page by Bill Pagel
Review by Martin Craig
Elston Gunn lives and rocks in Newcastle!
This is the fourth time Lynnette and I have have seen Bob and his band at
the Arena, and we thought nothing could top the last one, where we were
re-located to the side of the stage where the road crew sat. Tonight we
were in a side aisle and were anticipating our first gig featuring Bob
Kicking off with 'Seeing the Real You At Last', the band, Bob and the
sound man meshed gears for a couple of bars until they hit their stride
with a pace that cracked along for the rest of the night. Built by
ex-Animal Chas Chandler and former East Side Torpedo Nigel Stanger, the
Arena is a big metal hangar that Pete Townshend once described as a
"fucking shithole." Bands that play here can be lost in a swirl of echo
and standing waves, and if they try using volume to overcome it their
sound turns to mush. Somehow, and don't underestimate this, the sound man
hit the EXACT level and balance that brought Bob's vocals forward while
the band kicked ass behind him with a tight, driving sound that was
impossible to keep still to.
After 'Tell Me', 'Lonesome Day' and 'Red Sky' it hit me - we were
seeing Elston Gunn, the boy who was barred from playing another school
dance because the last one was too wild, the one who blagged his way into
Bobby Vee's band! Bob's movements at the keyboard were a revelation; this
is Rockin' Bob, whose influences took in Elvis, Buddy, the Everlys and
Chuck Berry BEFORE he discovered Woody and Cisco - but now his piano
influences were allowed out to play; half-close your eyes and it's Little
Richard in 1955, or Jerry Lee just before he kicks back the piano stool
and rocks! Bob's bopping shoulder moves were the same ones we saw when he
played the typewriter in 'Don't Look Back', wired, running on adrenalin.
For me there were no weak songs. 'Cold Irons Bound' was hammered out hard
and shiny, 'Ring Them Bells' featured majestic chords from Bob and then
with 'Tweedle Dee' we were treated to another kick-ass rock'n'roller that
would have had the kids somersaulting onto the dance-floors in '59.
The chord changes in 'Wheels On Fire' preceded a great vocal, playing with
the song but generously leaving enough for the sing-alongs to latch onto.
'Highway 61 Revisited' was pure Chuck Berry, way better than the
Stones-clone version Bob played on his 1984 tour with Mick Taylor on
guitar. Then an acoustic version of 'Hattie Carroll' confirmed that Bob is
giving due weight to his 'social justice' songs, almost spelling the words
out in measured lines rather than throwaway bursts. 'Bye and Bye' was
good-humoured Western Swing, sung with a sly wink and a knowing look that
belied the innocence of the lyrics.
'Honest With Me' was an appropriate build-up to an on-the-nail acoustic
'Masters Of War', a clearly stated indictment that said "Yes, this means
You, You and You, your days are numbered and we all know where you live."
Message delivered, it was kick loose and let it rock time with 'Summer
Days', which started out as Sun Rockabilly, veered into Bo Diddley
territory, musically name-checked Charlie Ryan's 'Hot Rod Lincoln' with
its staccato guitar line and came barreling home to the high school hop of
Bob's (sorry, Elston's) teenage dreams.
The encore songs,' If Not For You,' Rolling Stone' and 'Watchtower'
moved us nicely into the chill-out zone. Bob's humour burst through again
when 'Watchtower' began with a Duane Eddy - like guitar intro of the
melody from 'Exodus' - followed by Bob singing "There must be somewhere
out of here"! Nice touch, and a fitting end to a crackling, energetic and
good humoured show. And Lynnette and I just had to thank the sound man in
person, it was a kick-ass mix and he should get full credit for overcoming
almost impossible acoustics.
