page by Bill Pagel
Review by Markus Prieur
So what kind of news did Bob Dylan deliver last evening at the Mancester
Evening News Arena? This oval bowl full of people was almost cooking over
by the time those spotlights illumitated the place during the choruses of
"Like A Rollin Stone". It was quite a sight from our floor (Block A, Row
Q) seats. But not many people on the floor used their seats during this
exremely energetic and powerful show, containing no cover song at all, but
only Dylan's own material.
News number one was: "I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more", sung
with acoustic guitar (Charlie on electric), as first song. For more than
three years now Bob Dylan has started his shows with acoustic cover songs,
so this choice was quite a surprise. It was presented with the same steam
as some of the other openers, similar to "Duncan And Brady".
Next news item on the list was the second acoustic version ever of
"SEÑOR", a song which my wife and I had seen five times already from 1995
to 1998. But we both love this song very much, and last night it was a
mighty fine version we heard. First early peak of the show.
"It's Alright Ma" was quite strong, and our third "One Too Many Mornings"
since 1994, starting with a nice harp solo, sung softly and tender, was
the next highlight for me, finishing the first acoustic set. The first
electric set started with a powerful "Memphis Blues", and I hardly could
believe what Jim Keltner did with this song on his drums. It was quite
amazing, and it was not the last time that night that I stood in awe of
this great musician. I would not mind if Bob would ask him to stick around
longer than Sunday next.
Another version of "Moonlight" followed, with Bob making up for some
lyrical mistakes in the first part by singing all the better in the second
part of the song. Next was the second appearance in 2002 of the rare "I
Don't Believe You", in my opinion prompted by Bob's presence in
Manchester, where he prefaced this song 36 years ago with "It used to be
like that, and now it goes like this." (Maybe this had also been the
reason for the inclusion of "One Too Many Mornings", which he prefaced in
1966 with "If you only just wouldn't clap so hard" ;-) Last night's
version was very enjoyable, starting with harmonica, and featuring very
nice guitar playing.
"Lonesome Day Blues" was quite intense again, with Bob belting out the
lyrics. ("IIII'm gonna taaaame the proud"). Back on acoustic guitar, Bob
scolded the "Masters Of War" one more time, and Jim's drumming fascinated
me once more. Our fourth "Visions Of Johanna" within the last two years,
was next, featuring the longest word in Dylan's lyric book
("showmesomeonenotaparasiteandigooutandsayaprayerforhim"), before another
"Don't Think Twice" started with harmonica, causing the most appreciative
audience to break into rounds of applause, an exercise they repeated after
each verse. And rightly so. Most people present do not see Bob Dylan very
often, so they want to hear some greatest hits. And what they got last
night was great indeed, as Bob performed all his hits really well.
The second electric set started with another high point for us, our third
"BLIND WILLIE MCTELL", a masterpiece sung masterfully; and featuring
another great guitar solo by Charlie, preceding the "God is in His Heaven,
and we all want what's His" line.
(http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/blind.html) The next peak followed straight
away, as "Summer Days" gets more enjoyable each day. I know, I have
mentioned those guitars in every review, but last night I thought the tin
roof would lift off the arena. Amazing! Hot! Music at its absolute finest
The "Drifter's Escape" featured some interesting ever changing shadows of
the band members on the curtain, and once more I have to mention those
impressive drums. I was hoping for "Cat's In The Well" to close the main
set, but it was not to be (yet ;-). But the crowd loved their "12&35", as
they did love the rocking encores, "Rolling Stone", "Honest With Me", and
"Watchtower" (This band really rocks!). But they also loved the slower
acoustic hits, like the ever present "Blowing", or another very nice
"FOREVER YOUNG" (http://notdarkyet.tripod.com/young.html), which both
featured those strong harmonies by Larry and Charlie again. Very
A great show; Manchester special. 5 more songs for Britain 2002, that's 58
in 5 shows. The NEC in Birmingham is the next arena we are going to
revisit tonight. It will be packed, it will be loud, and it will be good.
And there will be more surprises. Some tours are like a gold rush. Three
hours to go.
