See copyright notice at

Bob Dylan 2000.09.25 in Portsmouth, England

Guildhall, Guildhall Square
Capacity: 2228

Subject: Dissenting view on tour (P'mouth)
From: Hugh Wright 
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 14:05:18 +0100

The general opinion of the current tour on this group seems to be
very positive. Could I possibly add an alternative view from my
experience of Portsmouth (25th)?

I sailed over from the Isle of Wight in pouring rain and with
high hopes. I'd last seen him at Hammersmith in 1990, the 4th in
a line from 84-90. I decided then that I was finished with live
performances, but was persuaded back by a young chap who lives in
Portsmouth and knows some of his best known songs reasonably
well. This, added to the general enthusiasm on this group, plus
that live performance of "Highlands" on and the 2
very passable performances on the Things have changed maxi-single
persuaded me that, yes, things have changed.

Yet the things that I found inexplicable back in the 80s are
still there. Let's just step back a moment and ask ourselves
what's going on. A performing artist well known above all for his
incomparable lyrics goes on tour. Yet those lyrics are treated
with utter contempt. There is a noise coming from his mouth on
one or two notes in the right key (mainly) whilst the band keeps
the basic chord structure going. ( have no argument with them-
unremarkable, but tight and well-mixed, if too loud for my taste
in places). The first challenge is to work out which song it is,
usually (tho' not always) managed by the end of v1. The next
trick is to fix the song as one knows it inside one's head and
sing along (quietly!) so that Bob's words become a kind of weird
variation on a theme. This is OK if you know (as most do) the
song well, but what about the rest? Standing with my friend, I
started off by shouting at him each time which song was being
played. I then (During Hard Rain, the words of which are so
precious to me they rank alongside the Bible, on which they so
freely draw) started speaking the words of each line into his
ears as they came out (He said he found it helpful, but apologies
to any who were round about). You can't do this with many songs
which is probably a good thing. What else can you do, however?
Ah- you might say- but you're there to experience a Dylan event,
not analyse the words. But the words are a very important part of
the whole Dylan thing. They're what makes him unique. My friend
(who seemed to rather enjoy the whole thing) said it was like a
"good pub gig". Fine. I wouldn't go to a pub gig, anyway and
certainly not for 25.

Isn't the unique thing about Dylan the way he pours himself out
on to his records, the way heart speaks to haert? This was all
lost at Portmouth (with the exception of the nicely re-worked
"Tryin' to get to heaven which I find a sad and poignant song,
sung with feeling). Elsewhere on this group I have asked the Q
"who does he sing so much old stuff"? That's not really the Q. It
is rather "why does sing much of the old stuff with so little
feeling"? I could hear Blowin' in the Wind a1000 times happily if
the words were allowed space to breathe.

I know Dylan's line today is "I'm only a rock&roller". He
certianly seemed to enjoy it towards the end of the show
(extraordinary jerky "dancing" - does he have a neck and back
problem?). I didn't however. Surrounded by people who were
generally enthusing about it all on the Catamaran home to Ryde ,
I felt rather isolated.

That really is the end with me and Dylan live. No matter, I have
the records. No ritual murdering of his songs on stage can take
that away.People say he's a complex chap. I think he's pretty
disturbed. But in his time, he's been a songwriting genius.


Subject: Re: Dissenting view on tour (P'mouth) From: KReilly Date: 26 Sep 2000 13:34:38 GMT >Let's just step back a moment and ask ourselves what's going on. What were your expectations? I'm baffled by your inability to recognize the songs immediately. I've seen him numerous times over the past ten years and typically recognize the song within the first few chords. Did you like the MTV Unplugged release? Perhaps you should consider the possibility that there's something you're missing if you think he's been ritually murdering his songs for the past ten years. How else would you account for the fact that large numbers of fans respond enthusiastically night after night? Are they all blind to his lack of performing talent? Over the years I've gone with several people who'd not been too familiar with Bob. Each of them was awestruck.
Subject: Re: Dissenting view on tour (P'mouth) From: don freeman Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 14:38:46 GMT Dear Hugh You've posted a dissenting view in rmd??!! Why did you pick this forum to post your view? Don't you know you will be scalped alive for doing this? Rmd is not the place to criticize Dylan, only to fawn over him. That said, I understand your point, though I disagree. There is something a little odd about paying a lot of money and suffering the crowds in a huge arena just to hear some good pub rock. This isn't just a problem with Dylan; it's a problem with rock 'n' roll in general. It's enough to make you wonder if Dylan shouldn't have gone electric. A great solo acoustic Dylan performance is something to be dreamed of. However, I tend to like most of the new arrangements Dylan gives his songs in concert. Sometimes, like with Silvio, I can't make out the words at all. Other times, the songs actually take on new life for me, and the words hit with a meaning I've never noticed before. This doesn't happen all that often, but when it does, it is amazing. Sometimes the arrangements don't work for me at all. Sometimes they half work. I don't mind what Dylan is doing here, as he has decided to take these songs on a never ending tour, and he is doing what he can to keep them alive. While I wish he could always do a concert as fresh as the Hollywood Bowl '64, I'm impressed that he can do what he does. But I do appreciate your point of view. It helps keep things into perspective around here.