Just when we thought we'd seen everything Bob had to show us, up pops
Elston Gunn, and he can play my dance hall any old time. Thanks yet
Review by Jim Heppell
From Cardiff to Newcastle 2004 - a review by Jimmy Row (Jim Heppell)
Again I have to ask: how does Bob Dylan do it? Keep on keeping on getting better and better each time
you hear or see him. To get hold of a live recording is a privilege that sheer quantity tends to take
for granted, but to be in the right building at the right time with the man whose songs and poems have
meant so much and opened so many vistas on human experience and history
To hear for the first time 40 years ago Times A Changin, Rolling Stone, to listen to Blonde on Blonde,
In 1966 There Was, or Nearer to the Fire, the same but different shock of "Love and Theft" more
recently, all this list and more and then some is one thing. But Newcastle last night was something
Block A row G, Grateful to be Dead centre, the closest view of Dylan I have had for ages. (Thanks John)
Initially I was almost shocked Bob looked aged and frail, and out of it. This impression was immediately
contradicted by a raucous and perfectly judged Real You At Last (is this the answer to my question - the
real Bob at last?!) But things having started well were going to get even better. Bob's in a fittingly
red shirt - all systems on red alert - as a majestic Tell Me It Isnt True maintained and redirected the
momentum. " .. You know it just doesn't so-ound right
In Cardiff we were in the north balcony behind Bob's right shoulder with a great direct view of the
magnificent Larry Campbell; we could see the band quite well but never Dylan's face (usually a highlight
of the show); the sound was good up there but some arena muddiness seemed apparent.
No quibbles in the Metroradio Arena tonight about the sound which from where I stood was spot on. It
would be folly to say this was the perfection of Dylan's art when there have been so many and different
expression of that - but it sure seemed like it to me while it lasted this night (hence the need to get
down these thoughts).
The guy standing in front of us his head was exploding in the nicest possible way, he was really into
the performances of these songs. A third of Dylan's age, it turned out he was phoning the show through
to FIVE of his mates who would have liked to be there, but it was his first Dylan show. It was heart
warming to hear him say he could die happy now he had been in the same room and this close to Bob Dylan
and these songs. Strangely most of the occupants of the seats in front of us remained seated - I hope
Bob did not take it as a mark of disrespect! - we felt like starting the Old Trafford chant of "stand
up for the champions"!
To call it the Larry Campbell show would be nothing less than justice to him - his playing was once again
just awesome on an impressive variety of guitars. Virtuoso. But it would be injustice to the other four
men on the stage not least of course Bob Dylan whose imperious majesty called out the shots, once again
creating a new imperial empire indeed!(Evening's empire - must all empires turn to sand?) Recile truly
beats the drum with whatever power or subtlety seems appropriate. Garnier looking apprehensive at times,
a bedrock of this band, on electric or acoustic bass, the familiar smile breaking out from time to time,
watching Dylan's every move. It was a privilege to be able to see the interaction between this band as
well as to hear it; whether a barely perceptible nod from Bob to unleash Kimball or to bring down another
earth shattering conclusion - too soon, Bob, too soon! - or the band breaking into justified smiles as
they seem happy with what they have achieved, or amused by some novelty or another.
I thought Cardiff a good solid show with some sublime highlights and Kev my son really enjoyed it, but
I did not know what was awaiting us 4 days and a couple of hundred miles to the north; Newcastle was
something else again. (Shame you couldn't make it Steve!) I could see and hear the controlled effort
Dylan was putting into the singing of these songs right from the off. In Cardiff we got a superb
Shooting Star, here a sublime Ring Them Bells (yes, Joe, Bob was unknowingly ringing them for Louis!!);
in the Washington version you can hear the Dylan phrasing in a colloquial fashion, here Dylan was
singing it in his inimitable way.
The dramatically brooding It Aint Me Babe brought the crowd in Cardiff to a crescendo each time it
peaked. But, as the Newcastle evening proceeded, the crowd was even more tumultuous tonight in its
applause - I really wishful thought it would bring another encore out of the band. I was close enough
to see Bob's reaction to the thunderous acclaim. Was he "taking the piss" as the guy behind enthused
after Tweedle Dum? As he stood centre stage for the applause Bob Dylan seemed pleased, uncomfortable,
proud, touched, unmoved, impressed, disingenuous, uneasy, content, dissatisfied. Everything you would
expect-the-unexpected from a Dylan experience. He has every right to be satisfied but can you see him
resting on his laurels?
