Reviews

London, England

British Summer Time
Hyde Park

July 12, 2019


[Joe Neanor], [Laurette Maillet], [Nick Morgan], [Jamie McKenna], [Mr Jinx], [Paul Robert Thomas] [Martin Gayford]

Review by Joe Neanor



Not so much a review more some observations on tonight's show. Believing
tickets would be easy to come by, it being a big capacity open air show, I
left it too late to get one paying face value. It was a nice evening here
in London, and living relatively close by, I set off to the park to
"listen" to show from behind the fence.   Walking through the park I came
across a crowd of people outside gate 6A. Joy of joys they were looking up
over the fence at one of the two giant screens on either side of the
stage.  And there was our man at the piano.   A black hat on his head that
remained there for most of the show.

You can't review a concert from the wrong side of the fence but suffice to
say I particularly enjoyed Trying to Get To Heaven Before They Close The
Door and a rocking Thunder On The Mountain. We big screen watchers saw a
giant Bob, dead centre of the picture, sitting and standing at the piano.
Donny was sometimes in shot and Tony Garner was glimpsed once, with a big
grin on his face at the end of Thunder On The Mountain.  

A concert going pleasure is reflecting on the themes in Bob's lyrics as he
performs the songs. I pondered how the lines from one song "When you think
you've lost everything you find out you can always lose a little more"
contrasted with another's  "When you aint got nothing, you've got nothing
to lose". 

The hundred or so people in the crowd outside gate 6 were good humoured
and engaged with Bob's performance. The sound was passable or better. I
thoroughly enjoyed the evening.  The smoke from the concert catering
facilities wafted over us and the police periodically nudged as back to
keep open part of the footpath where we were standing for passing cyclists
and other park users. 

Now here's the rub.  The last show I saw was at Wembley Arena a year or so
back. There were no big screens and the ticket holders in our block were a
long way from the stage and frankly we couldn't see a lot!  Many left
before the end.  So tonight I, along with the engaged gate 6A crowd, had a
better view over the fence, courtesy of that big screen, than the paying
indoor arena ticket holders did last time.  Bob Dylan's management to note
- big screens at indoor arena shows, please! 

Joe Neanor

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Review by Laurette Maillet



London July 12.Hyde park Fest. Last and final show for me. With John
Cordwell we go to the Halcyon Gallery where they have Bob Dylan's Art
exhibit. I still have mixed feeling about Dylan plastic Art. I wonder if
his work would sell if it was not signed and promoted....Bob Dylan Art.
I do have the feeling he is selling his name. I still believe he is cheating
and don't do half of what he pretends to do. Megalomania is a trait of the
old/rich and famous Americans.I dont feel anything about this kind of Art
from Dylan. We walk to Hyde Park to check around. Nothing much is 
happening so we 'tube' back home to have a lunch of Fish and Chips.By 
3 pm John (who is not going to the show) takes a nap and I 'tube' to 
Hyde Park. By now folks are walking in. I search for a ticket that I rapidly 
find; a lawn ticket. And it is exactly what I want. No rail and front rows 
crowd for me. No Bobcats. Being on my own fits me well. I need to back
up from the "Bob Dylan road" : this is my last show of that Tour.
Feel like the last show ever!I am actually curious for Neil Young
performance. I know Bob will do his "job". He doesn't care if he plays
for 1000 or for 100 000. All the same for him. He lives in his own
world! Disconnected from reality!Some Bands are opening but as it is a
Fest no one pay attention to the huge screens displayed on the side of
the stage and on middle of the field. Folks are here to have "fun" ;
drink, eat, chat with friends. Maybe Fans on the front are more
focusing.By 6 and something, Neil appears with his Band. I really like
that show. Neil is playing his guitars and moving a lot. At 73 he is
fit. The crowd (by now standing) will sing along on "heart of gold" and
"old man". Neil thanx the audiance and play his distorted guitar for
quiet a while. A bit too long?Half hour and this is Bob Dylan show.White
jacket and black hat.The audiance gets wild on his entrance but after
"The early Roman kings" folks start to be bored and move around. I
change my spot to see better on the screen by the left of the stage.
Somehow the sound is also  better here. A change on the set list would 
have been a must. But....One  song is missing "Scarlet town".He will end 
with "it takes a train...".No  duet with Neil...I didn't expect it.The Hyde 
Park is now "vomiting" his  folks...I was glad to be here but definitively 
not the best show on that Tour.