From: Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 15:48 +0100 Subject: Last thoughts on Portsmouth! To:, It's a long distance train, rolling through the rain - from Portsmouth to Gatwick. I'm on my way back to Norway, two Dylan-shows richer and a few pounds poorer. I surfed into the streets of Portsmouth, guided by a smooth arrangement of the Badlands team - I'm forever grateful for helping me out this time. As many of you know, on monday it was arranged a mini-convention at the Southsea Pier, where unspeakable items swiftly changed owners, and the roaming dylanologists gathered to discuss the last shows and the possible next tour. Quite a bonus, actually, to get this kind of gathering between the shows. It was also fun to listen to Clinton Heylin's reading of Behind the shades, Take Two. I got all his Dylanbooks, and really think he's done some very important work documenting the life and art of Bob. Nevertheless, it's a bit odd to see the narrowminded perspective of Dylan's Never-Ending Tour that Heylin's presenting. Of course he got his humorous points and gets good laughs describing the tour band's skills in early 1991, but I really don't think that Bob's goals was to establish the most sucking band in history - what more is, I even don't think he did - remembering the great Stockholm shows as an example of the contrary. A biograph, in my opinion, has a duty to look for his objects goals and purpose, not only the results - his job is something more than the critics, who can be excused for their fragmented view on the artist. Maybe Bob didn't succeed, maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it was the other way around - either way: A biograph must not only take the subjective critics view - then we'll just know a little more about Clinton, and not about Bob. Even harder it is to understand Heylin's comments to Dylan of today - as a man who "artistically is throdding water", referring to his lacking vocal abilities, and that he'll never will be as good as in 78 or 81. Well, of course he'll never gonna be the same again, I don't know anyone who lives with that expectation - and I can't see it's a clever point - I want Bob 2000 - the 78 and 81 is well documented history. Nevertheless, I've seen more than thirty post-81 shows, and 've been constantly inspired by the artists unique ability to transform his struggle with life and art into the most interresting live-act around. I don't think every show was pure gold, of course not - but even on the lowpoints of shows the glimpse of magic has been shining through to me, not only because I'm easy to fool. His ability to work inside his own vocal limits has always been his unsurpassed strengths, in my opinion also today (f.i. I don't think Hard Rain ever was sung better than in Nara, what must be said to be a performance of his Later Days, even if it's a few years ago). I think the Never Ending Tour has been a Bob-vision, like the Rolling Thunder once was - but it's been possible to develop over twelve years because Bob's now is on his own, and his own moods and changes has been the guide all through - and he's now in charge of a tight and potent band who got the ability to mix styles and setlists that few others can copy (Twelve out of nineteen songs were changed from one night to the other - where everyone else makes blueprints of The Shows, Bob makes originals!) The polished treatment of similar sets from night to night will never be a trademark for Bob and his band - but then, I wouldn't travel to Portsmouth to see such a show. As I think of the two Portsmouth shows, I see a combination of professionalism and spontanity - a show that got the audience on their toes even if it's their sixth or seventh show in a row. I see an artist that presents a varied show of bluegrass, country, ballads, both hard and soft rock, blues, even a beautiful jazzy treatment of "Trying to get to heaven". I see an artist that more than any ecclipses the complete specter of human life: faith and disbelief, love and lost love, loneliness and eternity, youth and beauty, age and decay, joy and rage, hope and glory. I see an artist that through his inimitable timing and phrasing, invites he and she who will hear, into his universe of songs and characters and makes it come alive for the zillionth time for new listeners, young boys and girls from the streets of Portsmouth, who never 've seen him before - and who've never seen someone like him before - "he's really something else". There's a time for everything - and this is a time for performing, painting and repainting masterpieces in public - even presenting new songs that never could've been written or sung as good as today - only experience and time could give us "Time out of mind"! I don't see an artist throdding water, drowning in nostalgia, but an artist who ages with dignity and sweet grace, and who has that voice crying in the wilderness that we need even more these days than ever before. And when he takes us all by surprise and give us a soft and tender rendition of "Fourth time around" the first night, he uses his "Midas touch" again - unforgettable, that's what it is. It's poetry, but more than poetry - it's song, but more than song. It's art - coming alive right in front of us! Catch the next show. I know I'll stand in line next time around, too! Johnny Borgan