Before the show I had the feeling we could get Desolation Row tonight or even Masters of War. Maybe it
was the sight of Catterick garrison on the way up but for the first time in ages we did get the latter.
Yet another show stopper performed this way for the first time ever: I am a great fan of the electric
versions from 78 or 84, but this excelled the acoustic power of the Hiroshima version with the added
ingredient of tastefully electric soloing from Stu Kimball, with Larry on acoustic and Dylan on piano.
Yes Dylan was definitely on piano tonight; I wonder if the low register that Bob seems to play tends
to make the piano merge into the group sound like a bass instrument. (Forgive me I am not a musician;
but incidentally it seemed to me that it was an extra bassy sound that Dylan wanted when he was
directing Tommy to bolster the music at times last year. Does this make sense, Eyolf?) He was however
definitely playing the keys at times, especially during the quieter Hattie Carroll. This was another
candidate for the definitive version of this powerfully remodelled song from last year, performed with
controlled passion and dramatic precision.
Larry strapped on a beautiful big fat guitar for beautiful big fat jazzy solo on Bye and Bye; Bob has
not really explored the jazz idiom that much yet: in New Morning 1970 Dogs Run Free, but an electric
piano jazz flavour was one of the ingredients of Time Out Of Mind, a jazz flavour which came
startlingly to the fore in the surprising 2002 transformation of Trying To Get To Heaven (the one song
from that album which has not yet been surpassed in live performance? OK - Dirt Road does not count);
and now a very adequate soupcon has been nailed to the mast by this band's versions of Dogs Run Free
and Bye and Bye (does anybody in the building - including on the stage - know which one Bob is going
to sing when the band strikes up?!) Then a beautiful fat rock and roll exhibition of guitar playing on
Summer Days. This song - yet another transcendent show stopper night after night - was one of Freddy
Koella's pieces de resistance with adventurously varied playing - but again this version picked up the
gauntlet. Koella is a hard act to follow, but Kimball whom I am ashamed to admit I thought a little
dull and predictable in Cardiff (but not in a gleaming solo in the beautiful - perhaps definitive -
version of this year / last year's model of Girl From The North Country) has already proved that he can
come up with the goods to Campbell's evident satisfaction.
Once again Larry excelled himself on knockout versions of Honest With Me - with that narrow guitar
complete with gold go faster stripe for better slide - and an absolutely storming performance of
Lonesome Day Blues; Dylan's vocals already on this the third song of the night were dominating
proceedings - no mean feat given the musicians arranged around this stage. The drums measured out,
the guitars and keyboard pounded out the resounding blues rhythm. All of 8 carburettors, and overdrive!
Generally I prefer Bob taking the tempo nice and slow but in Cardiff, in spite of what other reviewers
have said, the uptempo numbers Cold Iron, H61, and MBA were taken at such a breakneck pace that their
potential as show stoppers was blasted away from me. No time for any nuance in the playing or singing,
and even the echo effect which I like (".. I can hear voices
") was lost in the melee. (Such was my
impression tho of course it might sound different if I get to hear the recording
bootlegs sound very different to what I thought I experienced in the excitement of the time! And the
sound obviously varies from place to place in these arenas.) In Newcastle we got the first two again
but this time I think they were taken slightly slower - they certainly sounded better - and absolutely
fulfilled that potential. No arguments with Derek saying he has not heard a better Cold Irons. Highway
61 drove those who were willing to new heights of frenzy, justifiably so, with the stop starts being
especially effective and exciting - as with Dignity last year.
A consistently hot show: pleasing surprise # 12 & 35: a coruscating Under the Red Sky with immaculate
steel from Larry and trademark twangy guitar ushering through This Wheel's On Fire, Dylan's vocal
bringing out the enigmatic narrative "notify my next of kin".
