Barcelona, Spain
Gran Theatredel Liceu

June 23, 2023

[Jim O'Brien], [Edward Gildner], [Laurette Maillet],
[Tom Palaima and Garrett Bruner], [Michael Ballstav], [Jim Scott]

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 
apocalyptic vengeance.

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 
raging glory.

Jim O’Brien
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 
phone anywhere!

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 
little afterward.

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 
in ‘24? 

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

June 22sd.
Day off to travel from Logrono to Barcelona.
The company bus is Alsa and the trip will take six hours and
a half.
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 :(
June 23th.
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!
And....fall asleep!
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 
this tour.

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!

Michael Bällstav


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 
sow's ear.

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 
pedestrian couplet:
'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 ? 


Adéu-siau ?

Jim Scott


Click Here
to return to the
Main Page

page by Bill Pagel

Tour Guide
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location