So, 6th May arrives and the end of the road dawns for this eventful Dylan tour.
I was at the opening night in the tiny Stockholm Salon Berns club, and here we are, 32 or so shows later (Bob, that is, not me - I wasn't at the whole tour needless to say!) in the massive new 02 Arena (Point), for the 2nd of 2 nights.
As widely discussed, the 1st night was extremely strong, everyone I spoke to thought it had been an exciting, adventurous and appreciated performance, with one obvious highlight when Bob finally debuted a song from the new album.
Sadly, the Irish Times had another opinion, Tony Clayton Lea, in a mean spirited review seeming to be mainly disappointed that Bob wasn’t very chatty. If you want to hear Bob be chatty, I suggest you go download one of his radio shows (for free). If you want two hours of ambitious albeit uneven, and passionate, music, communicated via some very hard work from Dylan to a young enthusiastc Irish crowd, well you could always pay 49 euros (plus booking fee), and come down to the Point either of those two May evenings. Or you could choose not to.
Anyway, on to the music. I was also at the 8 UK shows, and both the Dublin’s easily rivalled Glasgow for best show I saw. Other contenders being Birmingham and Sheffield.
3 standout moments - ‘Billy’ in Stockholm, ‘Something’ in Liverpool and 'If You Ever go to Houston’ in Dublin. Meaning I missed ‘One More Cup of Coffee’, but you can’t have everything!
Dublin 2 opened with a strong hat-trick of Wicked Messenger, Girl North Country and the much admired new Man in the Long Black Coat. Following it with Stuck Inside of Mobile could be construed as a bit of an own goal, but it was well performed, and was followed by a superb set of 4 very heavy hitters – Blind Willie McTell, Desolation Row, It’s Alright Ma and Po’Boy.
Simply put, these were as good vocally as you will hear from Dylan. They were sung quite straight, with less eccentric phrasing than the previous night. Dylan was also slightly less animated than the previous night. He was very much concentrating on his musical performance, giving it one last shot I supppose, before leaving Europe. I was front row, and could see between songs how weary he looked, which is not surprising after such a long tour. 10 years ago, he was doing 20-25 show tours. Now at the age of almost 68 he has upped the stakes to 30-35 shows!
In conclusion I may have seen better shows in the past, but I’ll be surprised if I see better in the future, and if we never seen him again over here, well he sure went out on a high.
Closing highlights were another strong Rolling Stone, another delightful run through the new song (this time with harmonica solo), and the tour wrapped up with his current closer Blowin in the Wind, Bob then taking another long bow at the front, peering out, tired but appreciatively, into the cavernous arena.
Finally, a quick point-out to the band, who despite some criticism from fans and (it seems) Bob, were superb tonight. Watch out especially for Tony on bass on the new song when you download the show – some nice and unusually extrovert playing from the bandleader.
If Bob continues 2009 in this form, and the other new songs are as successful as ‘Houston’, it will be a good year indeed..
See everyone again soon I hope.