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 Duncan Hume
Let's get down to the important stuff straight away. Somewhere between
Cardiff and Manchester Bob decided to discard that ill fitting and
unnecessary moustache. I always suspected it was stuck on anyway. He
looks 10 years younger without it. Not quite a clean cut kid yet though.
Manchester's wardrobe included the now trade mark cream Stetson, the black
jacket with the black leaves down the arms, those black pants with the
white pipe, that have seen more shows than I have, and the black boots
with the red inlays, which I suspect have not been removed since he
started the tour in Stockholm. But what about show I hear you ask?
Us seasoned Bob watchers expected Wait for Light or I am the Man Thomas or
Hummingbird so Bob marches out and whack's us right in the assumptions
with Maggie's. Charlie playing electric lead, attempting to give it that
Newport folk festival feel and not falling far short, while Bob looked on
approvingly. Senor followed and as usual was a delight. There has been
debate over Keltner's drumming, mostly positive, and Senor illustrated his
undoubted skill and affinity to Bob's work perfectly. Its Alright Ma gave
the lighting guys their moment of glory. They've positioned two sets of
strong white spots either side of the stage in line with the three
microphones (not the footlights that have been used in the past) and used
these to great effect throughout the song, the shadow from the neck of
Larry's cittern casting shadows over Bob's Stetson. One Too Many Mornings
has been criticised for being melodramatic by some. Well bring it on. If
you get hold of the tape listen to way Bob sings 'signs' and 'behind' and
tell me if you don't get goose bumps.
Keltner's extraordinary drumming lifted Stuck Inside of Mobile, a song
that normally bores me. It was perfect. Larry managed to break a string
towards the end of the song but pressed on. Bob's vocal was clear and
enthusiastic. Moonlight was only slightly marred by a missed or forgotten
vocal with Bob recovering singing "flowing to the sea" and catching
himself up. He then decided to wow us with his guitar skills towards the
end of the song, but chose the wrong key, as he sometimes does, and
trampled over the ending with an interesting noodle. I Don't Believe You
was a real surprise with a nice harp intro but again in the wrong key.
After a few puffs and sucks he dropped it on the floor behind him and
glanced over at Tommy, as if it was his fault Bob had picked up the wrong
harp. There seemed to be a new verse which included the rhyme of 'race'
and 'pace' but I didn't get it clearly. Check the tapes if you've got the
time or energy.
Lonesome Day Blues rocked, with Bob literally on his toes singing as hard
into the mike as he could. Charlie and Larry responded, driving the riff
for all it was worth. Masters of War was uneventful but focussed. I
shouted for 'Poor Boy', how dare I ask anything of him, and was rewarded
with a wonderful Visions which included the lyrical twist of 'Do you hear
the all night girls?' Larry picked out a beautiful pattern and Bob
intertwined his vocal perfectly. I wonder if we'll ever get the whole
Don't Think Twice got a great response from a great crowd; all 13,000 of
them, Bob playing some wonderful harp, happily in the right key. He could
have and should have played it for an hour or more as far as I was
concerned. Blind Willie next. If I had a medal of any sort Sexton could
have it for his work on this song, despite breaking his nail halfway
through. I'm sure his extraordinary solos pushed Bob to deliver the lyric
with even more effort. The highlight of the night. Hoot Owl singing became
one wondrous long word. Goose bump time again. During the latter half of
the song Larry drove the beat, playing double time on the cittern, adding
an element of menace. I've been lucky enough to see some better versions
of Summer Days but this was a rockabilly romp, Charlie and Larry competing
for space, Bob letting it happen around him with obvious glee. Drifters
became the hard rock thrash we expect but Bob came up with harp solo and
hand poses that made me wish I had some way of recording them. I didn't
because I'm a good boy and didn't take my camera.
Rainy Day and Things Have Changed showed that Bob was tiring but were
still enjoyed. Bob's pale face was streaked with sweat, eyebrows
constantly moving up and down flashing those blue eyes towards the front
of the crowd. Like a Rolling Stone had Bob checking out those in the seats
up to his right. Remember his comments about playing for the people at the
back? A couple of magnificently proportioned girls got his attention and
deservedly so, standing on their seats and bouncing what was bouncy.