From: To: "Karl Erik Andersen" , "Bill Pagel" Subject: Portsmouth (25th) review by Markus Prieur Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 16:55:39 +0100 There we were back at the rail amid friendly aficionados from Australia and Canada, to see our tenth Bob Dylan show in a row. Now we are heading this way (back to Ireland) and Bob and his band are heading that way (off to mainland Europe). For my wife Catina and me it sure was a fitting end to our first year together out of Germany, this holiday once around the Irish sea. Initially we planned to go to six shows, ending up however seeing ten. We saw 69 different songs performed by Bob Dylan and "some of the finest players anywhere", as Bob described them last night at his second show at the Guildhall. He repeated but seven songs from his first show the night before, but interestingly enough 13 songs from Saturday in Cardiff, including the masterfully performed "BALLAD OF FRANKIE LEE AND JUDAS PRIEST". As it was the fourth show in a row without a day off, it could hardly be as great as the exceptional great show on Sunday, but Monday's gig sure did have it's peaks and fine moments. The "DRIFTER'S ESCAPE" was as intense as ever, as was Bob's harp solo ending it. We were reminded once again that "it sure ain't me ... you're looking for". And once again we were told that "EVERYTHING IS BROKEN", which kicked the pillbox hat out of the main-set-ending-slot. "WATCHING THE RIVER FLOW" was equally rocking last night as in Cardiff. Also notable were the only two additions to this tour, "SHE BELONGS TO ME" (with Bob moving around a lot while playing his guitar), and "A-HARD RAIN'S A GONNA FALL" (performed only for the fourth time this year), which I thought before he might put into the number three slot last night. It was on my wish list as I saw it only twice before (Zurich 1999 and Cincinnati 1981). Performed as a grave warning about this world which can't stand long, it is all the more powerful within a setlist containing also "HALLELUJAH I'M READY TO GO" and "TRYIN' TO GET TO HEAVEN" (he put these three in on set before in Horsens in May, even adding "GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY", which he also played in Portsmouth, however on Sunday). "HALLELUJAH I'M READY TO GO" (one of his most challenging openers ever / see my website "Not Dark Yet" for lyrics), as well as his new slow arrangement of "TRYIN' TO GET TO HEAVEN" were also performed together in Cardiff on Saturday (see my review for some comments on this combination). These songs sure are most powerful and valid statements about his faith, and once again I am very grateful that Bob Dylan keeps singing them to us, warning us not to "wait before it's too late", pointing out his "wonderful saviour" to us, convinced that one day they will "close ... close the door". Markus Prieur / /
Subject: Re: Dissenting view on tour (P'mouth) From: Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 18:37:22 GMT Hi there Hugh, I just wanted to make a few comments and ask you a few questions. Here goes... FIRST OF ALL- I can understand what you say about Bob reworking his lyrics and singing them differently than they appear on his pristine albums. It is occasionally difficult to understand his words when he is playing in larger venues. I don't agree with your opinion, but I do understand what you mean. I have found however, and I have seen Bob seven times this year in various stadiums and much more intimate places, that when the sound quality is high, you can understand him very well! In fact, I have been to five shows this year with first time Bob watchers and the comment that I heard four times was "Boy, I could understand him much better than I thought I'd be able to." ANY electrified rock and roll concert that you attend in a large hall will create word distortion. When we are dealing with a 60-year- old voice, this effect multiplies a bit. SECONDLY- When you called Bob's band "unremarkable" I nearly fell off of my chair! As a part-time music critic, I got the opportunity to see a lot of shows this summer: Neil Young, Tracy Chapman, The Other Ones, Ziggy Marley, Ani DiFranco, The Pretenders, A Perfect Circle, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews Band, Stone Temple Pilots, Foo Fighters, Phil Lesh and Friends, Nine Inch Nails...and countless others. Let me tell you that in terms of musical technicality, feeling, overall tightness and just genuine rock/blues know how- Nobody could hold a candle to Bob's Boys! Even Neil Young, with an All-Star ensemble that included bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn and super- drummer Jim Keltner, paled slightly in comparison with the NETB! I get the feeling that you just