Dublin, Ireland

The O2

October 6, 2011

[Trevor Townson], [Eugene Finn], [Mick Leahy], [Tedd Coakley], [Jim Carney], [Gráinne Boyle]

Review by Trevor Townson

BOAC, BEA, TWA and Pan-Am represent images that conjure up the glory days of air
travel for those amongst us old enough to recall; days when air travel was the
ultimate in refinement and sophistication. Seated relaxed and comfortable in
your finery whilst being treated to cocktails from a bowing down but otherwise
completely refined and sophisticated stewardess having fashion model looks and
able to speak six languages fluently. Back then air travel was a pleasure
experienced only by the privileged few and the elite of society. These days I
imagine that some airlines strive to copy those glory days by trying to bring
back some of that lost sophistication of those by gone days and that is probably
why I have never quite been able to afford to fly Virgin Atlantic. Today though
I am travelling to Dublin with Ryanair an operator that brings air travel to the
masses and allows the man in the street to jet away and explore the world. I
guess this is not something totally new but basically a copy of the "no-frills"
business model first set up by Sir Freddie Laker. Probably not looking too
sophisticated or refined as we boarded our Ryanair flight to Dublin early in the
morning on the 6th October but who cares as the stewardess was not exactly a
copy of Joanna Lumley herself. In any case most of us had probably paid less for
the flight than we would have done for a Leeds to York return rail ticket anyway
so we were not complaining. Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler on the same bill, OK so
it is not unique for Bob to tour with people of some stature, perhaps a copy of
when he toured with Van Morrison. My first time seeing Mark Knopfler but I
guessed that he would do all his "own" stuff of which many in the audience
including myself would be unfamiliar with. Well he did and it even got a guy on
our row as far back as we were to shout out "play something we know". I was not
close up front for this show but far back way up in the upper tier seating. The
02 unlike when I have attended previously was now all seated with just a
smallish section of seats on the floor facing the stage. I did think upon
looking around at the seating arrangement that I had seen a similar plan
previously for another arena so perhaps it was a copy of somewhere else. Like a
copy of the 2005 show that I attended in Nottingham the people on the floor
remained seated throughout both performances and I think that probably the floor
section was split pretty much 50/50 between both sets of fans. Topping Bob by
two by having a seven piece backing band behind him Mark proceeded to go through
his set and if you think Mr Sexton gets choosy with his guitars check out Mr
Knopfler as he straps on a different guitar for every number so go copy that
Charlie. Looks like Mark has two keyboard players in his band so best watch out
Mark that Bob doesn't steal one of them before the end of the tour.
Unfortunately I did not know any of the songs that Mark performed so cannot
comment but the sound was good. Mark announced a new song at one stage but that
did not particularly matter to me as they were all new songs as far as I was
concerned but I could not help but think that his new tune had a bit of John
Brown in it however I would not go so far as to call it a copy. The arena was I
would guess probably not too much more than half full when Mark was due on but
soon started filling up as people filed in quickly once he was on and he
finished to pretty much a full house. No band members names were announced by
Mark as he ended to quite an ovation before he walked off the stage whilst
raising his arm with a stationary wave before the stage crew came out to wheel
his stuff off and wheel Bob's stuff on. Has Bob invested in some kind of a light
show? Not sure if this was the property of the 02 or Bob but the whole back drop
including sides of stage and the exits on and off were strung with huge white
billowing fabric sheeting onto which throughout the show were fired all manner
of multi coloured patterns with even the eye logo being included towards the end
projected centrally onto the same back drop. Not sure if this was part of Bob's
ongoing stage set up or not but if so I am sure some of his fans will find out
before too long who he has copied it off. I have heard some people say that
Bob's opener can be chosen as a voice warmer upper but this was not the case or
indeed needed this night as Bob's voice was spot on from the off as he opens to
a by that time very full house. A copy of when Bob plays with other support acts
saw us with a reduced set list of 14 songs but to compensate we got excellent
singing all through and a very tight band. To me sitting throughout both sets
was a little too long and rather tiring by the end and I was thinking may be it
was time to cut back on doing too many seated shows like this. Bob then performs
the most unbelievable going on forever mid song harmonica piece during Forgetful
Heart which brings what was to be the most enthusiastic cheers and applause of
the night followed by another ovation to end as he completes the song again with
still more harmonica. Now that is why you have to go see Bob perform even if in
less than perfect situations. Highway 61 sees Bob first standing at the centre
stage microphone before he takes the microphone off the stand to sing into it
for a bit before walking to his keyboard to pick up and complete the remainder
of the song from there. A man to my side had actually come to see Mark Knopfler
but asked during the interval if we had been disappointed, "we are not fans of
his" the guy to my other side tells him. The man actually plays in a band and
told us that they play all stuff like Sultans Of Swing and the like. Well
believe me if Mark had played that at the end of his set or "something we know"
he would have pretty much brought the house down. No matter for the man at my
side Bob's set more than compensated as he seemed to know most of Bob's songs
and I don't think that I have ever sensed anyone who has enjoyed Desolation Row
as much as he seemed to do. Being as far back as we were I had brought with me
some small binoculars which whilst being quite expensive to buy did not prove
too effective on the night so perhaps I had bought a cheaper copy of some more
expensive type. No matter the man to the side of me was up for borrowing them,
then whilst returning them back to me later with a smiling grin having had a
closer look at Bob he says about him - "He should be in Batman, he would make a
fantastic Joker". Thin Man as good as ever complete with echo effect finishes
the main set then they leave the stage before returning for the usual finishers.
During Like A RolIing Stone Bob at first adopts a low down crouched stance
pounding the keyboard really fast with his hand with his head almost level with
the keyboard in true Rock n Roll style which prompted quite a cheer from the
crowd. All Along The Watchtower whilst I am now lost as to which version is
which but this was one of the different versions or may be it was not a copy of
any of them at all. Outside the entrance to the arena stands a copy of the
London Eye Millennium Wheel as the huge Dublin Wheel now provides a focal point
to The Point. As I walked back towards the city centre I was thinking what a
pity it was that I did not have a review to copy as I was not feeling too
inspired by anything to be able to write one fully myself. No matter I thought
perhaps something will come to mind later on that I can write down. Brilliant! 

