Gran Theatredel Liceu
June 23, 2023
Review by Jim O'Brien
Rough and Rowdy Ways: A trilogy of concerts reviews
I wrote these reviews shortly after each concert , with the
songs, the music, and the atmosphere of each special European
venue fresh in my mind., undimmed by the passage of time.
Looking back at them, I see how subtly Bob and his band have
developed since that October evening in Paris last year
Jim O'Brien, Barcelona, June 2023.
The Drifter’s Return – Bob Dylan at the Liceu Theatre, Barcelona,
June 23rd 2023
Things have changed. As I sat in the Café L’Opera on a hot,
sticky June evening in Barcelona, there were few visible signs
that Bob Dylan, the last of the troubadours, was about to go on
stage in just over an hour’s time in the historic Liceu Theatre
on the other side of La Rambla. I simply felt that tingle in my
bones, a raising of the senses, as I prepared to complete a
trilogy of his Rough and Rowdy Ways tour, as this enigmatic,
eternal mystery nears the end of his Spanish road. Yes, things
have changed since the brilliance of his youth, the packed
stadiums and the snaking queues in entranced anticipation of
a Bob Dylan concert. The world may turn and burn in
indifference these days, but if Paris and London from
October 2022 are anything to go by, those entering the hushed
sanctum of the Liceu tonight are about to witness a special
evening of music, poetry and song. For me, it was to be a
fitting culmination, the symbolic symmetry marking the end of
my Road Maps for the Soul journey, which had taken me to
Hibbing, Tulsa, Nashville and New Orleans in the last month.
My own travelling is done for now. Bob Dylan is still on the
road, heading for another joint.
‘Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand’. With
this haunting couplet, Dylan brought a spine-chilling
conclusion to his return to the Liceu since his last
performance here, some five years ago. The richly deserved
standing ovation which followed saw him emerge from behind his
piano to briefly move centre stage and take his bow. Then he
was gone, a shooting star into the night sky. For almost two
hours he had mesmerised, enraptured and entertained his fans.
The mood echoed ‘Shadow Kingdom’, his voice recalled his
covers of the great American Songbook, fused with an honest,
impassioned delivery of those wonderful songs from his ‘Rough
and Rowdy Ways’ album. A cluster of reworked versions from his
back catalogue, and a heartfelt rendition of the Grateful
Dead’s ‘Stella Blue’, made up his set.
Despite remaining behind his baby grand piano for all of the
concert, he was still able to reveal his past glories as
bluesman, rock star, country and rockabilly singer, as well as
more recent incarnations as confessional poet and crooner.
Dylan was still able to weave the tapestry of his work, to let
his songs unfold, as he has done for the best part of sixty
years on the road as a performing artist. His band was tighter
and sharper than it had been earlier in the Rough and Rowdy
Ways tour, striking a balance between structure and
improvisation, so that the melodies driving the songs could
flow more freely. ‘False Prophet’ and ‘Dark Rider’ were
delivered with a fresh directness and urgency, as Dylan’s
interpretation of the wonderful collection from the ‘Rough and
Rowdy Ways’ album showed subtle shifts in mood and timing as he
explored his own mortality and legacy in his confessional
evocation of the magnificent ‘Key West’ and the stomping blues
of ‘Crossing the Rubicon’. A dramatic, rocked up version of
‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ seemed to be his only grasp of certainty
as he mused on his paradoxes and vulnerabilities in ‘I contain
multitudes’ and’ Mother of Muses’. A rasping rendition of
‘Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum’ from ‘Love and Theft’ displayed
Dylan as the wise old soothsayer and prophet. It is a song that
has certainly matured with age, put across with a finger-pointing
As in Paris and London during the autumn of 2022, the Rough
and Rowdy Ways songs were complimented by a cluster of reworked
versions from Dylan’s back catalogue. The highlight at the Liceu
tonight was his harmonica solo on ‘When I paint my masterpiece’
when he effortlessly rolled back the years to breath new energy
into a rockabilly reading of the song. As he looked at the world
through the wisdom of an old man’s eyes, it was still possible
to glimpse the many chameleon faces of Bob Dylan: the still
tousled hair, the gestures when he introduced his band, the
Song and Dance Man in the bubble of his piano. Tonight, at the
Liceu time stood still for these two hours. It was a pleasure
to be in your presence. You are still there Bobby, in all your
Barcelona, June 23, 2023
Review by Edward Gildner
A few notes from last night…
There was a bit of a crackling noise occasionally during the
first bit of the show. It wasn’t that terrible and I was able
to ignore it. The sound improved and later the volume seemed
to increase when they got to To Be Alone With You. The merch
was great and not too outrageously priced (relatively of
The band was circled around Bob and they never seem to take
their eyes off of him. The guitar solos are short and good.