don't like/understand rock and roll music, Hugh. THIRD- You say that you are a fan of Bob Dylan's words, but it seems as though the man himself turns you off. You even go so far as to call him "disturbed". I suppose I can relate slightly to this using a different artist as an example. I like the writing of T.S. Elliot, I find it fantastic and complex and fulfilling. But, I have read and heard things about Elliot that could make me call him "disturbed", or just plain nasty. However, if Elliot were to pop out of his grave and put on a live reading of some of his poetry, I would go in a heartbeat. If he were to read some of poems out of meter, or change a few words or make some words up on the spot, I wouldn't feel cheated or angry or blast him in the local discussion circle- I would feel honored to have witnessed it. Even though I am repulsed by him personally, I respect Elliot as an artist, I would trust his interpretation of his own art. You obviously don't respect Bob Dylan as an artist. You praise his song writing, but his vocal style and persona really seem to have ticked you off- to tell you the truth I'm amazed that you enjoy his albums, because the Bob that we see on stage now we also hear on his albums. If anything, on his albums he is holding back a bit! When he is on stage he really lets lose. FOURTH-You didn't compare the recent show to the show that you saw in 1990. Was there any difference? Has Bob changed any in the last ten years? Is his band better? I know that I saw him for the first time in 1995 and I would say that the Y2K version of Bob Dylan is much more focused and clear in terms of his voice and his music. Bob Dylan is always evolving and changing as a perfomer and a song writer- from Woody Guthrie look-alike, sound-alike to a young, slightly comedic protest songwriter/singer; from the huge- haired electric sunglass toting clown prince of Rock and Roll, to soft spoken family-man/seer who lived in the hills; from shaggy love-worn crooner to the leader of a gypsy caravan; from born-again Christian to the stately old bluesman that we see before us today. I left out several stages in the interest of time. You not addressing the issue of Bob's evolution through your own experiences with him is a direct indication of your complete lack of comprehension of his art all together. Hugh, its okay. Not everybody is prepared to deal with Bob Dylan live. Some people would much rather keep him in their own minds, shaping him and defining him the way that suits them best. If that helps them find some serenity in a strange world, then so be it. Bob live has never been an experience for the feint of heart or the narrow of mind. He is constantly shocking and suprising and mend-bending, and I guess that he was very effective in your case. If this made you never want to see him again, I suppose it's for the better somehow. As for me, I know that each time I see Bob Dylan he will somehow cause me to question who he is, who I am and what the world around is really supposed to mean. I can see how that could scare some people, but I think that it enriches and deepens my existence. Take care. -in Bob we trust- subterraneansean "He not busy being born is busy dying."
Subject: Portsmouth mini review From: Britman51 Date: 26 Sep 2000 18:24:27 GMT Back in forty something B.C. the Roman army came, saw and conquered our land, on September 24th and 25th 2000 a 59 year old song and dance man from Minnesota came to Portsmouth and did the same. This post is my personal mini review of the two most wonderful nights of music I have had the privilege of seeing. There were far too many magical moments to descibe all of them here. My own highlights, if really pushed, were the Sunday performances of Visions of Johanna and 4th Time Around, absolutely stunning, and I swear if during 4th I had closed my eyes it would have been 1966 revisited, sheer brilliance, and Monday night, I would choose Hard Rain, and She Belongs To Me. The line on Hard Rain where Bob sang " I met one man who was wounded in love" was sung so softly, followed by an angry rendition of " I met another man who was wounded in hatred" Sheer bliss. She Belongs To Me was a wonderful surprise for me, always loved the song, and to hear it live was tremendous. I managed to focus my binoculars on the cue sheet behind Bob, and am sure that an alternative to Watching The River Flow was Down Along The Cove, would have loved to hear that one too, but I was happy to hear whatever Bob wanted to give us.I couldn`t find a single flaw over the two nights, just one disappointment, only one harp song last night.Bob rocked, the band rocked and I am sure Portsmouth rocked too.I wish all who are going to see the remaining concerts have as good a time as me. Phil