Can any one tell me what was going on in Cardiff at the end of Memphis Blues Again? I think I saw Larry,
laughing, wag his finger in Bob's direction as if to say "Too much, I told you so" - maybe Bob had
placed a bet that Larry would not be able to keep up with him at that speed. (Henry confirms what I saw
and suggests Larry was remonstrating for some less than perfect performing!) Campbell was playing
acoustic which usually provides a firm foundation for this song but at this speed it seemed to be lost
under Kimball's repetitive riff on the MBA scale (contrast the version of this song from Copenhagen last
There have been some great performances of songs with Dylan playing acoustic along with electric
guitars - from Corinna to Blonde on Blonde to the NET stage - and I think Newcastle is the first time
Larry has played acoustic on Watchtower - the band was happy to rely on Kimball for electric guitar, at
Cardiff Campbell was producing magical sounds from his steel - it worked brilliantly and Dylan's vocal
and facial performance was again breathtaking. In fact the three song encore was as fresh as could be
starting with a rousing hard-driving version of If Not For You; I was expecting Cat's In The Well to
follow, but no the band went drum-crash straight into Rolling Stone (a brilliantly simple but effective
entrιe into this perennial whether from Cat's or not). This necessitated a quick change for Larry to
his steel guitar and the song was freshened up with some great playing from Campbell and Kimball -
sounds like a long established firm of solicitors: we sure got some judicious playing from them! - and
Bob allowed the instrumental break to go on longer than one might expect. Then the sharpest of stop
starts before another fast switch for Larry to acoustic for the aforementioned finale: no joke, you
know there's no way out of here.
But then Dylan sent the punters happy - at least this one and my comrades - out into the Newcastle night
clamouring for more after a phenomenal show. Would that I were going to Glasgow!
Larry Campbell should be made admiral, prime minister, president - but raise your glasses, stand on the
tables, I am proposing a toast to THE king.
Review by Arthur Deakin
"Rockaday Bobby Rings them Bells"
Wow: the sound man listened after the potential sound mix disaster in
Cardiff of last Friday, those gentle souls in charge of the sound mixer
absolutley nailed it: almost as well as Bob did. This was my (n+1)th
Dylan concert, where n>50 and, I have to say it's right up there with the
first one at Sheffiled Gaumont Theatre in 65 or 66: that's high praise
i'll tell you.
The night started well with Seeing the real you: I recognised this after a
few seconds: good omen. Bob's singing and playing both strong. Again he
looked relaxed in black hat this time: where did the white one go?
Matching black hats across the band also from memory. Under the Red Sky
stepped up the pace. Cold Irons Bound, with its atmospheroc start and
building themes was little short of great. Then those bells were rung -
for the first time live in my earshot: what a treat. Tweedle dum burned
in followed by a tremendous rendition of Wheel's on Fire: true to the
original but much tighter. Highway 61 was rock music at its best: took me
straight back to that concert in Sheffiled all those years ago. Then the
highlight of the evening and absolutely splendid version of Hattie
Carroll. Who else can go from hard rock to gentle, rolling, music
overlayed by wonderful words delivered with passion & conviction? Pause
for reflection through Bye & Bye & Honest then, the second highlight
- the newish version of Masters of War: great stuff well received all
round. Whole concert now reaching new hights: Summer Days went on for its
usual staggering length: a joyful piece mixing all sorts of musical
influences delivered with great style & enjoyment by all on stage, but
especially himself. Then expected Cat's in the Well but out of Bob's hat
came "If not for you" another treat. LARS & Watchtower as dessert. What
a night. Yet more jutification for going to see the old man as many
times as possible in one tour: every night's significantly different, and
in their different ways, every night is a revelation. Rock on, Bob!
Review by Hugh Barney
There were four of us. myself, my 9 year old son (his first Dylan
concert), Paul an ageing hippy who'd just bought a really nice denim
jacket for 5 pounds at a church jumble sale, which was really useful as we
filled its pockets with bottles of water and my good friend Ian who I beat
at squash the day before thus regaining the 'title' for a week at least.
Paul did an interesting stunt to get the car parked, managing to drive in
between the ticket machine and a parked car over some grass to park in the
otherwise blocked spaces in the arena car park.