I can’t remember the last time acoustic guitars were featured
this much (which really isn’t much but still). I really liked
the previous drummer but this guy was really good. He looked
calm throughout. Is his snare behind one of his other drums?
I couldn’t see it…. Dramatic red lighting on a pretty dark
stage - looks great!
The theater is stunningly beautiful. We were fortunate to
be in the first row of the lowest balcony before it started
to curve to the center (stage left). Real “rattle your
jewelry” territory. It was a perfect vantage point for seeing
Bob through my opera glasses. It was really nice to not see a
Masterpiece had an acoustic guitar solo and the violin
sounded great. Bob started the harp solo with his right hand
and switched to the left so he could hit some piano notes.
Black Rider had a nice vocal echo effect in a few spots -
definitely for “hack off your arm”. I don’t believe he did
all of the verses.
IBYBT had 2 acoustic guitars and the crowd clapped along for
some time. It was the only time I noticed Bob cue the drummer
to end the song (with a quick nod). He fixed his hair up a
My Own Version of You is my favorite song on R&RW but I
preferred the older arrangement. I’m not sure how different
Rubicon is now but I thought it was a standout tonight!
Key West was also great I thought. At one point *while
singing* he moved the mic stand so he could sit.
The singing on GSS was outstanding - “you might like to
Intros were cool, he seemed to be in a great mood. Something
about Britt winning a Playboy poll of some sort. He said
that Donnie is from North Carolina and won a fiddle contest
when he was 3 years old. Tony played a little bass part after
his intro. He has what must be the best job in the world, I’m
so thankful he has never hung it up.
The singing on Made Up My Mind was excellent!
The crowd around us didn’t seem to be holding its breath like
I was when slot 14 came along. TD&TD was never my favorite
but it sounded great. It also prominently featured acoustic
guitar and the ending was really cool. Tony had a big smile
when it was over. He appeared to really be concentrating
during the next song though and guiding the band I thought.
In my opinion, Stella Blue was flawless. I thought Bob nailed
it!! Tony clapped when it was over. It was one of those
astonishing moments where you just cannot believe what you
are experiencing. I’ve seen some 1-time only songs and some
premieres but I never thought I’d have another one of these
moments with Bob. I‘m thankful and hope I never forget what
it felt like.
EGoS was great, he handled a harp but never played it so
WIPMM had the only solo. I’m glad there was even one. An
amazing show for a respectful and very appreciative audience
in a gorgeous theater. Do these things play a role in what
Bob delivers? How much of a role? Robert Hunter’s birthday?
Why TD&TD instead of any number of songs from the back
catalog? Why tonight? Is The Tour really going to end
It is clear that Bob can maintain the suspense and excitement
for his people. He can still Deliver the Goods!
This was my only show for this tour and I was thankful to get
it, thankful to meet some cool folks and we are going home
Review by Laurette Maillet
Day off to travel from Logrono to Barcelona.
The company bus is Alsa and the trip will take six hours and
We start half hour late from Logrono but then all is fine
with a lunch stop.
Barcelona is already crowded as we cross through. My hostel
is right by the beach. A six female dorm :)
The first night is cold as the air conditioning is on Alaska
time and we are not provided with blanket. It's 27°C outside
and feel like 12°C inside :(
First thing in early morning 'Cafe con leche' and a warm sun
bath and a swim.
Then relaxing walking around the area and walk towards the
Rambla. As crowded and noisy as it could be.
The ' Gran theatre del Liceu ' is still....well! The same.
Beautiful theater. First one on that tour. Will be a change
from the sport arena.
Capacity 2292. Expensive tickets. I truly need a miracle.
I remember from years before the trick of 'Security Bob' to
sneak Bob inside without being seen.
I position myself at the right time, right angle :)
A black van pulls inside the garage door by 6 pm. Bob's in
for sure considering all the security people around :) :)
Time for my business now.
A queue starts to form all along the street and perpendicular
street. I hold my sign. The folks seem amused :)
A guy wants to sell two for 100€ each. Another fan (from
Germany) is bargaining.
And suddenly, from out nowhere and no reason, that guy hands
me one ticket and the other one to F. She gives her ticket to
my German friend/fan. We doubt about the validity of those
Tix (black and white copies) but nonetheless we are inside.
The seats are ' blocked view '. We see absolutely nothing of
the stage. So with two others, we move to a better spot.
Still on 5th gallery but we see the stage and all the lyrics
sheets on the piano ???!!!