Subject: PORTSMOUTH REVIEW From: IdhamR Date: 25 Sep 2000 20:01:47 GMT Portsmouth 24th September 2000. As always, because I don't carry pens and paper to write down the setlist, so I have used Bill Pagel's site as reference. Arriving at Portsmouth, hours before the concert, I had decided to take a small tour around the sea port. A very quiet and peacful city - perhaps because it may have been a Sunday and everybody's at home, relaxing. Saw a couple of fans wearing Dylan shirts, and walked past the venue where the pre-performance meet-up was held. I thought I come back to it later. Touts were offering standing tickets for "Eighty quid, but I could do it for you for seventy-five " even though the local newspaper predicted that black market prices would be in the region of 100. By the way, FYI, the newspaper had an article about Dylans concert the day before, about how they had to increase security, not because it was Bob on stage but to protect the equipment. They had to sweep the whole venue just in case someone was hiding or something along that lines. Anyway, the venue itself, the building is very elegant, imagine St Pauls (for Londoners) but the dome bit turns pointy and the steps are a-plenty. Lines were forming once I got there (14:30) and thanks to someone who gave me information about the venue the venue is literally within a stones throw from the station. The tickets stated "Photography forbidden" but yet there were a lot of flashes. Security, sadly, are like dinosaurs, non-existant/extinct. A couple brought in a bottle of red wine, everyone should know that glass bottles are not allowed into the venue, nor into any venue for that matter for safety reasons. Fans were not searched so people could have brought in camcorders or other recording devices (despite the fact that they were forbidden). The concert itself. I only stayed for the main set because I had a train to catch. Bob came on at 19:50-ish with a song that I was able to sing along to, Somebody Touched Me. First time I heard it live. Then came to Ramona which was welcomed with cheers from the standing crowd. Next, for me was a surprise, Visions of Johanna, another song that I was able to sing along to. Mama You've Been on My Mind was a fab song that sounds great live. I've ehard it from a bootleg so I was able to recognise it. Then came "Tangled Up In Blue" which got everyone going since that's a song well known to both hardcore fans and the casual fans. The acoustic set was finished with, "Searching for a soldiers grave". A running trend for the UK sets is "Country Pie" opening the electric set, oh me, oh my. "Can't Wait" was next followed by "Gotta Serve Somebody" which sounded different to the studio and previous live versions. IMHO. The show ended with, "If not for you", "The Wicked Messenger" and "Leopard Skin" which has the teasing intro of "Rainy day". After that I left. I missed the encore, but should have stayed just to hear, "Love Sick", "Firth Time Around" and, "I'll be your baby tonight" - Oh well ;-) At least I was there.
Subject: Re: PORTSMOUTH REVIEW From: John Fox Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 19:26:07 +0100 I don't want to depress you but you missed half the show. He played for about 45 minutes after you left.
Subject: Portsmouth 2nd night thoughts From: Ed Nash Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 19:59:29 +0100 Talking to some fellow fans before the show, I was told that the previous night Dylan had been "a bit flat" despite the good setlist. And halfway through the opening number I was thinking that tonight would turn out the same. "Hallujah, I'm ready to go", he sang. But he didn't look it. But everyone seems to agree that Dylan thrives off a good audience reaction, and towards the end of the song he seemed to be loosening up, the left leg twitching just a little. But it was the reaction to Tambourine Man which really seemed to get him going. Every playful piece of phrasing was greeted with a cheer, and by the end the little dances had begun. From there, I don't think he stopped his daft little jigs. He was even at it during the Formation bit. I think everyone in the crowd picked Hard Rain as a cert for the show, given the wheather. It's great when you can see him spot someone smiling or laughing or dancing in the crowed and then watch him react with a smile or a dance of his own. I can't imagine that he's ever been more animated in concert than during Highway 61 last night, playing around with the people up in the balcony. It's a shame that stuff like that doesn't come out on the tapes, because people will hear this show and they'll say "Hey, it's pretty good. But it's like all the others". But it wasn't. People I was talking to where saying that in Cardiff there was "a lightness of touch" to the performance that made the whole thing great. It was there again last night. Having said that, Dylan was playing some great guitar last night compared to when I last saw him, so it might be a good one to get. Just a couple more things - Tangled Up In Blue had a extra verse. Something about "Hghh hmff tht hst and it was new....Tangled Up In Blue". And finally, why does he keep playing River Flow whenever I go and see him? That's 3 out of 3 now, and I really don't like it much. Oh well. It was a great night nonetheless.