Trevor Townson     


Review by Eugene Finn

Fabulous, no-nonsense, tight and hard-rocking gig from Bob and the
band at Dublin’s O2 last night. No big changes from the summer tour’s
set-list or arrangements and pretty much the same sparkling format
with Dylan stretching and shimmying away behind the keyboard for eight
of the fourteen song set. The rest front of stage with guitar or just
harp in hand. Not a false note from the intensely hardworking band -
the bandleader watchful and whipping up a stormy metallic enthusiasm
(Dylan at one point detaching himself and leaning back against an
onstage amp to observe his handiwork as the boys cooked up a wholesome
musical stew). Dylan’s singing a real joy with much of the recent
lower-register growl smoothed from the voice, drawing and bending the
phrases very sweetly indeed. Beautifully-honed new versions of Things
Have Changed, Beyond Here Lies Nothing, Spirit on the Water,
Desolation Row, Forgetful Heart, and, of course, the intensely
dramatic, echo-laden, overtly-theatrical rendering of Ballad of a Thin
Man. A characteristically amusing moment with Dylan taking front stage
centre for the first verse of Highway 61 and then quickly changing the
mercurial mind and retreating back behind the keyboard for the rest of
the song. Harmonica solos holding the audience in phrases of extreme
and perfectly calculated tension and release. To be there was to
witness the world’s greatest living performer acting out the moment
with sublime grace, his life-work gloriously varnished and ablaze like
stars in the night sky. Good luck to the old troubadour as he winds
his way around Europe throughout the autumn months – and thanks to
friends Joe and Joan for a superb birthday present!