Great! Good vibrations, anyway.
The theater is already a must to be in a good mood. Sure Bob
can feel it too.
Bob's appearance provokes a standing ovation for a long
moment. A loud clamor.
The audience is knowledgeable and enthusiastic from
beginning to end.
'Watching the river flow' a bit weak but then the sound is
My highlight is "My own version of you".
Us, four Bobcats, on the top, are loud.
The Band is tight and Bob focused.
A couple of "thank you".
The 14th song will be "Tweedle Dee and tweedle dum" as Donnie
picks up his violin.
Then... A musical rythme/ intro I don't know. Definitely a
new song. Instead of "Mother of muses" ????
It will be "Stella Blue" apparently for the birthday of
Robert Hunter ;
[Robert C. Christie Hunter (born Robert Burns; June 23, 1941
– September 23, 2019) was an American lyricist,
singer-songwriter, translator, and poet, best known for his
work with the Grateful Dead.] Wikipedia source.
Emotionally done ! ??
Then "Mother of muses". Still on the list.
So we are Thanx with an extra song tonight.
The show Not to have missed :)
Great great show! Excellent for all reasons.
Thank you the Good Samaritans.
I chat with a BD follower after the show.
Thanks for the company.
Walk back to my hostel.
Trapped in fire works exploding all over the streets.
Thousands of happy people celebrating
San Juan day.
I celebrate my good first day and show in Barcelona!
See you all tomorrow.
Same place, same hour!
Review by Tom Palaima and Garrett Bruner
On March 16, 2022, Garrett Bruner joined Tom Palaima, Richard
Thomas and eleven undergraduate Dylan students and Laurette
Maillet at University of Texas at Austin to take in the Bob
Dylan concert at the Bass concert hall. Garrett hardly ever
listens to music live and he had never attended a Dylan
concert although as archivist for Tom Palaima’s research
program he had read and thought lots about Dylan and his
music and their social impact and meaning.
After that concert, he has soaked up Dylan’s music past and
present like a Mediterranean sea sponge.
On June 23, 2023 Garrett attended the Dylan concert in
Barcelona. Here is his insightful review:
I stood in line and got in the concert hall, an opera house
that's famous on the Ramblas, the Licea.
Weirdly to me though nowhere on the exterior was Dylan's name
even mentioned. Nowhere. Only from the queue in the street and
people bearing Dylan shirts was there any clue.
Once I got inside , the ushers immediately sealed my phone into
a magnetically sealed cloth baggie, so I couldn't get any photos
of even the amazing space that the opera house was. After that,
I made my way down to the aisles and after asking another usher,
where exactly my seat was.
Seventh row, twelfth seat. Sat there awhile as the evening
filled the hall up. Once Dylan came on stage, though, I got the
chills, the hair raises off my skin, as he took his seat behind
his piano and the band started off with "Watching the River Flow".
This concert was the opposite of the one in Austin for my own
experience. Now, I know the words to most of his songs by heart.
Now, I know what to expect from his setlists, and heard ahead
of the concert what he would be doing, from the bootlegs
leaking out of Japan.
So I was really able to follow along what I know by heart. That
said, the songs are not rote because of this. His phrasing and
singing and the performances give them life. His singing last
night was really on key. Deliveries in songs like “Most Likely
You'll Go Your Way," on lines like "you're saying you're
sorry for telling me stories you know I believe are true.."
really benefited from his sort of staccato punctuation of the
lines, along with his piano. That song is really renewed on
Especially moving to me, though, were "I Contain Multitudes,"
"Tweedle Dum", and most of all, "Key West," a song so much
improved over the album. How really graceful his voice is. The
pulsing of the drums and instruments keeps the whole song
flowing along. That song, of all the songs off Rough and Rowdy
Ways, took probably the longest to sink in. But now, I will
say it brings me to tears how tender it is played live.
"Stella Blue" was a surprise. It was the late Robert Hunter’s
birthday June 23. I don't even know the song but I've gone to
listen to it. His singing was so clear that I could follow it
and be moved.
"My Own Version of You” wasn't what I was expecting. He had
changed the tempo and made it sound upbeat, nearly a jingle
how the backing instruments play it.
I'm not sure I liked it because I like so much other versions
he's done. But I was really riveted regardless by the change,
how it was made to be upbeat, when I'd never heard it to be
(I still believe, or choose to hear, this song to be the Muse
speaking to the human being about her creation of him/her).
If I had one disappointment it was the absence of either
“Melancholy Mood" or “That Old Black Magic" from recent tour
setlists. I really love these. Fallen Angels is actually one of
my favorite of Dylan's albums, one that I play regularly. So.