Subject: Portsmouth 25th Sept review (a little late) From: Matt Reading Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2000 15:07:55 +0100 Well, it's the evening after the second Portsmouth show, undoubtedly the best Dylan concert (and therefore as far as I'm concerned, the best concert) I've seen. This was my third, after Zurich and Birmingham earlier this year. I gathered from people who had been there the previous night that it was nothing special (despite 'Visions'!) and who knows if they were right or not. I had a hell of a time getting down to Portsmouth..two trains from London in a row were cancelled, and so the one I eventually got was packed up to the gills. When I got to Portsmouth and met my girlfriend Hatty along with Ed Nash and his girlfriend Liz, it was clear that the gods were not exactly shining on us. When I say that it was raining, it does not come close. When I say that it was like someone had lifted up the contents of the Solent and dropped them on our heads, you're just about getting there. We 'queued' under the steps of the Guildhall, only to be the victims of queue-jumping not once but twice. When we got in we managed to get about 3 rows from the stage, which was pretty fancy, and my anticipation began to build.up until this point my mind had rather been on other things as it had been my first day at University in London, but that all seemed like a dream now. Bobby and the boys came out and launched into Hallelujah, I'm Ready To Go, which was obviously rather fun. Bob looked just as grumpy at this point than the other times I'd seen him (ie very), but I knew that didn't mean too much. Next was Mr Tambourine Man, which was one I could cross off my would-love-to-see-live list, not that it was a bad performance, mind you (just realised that sounded bad). By the last couple of verses Bob was definitely into his stride, feeding off the energy of the crowds applause (which was more enthusiastic than in Birmingham last week) and belting out the lyrics. Next up (and one we'd jokingly predicted in the queue on account of the inclement weather) was a masterful Hard Rain, the last verses in particular started out beautifully soft, and building up to a cacophonous climax..this was followed by an absolutely beautifully sung Ballad Of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest which bubbled along wonderfully. The setlist so far, as far as I was concerned, was perfect.I could barely have chosen a better one myself. Next uwas a greatly modified Tangled Up In Blue.the arrangement and tune were exactly the same, but there was a brand new verse that was made up entirely of incoherent mumbling, except at the end where he burst into song with ........NEW! Tangled Up In Blue! Hey ho..apart from that major flub it was an energetic performance, and was followed by Searching for a Soldiers Grave, beautifully sung as always. Country Pie was as usual great fun, and then I nearly died as he sang the first lines of She Belongs To Me was quite simply great (I'm beginning to run out of adjectives) although Bob seemed unhappy with his guitar in some way. That couldn't stop Bob enjoying himself though, as the band tore into Tombstone Blues as if possessed. This was one of my favourites of the night, to be honest, mostly because of Dylan's energy, dancing all over the stage and whipping past the mic to deliver the lyrics. Next in our delightful evening was the perfect new arrangement of Tryin To Get To Heaven.I had been trying to remember how it went in the days since Birmingham to no avail, and it was better than I remembered, and better sung than last week. Those of you who couldn't get to these shows, I advise you to seek out a performance of this song at any will truly make your heart melt. Then came the apocalyptic riff from Drifter's Escape, which pleased me no end as Dylan absolutely spat out the lyrics. John Wesley Hardy is an album I'm really into at the moment, to 2 songs in one night, fantastically done, was right on the button to say the least. After the band intros came an unexpected Everything Is Broken, very groovy with the bassline greatly exaggerated. This closed what for me was pretty much the best portion of the show.the electric set was full of such energy and passion that you just had to stand and marvel and get very hot in the sweltering venue). When they came out again for Things Have Changed Dylan seemed a little subdued at first, but by the end of the song he was back into it, and Like A Rolling Stone followed it up nicely. Then a wonderful It Ain't Me Babe, very gentle with less of a drum beat in the chorus than it often has, very melancholy and unbelievably good. Some groovy guitar soloing as well.I like it when he plays about with the lower always seems better than when he starts playing those really high 'twiddles' of his. Then came a huge shock for Ed as the intro to Watching The River Flow came from the speakers. Ed has now seen this at all 3 Dylan gigs he's been to, Jones Beach last year, Zurich and Portsmouth this, and he's not exactly very fond of it, to put it mildly. No doubt he will have moaned about it on here by now. How about Wembley to try and break the jinx Ed? As for the song itself, the energy of the earlier electric set was back in full, before they stripped down again for a well played and heartfelt Forever Young. Next was a rip-roaring Highway 61.Hatty always complains about Bob doing so many rocky songs, but when it's such pure, unadulterated rock 'n' roll as this I couldn 't give a flying fuck. This was absolutely fantastic, with the verse about ' 40 red white and blue shoe strings' particularly striking me. He sung most of the song to those in the gallery, saying something to them afterwards that I didn;y hear. Blowin' In The Wind finished things off nicely, sung (for me) with more venom than usual, the lyrics more spat out with disgust than moaned out in disappointment. The encores were quite standard (in choice), but superbly performed with Dylan obviously having a great time (as were the rest of the band for that matter..more than last week). Anyway, I'm probably going to Wembley next week, but I really can't see how that can top the performance at Portsmouth.simply outstanding. Matt
