November 2, 2022
Review by John Butt
Every man needs a muse. Bob Dylan’s muse is his audience.
It is not only his latest songs which highlight this point. It is not only
the songs from his back catalogue that he handpicks for his set. More than
anything, it’s the word changes that he engineers in the old songs that
show he is talking—singing lovingly—to his audience.
In Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine—the second song on
Bob’s set—we see the muse separating from Bob, going their own way
while Bob went his. That is what some of them did when that song was
originally written in the mid-Sixties. They are firmly back with Bob now.
Or else they have fallen by the wayside. Time indeed did tell who fell,
and who was left behind. Not Bob.
In the Rolling Thunder Review years, Bob often used to open his concerts
with a version of Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You that left no
doubt in anyone’s mind that Bob was talking to his audience. Now Bob
substitutes that song for I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.
But it is on To Be Alone With You that Bob’s exclusive seclusion with
his fans comes into its own. Here, it seems like he wants to leave no
doubt in anyone’s mind that he is addressing his fans. Tell me if I’m
wrong but to me, it seems like Bob has completely changed the lyrics of
this song. He changes arrangements of his songs almost every time he sings
them but to change the lyrics of a song in their entirety? I can’t
remember that happening before. ‘My loneliness is to be alone with
you.’ I don’t recall those lyrics in the original version of the song
on Nashville Skyline.
Bob’s loneliness is to be in a concert hall full of his adoring fans.
That is what makes a Bob Dylan concert so special these days, as he
approaches the climax of his career. It is the artist who is supposed to
be in love with the muse. Here, it is a mutual love-in.
Having said that, I don’t think we—his fans—appreciate Bob as much
as he deserves, or as much as he pours out his heart to us. I mean, does
one really have to have a drink when you are about to be intoxicated with
some of the most stellar songs ever? And then the popular drink of
choice—ale—means that there is a constant movement to the Gents and
Ladies. Can you imagine Bob or his band having to take a toilet break in
the middle of his concert? Of course not.
Bob’s concert in Manchester was historic in many senses. It marked one
year of him taking the Rough and Rowdy Ways tour on the road. This just so
happened to be the 100th concert of the tour. Plus of course things have
turned full circle since the historic concert in Manchester of
1966—later made into a double album by Columbia records.
A few years back, Bob performed in the Royal Albert Hall in London. He
ended his set with Blowing In The Wind. I recall a newspaper headlining
their review The Triumph Of Bob Dylan. They wrote how one lady left a
bouquet and a letter on the stage: ‘And the letter did not say Judas.’
Playing in the Manchester Apollo, I wondered if Bob might make passing
reference to that exchange that took place in the Manchester Free Trade
Hall in 1966.
But then, I thought the crowd might also refer to the same exchange,
substituting Jesus for Judas.
Neither the artist nor the muse had to do either. It was well understood.
Review by Toby
Not seen any reviews of last night or if you (like me) have been busy
today, but the view from Row L (ROW L!! Could not believe how close I was
tonight...) was mighty fine. I thought the vocals sounded quite muffled
to start with, but the sound quickly improved as the night went on with
some glorious enunciation and singing.
Perhaps, Bob was annoyed at the late start - seemed to be an issue with
the ticket scanners and there was still a lengthy queue outside at 1945 -
but I didn't hear him acknowledge this. The show started at 2020 and must
have finished at 2205. It was the third time seeing Bob for me - the
last time was Manchester 20 years back - but the first time for my lad who
No changes in the setlist or seemingly in the set-up for this the
100th/101st show of the tour - averaging a show every 3 1/2 days. Good to
see Tony Garnier still playing, swopping between double bass and electric,
watching Bob carefully (he got a big cheer when Bob introduced him at the
end). Some lovely and sensitive percussion from Charley Drayton: strings
of pearls on cymbals on one song even. Doug Lancio spending much of the
night at Bob's left hand, playing sympathetically to the keyboard at
times. Dornie Herron flitting between instruments, adding light and
shade. Bob Britt centre stage but standing his ground, understated
Coming so early, 'Most Likely...' sounds like a manifesto, a statement of
intent: this evening will happen Bob's way and if you want your
favourites, or songs done your favourite way, then it ain't happening.
But what we do get is variously spellbinding and magical. Someone
elsewhere has referred to the different Dylans manifesting throughout the
evening and its true: playful, engaged, lecturing, pondering, emoting...
and more. 'Key West' is glorious; the pairing of 'Black Rider' and 'My
Own Version of You' renders the latter the more gothic and strange than it
He steps out from behind the piano about three times, but he seems to move
with difficulty, left hand on hip, but then, that's been a common pose
down the years. At the end, he tells us that 'it's a privilege and a
pleasure to come here and play these songs for you'. But it's mutual: who
would have thought after all these years...? How good to see him with my
eldest son, also a fan, sat next to me...
And the final band line-ups (we get two): silently receiving our cheers
and applause, just standing there; respect on both sides. A pleasure and
a privilege indeed.
Much to ponder about the night: would love to listen back to it before
hearing any other shows: I've been fortunate to get recordings of the two
other Bob shows I've seen, but maybe not last night: and the audience
around us seemed fidgety too, which seemed rude. But the bloke next to me
was laughing at times to the words and others were reminiscing about other
shows: a unique crowd for a unique night.
I hope other people have sent in their views: would love to have got a
picture but, hey... not happening!
Back at the Apollo tonight though... this time, the slightly younger
upstarts, The Damned - original line-up. If you have any questions, you
might have to shout!
All the best, keep up the good work!
Comments by Mike
Bob Dylan comes to play, opens his suitcase and lays out his wares.
The memory is given a jolt like a bolt of ‘lectricity as the past is
served up to you from blonde on blonde john wesley hardin nashville
skyline shot of love and saved
coming from a dreamy voice and a sharp and honed brain all tightly buckled
And through the time locked evening the songs from the now and future past
enter the doorway of your body bank and find a place on your shelves.
More pictures of time and place begin to hum.
A long time ago the man asked what was it you wanted and tonight and for
now he said
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