October 26, 2022
Review by Jeremy Stone
"I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours" (B. Dylan, 1963)
How is it truly possible to 'review' a Bob Dylan performance in 2022? So
many years of listening to Bob, thinking about Bob, reading about Bob and,
indeed, attending Bob Dylan shows, makes any attempt at an objective
appraisal of one particular night almost meaningless. I will say that this
show, in the midst of Dylan's 'Rough and Rowdy Ways Tour' (not to be
confused with the Never Ending Tour) was, on one level, the one we
expected: we know the set list, we can be happily reassured that Bob is in
very fine voice and the band is as accomplished and as sympathetic as
anyone could wish. Long gone are the days of tight-rope walking through
unpredictable, ever evolving, sets where great excitement was generated by
the chance hearing of a long-neglected gem from the vast back-catalogue.
Yes, I do miss the thought of songs like 'Hazel', 'Solid Rock' or 'Country
Pie', for example, suddenly and surprisingly taking the spotlight; I also
miss the the unexpected cover versions of old, especially the blues and
country classics that Bob often treated us to in the 90s and early 2000s.
However, those days are over and Dylan is still moving forward in his
eighties, for which we should all be incredibly grateful. I arrived at the
venue very early and was delighted to bump into Chris Gregory, whose
recent book, 'Determined to Stand', should be on all Bob fanatics shelves.
Having complimented Chris on the book, I wandered around to The Traders
pub, which was filling with fans and is perfect for watching the queue so
you can join it at just the right moment. I met some nice folk there who
had travelled from all over to see our man, including a lady from Italy
who was going from venue to venue in the hope of nabbing a free ticket.
Apparently, she's been pretty successful this tour. As we entered the
hall we had to go through the new 'no phones' rigmarole and pop our
gadgets in the Yondr pouches but it was a much smoother process than I had
imagined and meant that the audience can no longer be distracted by the
secondhand 'pleasure' of viewing the concert through a screen rather than
absorbing the real thing in 'the moment'. Bob and the boys announced
their arrival on-stage with a run through of a verse of 'Oh Susanna' and
then a long instrumental lead into 'Watching the River Flow'. Bob was
behind the piano where he mainly remained for the entire evening, picking
out bare melodic lines with his right hand. It was immediately obvious
that he is singing better than he has for a very long time, having
seemingly found a method of best expressing himself vocally in his older
years. Throughout the nearly two hour set, dominated by material from
'Rough & Rowdy Ways', Bob stretched the words around the melodies of each
song, finding new emphasis in almost every moment. He remains a master of
his own unique manner of phrasing and teased rhythmic novelties from many
a previously well-worn phrase. Although he continues to centre these shows
on the most recent album, it is fascinating to hear the arrangements
evolve as the months go by with the band now sounding, with the their
quite stripped-down style, more and more like the bar band at the end of
the world. How, appropriate, in the this uncertain age. As difficult as
it is to pick out highlights from this pitch-perfect performance, speaking
personally, the haunting 'Key West' was outstanding, 'Gotta Serve
Somebody' still righteously affirming with its full-on rock and roll style
and the 'encore' (not a real encore) of 'Every Grain of Sand' just
overwhelming, especially when your mind starts to wonder how many more
times you will see this genius in the flesh. As I indicated at the
start of this ramble, for most of us, there are too many layers of past
Dylan experiences, both private and public, to peel back to approach
anything like an objective assessment of a Dylan show. As I watched and
listened it struck me that what actually happens is that Bob gives us some
beautiful basic material to work with, holding a mirror up to our own
souls and our dreams, from which we then, during the concert and in the
months and years that follow, construct our own unique version of 'Bob
Dylan'. This is the work of the true artist and to still be at the leading
edge of such an endeavour in your ninth decade is, arguably, the greatest
achievement of all. Thanks, Bob.
Review by Laurette Maillet
Leaving London on FLIXBUS at 3pm.
The bus rattles when we hit the streets of London. Rattles and stops, rattles and stops.
Why the hell did the driver take the road anyway?
