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Bob Dylan 980627 in London, England

       Wembley Arena
       Double bill with Van Morrison 
       Showtime: 7:30 PM 

Subject: Bob and Van at Wembley (review) From: TAHG ( Date: 28 Jun 1998 11:21:36 GMT (Karl Erik Andersen) writes (27/06/98 21:41 GMT): >980627, London, England, Wembley >Arena >Double bill with Van Morrison >1. Gotta Serve Somebody >2. Man In The Long Black Coat >3. Cold Irons Bound >4. Make You Feel My Love >5. Silvio >6. The Times They Are A-Changin' @ >7. Tomorrow Is A Long Time @ >8. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall @ >9. Mama, You Been On My Mind @ >10. Tangled Up In Blue @ >11. Forever Young @ >12. 'Til I Fell In Love With You >13. Love Sick >14. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 >15. Blowin' In The Wind @ >Thanks to Ken Cowley on the phone. And what a great setlist it was, too! Bob surprised a few people by coming on first and he was cooking right from the start. Cold Irons Bound seemed to make much more sense live, loud and raucous than on the (overrated, I STILL think) new album. Make You Feel My Love also benefited, losing some of its mawkishness and sounding more genuinely heartfelt. But then, having dispensed with Times Changin', Bob hit TREMENDOUS form in a glorious acoustic set. Tomorrow Is A Long Time with jangly steel-strung guitar and achingly tender, sometimes almost whispered, vocals could barely prepare us for a truly stunning, masterfully realised full version of Hard Rain. The vocal authority and swelling, apocalyptic delivery was awesome and all the venerable and visionary lines about the executioner's face, the burning body, the white ladder, etc., really did sound as if they'd just been written. A sensitive Mama was very much in the style of Tomorrow. The great final verse was given particularly skilful emphasis. Then, as if all this hadn't been enough, there was Tangled Up In Blue. Frantic, yet somehow controlled. Lyrics at times like a machine gun, yet somehow clear and perfectly timed. The band kicked in magnificently on the second verse and, led by Bob, displayed a sense of dynamic and rhythmic contrast that I for one missed in some of the night's other up-tempo arrangements. The mandolin (or dobro?) sound between verses was heavenly. Bob also introduced a little comic guitar-strutting move which was to feature later in the show. The song was largely faithful to the BOTT lyrics yet, strangely, the key, epiphanous "book of poems" verse was absent. But it still seemed to make sense. Almost inevitably, the intensity faded somewhat in subsequent songs but I was glad to hear the slight touch of menace which, for me at least, can sometimes lurk behind the seemingly innocent Forever Young. 'Til I Fell In Love With You was loud. Love Sick was, as it's always seemed to me, a song- by-numbers. The houselights came on for Rainy Day Women, a shoutalong crowd-pleaser. We thought it was all over ....but then (joy!) Blowin' In The Wind. A lovely goodbye worthy of a fine, at times inspired, night of music. You could almost forget you were in Wembley Aircraft Hangar. And it wasn't over yet! Despite a lively start and a great band (Pee Wee Ellis and, I think, Georgie Fame), Van Morrison perhaps decided he couldn't really follow Bob so he'd have a bit of a laugh instead. This produced the best piss-take of someone's own song I've ever heard when 'Whenever God Shines His Light' suddenly became 'Whenever Sir Cliff Shines His Light'! In further, blasphemous, verses Sir Cliff healed the sick and lame and put our feet back on higher ground. Great stuff! There were some other comic moments, too, notably during Van's impromptu vocal v. vocal and vocal v. sax duel with Pee Wee which seemed to develop from Van's obsessing over the mystical qualities of a bus stop in Westbourne Grove, near Notting Hill Gate. (This will perhaps make more sense to my fellow londoners than to other rmd readers!) Van almost cracked up laughing several times in the show. Who says he's a miserable git?! It wasn't all fun and games though. Van was on good form and so were the band. There was a fine Vanlose Stairway and there were some lovely medleys, especially the one beginning with Moondance, and some slick solos. And there was Just Like A Woman (!) in a sensitive, respectful version which beautifully brought out the hidden melodies and jazz possibilities of the song. All we needed now was for Bob to stroll back on for a duet of something from Astral Weeks. But you can't always get what you want.