The band came on about ten to eight and we were given a great set with
lots of variety, crowd pleasers and a rarety. Apart from the almost
predictable encore, Bob's set lists are full of variety these days. The
treats were in the surprises, 'This Wheels on fire', which I don't know
well, but was aware this was a rare performance and swapping 'Cats in the
well' for 'If not for you'.
Bob sang a sensitive 'Ring Them Bells' with conviction, you could hear
every word and the song suits his vocal. No one boohs anymore at Bob's
Christian songs. The audience just gives this guy respect no matter what
The highlight for me was the beautiful version of 'Hattie Carrol'. No
longer was this a protest song of outrage and disgust against William
Zanginger but a beautiful lament celebrating the dignity of Hattie Carrol
who 'never sat once at the head of the table'. It was incredibly moving
and perfectly sung. The accoustic guitar arrangement was so much better in
my opinion than the lute version used last November in Birmingham.
There was some great guitar work going on between the bass and two
guitarists. Stu Kimball took Summer Days to a new place right at end and
there was some complex interplay on in 'Tweedle Dum' and 'Cold Irons
Bound'. Bob played harp on Tell me that it isn't true, Under a Red Sky,
Ring Them Bells, Bye and Bye, and If not for you.
The sound was well managed and was quiet for a rock concert, we were sat
next to the mixing desk and once the first couple of songs were through
the sound was crystal clear. Couldn't hear the words much at the end on
Rolling Stone and Watchtower but it didn't matter, just glad to be there.
Highway 61 - just rocked !
On the way out Paul meets two old ladys arm in arm on walking sticks. It
turns out they both won tickets in a raffle or something. Hope they
enjoyed it ! We rushed home and saw that the set list had already been
posted in just 40 minutes.
From the smile on my son's face I know he enjoyed it all, he beat me to
recognising 'Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee', in the first few bars and we
will have a memory that we will both cherish for years to come.
Review by Rob Pattison
I have to agree with the Newcastle 22nd reviews. This show was very
special. From the opening Seeing the Real You At Last to the encores.
I will never forget the echoing vocal on Cold Irons Bound which danced
around the Arena, it was like listening to Moses.
Bob's last visit to the Newcastle Arena was terrible. Largely due to
overzealous Arena staff, converging on anyone who, stood up. This time
they were more relaxed & in the spirit of things. I don't know if it's
fair to compare it with past glories, but it was certainly as good as it
gets, these days. This was the first Dylan show I've attended that I
would consider a classic, in it's entirety.
Review by Toby Richards-Carpenter
It happened during 'Ring Them Bells'. Not for Bob, but for me: a moment of realisation. I discovered
this show was open, as open as the hills that stretch out around Newcastle, and as open as the world
needs to be for all the lost sheep wandering around, wondering "why?".
It was funny; as Bob sang the last line of 'Ring Them Bells', about 'breaking down the distance between
right and wrong', some guy barged into me, then barked across those final precious notes, "Sorry mate,
I'm just trying to find my way back". Part of me wanted to thump him, but I knew how he felt!
The show was carving me open, finding me space, and asking me hard questions. Like this one: how open
are YOU to the possibility that this was one of the finest Bob Dylan concerts ever?
There was a 'Bob moment' at the end of 'Honest With Me': Bob ran from behind his keyboards, over to
Tony Garnier. This wasn't the mannered strut or swagger he usually makes across the stage; this wasn't
a part of the performance. Truly, he ran: there was something, something else, urgent to be said.
As if to stop the band ploughing into the wrong song, Bob delivered swift instructions, returned to
his keyboard, and waited. Then it came: 'Masters Of War', sung with pure anger in a newly minted voice,
righteous and aware. In this respect it was somewhat at odds with the selfless expansiveness of most of
his performances this show, but for me 'Masters' found a companion in the third song of the night,
'Lonesome Day Blues'.
When 'Lonesome Day Blues' finally collapsed into cheering and darkness, I couldn't see how Bob could
top that performance for the rest of the evening: he put EVERYTHING into it. Any note he wanted to
sing was available to him as the band wailed away.
Bob was consumed by what seemed to me to be images of weak men dancing on graves, his father dead, his
mother dead, his brother dead, his captain's friends dead; Bob was determined to spare the defeated.