After half hour of rattling dangerously, the bus stops completely. In the middle of
The driver, without so much consideration, just announces we have to walk back to
Victoria coach station, luggage, kids and all :(?
and buy a new bus ticket ????
Alright. Shits happen!
Back to Victoria coach station, I buy a National Express bus ticket.
This time we take off for good; luggage, kids and all :)
Fortunately my couchsurfing host, Billy, is an optimist kind of guy and easy going.
He will pick me up at the (outdoor) station in Cardiff three hours delayed.
We buy some food at the grocery store and have dinner. A Welsh dinner of
"faggots and beans" :)
I have my own private room.
I take a walk to the beach. The weather is surprisingly warm.
Billy went to work, so I have the home for myself.
I ask Billy to ride me to the venue by 5pm.
So kindly he will leave work and drive me.
As soon as I am in front the doors....I know I've been here before :)
Nothing is happening so I take a walk in the center and bump accidentally to the
'Castle Fina Art gallery' where Bob Dylan paintings are on the walls. They even
offer champagne and beer but I ask for a coke.:)
Back to 'business'...I need a ticket.
I stand 10 minutes when a scalper directs me to a man in the long long line.
He has an extra one on his phone. Sale for 30£.
Cool! I buy it, don't want to be more stressed than necessary ??
The seat is no good. So I walk around to try to find an empty one in the floor,
But it appears that the show is sold out.
I retrieve to my seat. Not too bad as I can see the entire stage but far far far away!
On time the lights dim dim. The music starts ; first music the classic one, a little bit
of "oh Sussana" and Bob on the piano decided to make an entertainment....time
for the late patrons to take their seats.
And "Watching the river flow".
Twice he turns to Bob Britt and says "hey!".
"Hey!" What??? :)
The sound is shuffled . Will be better by
"I contain multitudes".
He will move center stage after "My own version of you".
Stands few seconds looking at the audience.
It takes a while before the fans stand up ...time for Bob to hide behind the piano.
He will be center stage again after "Key west".
No talking. No joking.
He looks tired ??? He will sit more at the piano than London.
Songs are great but the public moves back and forth, a bit bored ??
"Jimmy Reed" is fantastic. The highlight of the night.
Then "Every grain of sand".
Harp and Bob moves to salute.
Disappears in the dark and...
The crowd is wild!
But won't do it again.
Bye bye Bobby.
See you in Hull.
I sell some of my prints and Billy will pick me up.
I had a great day but...
Not the best show ever.
Those Arenas are not my ...cup of tea!
Thank you for all Billy. Such a great Samaritan!
Review by Michael Liggins
It really was a great evening. The venue was superb and we had seats 10
rows from the stage. The muffling of mobiles added a lot to the atmosphere
and crowd attention to what was going on. From the start, Dylan was
masterful, in great voice and clearly coveting the rapport with the
audience (largely unspoken) as he worked through the songs old and new.
The band is amazing. Like a faithful dog, they await their master’s
instructions at every stage, responding immediately to a required change
of tempo, yet also waiting expectantly to be let off the lead. This
happened quite magically throughout but especially with I'll be your baby
tonight, which was a real highlight. It reminded me a little of past
visits to Ronnie Scott’s to see the great George Melly and his
Feet-Warmers. Only one person in charge but an amazing collective effort.
For me the best of the new songs was Multitudes. In the phraseology I was
taken back through so many albums and songs, recognising this intonation
from that song or this song. I am so pleased I went to this show. It was
an amazing experience for my son Daniel, and one he will probably never
forget. He is a drummer and said he learned so much from the show and the
superb drumming. Also a great couple of days together in Wales for us.
Review by Dominic Nasmyth-Miller
Whilst I fully appreciate thattwo days into his premiership, Rishi Sunak
has an in-tray which requires significantintervention to address the many
competing demands in relation to; the economy,public services and the war
in Europe, to name but a few.
However, if he islooking for a quick win, then he would secure my vote if
he could out-law, withimmediate effect, the selling of beer and other such
refreshments in theselarger venues; once the concert has started.
Such action would at a stroke of apen, eradicate the continual
distractive movement by attendees across the auditoriumand within the rows
of seats, as occurred at the Motorpoint Arena throughout Wednesdayevening,
and which negatively impacted on the overall experience.