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Review by Nick Morgan



Engaged, smiling and full of energy! It was a tough act following an
excellent set from Neil Young - and Bob nailed it with his first song! Not
the usual sneering version of Thin Man; rather a tuneful one sung
beautifully with a wide smile on his face. He seemed genuinely happy to be
playing to a packed Hyde Park on a balmy yet breezy London evening. 

The lovely young crowd next to us from Newcastle were at their first Bob
gig. They asked us what they should expect. As my last pilgrimage had been
to Desert Trip where he was particularly lacking in presence and voice I
lowered their expectations. Iím absolutely delighted that I was
completely wrong to have done so!

Bob carried on pleasing the crowd with many classics and a few more
obscure numbers; the band and arrangements doing an excellent job of
filling in the sound where he just canít anymore. When it came to
Rolling Stone he had most of the 70,000 singing along to his much slowed
down version of that iconic chorus. That number alone, majestically
performed, made the trip worthwhile.

The wind in Hyde Park was really swirling around and definitely affected
the sound so it was particularly important to pick your spot carefully,
preferably near to one of the many banks of Ďdelayí speakers. 

Overall a thoroughly entertaining and engaging performance which will have
wowed all but the most unreasonable in the audience who may have expected
Bob to sound as he did in his 20ís. This was the best Iíve seen him in
10 years...

Nick Morgan
Holmfirth, UK.

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Comments by Jamie McKenna



Iím a lucky man. Never seen Bobby so happy.
Once again I had the pleasure of being in my dadís company and the
wonderful Mr Dylan. Arrived at Hyde Park and we impressed with set up and
the Mexican theme with the bars and food stalls. Iím not a big fan of
Neil Young but he put on a good show. We stood with South African fellas
who were disappointed when they saw His Bobness 12 years ago. They
werenít disappointed tonight and said how wonderful his was. Bob was
stunning tonight and was smiling throughout. Not as much as my dad and his
little boy. Cheers Bobby a great day, great venue and one of the best
performances Iíve seen. Thank you Bob

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Review by Mr Jinx



Having seen Neil Young rage and roll his way though a barnstorming set it
was time for the main event: Bob took the stage and launched into Ballad
of a Thin Man without hesitation.  It was clear he was all business. 
Highlights came thick and fast (a funky arrangement for Can't Wait was a
delight and a largely re-written Simple Twist Of Fate was tremendous - a
whole new story). I particularly enjoyed Bob's reclaiming of To Make You
Feel My Love.  Having been mauled by Adele he showed  who owns those
lines.  I saw a glimpse of the thousand things that lie below the surface
of this descpetively simple love song. The re-arranged Like A Rolling
Stone was funny, constantly subverting the crowd's attempts to sing along.
 I found myself thinking how audacious it is for Dylan to stretch this
sacred anthem into new shapes.  A bit like going to see the Mona Lisa and
finding she is wearing a polka dot shirt. Gotta Serve Somebody was
re-written too.  Was it me or did he mention 'Mr Soul' in that one?  A sly
nod to Neil? The band were superlative,  as ever.  Donnie's violin on
Blowin' In The Wind was particularly effecting  and the final number, It
Takes A Lot To Laugh, ended the evening with real gravity. I felt we saw
an uncompromising show from Dylan tonight.  No bending to the festival
vibe, simply pressing on with the endless reinvention and his true
calling. Fantastic.