Then in 'Masters Of War' the graves were being dug, and the anger re-surfaced.
I'm not claiming that Dylan literally intended any of this. If you see his shows purely as rock
concerts (and sometimes, such as in London two days earlier, Bob treats them as such), these comments
could seem rather silly. But if I could properly explain the places I was taken last night, you'd know
it was art.
Unusually for a great Dylan concert, at least in my experience, there was almost no hint of self-regard.
This was a performance entirely given, with not a smile, shrug or wink allowed at the end to give the
game away. Did Bob realise what he had just achieved? And the band didn't dare miss a beat; there was
no frivolity, just tunes tight as a drum, growing tighter as the performance expanded.
Stu Kimball's true worth became apparent to me last night. His florid, accomplished playing not only
brings its own rock'n'roll flavour, but also it frees Larry Campbell to develop the songs' arrangements.
For 'All Along The Watchtower' the pedal steel had gone, and in its place Larry strummed an acoustic
guitar, bringing a folk resonance to the storm.
If I were to say here all I wanted to about the Newcastle show, I'd have to miss the Glasgow gig
tomorrow. 'The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll', though, there is time for.
Here we heard Bob's piano playing put to finest effect. So passionately had Bob sung the defence of
'Hattie Carroll', I couldn't see that he could give us a final jolt and clinch the performance with the
last chorus. But then those keys pounded down like alarm bells between 'bury the rag', 'deep in your
face', 'now's the time', and that was it, he'd done it, justice.
As the first encore, 'If Not For You' certainly surprised, but we'd grown used to surprises by then.
'This Wheel's On Fire', for instance, placed the spite and vengeance of the opening 'Seeing The Real You
At Last' in a vivid yet wholly unexpected context. 'If Not For You' was a performance the show seemed to
deserve, although I don't doubt that Bob could have trumped himself even with 'Cat's In The Well' in this
slot, given the form he was on.
The highly musical, bittersweet new arrangement of 'If Not For You' framed the most sincerely personal
vocal of the evening from Bob. It was unclear to me whether a quiet smile or tears of regret would have
been the appropriate response. But is Dylan that brilliant that he could have sung it in this way
without a specific person in mind?
So, the aftermath of a Bob Dylan show on a Tuesday night in Newcastle, and I'm left wondering if anything
more can be said or felt with music. Why am I bothering to go to Glasgow for the next show? I'm trying
to stay open to the possibility that Bob could top it, I suppose. But this time, truly, I just don't see
Review by Andrew Edgington
An opportunity to visit Geordieland for the first time and take in a Bob
show - my 10th. And another chance to see Bob after reading in ISIS that
rumour (dubious I hope) about this being his last UK visit.
My wife - reluctant veteran of 3 of Bob's previous shows - declined the
offer of a show ticket but agreed to a 2 day visit to the North-East. She
especially wanted to see Anthony Gormley's 'Angel of the North' a
fantastic huge steel figure on a hilltop near Newcastle. For any
non-English readers, a Geordie is someone from Newcastle, where they all
speak with a very musical 'sing-song' accent which has to be heard to be
properly understood. The home of Lindisfarne.remember them?
We would take in a few of the sights and scenes and Gill would luxuriate
at a hotel whilst I met up with Jamie, an old University friend (last seen
in 1973) and took in the show. He was as keen on Bob back in the early
70's as most students were back then. How the years go by! Life is indeed
a jet plane, it moves too fast.
Moving seamlessly on to jets, Easyjet is a cheap and cheerful 'no frills'
carrier from whom I bought 2 return flights from Bristol to Newcastle for
a grand total of £57, of which £7 was the fares and £50 was airport tax.
It's an understatement to call this a loss leader. I couldn't immediately
spot any other Dylan fans on the flight but I expect they were there,
possibly masquerading as business people flying North for a conference.
Checked in to the Copthorne hotel down on the Tyne. We could see 6 of the
7 bridges that cross over to Gateshead from our room. A lovely sunny day
for a super walk down to the Millennium bridge which tilts over to let the
ships through, looking a bit like a blinking eye.