Subject: Hard Reign over Wembley - review From: Espen Aas ( Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 14:53:10 +0100 It was one of those days when London just wanted to show itself from the worst possible side; long delays on the public transport system because of engineering work and heavy rain. This meant that my partner and I used two and half hours to get from our home in South East London to Wembley (north London), more than it takes to fly from London to Oslo! The transport problems seemed to prevent many from coming to the Edlis/RMD lunch before the concert, but we ended up being six persons enjoying a very nice Indian meal in Wembley (although we were two hours late). After safely moving via the Post Office pub and Hilton for pre-drinks to Wembley Arena without drowning, it was time for the big event. But would he come on first or second? Disappointingly he came on first, which I thought would mean a shorter set than normal. With that in mind I started enjoying * Gotta Serve Somebody A really nice version of a song he has performed in all sorts of ways earlier. He was surprisingly strong in his singing, normally he needs a few songs to warm up. The band backed up very nicely throughout the song. I don't think there was a single word I couldn't recognise in his singing. *Man In The Long Black Coat Another very nice song, still very early in the show, but with much energy. This is amongst my favourites from Oh Mercy, and was the third (and best) version I have experienced with him live. * Cold Irons Bound I'm afraid I don't like this song very much, it being on TooM or in live version. Very solid performance though, and the band seems to enjoy playing it. * Make You Feel My Love A highlight for me, even though I don't like the song too much. I have never heard a live version of it before, so it was a treat to finally hear it. Oddly enough, from where we sat, this seemed to be the song that got most cheers and applause! * Silvio I'm always very negative about this song, but have to admit that I enjoyed how they rocked away on this one. The crowd in front seemed to share the mood. I guess the band go a bit on auto-pilot on this now, after playing it non-stop for so many years. * The Times They Are A-Changin' (acoustic) The first acoustic set of the evening, and a good choice in my opinion. I like it when he plays the songs which once upon a time gave him the label "protest-singer", whether he liked it or not. Hugely popular in the crowd, and a strong performance. * Tomorrow Is A Long Time (acoustic) This was really one of the big treats of the evening. His performance of this comes close to beat Elvis' version from decades ago. I think he should stick to this for some time. * A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (acoustic) This acoustic set got better and better, another song with political influence and IMHO the second best performance of the evening. What a voice! Very appropriate choice, both considering the weather that day, and the mud-hole they were heading for the following day! (Glastonbury) * Mama, You've Been On Mind (acoustic) This was my highlight of the evening. I'm not sure why, but it was just very beautiful, that's all I can say. * Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic) Bob was on his way to give away the acoustic guitar before this one, but when he was told that there was more to come, I started to realise that we would get 15 songs after all. I know a lot of people's got enough of this one already, but I think it gets better every time. It was the first acoustic song which was post-sixties as well. * Forever Young (acoustic) Last in the acoustic set. Earlier reports suggested that the band don't enjoy this one very much, but they seemed to be smiling quite a lot this night, so I guess they got over it. But who is he singing this song to these days, himself? A single little flame from a lighter appeared in the crowd during this one. * 'Till I Fell In Love With You Back to rock'n'roll again. Again, not a great favourite of mine, but others amongst us thought it was the highlight of the evening. Not a bad ending of the set at all. (Encores) I was so sure that I was going to hear Highway 61 Revisited now, but instead came * Love Sick Great song and great performance, although it seems to go a bit on auto pilot now, compared with last year's Wembley concert. * Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 No big surprise there! * Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic) A very popular choice amongst the thousands inside Wembley, and I think everyone there, they being fans or not, got a very good ending on the show. Again a song of political content rather than love. Overall, a very strong performance, he seems to have recovered very well from what struck him a year ago. Even though I was very pleased with the performance, I think last year's concert was better, both in terms of his energy and choice of songs. No harmonica, but I haven't seen him with one for a couple of years anyway. Neither was there any duet with Mr. Morrison. Final note; Van Morrison came on half an hour later, we decided to stay through most of his performance. The song that got the best response was none other than.....Just Like A Woman! It was also quite clear which one of the two who got the audience in the mood; during Dylan there was a big crowd in front of the stage, during Morrison there was none at all! Having said that, a lot of people did rock in their seats! -- Espen Trade page:

June 1998 Setlists Tour