Forever Young hit a minor vocal speed ramp, Bob singing "may you have a
found foundation". Some sort of building term I believe.
Honest with Me was delivered powerfully with Larry sliding and Charlie
doing what he'd done all night. Playing his socks off. Lastly Watchtower.
They didn't even leave the stage but gathered in a huddle back right
before returning to deliver the final blow in what for me was a great
If you're on the UK motorway system keep an eye out on the hard shoulder.
You might see Bob's moustache. If found, don't give it back him, sell it
Review by Nick Jordan
The last time I saw a Dylan show was Liverpool, 2001, and tonight proved
to be a rather different afair.
I'd avoided following the setlists online since the start of the European
tour, in order not to spoil any surprises in store for the Manchester
show. The first big surprise was the punctual start. As we arrived in the
foyer of the arena I caught the last part of the "Ladies and Gentlemen."
announcement - so we bolted down the corridors towards the entrance to the
stands and I'm thinking what the hell is that song I'm hearing: "I got a
head full of ideas it's driving me insane." and we're into the huge arena
skipping down the stairs, and the band are huddled close together on the
stage - spotlit, crisp, jangling sound - and it's Maggie's Farm of course
and there's Bob Dylan in a big white hat at the centre of it all, leaning
into the mic. This is good. Our seats are right down at the front row,
side tier. Maggie's Farm is over before we know it - the arrangement is a
fast and choppy bluegrass . The crowd is responsive, and the entire floor
is standing (as it remains throughout the show thankfully), but the
atmosphere does seem a little flat.
Second song and Senor is a welcome surprise in the acoustic set. Solid,
carefully delivered rendition - same goes for It's Alright Ma and One Too
Many Mornings, which had a great harp intro and prominent pedal steel
guitar. By now, the emphasis seemed to be on sketching out a measured,
professional performance. None of the unpredictable, edgy discord that
dominated the Liverpool show - nor the heightened performance of the
second Portsmouth show in 2000. Still, it was really enjoyable and the
band never looked better - illuminated by subdued white lights from the
front of the stage. In fact, the effect was similar to this year's funky
But it was change in lights and atmosphere as the electric guitars came
on. I was hoping for Tweedle Dee, but they played a sprightly Stuck Inside
Of Mobile, featuring some appropriately mercurial rhythm guitar from both
Larry and Charlie. The song galloped along, punctuated by Dylan's oblique
phrasing and skewered guitar leads.
The audience was still a little quiet as the show took a left turn with a
lilting, jazzy Moonlight. Good performance, although no harp like the
tremendous solo I heard on a recording of Milwaukee, Wisconsin from
October last year. But some expert guitar licks nonetheless.
Then the hushed reverence of the arena crowd was disrupted by I Don't
Believe You. The whole band kicked on this one. Dylan was now on, and
everyone had their wake-up call. Which led into an almighty Lonesome Day
Blues - Dylan taking great delight in singing the Love & Theft material -
"Today has been a SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD and lonesome day". Very loud and
Masters of War kept up the newfound intensity and Visions of Johanna was
performed with precision but never quite lifted off. But then Don't Think
Twice was excellent. Extra long harp intro - seemed like two verses long
and a great vocal delivery - full of classic Dylan sarcasm and barbed
So, what are we in for next? I'm thinking maybe Tweedle Dee this time to
kick off the second electric set, when suddenly the stage is bathed in
purple and the opening chords of Blind Willie McTell come tumbling over
our heads. The song I've always wanted to hear live and this could be the
definitive live version. The song built in intensity and incorporated some
neat breaks in rhythm that I hadn't heard before on bootlegs. The lyrics
were nailed and Dylan and Charlie really connected on some melodious
guitar parts - propelled along by Larry's cittern. Highlight of the show
Summer Days kept up the energy levels. Searing guitar solos from Charlie
who appears to be able to do anything he likes with his fingers and frets.