Mr Jinx

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Review by Paul Robert Thomas



So my trip to see Bob Dylan perform in Hyde Park on Friday 12/7/19 started
with my son's and my flight from our home near Tel Aviv yesterday 11/7/19 
into Luton Airport with the passport control officer asking, 'Reason for visit'? 
To which I replied, 'To see Neil Young and Bob Dylan at Hyde Park' to which 
he replied, Yeah, you and half your flight too'! Around the time that Dylan had 
converted to Christianity from Judaism I had converted from Christianity to 
Judaism in 1979 and as a London police officer, I had subsequently faced 
unlawful racism from my fellow police officers and had taken the Metropolitan 
Police to court and had beaten them, proving them to have unlawfully 
discriminated against me on racial grounds, and I had then emigrated with 
my family from the UK to Israel in 1996 after the court case was concluded 
and I am now a successful song lyricist and in the couple of years I was off 
sick waiting for my court case to start I had become one of the largest 
supplier of Dylan concert videos even supplying members of Dylan's band 
with concert videos known then, as 'Dave Thomas from Wembley', anyway, 
so we traveled from Israel to my Mum's London address for the concert and 
also for Robbie Williams concert at Hyde Park on Sunday. My son's first Dylan 
concert had been Brixton 95 with Elvis Costello guesting and I had last seen 
Dylan in concert at Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv in June 2011 and that hadn't 
been one of Bob's best but I understand from the doctor who took care of 
some of Bob's band members and who looked after Bob before and after his 
concert, that he wasn't in the best of health when he arrived in Tel Aviv 
from London and this was one of the rare reasons (then) that the set list 
was exactly the same as for London.

Hyde Park is a convenient central London venue to hold a concert because 
of easy public transport accessibility even with a sell-out crowd of 90.000 
although the usual restriction that 'you can't enter with larger than 500 cc 
bottles of drink' or 'with bottles that have been opened' is somewhat 
annoying as they sell these and also bottles of beer at 5 pounds a plastic 
bottle inside the venue but what was a positive note was that the yellow 
jacketed stewards constantly offered cups of water to the spectators 
throughout the concerts and also no security hounded anyone for taking 
photo's or even filming the concerts which was a nice surprise knowing 
Bob's dislike.

We arrived in the middle of one of the support acts, Laura Marling's set. 
I'd never heard of her before and to be honest I found her to sound a 
bit like Joni Mitchel but with outdated style and lyrics but soon the Rockin' 
in the Free World' Neil Young was onstage and I must admit to having 
never seen Neil Young before live and I was captivated by the energy he 
displayed on stage, even though he is 5 years younger than Bob, and I'm 
not sure it was the best decision from Bob to come on with his regular 
recent set list and give his usual-static-sit-behind-the-piano performance 
following on from all the energy that Neil showed. Bob's performance was 
good and solid but it just seemed the wrong choice to follow on after Neil 
Young's energetic performance. The venue's sound was excellent I thought 
and Bob's set list was more or less the same as it has been for the past few 
months except for the recent change to dropping 'Things Have Changed' 
as the opener and replacing it with 'Ballad of a Thin Man' followed by It Ain't 
Me Babe/Highway 61 Revisited/Simple Twist of Fate/Can't Wait/When I Paint 
My Masterpiece/Honest With Me/Tryin' To Get To Heaven/Make You Feel My 
Love/Pay in Blood/Like a Rolling Stone/Early Roman Kings/Girl From The North 
Country/Love Sick/Thunder on the Mountain/Soon After Midnight/ Gotta 
Serve Somebody and encores:- Blowin' in the Wind/It Takes A Lot to Laugh, 
19 songs in all and all performed very well although I have seen the video's 
of most of  Dylan's recent concerts so for me there was no big surprises but 
it was a nicely performed and well sung set list and of course seeing the living
legend, Bob live is something you'll never forget and for sure concert videos 
will follow, hopefully in better quality than the ones I took on my smart 
phone:)!

