See copyright notice at

Bob Dylan 2000.09.20 in Birmingham, England

National Exhibition Centre Arena (NEC Arena)
Capacity: 12,500

From:  Andrew Edgington
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2000 12:49 AM
Subject: Birmingham 20/9/00

What a great show.  Arrived at 7.30 and bought a rather fetching
T-shirt.  No support band.  Bob and the boys appeared at 7.45
sharp while a number of people were still arriving.  Off we go
with 'I Am The Man Thomas' - a nice lively start to a wonderful
set.  Bob wore the usual black suit with the white stripe down
the trouser legs.  The jacket fitted where it touched as my
mother says.  Great shoes - black and white winkle pickers.  Then
on to 'The Times They Are A'Changin' with a neat guitar solo from
Bob.  Bob's voice sounded fine to me, but my wife and friends
seem to have some difficulty with it!  He certainly sounded
better than when I saw him in '97 (Cardiff); and much better than
on my Japanese 'Love Sick' import.

The lighting was a bit on the fussy side for me, unnecessarily
distracting and a bit dated.  However, the overall sound quality
at this show was superb, beautifully mixed and very clear - the
NEC is a good venue.

'It's All Right Ma' followed - Tony picked up his bow at the end
and sawed away very dramatically to finish it off.  'One Too Many
Mornings' was next - a real surprise to me although I see it had
a couple of outings in March.  Larry sat down for this one and
produced a lovely sound. Then - to great cheers from everyone -
Bob picked up a harp for an all-too-short solo.  And that was the
last we saw of that particular instrument.

The band was magnificent throughout.  David's drumming really
hits the mark for me, often very subtle and understated, but
occasionally pulling out all the stops.  Larry looked super cool
from start to finish - I often found it difficult to follow what
he was doing from my angle.  Tony looked completely focussed
throughout, how he watches Bob!  Charlie really enjoyed himself
from start to finish.

On we went with 'Tangled'.  I think it's a great arrangement and
the band did justice to the driving rhythm of the song.  Next was
'Searching for a Soldier's Grave' - very moving - my wife loved
this one and Bob was joined by Larry and Charlie.

'Countrieeeeeeeeeeeee Pie' followed as we moved into the electric
set - presumably he's still playing this one from Nashville
Skyline in memory of his mother.  'Ballad of a Thin Man' - Joe
Cliburn has explained this song to me several times but I'm not
sure I'll ever really get it.  This one really got Tony prowling
around the stage.  And then another surprise  - 'Down in the
Flood'  - a really loud rocker with a super solo from Charlie.

Two songs from Time Out Of Mind followed.  A very different
sounding 'Trying to get to Heaven' which my wife and friends
really enjoyed. I'm not so sure myself - you could certainly hear
all the words clearly though.  Cold Irons Bound emerged from a
very loud crescendo and remained strong and with a very heavy
beat.  After Bob had introduced the band - ending with  Tony
'Gaaaaaaarnieeeeaaaay' they jumped into an exhilarating 'Leopard
Skin Pill Box Hat'  - they all enjoyed this one - a real belter.

After what seems to have become the 'lets all stand to attention'
line, we were off to the usual stamping and cheering, and back
they came for the encores.  Between each song there was a
bewildering sequence of guitar changing.  It was amazing that
they all ended up with the right ones.  One quick start seemed to
catch Tony Garnier out, but he soon recovered.

'Things have Changed' was played very straight, just like the
'Wonderboys' cut - Bob holding his guitar out like a rifle. 
'Like a Rolling Stone' was a very fine performance.  We saw Bob
crouching and flexing his knees, and shuffling about on the
stage, really getting into a song he must have performed
thousands of times before.  How does he do it?  This was followed
by a quiet and reflective 'It Ain't Me Babe' with Bob coming
close to the front of the stage and producing some subtle guitar

Highway 61 Revisited had all three guitars trading with each
other.  This was one of the highlights for me - I've always loved
it and it lends itself to this kind of setting.  A complete mood
change followed.  My wife had hoped for 'Forever Young' and here
it was, sung with real feeling and great clarity.  The band's
sound on this one was sublime.

Back to the electric guitars for - wait for it - 'Everything is
Broken'.  Bob enjoyed this one to the maximum and Tony was on his
travels again.  This one was delivered with a twanging, driving
beat, very unlike the album version.

The show ended - all too quickly it seemed to me - with a very
moving 'Blowin in the Wind'.  Charlie and Larry joined Bob in the
choruses.  Exquisite guitar work throughout, especially at the
end.  And then they all stood to attention again - were they
waiting for someone to pin medals on them?  And then off without
a bow, wave or word.