Changes to behaviour can anddo take place where a willingness for
alternative outcomes exists, as has beenobserved through the
introduction of phone-free events for example, which forthis show in
particular was perfectly executed, skilfully done, with little
inconvenienceby the process.
Such drink sales are notpermitted in many smaller venues once the show has
started and such a change couldeasily be introduced within the larger
venues too, which by doing so wouldprovide a more respectful and enjoyable
event for those who simply come toobserve, listen and appreciate the
privilege that it is, to spend the evening inthe presence of Bob and his
Having said all of that; the showitself at Cardiff on 26 October 2022, was
incredible. Dylan’s voice anddelivery of his lyrics was superb - and
although there was an apprehension before-handthat the subtlety of the
sound relating to many of the songs from Rough and Rowdy Ways would be
absorbed by a larger venue, this did not prove to be the case.
It has been reported at othershows that the opening songs serve as a
warm-up to the main event, not sotonight – following the opening chords
of Oh Suzannah, a long sublime instrumental toWatching The River Flow
provided the rolling start from which the show did not lookback. Bob’s
delayed phrasing on “And I’ll Go Mine” within Most Likely You Go Way
wasa particular joy. Bob was clearly visible from behind the piano and
during the briefwalk to the centre stage to receive adulation from the
faithful, appeared absentof the frailty that had been previously evident.
Highlights all the rest – but ofparticular note were; I’ve Made Up
Mind To Give Myself To You and also MotherOf Muses in which the atmosphere
was more familiar to that of the Cathedrals ofEurope than a pop concert
Add to that; Key West, Jimmy Reed andEvery Grain Of Sand – all of which
reinforce that no matter how good thequality of the recording on the
studio album, these songs don’t hang on museum walls,and that to be
fully appreciated they are to be absorbed within the moment thatis live
So good to spend the eveningwith my dear friend Tony and to have the
journey back home to Suffolk to dissect the quality of the show at length.
Such a pleasure as always to meet up with Chris Gregory –if you have not
read his incredible book Determined To Stand, do so, it isexcellent. There
are so many books on Bob out there; and whilst some fall intothe sow’s
ear category, this truly is a silken purse.
Next week we do it again, thistime with my darling wife we venture back to
Bournemouth. So many timespreviously we have thought there won’t be many
more occasions that Bob willtour and each time he continues to surprise
us, but we are mindful that this onemaybe the last, but as always, we
remain forever thankful – and hopeful for justone more…
Review by Daniel Seaton
I arrived at the Cardiff International Arena just before 7 to be met by what I
can only describe as a gargantuan queue. The queue snaked around the entire
outside of the venue, and as I attempted to find the back of it I was amazed
at how it just kept on going and going. Eventually I found the end, and to my
surprise it did move along at a fairly steady rate – I was probably in it for around
20-25 minutes. The guy behind me in the queue took a phone call: “Yeah I’m
seeing Bob Dylan. I’ve just heard though that he’s only playing the new stuff,
none of the hits. I’m already regretting it”… Why do people not do just a little
research about the type of performance they have bought a ticket to see? It
is called the ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ tour, after all…
The Yondr phone pouch process was actually quite sleek and didn’t really
cause significant delays, but there was clearly some kind of issue getting people
into the venue, as three or four songs in people were still streaming into the
arena (doubtless some of these were latecomers as well as people who had
been queueing at the bar). As the seating was so cramped, with very limited l
egroom, the opening songs were significantly disrupted by people trying to find
their seats in the dark, which took me out of it a bit. Indeed my impression of
the Cardiff International Arena, which I had never visited before, was pretty
negative overall. Sound quality was OK, but it just didn’t seem to be a
particularly pleasant space to be in, especially as so many members of the
audience just could not seem to sit still and watch the performance. So many
seemed completely disinterested in what was happening on stage, and more
interested in the bar or talking loudly to their companions. Anyway, personally
I just wasn’t a fan of this venue and won’t be back.
Now, to the music! I hadn’t heard any of the recordings of this leg of the
tour, so was interested to see how the RARW songs had been re-worked.