Subject: cp lee on portsmouth From: Peter Stone Brown Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 17:41:22 GMT Over the past few days, CP Lee has been sending me in various parts his review of last Sunday's Dylan show in Portsmouth. At his request I have compiled them and am now posting them for your enjoyment. Comrade! Fraternal greetings from the People's Republic of Catatonia! In 1940, at the height of the Nazi blitz on England, my mother set out on a journey across the UK to say goodbye to my father who was shipping out in the Royal Navy. She took along with her my elder brother who had just been born and who my father had never seen. Just outside Portsmouth where my father was stationed, the train was attacked by Stuka dive-bombers. When they got into the city many hours later they found an urban landscape devastated, burning and under almost perpetual bombardment. For the duration of my father's 48-hour shore leave they hid in a cave and found what peace they could. When I went, sixty years later, I had a great time. The great Bob Dylan caravan had trundled into town, bringing in its wake the flotsam and jetsam of the Children's Crusade, the fans and the freaks, the weird and the geeks. The legendary Lambchop, even thinner now, but with his regulation Bobhat on his head, would Bob recognise him tonight? All the way from Australia the equally legendary Tricia Jungwirth and Chloe her daughter, standing firmly at the front of the line, waiting to get up close. There was Jurgen and Derek, Dave D and the "Back Pages" crew. Christian and Larry, Sadie Jane and offspring. Even the Italian girl, looking like an extra from Pasolini's "Salo," standing drenched in the rain with her fog, amphetamine and her soaking piece of cardboard with the words "I NEED A FREE TICKET" scrawled on it. Yes, all human life, including us, was there, waiting to see Bob. In the hotel and bars around the gig rumours abounded. Cardiff had been great, how could he top that one? Did you know that security were screening the line, picking out only the people that Bob would like to see in front of him? He was being stalked. Did you know he wore a bulletproof vest underneath his suit?... Did you know?... Did you know? After settling into our hotel and saying "Hi" to folks we hadn't seen in too long, we walked across the road to the gig and were delighted to find a real ale pub that sold first class brew at a very reasonable rate. My two companions were also very pleased by this - My wife Pam because she's been known to favour the occasional glass of sherry, and my buddy Mike who was going to play guitar with me the next day, because he runs the best real ale pub in Manchester (well, Salford really, but who's counting?), and so we partook of a couple of rounds and sat in a window seat directly opposite the hall in order to watch the crowd. Around seven o'clock we decided to go in and check out the vibe. What struck us immediately was how much the inside of Portsmouth Guildhall was an exact replica of Manchester's Free Trade Hall, all the other north westerners there remarked on it too. Mike was particularly freaked by this as the last time he saw Dylan was at the FTH in 1966 when he'd booed Bob and The Hawks. He promised not to do that tonight though. The next surprise was that despite the fact that our tickets said "Standing Only" the hall managers had put a bank of seats at the back, and noticing that I was using a walking stick (which I'd cunningly filled with brandy!) we got seats directly behind the mixing desk, about eye level with Bob. I just knew that this was going to be a good one and by the time the lights went down and that old familiar voice intoned the opening invocation, "Ladies and gentlemen.... " the magickal air exploded into light. I've heard "Somebody Touched Me" on so many field recordings that I thought it would be too familiar to me, but nothing prepared me for the power of it as an opening number, in the flesh as it were. My immediate impression was how tight the band were. Great harmonies and great playing. The following afternoon Clinton Heylin would describe the current backing band as a "bunch of no-hopers" - in light of this and other statements he made that day I feel that somewhere a perfectly decent village is being deprived of its idiot - anyway, back to the gig. "To Ramona" followed. Now I'd seen this in Manchester in 1998 and there Bob had played it as a kind of Mexican cantina version. Tonight though was subtly different, less Latino, more Italian if you catch my drift... Things were flowing along very smoothly now and then he moved into the third number and completely blew my mind. I was catapulted back into 1966 as "Visions of Johanna" rang out. Mike, sat beside me, audibly gasped as well. All the years that have gone by and I never expected to hear this song live again. Don't know why not, it just kinda took me by surprise that's all. And what a version, sounding as fresh and mysterious as when I'd heard it first that night in May nearly three and a half decades ago. I was, to quote a phrase, wacked, and when "Visions" finished and Bob and the boys moved into "Mama You've Been On my Mind" I was almost in ecstasy. Then when Bob put down his guitar and picked up his harmonica all I could do was sit open mouthed in my seat and count my blessings. Such a simple straightforward tune, yet full of resonances and memories but sounding so freshly written and fitting perfectly into Bob's acoustic package. "Tangled" came next, and I have to admit that I've got "Tangled" fatigue. It's a great number there's no denying, but maybe it should be given a rest from time to time. I guess this is one of the numbers that irks the folk who go on about how Bob can't sing anymore, but I think they're missing the point. All the way through the show I was happily surprised at how good his voice did sound. He lent a depth and