So that's it  - until the next time.  I wish I could get to all
of the remaining shows - he's clearly mixing up the sets
wonderfully and giving great value to his devoted fans.  Catch
him if you can.
Best wishes
Andrew Edgington

From: "Derek Haworth" To: Subject: Dylan in Birmingham Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 13:47:26 +0100 Dylan in Birmingham Wednesday 20th September 2000 While we were waiting for Dylan and the Band to arrive on stage I was thinking that it is over thirty-five years since I was enthralled by his top-twenty single, 'Times they are a-changin', in the spring of 1965 and here we are at yet another concert. How long can he go on? Mozart died when he was thirty-five but Bob carries on performing, he has an excellent band and his voice is better than ever. This was another excellent Dylan concert, well worth the one hundred and twenty mile drive. Bob wore his piebald shoes, much to my wife's disgust, and a medium grey suit with a white stripe in the trousers. The jacket looked a couple of sizes too big for him and I much prefer his black suit with the long frock coat. He had a white shirt and was one of the few people present to be wearing a tie. Bob is almost exactly the same age as me and I too wore a tie so maybe it is a sign of our age. I am not knowledgeable enough to review each number at length but I can make some general comments. I felt the show was rather pedestrian at first but it definitely got better and better as time went on. There was only one harmonica solo and it was not part of 'Tangled up in Blue'. It was a shame we didn't get more as they are always very well received. 'Tangled up in Blue' wasn't my favourite version of this excellent song, after Madison Square Garden 1999 I don't suppose it ever could be, you can't top that, but it was well liked never-the-less. 'Like a Rolling Stone' was excellent and the crowd-pleaser of the night, they really liked this song. The sound volume was perfect, just right. We last saw Bob at Nynex Arena, Manchester in 1998 and I felt the sound volume there was much too high. The crowd at this show were very appreciative and seemed to have enjoyed their night out but they were nowhere near as lively, animated and ecstatic as the Nynex crowd were. Bob and the band played for just about two hours and so even at 25 a ticket I think we got good value for our money. I can't wait to obtain a tape or a CD of the concert so that I can reassess it at leisure. One downer on the show was the high level of security. I thought I would like to have a photograph of Bob that I had taken myself and so I decided to take a camera with me. In my naive ignorance I thought that it would be flash photography that was frowned upon and so I decided to take a Canon SLR with a large aperture lens and fast film so that I did not need to use flash. The camera was taken into the show in my wife's handbag. The handbag was duly searched and it was decided after much discussion that the camera was not allowed. It appears that small compacts with fixed lenses are allowed but cameras with removeable lenses are banned. Unfortunately there seems to be a very grey area in between with people who know very little about cameras trying to decide what is allowed and what is not. The bottom line is that anything capable of taking a good photograph is not allowed. In front of me in the queue to recover goods at the end of the show was a young lad waiting for his minidisk recorder. All he wanted was a souvenir of his expensive, for him, night out. I am sure he wasn't going to profit from his recording. He will probably have very little difficulty in obtaining a bootleg recording of the concert if he really wants one, but it's not the same as a recording of your own. Does making or buying bootlegs discourage people from buying commercial recordings? I don't think so. Most of the people present at the Birmingham show will have CDs of Dylan,s commercial recordings as well as their bootlegs. One could argue that bootlegs encourage interest and hence extra record sales. It just seems a pity that the money spent on security, and it must be considerable, can't be used to reduce ticket prices or, better still, remove the booking fee. I feel much better now I have got that off my chest and I am now looking forward to tomorrow and the Sheffield concert. It will be interesting to see if I can finally manage to get my own photograph of Bob. Derek Haworth
Subject: 20.09.00 Birmingham, review From: David / Julia Reid Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 01:52:38 +0100 Expectations were high. I had not seen Bob in two years. I knew he was playing well this time round and the set lists of previous nights included much that I had not heard live before. I was hoping for 'Delia' and 'Standing in the Doorway' but Newcastle had heard those songs so I did not think they would appear again tonight and they did n't. I met up with my friend Steve in the queue, not seen him since 96, so much to talk about. We were in the first 50 in line but by the time we hit the stage there were already 200 there!. Nevertheless, we had a good spec, dead centre with 5 rows of smaller people then me in front of us - great view with plenty of space. Bob was on at 19.45. and opened with 'I am the man, Thomas'. Then 'Times' came up again. I would have liked to hear something else but this was well played and sung. 'It's Alright Ma', very clean and tight. The sound, even from close up, was excellant, lound yet evenly balanced so that every voice and instrument could be heard clearly. Some nice emphasing of ends of lines and 'lonely' song so quietly, as if a voice lost in a wilderness of cacophanous sound. Some deliberation at what to play next. Larry beginning to strap on a guitar and then told to head for the one at which he sits. We get, 'One Too Many Mornings' with some lovely singing making me feel tingly. Harmonica solo plus a dance - you know, that funny, lightly stepping duck thing. How a 59 year old man can do this and look cool, I just don't know, but he does. I 've seen old geezers in pubs in Liverpool do this - they usually get chucked out on the street. Anyway, Bob seems to be enjoying himself. 