The band came on just after 8, opening with a brief ‘Oh Susannah’ refrain,
before launching into Watching the River Flow. During the long (and very
musically interesting) introduction to the song, Dylan and the band remained
completely silhouetted, appearing as shadowy figures on the stage. As Dylan
began to sing, the lights came up for the band, though he himself still
seemed to be fairly shrouded in darkness behind the piano, his head peaking
out from the top of it. He remained like this for the vast majority of the show,
coming out from behind the piano twice during the performance (and prior to
the final bow/Mexican stand-off) after separate songs to briefly pose in the full
light for the audience. These were pretty special, and very fleeting, moments.
Someone behind me said “Wow, he looks so doddery”… He did move like he
was 81, and occasionally gripped onto the top of the piano for support during
the songs, but I just find this kind of comment so boring and tiresome.
Watching the River Flow was just superb. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’ve
always enjoyed that song and think it works perfectly as a toe-tapping opener to
this show. Dylan’s phrasing, as always lately, sucked you in and kept you gripped.
Most Likely was, for me, a pretty forgettable filler song, but a decent
performance. Multitudes was entrancing, despite the hordes of people still
stumbling to their seats around me, talking loudly as they did so.
In the interests of time, I won’t go in to every song, but another forgettable
and possibly weakest song of the night was To Be Along With You. I just don’t
dig that one I’m afraid. The highlight after Multitudes was My Own Version of
You, Dylan’s phrasing absolutely perfect and eery (in a good way). I was gripped
throughout. Another highlight was I’ve Made Up My Mind, which seemed to be
sung directly to the audience, and was sung so beautifully. I really cannot fault
Dylan’s voice at all – the guy can sing for sure, and he knows how to phrase.
This song in particular really showed off the strength of his voice I thought.
The band introductions were fairly brief after a quick “why thank you” from
Dylan after Goodbye Jimmy Reed. Some around me were shocked that Dylan
had actually addressed the crowd! He introduced Tony Garnier last, saying
something like “he plays bass guitar”, before saying “and I play this”. The band
then immediately launched into Every Grain of Sand, which is one of my favourite
Dylan songs. It was so tender and beautiful, just perfect and sung with real
emotion. Towards the end of the song, Dylan picked up his harp and played it to
rapturous applause from the audience. The bows/Mexican stand-off/stare-down
then took place to loud cheers and applause. Dylan and the band returned to
the stage again to repeat this.
I left hearing some of the usual complaints (no hits, he can’t sing, he stayed
behind the piano the entire time etc.), but I did feel that I had witnessed
something pretty special. Dylan is honing this show, and it’s a privilege to see
him doing that, working his magic on stage. I won’t return to Cardiff
International Arena, but gee I can’t wait until I see him next.
Review by Nick Dymond
Difficult to add anything to the great reviews already posted about this
show. My 21 year old daughter, Rosie and I had a great afternoon in
Cardiff and a wonderful evening in Bob's company.A few
observations....Totally agree with the ridiculous selling of alcohol
during the performance. The venue and the audience are more than well
aware that the artist has specifically requested a performance with
minimal interruptions. Completely disrespectful on the part of both the
venue and the "bucket list fans" who feel it necessary to keep a pint in
their hands, and spoil the enjoyment of such a special concert for the
vast majority of the audience who were completely engaged in an engrossing
performance.Bob was in fine voice. Since first watching him live in 1987
(?) Temples in Flames Tour, I have never heard him sing with such clarity,
conviction and poise. Somehow he managed to breathe even more life into
the new songs- which I didn't actually think possible. I still felt that
with the exception of the finale , the older songs were treated
differently in terms of Bob's vocals, but still hugely enjoyable -
particularly Gotta' serve somebody.I know that I was not alone in
wondering after Bob's surprise second bow whether that will be the last
time I'll clasp eye's on him? "Every grain of sand", felt like a farewell.
The rigours of touring at his age must be tough. What more does he have to
either achieve or prove?Towards the end of a busy European leg of a long
tour the allure of the easel must be great? How privileged are we to have
shared this journey?
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