Eugene Finn


Review by Mick Leahy

Usually, I leave Dylan concerts in recent years thinking it was 
great, even if his voice was shot, and that, anyway, one would be happy 
to just listen to him recite and declaim from the stage. Tonight, 
however, my friend Ray and I both agreed that he was in his best voice, 
in the Point/O2, since 1995. Maybe this was because it was first night 
of the new tour, or we had a combined hallucination, so the findings of 
others will be interesting in this regard. Certainly, we thought we 
heard him hanging on to notes and even dragging them out and stretching 
and bending them, like of old; he sang confidently and lucidly, with 
very few, if any 'up-singing' or swallowing of the words. He still was 
giving bluesy growls, but that is acceptable in the greatest of the 
white blues-men, which I think he is, especially given his age.
Dylan, was also very animated, showing some wonderful dance-steps 
which he must have invented as I doubt if the likes of them has ever 
been seen elsewhere. Either that or he was just trying to avoid tripping 
over the microphone cable. But great. In most of these, he was out from 
behind the piano, but /sans guitar/, with a harmonica in his left hand 
and the microphone in his right. He treated us to many, many wonderful 
bouts of haunting, often piercing wails of occasionally John Wesley 
Harding-like harmonica. He also demonstrated some fine, typically 
Dylanesque guitar, such as in 'Beyond Here Lies Nothin'', if I recall 

Most songs stood out for me, but particularly the opener, 
'Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat', good in itself, but also hinting of what 
was to come; 'Things Have Changed'; 'Tangled Up In Blue', first 
performance of this in years that I felt like concentrating on; 'Spirit 
On The Water'; 'Desolation Row', which left out very few, if any verses, 
and just 'wow' to George's wee burst of percussion, all the more 
striking for its brevity; 'Forgetful Heart', wonderful, so hypnotized i 
nearly forgot there was a backing band; and both songs in the encore 
were also excellent. Praise is due to Stu, who I thought was great, 
Charlie usually gets most of the praise (he wasn't too bad, either). Bob 
certainly has assembled another top-class outfit.

Mark Knopfler in support was worthy, with an excellent ensemble of 
musicians, but, perhaps because I was unfamiliar with the material, 
didn't draw me in. In conclusion, regarding  the Main Man, maybe we 
hallucinated or dreamt it all, but if so, we wouldn't mind A Series Of 

Mick Leahy
Co. Tipperary


Review by Tedd Coakley

Any year and country that offers the chance to see Dylan twice must be 
good and this show in Dublin opened with Mark Knopfler and his Band.
Simply put, this concert was enjoyable but the band was far too loose 
and I don't believe that was the intention; the voice was, well, the voice.
Yes, it rocked and rocked as something we now have come to expect 
from Dylan but this Never Ending Tour has just reached the sell-by 
date- maybe a penalty against those of us who have seen it several times. 
The great one must now move on.

Sublime moments did save the night but were all acoustic driven. As the 
opening night of this section of the tour, the boat should have been 
pushed out much more. Does Dylan know what to do next just like the 
problem that Knopfler also has? The two should have played something 
together as they often did before- this concert needed it.

The audience covered many generations even to the extent that one 
youthful screamer in the row in front of me managed to force some 
present from their expensive seats but then Dylan influences people in 
various ways.

But the big issue remains: what will he present next time in Ireland?


Review by Jim Carney

Great performance last night from Bob and the boys. Strong vocals all night, 
no up-singing whatsoever. Many highlights, but stand-outs were Don't Think 
Twice, Tangled, Desolation Row, and a truly mesmerising Forgetful Heart 
(first performance in Ireland). I hope everyone gets to hear this on the 
current tour. Bob really funny at times, standing to one side like he was 
standing around an old piano in a bar, and just listening to the band. It 
actually looked as if he was going to start clapping at one stage. He did this 
on at least three occasions. Then he'd suddenly appear to say 'oops, I 
should be playing myself' and back he'd wander to his keyboards. Great fun.