Good singing from Dylan again too. Everyone enjoyed this one - another
shiny, professional performance without a note wrong, with the sound
cranked up to chest thumping levels.
Drifter's Escape was performed with the same shattering volume. The band
were lit from the front again, throwing cartoon-like shadows on the
curtains behind. They raced though this one - Dylan singing particularly
fast. With an extra long guitar solo from Dylan towards the end, before
whipping out the harp for some bluesy flourishes.
Then it's the inevitable Rainy Day Women, which plodded along. This was
special in Liverpool last year because he broke out the harp on it - very
unexpected. This time round it's a straightforward affair, with band
intros thrown in at some point. I think Everything Is Broken or Cat's In
The Well work much better as closing numbers.
House lights up, short formation, a few Bob Nods and they're off. The
crowd very appreciative for more. So back the band troops for a decent
Things Have Changed, followed by Like A Rolling Stone - which Jim Kelter
fires off with a couple of drum cracks. I thought the light show on the
crowd during the chorus was a little contrived and showy - but I still got
a shiver and thought that this feels pretty good actually! Charlie was
high enough in the mix to hear that ringing guitar lick before each
chorus, and it was great.
Forever Young - workmanlike, professional, slick. Not how I really want to
hear Dylan, but I'm not complaining.
Honest With Me was intense and loud - just like it should be - with Dylan
prancing around doing his dignified lopsided puppet thing to the front
And then it's Blowin In The Wind which I was hoping he wouldn't do for
once, but it was well delivered and managed to sound fresh and different
to the billions of other performances of it. But the reason why he always
does it soon becomes clear as the crowd are going nuts, and the band line
up to wave goodbye but no, here they come again with that shimmering
Calexico-like intro to Watchtower, and what a thrilling spectacle of a
performance it is. Extremely loud, heavy powerhouse of a song that just
thunders along. Good way to end a show. Dylan acknowledges the crowds
acknowledgement with a shrug and open palm and a simple drop to one knee,
head down - as if saying "yes yes, I know how important I've been in
mapping the soundtrack to your lives and yes I'm one of the biggest
cultural icons on the planet and you all can't believe I'm here in the
same room as you but really I'm just a skinny dandy cowboy song and dance
man who likes to entertain you with my popular song and folk tales,
All in all, a solid performance from a pro at the top of his game. Yes, I
would have liked more of the interesting unstable dynamics and menace of
Liverpool last year (a grumpy Dylan can be the most intriguing), but with
that performance of Blind Willie McTell, and other sublime moments
peppered throughout the show, I'm truly thankful.
Review by Andy Jenkins
Bob came on stage at about 7.50pm wearing a big white cowboy hat. I had
bet my brother five euros that Bob would open with "I Am the Man, Thomas"
and that song was certainly due but it was a major surprise that the
opener was "Maggie's Farm". The next song, "Senor" was another more
welcome surprise, followed by a solid version of "It's alright, Ma".
The concert proceeded well enough with "One too Many Mornings" and
"Memphis Blues Again" and started to really come
alive with "Moonlight". It is clear that Bob becomes more interested and
focused with the new material. Sadly the next three songs, starting with
"I Don't Believe You" were relatively dull.
"Visions of Johanna" marked a return to form and was followed by "Don't
Think Twice" in which Bob played the complete first verse on the harp
using the original tune so that, for a change, the whole audience knew
what to expect when the vocal started.
"Blind Willie McTell" was the most interesting performance of the night.
It used to be like that:
"No-one can sing the blues ...
like Blind Willie McTell"
but tonight it went like this:
"I'll tell you one thing ...
nobody can sing ...
The more astute amongst you will have noticed that the third line of
this new version is quite long and doesn't fit too well.
Several times I thought the line wouldn't fit but Bob managed to squeeze
it in, just in time.
An excellent version of "Summer Days" (great stand-up bass) was followed
by a very loud "Drifter's Escape" with piercing harmonica. Only the words
were retained from the John Wesley Harding original and they were very
difficult to hear with the result that I suspect hardly anyone in the
audience knew what the song was! During "Rainy Day Women" Bob announced
the band members.