'Tangled' follows with a slightly changed opening - not so forceful, more jangly sounding. Bob enjoys this song and its a sharp and compact rendition. I have heard this manty times of late and this as good as any. 'Soldier's Grave' and 'Country Pie' follow. The former is a group performance with Bob just one singer in three. I begin to notice the lights and the curtains /drapes at the back. There's curtains there like in an old cinema and they are catching the lighting colours. The songs are colour coded. There are lights on a support which is set low across the front of the stage. Sometimes large shadowa of the players are projected on the back of the stage. { I am thinking of David Lynch, Orson Welles as I watch all this]. This order of songs as I recall them here may not be quite right. 'Thin Man' and 'Crash on the Levee' come and go. I would have liked some other songs. At least I get to hear 'Trying To Get To Heaven'. The band are into this quickly with Bob's singing after only a chord or two. These chords have a lovely big jazz guitar feel to them. Bob's voice is deep, resonant. The arrangemnt is slow, majestic. All the parts are wonderful but they don't seem to work together. I want them to and I love Bob for trying it like this but it does not seem to hang together very well. Maybe that Lisbon version was too perfect for comparison. If only Bob would be as adventurous with 'Pillbox' or "H61R', both of which appear tonight, unfortunately for me. 'Cold Iron Bound', Bob really gets into this - it so lound, it is magnificent. At the end of the main set and the encore Bob and the band do this strange standing in a line and cooling looking at us while we look at them. They hold this pose for sometime. Only Bob really pulls the cool of it off, every one else looks slightly embaressed - its like some scene out of a Fsssbinder film or something. The first of the encores is 'Things Have Changed'. So good, did I hear Bob sing '....she's got black skin and...' ? "Rolling Stone', 'Ain't me Babe', 'Forever Young', follow. All well done with good Bob guitar touches. 'Everything is Broken' hits a bouncy groove but the singing sounds a little tired. Blowing in the wind finishes the show. Now on to Sheffield. David Reid
From: To: "Karl Erik Andersen" , "Bill Pagel" Subject: Birmingham review by Markus Prieur Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 21:37:05 +0100 Initially my wife and I had planned to skip the shows in Birmingham and Aberdeen. But we did go to both of them anyway, and we are glad we did. By the time we arrived at the N.E.C., we found out at the box office, that only seating tickets were available, way in the back (standing was sold out long ago, because it was only a small section in front of the stage at this one). The scalpers outside wanted 50 Pounds for each standing ticket. It was almost opening time and they had let some standing ticket holders inside to a small area next to the box office. I asked at the window, how many standing tickets were sold, and found out that three of those just went back on sale. So we bought two for 46 Pounds and joined the small crowd just mentioned, waiting for the "real door" to open. Now, we had heard, that at other shows on the tour security people had picked out some people out of the waiting crowds outside, and had led them through side doors to the very front, before the doors opened; to ensure that Dylan and the band would not always see the same faces. Well this time they chose to do it another way, and two minutes after we purchased our tickets, we were walked in and ended up front row center (I mean like "CENTER"). One hour of chatting to our next neighbour from Spain, and to a friendly security guard (as this was not Newcastle), and we were almost as close to Dylan as we were at Vicar Street a week before, but this time with no one obstructing our view. And a memorable view it was. The only downside with having the best spots to watch this show was our position exactly between the main speakers, which meant, that Dylans voice in the mix was not so clearly audible for us; but his guitar we could hear very well through his Fender amps. So I am really looking forward to hear a field recording of this show some time. For again it was a fine setlist with four additions to this tour. "ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS" we had not seen since Gotha 1994. Bob was playing his harp at the end, dancing and bending his knees. "BALLAD OF A THIN MAN" and the new and powerful version of "DOWN IN THE FLOOD" were performed back to back, and Bobs third eighties-song for this tour, "EVERYTHING IS BROKEN", even had his first stage appearance for this year, after appearing already on the Glasgow cue sheet. Two notable first repetitions for this tour were the challenging opener "I AM THE MAN THOMAS" and the magnificent show stopper, "TRYIN TO GET TO HEAVEN", both of which he also performed at the second Dublin show. Again simply beautiful. For him who has ears to hear I would like to add some observations about the order of the setlist by quoting some lines of some songs in the order he performed them. I know, some of them are quoted out of context, and I dont want to read too much between the lines which is not there, but I juxtapose them anyhow, in order to spotlight what Bob Dylan actually said last night merely twelve feet away from us, starting with his own vocal spotlight on his risen saviour: "They nailed me to the cross they laid me in the tomb in three days I rose I am the man look at these nail scars here in my hand the first one now will later be last not much is really sacred the day is getting dark the night comes in a-falling something is happening here if you go down in the flood, its gonna be your fault Im trying, trying to get to heaven before they close the door people are crazy and times are strange Im well dressed, waiting on the last train it aint me you looking for you are looking for someone who will die for you and more may you have a strong foundation may you always know the truth people bending broken rules everything is broken how many ears must one man have?" Markus Prieur / /
2000: March - April - May - June - July - September