Paul Robert Thomas
London

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Review by Martin Gayford



Neil Youngís set at Glastonbury was inspirational. Bobís was not,
particularly. Neilís was perfectly suited to a big, sunny festival
crowd; a perfect mix of euphoric grunge and gentle acoustic, the playing
was natural and the voice was delicately powerful. Neil spoke a few
times and joked a bit. The show was just rough around the edges enough,
just crowd pleasing enough, without being in the least a nostalgia fest.
In comparison, Bobís set seemed cold, stiff and just pretty weird at
times. This was my 59th time seeing Bob, and although Ballad Of A Thin
Man, Highway 61 and It Takes A Lot To Laugh - and Girl From The North
Country in particular - were great, a good deal of the set was delivered
with either a rushed growl (Simple Twist Of Fate, Honest With Me, Trying
To Get To Heaven, Thunder On The Mountain) or a crooner voice that just
didnít suit the material (moments throughout the set, most notably
When I Paint My Masterpiece and Like A Rolling Stone). Rolling Stone
sounded like it was arranged by Disney. Some of the arrangements seem
generic and inappropriate for the song (Honest With Me in particular).
Pay In Blood had such power at the Royal Albert Hall in 2013; 5 years
later, it is actually difficult to make out the song while itís being
performed. Where is it going? I had no idea. Canít Wait stood out as a
song sung clearly - you could hear every word - and as a result, got a
big cheer. And I did enjoy it, but despite the oddness of it, not
because of it. Bobís almost constant smile / grimace, projected 100
feet high on the massive screens as he jiggled and weaved to the song
was kind of funny; during the songs that were more rushed growl, the
massive grinning Bob started making me think of an almost nightmarish
Joker in a Batman cartoon. And he is a joker I know, it was just more
odd than funny or cool seeing that massive Bob grinning away while not
quite enunciating enough to be clearly heard. The 1940s (ish) fanfare
intro and vintage stage set up were totally unsuited to the festival
setting. I've watched the clip of Bob and Neil playing Gates Of Eden in
1988 and noticed how Neilís set on Friday had far in common with that
performance than Bobís, and Iím sure Bob would be satisfied that
heís usually managed to produce something new. However, the aspects of
his show I found frustrating - the often rushed, mumbled lines, the
repetitive instrumental motifs and repetitive riffs, the lack of any
decent harmonica, the lack of a word to the audience - are aspects that
arenít new, because Iíve felt frustrated with them in 2017, 2015,
2009, 2007Ö I need to go back to Hammersmith in 2003 to reach a Bob
concert Iíve seen that I fully enjoyed, and one that can rank with the
best from the last 35 years. In Hyde Park, I was distracted by the sight
of a huge Donnie Heron seated behind Bob and began wondering, what does
this man add to the band? His primary role seems to be mirroring Bobís
simplistic rhythmic stabs on the piano, and this happens several times
during the evening and - as far as I could make out - it was very
similar each time. It was irritating. Compare the effect to that of
Benmont Tenchís masterful keyboard in 1986 and 87. The band as a whole
sound uninspired, or rather, intent on repeating the same simplistic
touches throughout the evening. As I said, there WERE some great
moments, there just werenít enough of them. If the whole set had been
performed as Girl From The North Country (one example of sympathetic
playing from Herron), it would have brought the house down. As it was,
we left overhearing complaints that Bobís retirement is overdue, a
sentiment I donít agree with but I do understand. He always comes up
with something great, itís just frustrating when something great is
overshadowed by less than great performances from him or the band. And
yes, I know - the songs speak for themselves, itís demeaning to resort
to mindless platitudes, but the fact is that right now, his silence on
stage comes across as nothing more than obstinance. Neil showed how it's
possible to do everything necessary to enthuse and inspire a huge crowd
and still remain intense, vital and cool. Bob fell short this time, and
left me feeling - more than any other time in 35 years - that itís
time to draw a line under this band, take time out and plan something
really different.

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