The first encore set was great. "Things Have Changed" sounded
surprisingly fresh. "LARS" used the device of shining spotlights
on the audience during the chorus. It was a case of "how does it feel?"
for us. I know this has been done before; in fact I've seen it before but
it still worked for me and was an emotional moment. "Forever Young"
included strong support vocals from some of the band, as did "Blowin' in
The second encore felt like a formality and almost like a contractual
obligation. "All Along the Watchtower" was half sung in MTV style and was
an anti-climax. If Bob and the band know they are going to play a second
encore (and they usually do these days) perhaps they should choose a more
rousing finish for their final encore song like "Blowin' in the Wind".
So, on the night, I lost my bet and it turned out to be a good concert
rather than a great one. Bob was in excellent voice for most of the show,
however, and a good time was had by all. I know that Bob had a good time
because his leg was wiggling so much.
Review by Gordan Bosnjak
I am just back from Manchester show.
I am still very angry and frustrated by the fact that
nobody could go forward closer to the stage so I had
to stay at my seat for entire show. Big fat security
pushed me and others back at our seats when we rushed
forward during first song and nobody could stand in
the isles. That never happened since my first Dylan
show in 1984.
People were very angry arguing with staff who were
trying to clear the isles for whole show.
Regarding cameras, I have not seen any blitz from the
floor just a few from somewhere on the both sides.
What to say about show? Amazing.
Show started with Maggies's farm, I could not believe
it. When did he start the show with his song last
time?Many highlights, Dont think twice, Summer days,
Song by song report will be for sure done by somebody
else but I just want to mention, please dont take any
photos as obviously something has changed. Is it
Dylan's order or something else? I can not believe
Dylan ordered no people in the isles on the floor.
Please let me know if somebody knows something.
Tonight Birmingham, I just hope I will be able to come
closer to the stage.
Review by Eben Hensby
Coming all the way from Canada to witness a terrible show in Newcastle was very
disappointing. But I had faith that Bob would pick it up for the next show,
as did my traveling partner Kait.
We got our tickets to this show close to show time, and I headed to my seat
which was the first row on the rail over on Charlie's side. Because of the
positioning of the speakers, I couldn't see Charlie, Tony, or Jim the whole show
except for brief glimpses.
When Bob came out and started singing one of his own songs to open the show,
I couldn't believe it! Later, we found out he hadn't done this since early
'99. What's more surprising is that he didn't play any cover songs at all
the whole show - I don't know how long it's been since he's done that. I was
also surprised he chose Maggie's Farm. This is most likely the first ever
acoustic Maggie's Farm (if you can call it that, since Charlie was on electric)
and also he had recently rearranged Maggie's Farm (I had heard it in Texas).
But here it was again, rearranged once more. It wasn't super, but it was
exciting to hear!
Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)
This is the kind of second slot I had been hoping for in Newcastle. This is
only the second ever acoustic Senor (I think) and I just love this song.
Before the song even started I had a feeling deep down we were about to hear
a Street Legal song, and we did. Bob's phrasing was great and the playing
was great. I, with wet eyes, was already blown away. This show was already
better than Newcastle. Everything was clicking: Bob's phrasing was on, his
so-called search and destroy guitar solos were featuring Bob finding cool
riffs, and his harmonica playing was, for the most part, very good. Also,
the crowd was a hundred times better, as (most of) the floor section stood
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
This was another strong rendition of this song. The way that it ends is
One Too Many Mornings
Now I've heard this song before and have just thought it was ok. However,
today, it was unbelievable. He sung certain parts so well, like the first
"behind" in "a thousand miles behind". The end word of the last two lines
of each verse was sung with a feeling that was one laced with despair. The
entire last verse blew me away. Again, my eyes were watery and wet. Larry's
pedal steel, an instrument I repeatedly admit to admiring, was absolutely
beautiful for this One Too Many Mornings.