I think the inclusion of "Stella Blue" sacrificed one of
these!! It's good in the end. And, maybe, I was hoping he'd
pull "Boots of Spanish Leather” out of his hat because it
mentions Barcelona, but nope!
The audience was really into Dylan too. Way more engaged than
what I saw in Austin. They were cheering in songs at quiet
moments, clapping along, giving him a lot of love with applause
at the end of songs.
Dylan gave a little bit of jokes and comments when he introduced
the band but other than thanks between songs, he stuck to
performance. He stood, behind his piano, most of the time, then
sat at it, which I liked. When he touched his harmonica (“When I
Paint My Masterpiece") the audience went wild.
The Spanish/Catalan love him. I was glad to be part of that
on June 23.
Review by Michael Ballstav
Oh my, what a fantastic evening we had this first night in
Barcelona! Bob was in a very good mood and this show was so
much better from when I saw him in Oslo, Stockholm and Berlin
last year. Even songs that I usually skip on the CD were
tremendous this night. Songs like Black Rider, False Prophet
and an omdirigera like I’ll Be Your Bany Tonight were really
good. But finally, The Dead’s Stella Blue knocked us all out
and I was so damn’ lucky to capture this magic moment with my
iPhone. Thank you, Master!
Review by Jim Scott
The internet tells me that almost 80 years ago:
An uncle said…, “You’ve got to sing.” He refused. The pleading
increased,... “So he sang,” his mother said, but not until he
had announced: ‘If it’s quiet, I will sing.’” … Everyone was
quiet as Bob’s two-song repertoire was repeated. Again the
audience cheered, and Bobby… took the twenty-five dollars.
Twenty-five dollars which Professor Google assures me was worth
more like four hundred in today's terms. Nice work for a two
song set if you could get it then. Or now.
Fast forward to the first of two nights in Barcelona, with an
18 song set delivered at breakneck speed, and the menacing
assertion ‘If it’s quiet, I will sing’ has been replaced by a
more user friendly 'If you lock your mobile phone in a
hessian bag with a magnetic lock, I will sing.'
With the cheapest seats, where we were, coming in at just under
100 USD; plus a 10% rip off supplementary charge for the
privilege of doing business with the internet ticket seller in
the EU. The overall take tonight will certainly put even 400 USD
for a 5 year old in the shade.
The audience were by turns respectful and enthusiastic, and the
artist, as all who have read this far already know, stayed
steadfastly visually in the shadows only coming to the front of
the stage at the very last moment to execute the merest of
hints of a bow. So far, both in time and in bodily flexibility,
from the days when a Chaplin-like demeanour meant his forehead
all but scraped the ground as his concerts finished.
The hitherto standard set list was supplemented by one extra
song. Not Tempest as some of us had naively hoped for given the
events of the past week but rather one by a group of American
singers known collectively as The Grateful Dead; not a well
known band I am assured either in The Raval or in La Seu d'Urgell.
The programmed variable in the otherwise rigid 17 song set list
was Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum; the rest is history known to all
who are reading here.
The crucial weakness was of course the decision to make the
songs from Rough & Rowdy Ways the centre of the show. Quite
simply, not even Bob Dylan himself, whether aged 28 or 82,is
capable of making a musical silk purse out of that particular
Leaving JFK aside, Key West, the stand out track on the album
was, pace the opinion of our elder son, poorly delivered. It
relies on an intimacy of sound & atmosphere plus a complicity
with the listener which Bob was simply unable to replicate on
the night. Given that almost all the rest of the album, with
the obvious exception of 'Give myself to you' is exceptionally
tuneless, the outlook for those who enjoy listening to music
was, from the outset in Porto, a trifle bleak
He did however add a sprinkling of better known, 'historic,'
more tuneful songs scattered through the night, with
Masterpiece (a song he featured heavily on the RTR and
released then as one of only a very small number of
official live performance videos) being the standout here.
The fiddle playing and related country swing of Donny Heron
lifted the performance to a whole different level. And Bob gave
us a few blasts on the harmonica to make the old-timers feel
Here too, innovation was important and amongst other lyrical
changes, a previously eminently forgettable, mundane and
'Sailin' round the world in a dirty gondolo
Oh, to be back in the land of Coca Cola!'
had been replaced by the sparkling, witty, archly sage
'Sailing 'round the world full of crimson and clover
Sometime I feel just like my cup is running over'
Time came for the final round of enthusiastic applause, Bob
raced to the front of the stage along with the 5 musicians who
supported him and raised his right hand ever so, ever so,
briefly and tentatively in the air.
A reveure ?
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