texture to many of the songs that belies the argument that his singing is now virtually non-existent (more of that later). You get it immediately in the next number, "Searching For A Soldier's Grave". He harmonises and leads with a confidence and security that should silence all doubters, but I guess it's an argument that's gonna run and run. On Sunday night, Bob zapped into "Country Pie" and so did we on Tuesday on the way home. The arrangement that Charlie and Larry play is so beautifully close to the original whilst still allowing them a chance to cut loose. It's a perfect synthesis of the old and the new and kind of leads me to think that Bob is often harking back, or more properly, referring back, to his musical past in an interesting and constructive way. "Can't Wait" came next and socked it to me with what I always hear as a kind of swamp thing going on. It's chilling and powerful, broody and magnificent. What more can I say? It was definitely a surprise to hear "Gotta Serve Somebody", even though he'd opened with it back in 98. Solid, chunky and enervating, for some reason it always tickles me when I hear, "It may be the Devil or it may be the Lord". I'm sure I heard a roar of approval for the former. Now came "If Not For You". What is Bob up to? From whence came this raiding of the back catalogue? So much material tonight from John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline... great. Again, a number I'd never have expected to hear live. And what a fabulous version. Rolling and lilting, shifting and swinging. One of the greatest love songs ever written. And so into "Wicked Messenger" - Who would have dreamt we'd be treated to such a plundering of the archives? Again Bob played harp and stopped my heart. Pump up the volume and if you can't bring good news then don't bring any. Then it was back to the Free Trade Hall and 1966 with "Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat" Way back then this was probably the final straw for the Traditionalist die-hards in the audience, Mike among them. This time round it's a rollicking romp through the joys of whatever was going through his head when he wrote it. Flashy and trashy, neat and wild. Then it's time for the formation. Now I've never seen this before and wondered what everyo0ne was going on about. Well now I've seen it for real and it's a hoot. I dunno if it's some kind of Brechtian device or Bob's failed attempt to do the English toddlers version of "I'm a little tea-pot short and stout" as he stands there with his arms on his hips, staring down the crowd. Whatever, it works and it's a gas. Larry was the first one to break the formation and off stage went the merry band and the electric pied piper. By this time, even those of us who'd been sitting were on our feet clapping for more. Now the whole concept of encores at gigs is a thing that amuses me. Everybody knows that the "star" is going to come back on again because the amp lights are still lit. Encores have become a ritual. You shout for more even though you know they're going to play more, and my suggestion is that in the case of Bob we should start referring to them as intermissions because that's what they feel like in length. In fact I figure that the break lasts for about as long as it takes to smoke a cigarette. And so, thusly our hero did return to the stage - A chilling, spine-tingling version of "Lovesick" followed, all chinking and screeching as it ground to its crescendo. Yet again another tour de force. Then the stage lights swung round onto the audience and it was time for "LARS". This is Bob's anthem and the crowd did it justice by hurling back the lines at an obviously grinning bard as he led the band through the familiar refrain. Charlie really seems to be digging deep into the archives to recapture the flavour of the original and it was nostalgic and exhilarating all at the same time. Again, nothing could have prepared me for the next number, "Fourth Time Around". Mike and I couldn't believe the treasure trove of FTH tunes that were played, seemingly just for us!. Call me young, call me innocent, but when I first heard him sing this all that time ago I completely missed the sexual references and metaphors. This time round it was like watching a dirty old man, with Bob leering and slurring lines like "Come" and "Thumb" and "Her drawers". How did I miss it when it first came out. Outstanding, but he wasn't finished yet. "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" came my head like an eagle on amphetamine. What was once lilting and beautiful know sounds richer and even more beautiful. When it comes to reinterpreting classics, Bob does not "mutilate, bend, fold, or in any other way damage" the goods. They are carefully crafted, thought out, arranged, and, in my addled opinion as a "minor Dylanologist", played to perfection. And still ever onwards. Swapping electric for acoustic, Bob moved into his hymn to childhood, "Forever Young". This is another one that send shivers up my spine. It is immaculately beatific, the rabbi in Bob coming to the fore as he spreads his gentle benediction all around. The crowd was going crazy, the lights was a flashing, my head was a buzzing and "Highway 61" hurtled form the stage. Boogie time chillun, and dance they did - in my seat I swayed sedately - Those boys can cook!! As if that wasn't enough, "Blowin' In The Wind" brought the show to its conclusion. Acoustic and accompanied by searing background harmonies from Charlie and Larry, I've never heard this particular arrangement before. It really brought the show to its logical conclusion. Then the formation again. More wild applause and Bob walked off into the night, as indeed, so did we. Back to the pub for a post-mortem on the night's proceedings. What more can I say, what more can I add? Maybe I'll write about the following night when I've recovered enough from writing about this one. -- "Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times." --Bob Dylan Peter Stone Brown e-mail:
2000: March - April - May - June - July - September