depending on your point of view, I guess. Me, he laughs a lot
...! As for Bob's singing and playing, I thought he was in superb form,
and contrary to some reports I thought he was putting a huge amount of
effort, particularly into the vocals. He certainly sounded much clearer
and deliberate than the first night at Portsmouth 2000 and I thought he
really wanted us to hear what he sang, and to think about his lyrics and
phrasing. Only twice did they almost, but not quite, get a bit too
heavy-sounded (just like any old rock band, as some critics have written)
(Honest With Me was one, for example), but overall the vocals were a
highpoint of the evening for me. Having been third row standing first
night at Portsmouth, and then first row balcony on the second night, we
were aware of the very different sound you get according to where you are
in the hall, but we wanted to be close and standing at both Brighton and
Bournemouth (about seven rows back last night). We can't work out whether
the sound was that much better last night, Dylan is generally healthier
(?), or he was simply putting a lot, lot more into his phrasing and
enunciation. Maybe a mix of all of these, but certainly on a number of
songs (Subterranean Homesick Blues, Masters of War, and I Shall be
Released, for example) he was very deliberate in his delivery of the
lyrics (including his little end-of-line upward voice inflections). To be
honest, for me, this was not a setlist to die for, and of course every
listener has her/his own faves they want to hear, but the strength of last
night lay in the performance as much as in the songs themselves. Personal
highlights were Mr. Tambourine Man, although Loraine felt this didn't work
so well, I am the Man, Thomas which, in the words of an Anglo-Tennesseean
we stood with, rightly showed Bob's love of "pure country", Tangled Up In
Blue, with lovely blue lighting at all the right moments!, Subterranean
Homesick Blues, no longer the raggedy spree it was long time ago, Man of
Constant Sorrow, just because it is a great song however it is sung, and
Summer Days which was stunning. Charlie Sexton really let rip on this
tune, filling in between verses with some superb jazzy guitar, and this
number really rocked big-time. As has been noted earlier in the tour, Bob
himself is using his guitar a lot more inventively this time around and
although he isn't setting out to be a Hendrix or a Knopfler, his little
fills add a great deal to the tunes, sometimes almost imperceptibly. Yet
again, for me, evidence that he is putting in so much effort for the
adoring crowds. Last night it was great bunch, and it was good to see
friends from last time around (work ties mean we can't afford the time to
follow the man around the country so we envy those who can!) and we now
look forward to this afternoon's trip down the motorway to Bournemouth and
another great night with Bob. Right now, I'm off to park up on that slip
Review by Sue Robinson
This was my 21st Bobshow, but the first outside Australia and I was
looking forward to experiencing a show with a non-Australian audience.
Won't bore you with my impressions of Brighton (notice some people
complaining about same), but there wasn't much difference in the
audiences - the main difference was in the fact that the bars are allowed
to stay open throughout the show, which led to a drunken yobbo tipping a
cup of beer all over me as he regained his seat right in the middle of
'Sugar Baby'. This was pretty disappointing, cause I'd really been
looking forward to this song live. The (completely sold-out)venue was
small in comparison with the barns he plays in Australia, which was
great, and we had good close balcony seats although the speakers on the
corner of the stage partially blocked some vision.
Some general observations of the show: We got our money's worth with a
long show, 2hours 20mins. by my timing. Bob was in fine strong voice, and
looked great in a black suit (short jacket) with red side-stripe on the
pants and red pocket trim, and those beautiful black cuban-heel boots.
(Could have done without the big hat and that moustache, but hey, you
can't have everything!) His guitar 'noodling' has improved and is usually
in the same key as the band. A couple of the acoustic numbers started
with a delicate intro of just Bob and Larry playing, wish there was more
of Bob without the band, he's just the greatest in that mode. Great to
see the harp featuring on three songs, although the playing was a bit
tentative. Re drumming: had always thought Jim Keltner would be ideal,
but was a little disappointed - his playing lacked a little spark in
spite of Tony's efforts standing next to him, and now I think David
Kemper was possibly the best I've seen in Bob's band.
You know the setlist, so some comments on specific songs:
After a fairly slow start, the place came to life with a great
rendition of 'It's alright ma' (although Bob was swallowing some of
the words at the start of some lines!).
Was a bit disappointed with 'Tweeedle dum', had been looking forward to
that one live. But 'Subterranean' was great fun and really got the
audience going, and if he missed some words that's quite understandable
(if you've tried to sing along with it you'll know!). The whole show
really took off with a great swaggering rendition of'Lonesome day', a
real treat. 'Masters' was impressive as usual, and 'Tangled' lively.
'Sugar baby' was probably good, but I missed most of it thanks to the
drunk mentioned above. My main highlight came next with 'Summer days',
Bob and the band all played a brilliant, spirited extended jam on this,
they all seemed to have a ball. 'Cold irons' was great, this is a
personal favourite. The usual 'Rainy day' closed the set, and the band
left the stage to great applause. The first encore started with a
fascinating, thudding version of 'Man of constant sorrow', which got a
great reception, the crowd really went off. Could have done without yet
another 'LARS', it's sounding a little jaded. 'Released' featured some
nice vocal harmonies from Larry and Charlie on the chorus (as in a couple
of previous numbers). 'Honest with me' was a blast - the L&T songs
certainly provided most of the highlights. The set closed with 'BITW'
which was surprisigly moving, given the frequency of outings it gets.
From our sideview seats we could see Bob chatting to people offstage
during the break, it's good to see him still looking easy and confident.
The final encore brought a 'Party Political Statement' in 'Watchtower
meets the theme from Exodus', but of course he's as entitled as anyone
else, and it made for a very musically interesting number.
Thus closed another great show, Bob beamingly blowing a kiss to the
crowd and standing with arms outstretched to embrace us all.
Tony, Larry and Charlie were terrific as usual.
And who was that blonde who got a kiss from bob as he left the room?
And a note for Darren and the Sydney Jumpers: the Oscar is still
proudly sitting atop Bob's amp!
Can't wait for our next show at Manchester.
page by Bill Pagel
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