While it was a great performance, the experience of the concert was very 
different to any Dylan concert I've ever seen in Ireland, and not in a good 
sense. The crowd were constantly up and down, in and out to the bar or 
the jacks, or whatever. Really distracting and a total pain. General Admission 
concerts are so much more enjoyable, and I suspect a lot of concert goers 
were put off by the prospect of an all-seated concert. Promoters should 
take note. I hate to say it, but as excellent as the performance was, the 
venue detracted from the night hugely. Personally, I hate this new arena, 
with its emphasis on food and drink, rather than the music. I wonder do 
many others feel the same way?

Anyway, rant over. On current form Bob is not to be missed. He's more 
animated than at any time during the noughties and the voice is strong. 
The slightly predictable set-lists shouldn't put anyone off, the arrangements 
are fresh and full of life. What might look like a filler or a lowlight on the list, 
can be one of the real highlights. And by the time he's belted out LARS 
and AATW (both sensational last night, and very different to Cork just last 
June) you'll be glad you went.

Jim Carney


Review by Gráinne Boyle

Late leaving work, abandoning the car partway along the Liffey quays where
Dublin City Council had started some roadworks (on a night like this!), feet in
fifth gear the rest of the way to The Point Depot, I joined the other remaining
stragglers and climbed to the top, looked into the arena and was delighted to
see who had to be Mike McGoldrick on uileann pipes playing alongside Mark
Knopfler and a host of Celtic musicians. My MK phase had started and ended with
Sultans of Swing, now I found myself scrambling down I don't know how many
steps, waving my ticket at any stewards in my way, to get to H61 (the seat), to
see and hear his Celtic orchestra in full swing. Accustomed, luckily, to hearing
many ballads as one-off stories told in song, I enjoyed all I heard of the
unfamiliar set with one exception - the rock song that finished it. Talking to
the Englishman next to me afterwards, he was very excited to have heard what he
described as the best guitar solo ever during the last number, I asked which
one, Mark's or the other guitarist's, he said Mark's, I said it was nice.
"Nice?" he said, stupefied. I felt like Mrs. Jones. I went outside for a
cigarette. A young man bummed one from me and told me this was his first Dylan
concert. I told him if he listened closely he would enjoy Bob's singing, unlike
the dissenting critics who are all wrong. Back inside, the moment arrived, the
introduction from the voice from nowhere, and the Magnificent Seven (6 + Oscar)
ambled onto the stage, all in black attire, the only exception being Bob's
cream-white wide-brimmed hat, and a while later the adornment of a shimmering
guitar strap, and a varyingly lined and coloured abstract backdrop. He started
the show with his version of Sam Lighnin' Hopkins' "Automobile Blues", ended
with his best impression yet of Jimi's "All Along The Watchtower", and in
between played plenty of other excellent cover versions. (!). Whether Bob was
given a little Jamie to sip before the show or however it has happened, this was
the most relaxed I have ever seen him on stage, and that includes as recently as
last June in Cork. Throughout last Thursday's show, he was a true stage singer,
multi-instrumentalist, and performer, selecting from a dream catalogue of own
songs/poems. He looked like he had let himself go, let his best stage persona
yet loose from a noose, and made it all look easy as the best performers do. As
brilliant as they are, this show perhaps became a perfect one through excluding
the overtly "finger-pointing" songs and including mesmerizing renditions of many
recent songs. I never thought that I would think this: I was happy to be seated
to witness this show. On the way out I beamed at the man at the door "Better
than ever!" And I look forward to all the perfect and "imperfect" Bob shows to
come this way again.

I would like to dedicate this contribution to all the regular, and
well-travelled, reviewers whose reviews I always enjoy reading - thank you
from a minor fan who has only seen Bob about 20 times in 35 years!



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