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
I used to not care much for this song live until I heard the
Japanese/Australian versions from early 2001 and then others in
later 2001 in which Bob would often pull out unbelievable phrasing
for some of the lines. However, the phrasing didn't blow me away
in this version. Jim used some interesting drumming techniques in
this song including a rapid-fire drumming.
This song has become one of my favourite Love And Theft songs and I was
really lucky to have heard the live debut back in fall 2001. He did this
one quite well but I was mildly disappointed he didn't use the harp like
he did at the other shows I saw.
I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Met)
The harp intro to this song was terrible, with Bob trying to find something
that could work and failing all over. And then the song was ok but I don't
care much for the current arrangement of this one either. Nonetheless, it
was during this song that it struck me just how amazing it is that Bob can
pull out songs like this and play them once or twice a tour and that's that.
Lonesome Day Blues
Bob's energy was very high in this song, making it very good. He was
bobbing around, making funny expressions, and really belting out the lines
in fine form.
Masters Of War
This version wasn't really special or anything, and gone is the riff I liked
that Bob played in fall 2001.
Visions Of Johanna
I seem to remember this being a rare song at one point, but this was my third
rendition of it. At points, it was very promising, such as the very well sung
'salvation' line, but all in all it was a so-so version.
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
I love this song because I don't get tired of hearing it and because it's a
crowd favourite and a crowd pleaser.
Blind Willie McTell
This is one of those songs that when I see in the setlist I think, "oh, that's
neat" but don't think much more of it, unlike some who just absolutely love to
see that Bob played it. Well, this version blew me away. Bob was singing it
wonderfully but what really put it over the top was when Charlie came in with
a brilliant lead guitar. It annoys me at times that Bob has two great
guitarists and yet doesn't let them play all the time. Well, Charlie
certainly played in this song. After some more of Bob's singing, Charlie
played another verse of guitar, building and building to the song. Bob was
then in on the guitar playing, facing Charlie and the two of them were jamming
away. It was great.
The instrumental jam which was quite long in Newcastle had shrunk in Manchester
and shorter jams were put throughout the song. I much prefer the long
instrumental jam, if the crowd's into it and I'm up and dancing (which I almost
always am for this song). Nonetheless, this was good.
I got all pumped and excited when the song started up, but that feeling was
quickly drained by Jim's baffling drumming style. I thought the drums were
way off for the parts when Bob sings. I started off moving around to this
song, but it was just all taken away from me, unfortunately. Later in the
song, the drumming became a bit better. After the words are done in this song,
Bob gets two verses of guitar jamming then one of harmonica. The second guitar
jamming verse was very good, with Bob showing he can play more than just a
search and destroy three note solo.
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
It was great that Larry was on the steel guitar on this one because Bob
introduces Larry by saying "on the steel guitar" regardless of whether Larry's
playing it or has played it for the show at all (like in Newcastle). This is
just a cool jamming end song.
Things Have Changed
What better after "everybody must get stoned" than THC? ;) Anyway, the "I've
been walking forty miles" verse and the one after it were both superb.
Like A Rolling Stone
During the chorus when the lights come onto the audience, Bob was looking up
to his top right, like he did in Newcastle. He was then making faces and
smiling and doing whatever it is that Bob does. I wonder what he was looking
As the lights bathed the stage in a nice pink, Bob sung Forever Young very
tenderly and gently. The background vocals by Charlie and Larry were very
beautiful and this song almost got to me emotionally.
Honest With Me
The first few times I heard this song live in concert I really dug it, now it
doesn't seem so great. Bob missed singing the "9:45" part at 9:45 by five or
Blowin' In The Wind
Bob closed the first encore set off with the usual Blowin' In The Wind.
All Along The Watchtower
And here was the song I had been hoping for in Newcastle when we got Highway
61 Revisited instead. Today, it rocked, with Charlie taking the spotlight
once again to raise the level of the song. It wasn't quite as good as in
Texas, but it was very good.
The show came to a close, leaving me with no real complaints. Bob was in
infinitely better form than the night before and the audience was actually
there for music. This show turned out to be one of the best (if not the best)
out of the last five Kait and I saw.
The next show was in Birmingham…
page by Bill Pagel
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