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Bob Dylan 2001.03.10 in Hiroshima

Hiroshima 2001-03-10 by James Smith

Its hard to believe that it was 7 years ago that Bob Dylan
last played Hiroshima. That last  Hiroshima show, for me,
marks the start of the renaissance in the quality of Dylan's
touring activities; in particular that first acoustic
rendition of 'Masters Of War' in 30 years. Since 1994 Dylan
has gone from strength to strength, but just  in my mind it
all began back here in Japan and particularly at that
Hiroshima show. Something about that moment and that tour
lives on here tonight, perhaps its just because I loved that
show, and the coincidence of me now living here now. Any
surprises for us tonight Bob?

(I guess we already had one in the rather nice commemorative
CD, more than a few more little gems see the light of day,
mixed with some back catalogue stimulus fodder.)

Lucky to have great tickets tonight, although it's hard to
have a bad seat; the hall is very nicely tiered with a
capacity of just 2000,  is usually home to classical
recitals and slightly more restrained scenes therefore what
might be termed 'atmosphere' is a little lacking;  long term
fans hardly care, personally I'm sure many of us would
rather listen to the music from a decent position or an
interesting angle than have someone scream 'Bobby, Bobby,
Bobby' and whoop/yeehaa uncontrollably in our ear holes
while sweating just that bit too much far too close to you
and treading on your feet.

It's an early start, no support 7 on the dot and we're off.
Nice 1-2 of 'Roving Gambler' followed by  'To Ramona' with
Larry on Mandolin. Bob looks engaged and they all look
pretty businesslike in those suits.  'It's Alright Ma'
follows, nice arrangement; urgency in the delivery Bob
botching a couple of the verses, repeating one,  maybe
missing one. Larry looks pretty pissed of at the end of it.
Still, I enjoyed it, always nice to hear. Next we get an
electric treble of  'Till I Fell In Love With You',
'Positively 4th Street' and 'Seeing The Real You'. All good
fun, strong guitars from the boys; but for me 4th Street
lacked bite and venom this time around, the instrumental
section between the final verses breaks up the flow of the
narrative somewhat. Perhaps also being sandwiched between
two of Dylan's slighter pieces it also lost some of its
vibrancy.

As if by magic we get 'Masters of War' again, perhaps not
the surprise element this time but a good rendition,
thoughtful  yet as acidic as ever in its sentiment.
Obviously the setting of this concert in Hiroshima, only
metres from the epicentre of where the bomb dropped, once
again brings this song to the front of Dylan's mind tonight.

This highlight is followed by a lovely 'Tomorrow is a Long
Time', bittersweet and tender, and a slightly ramshackle
'Tangled up in Blue' heard this one done a lot better many
times but the crowd lap it up. Followed by a gentle reading
of 'You're a Big Girl Now' done with rising intonation at
the end of every line, not sure it works for me quite like
that but its nice to hear this one again. 'Wicked Messenger'
truly a great moment this, in the concert; shows this
current line up at their real peak I think. Bob even whips
out his harp much to the crowd's delight. I'd almost
forgotten he played it we're that far in, almost seems like
a party trick. 'Leopardskin Pillbox Hat' gets everyone up
and bopping ; the encores go down a treat with the
crowd.First time I've seen 'Dog Run Free', and unbelievably
it works; almost as a parody of its very lyrical banality -
Dylan almost pulling a face as if mocking his own words as
he sings them.

A stirring and today poignant 'Blowing In the Wind' closes
matters, and although we wait for more there really isn't
much that's ever going to be able to follow that.

A good night all in all I think.





2001: February - March -

Tour