Found out much later from the night porter -or concierge as his name badge
described him - a veteran of the Isle of Wight festival in 1969 and one
time fan- that Bob had stayed at the Copthorne the previous night. I
double checked the dustbins in our room but found no half-written new
songs on cigarette packets so he may have had a better room or the
cleaners did their job properly. (..or maybe he never stayed there at all
We checked out a couple of art galleries, including a marvellous space in
a very tall old Flour Mill. The exhibits were complex and not exactly
instantly accessible - maybe Bob would have enjoyed them.
Newcastle, like many British cities, is taking advantage of a lot of
regeneration money to modernise its waterfront areas. A wonderful new
concert hall is just going up on the Gateshead side of the river,
sponsored by SAGE the accounting software people. It looks great - the
two ends echo the shape of the Tyne bridges - whilst from side on it looks
like a great big shiny glass and steel slug or larva. Let's hope Bob
plays there when he next visits.
I met up with Jamie for a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale before the show.
He'd heard a few audience recordings of some post 2000 shows so he had a
reasonable idea of what to expect, and wasn't going to feel let down if
Bob didn't appear with a funny cap and an acoustic guitar and sing Blowin'
in the Wind like he did in 1963.
The Metro Radio Arena is a standard concrete and steel hall, much the same
as many other all over the UK - not much more to add really.
At about 7.45 Bob appeared in a dark hat, dark suit and red shirt. The
band were in grey suits. The new guy had a black cowboy hat as well -
he's of the 'head weaving' school. He stood close behind the keyboard
like FK last year. Having forgotten my binoculars and notebook I'm afraid
that's as much detail as you're going to get! Everyone stood as usual and
blocked the view of anyone under 6 feet tall, leading to the usual drift
down the gangways to the front, with a pretty hopeless gang of security
people powerless to control it. Why don't they just clear the seats and
we'd all know what the deal was?
A few personal general comments first. Everyone to their taste! A very
loud show, like last year. The mix was a bit better than last time from
where I was - Bob's voice was higher in the mix than last year - but early
in the show it got a bit mushy in places and without the kind of
separation that I've come to expect from sound systems over the years. Of
course, one's hearing does change over time doesn't it? I found the
succession of quite heavy rock versions of songs got a bit relentless at
times. (Jamie commented - 'It was all very intense wasn't it?' after the
show, and I could see his point) I rather miss those lovely 5 or 6
'acoustic' songs at the start of his 99, 00, 01 shows. When the set lists
show Hattie and MoW as 'acoustic' it's an exaggeration. Larry played an
acoustic on them but that was it really. No-one ever tells Recile to stop
pounding away at everything within reach.
Don't get me wrong - Lonesome Day Blues, Honest with Me, H61 and Cold
Irons Bound are
great rockers, performed really well at high volume, but my preference
would be for some much quieter and reflective stuff in between. This
would give a bit of balance and ensure we more fully appreciate the high
volume songs as well.
Bob's voice was very strong and although he got a bit hoarse towards the
end (who wouldn't with the number of high volume songs in the set) it held
up very well and he's carried on tailoring what he can do with songs to
the strengths and limitations of what's left. I think this works well on
songs like Hattie where the deep, growling, world-weary emphatic lines
depict the narrative line and the condemnation of hypocrisy in a stronger
way than on the high pitched wailing 60's original.
1. Seeing the Real You at Last
I had no idea what this was until I recalled seeing it listed in a few
recent shows and picked up on the lyrics. Nothing like the album version
of course - it makes you realise how odd it is for many people who don't
recognise any of the songs
2. Tell Me That it Isn't True
Nice pedal steel from Larry - he was at his peerless best all evening -
what a talent!
3. Lonesome Day Blues
The first of five from L&T - I felt sure he'd do Cry a While - my least
liked L&T song, but thankfully he didn't.
4. Under the Red Sky
The first time I've heard this one live. Mixed feelings - a bit like when
he sang Big Girl Now
once at Birmingham - I carry around an exact recollection of sublime
studio versions and it can be a shock to hear them performed live with
Bob's voice 20 or 30 years older!
5. Cold Irons Bound
Never fails to please - a marvellous song
6. Ring Them Bells
Another first for me - this was the highlight of my evening, a wonderful
version with the band capturing those descending chords to perfection.
Lots of expression to bring those lyrics to life
7. Tweedle Dee
I've never got much out of this song I'm afraid - Under the Red Sky is a
nursery rhyme and yet interesting in a dark Hansel & Gretel way, but this
is just twaddle isn't it?
8. Wheel's on Fire
I checked and I heard him do this at Cardiff in 1997 - memories of Julie
Driscoll raising every teenage schoolboy's blood pressure with her version
in the 60's (incidentally she's now married to a very avant garde pianist
who lives near my home village - and does shows with some pretty weird
9. H61 revisited
Enjoyable romp, as usual - very loud, started off by that signature lick
10. Hattie Carroll
Another highlight - very expressive - a weighty song with a marvellous
contrast between Bob's deep growling singing and Larry's exquisite
11. Bye and Bye
Was it me or was this a bit of a scary ride for the band? Was Stu taken by
surprise when he was expected to trade guitar pieces with Larry? Did Bob
really pick up the wrong harp? Larry was playing that 'to die for' Sun
studios type guitar which has such a superb sound. I love this song.
12. Honest with Me
The best of the rockers in my opinion. Larry's slide guitar and Bob's
singing were absolutely top drawer.
13. Masters of War
Held together by Larry's acoustic rhythm guitar. Never one of my
favourites - I've always found some of those early 'protest' songs a bit
14. Summer Days
Sorry but I can't help myself singing Rock around the Clock to this one.
This transported me back to 2001 when I saw Bob in Memphis and a band
which included some old Sun Studios session players did the set before he
came on - bliss!
15. If Not For You
Having told Jamie that the encore would start with Cat's in the Well I
felt a bit of a pillock when he played this. A surprising heavy version
of one of the best of the acoustic songs he used to play 3 or 4 years ago.
Amazing how Bob comes up with these new treatments.
10 shows - 10 LARS. Maybe we should all stop cheering like idiots and
he'd do something else?
17. All Along the Watchtower
It was still light when we left at about 9.40 - a rather odd feeling.
On reflection it was a very very good show - definitely better than the
two I saw last year because Bob's voice was stronger and the sound mix was
better - not perfect but better. Larry was sublime and Stu K. is a
definite improvement on FK. A nice set-list, too. He deserves his
Review by Chris Jones
This was the fouth time I have seen Bob live, and by far the best
performance from both himself and his band. I attended the concert with my
mum, who is a 'convert' and has, in the past few years, seen the light of
Bob's music in a genre of increasing darkness and modern day triviality!
Having been to two of last years shows, the disappointing Sheffield
concert and the more uplifting Birmingham gig, we approached the Newcastle
show with excitement and hope that we would see a more varied setlist and
be able to take away some good memories. How happy we were then that Bob
was given a less than favourable review in The Independent newspaper a few
days previous for his performance at this years Fleadh festival. It seems
to be often the case, Bob gets a bad review, and responds with a markedly
improved performance the next evening. This time he exceeded even the most
critical Dylan fan's expectations with a show of genuine passion, which
oozed confidence, wisdom and sheer class. From the evenings opening track
to the expected finale of All Along The Watchtower, we remained fully
engaged, no shuffling or twitching as per Sheffield, but completely
spellbound by Bobs performance of drive and vigour. For both of us, Ring
Them Bells was the highlight. We waited in hushed anticipation as the
double bass came out, identified the opening chords...wrongly. We wanted
'Shooting Star' so badly, as we've never heard him play it, but as he
spoke the words 'Ring Them Bells', there was no disappointment there. Just
a knowing smile. It was a beautiful performance of a very spiritually
profound song, and it was an priviledge to hear Bob sing it. The long
drive there from Manchester was entirely worth it, as Bob tonight was
sheer magic. I just hope he keeps on doing what he does best. Bob, your'e
page by Bill Pagel
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