Bob Dylan 24th Nov 2013 Blackpool Opera House

Bob Dylan 24th Nov 2013 Blackpool Opera House
dylantixThis was my first visit to Blackpool, and it was for a pretty special occasion. Laura and I were going to see the one and only Bob Dylan in concert at the Blackpool Opera House. This was my 16th Bob Dylan concert experience, and Laura’s second. For the first time, I’d struck real lucky and managed to score front row seats. I bought the tickets the minute that they went on sale, and was amazed to find that we were sitting right down front :). We set off for Blackpool around 3pm and arrived just before 6pm, after a nice drive over the A66 and down the M6. I could see the Blackpool tower lit up from miles away as we drove in. The Opera House was quite easy to locate, being part of the Winder Gardens Complex, right in the centre of town. We ran into some old friends, had a chat about Dylan, and there was just time for a quick Italian meal before show time. We also spent a little time hunting for a stick of Blackpool rock to take back for Marie, but everything was closed on a Sunday night, so we sadly failed in that task. Dylan is on a short tour of the UK, calling at Glasgow, Blackpool and the Albert Hall; playing three nights at each venue. This is his first visit to Blackpool, and it seemed a little strange, but very welcome choice. Actually having said that, it does sort of fit. There is a feeling of old grandeur about Blackpool, a mix of greatness, tradition and the past, yet a validity within the present; all of which sits well with the legend that is Dylan. I can imagine him wandering the streets and arcades. I wonder if he did ….?
Last night was the final night of Dylan’s three consecutive shows in the venue. The Opera House is a lovely ornate hall, which holds just short on 3,000 people, and reminded me of the Odeon cinemas I would visit as a kid. Its a small intimate venue, compared to the arenas which Dylan normally plays when he comes to the UK. In recent concerts, Dylan has been playing a lot of tracks from his latest album, Tempest, with a few classics thrown in; so Laura and I knew what to expect.
winter-gardens Dylan and his band came on stage at 7.30pm prompt without any introduction. The opening song was “Things Have Changed”, a song from the film Wonder Boys, which was released as a single in 2000. It was clear from the start that Bob was on good form and in good voice, and the sound was crisp and clear from where we sat (there had been reports of poor sound on the first night in Blackpool). It was great to have such a close and unobstructed view of Bob and his Band. Dylan alternated between standing at the mike centre stage (no guitar this tour), and playing a small grand piano which was to stage right. His band are excellent and feature three guitarists; Stu on acoustic rhythm, Charlie on electric lead, and Donnie on pedal steel, mandolin, banjo and violin. On the last couple of occasions I’ve seen Bob Dylan in concert, his voice has sounded stronger than it has for many years. He seems to have a settled into a deep, snarling raspy groove, not unlike Tom Waits. This gives the songs a dark, bluesy feel. There is more emotion in his voice, you know that he means every phrase. dylanprogThe set was, as expected, drawn largely from Tempest. I have the album, and have played it a number of times, but I can’t say that the songs are yet familiar to me. However, last night they sounded good, as did old favourites “She Belongs to Me”, “Tangled up in Blue” and “Simple Twist of Fate”. The encore was a great version of “All Along the Watchtower” with a slower, moodier arrangement than the usual rockier version that Dylan has been playing recently, and a new song “Roll on John”, which is about John Lennon. This was a surprise, as the last song has been “Blowing in the Wind” on other nights of the tour. The crowd cheered loudly when he started “Roll on John”; its a crowd favourite already and the end of each verse was the cue for another cheer. Bob spoke to the crowd only once, to announce the intermission. He seemed in a good mood and quite animated at times, with some staccato leg movements while he was at the mike, and some little twists while at the piano. A great performance, by a legend that just continues to please. The show finished around 9.45pm, and we were home shortly before 1am. bob
Setlist: Things Have Changed; She Belongs To Me; Beyond Here Lies Nothin’; What Good Am I?; Duquesne Whistle; Waiting For You; Pay In Blood; Tangled Up In Blue; Love Sick. Intermission. High Water (For Charley Patton); Simple Twist Of Fate; Early Roman Kings; Forgetful Heart; Spirit On The Water; Scarlet Town; Soon After Midnight; Long And Wasted Years. Encore: All Along The Watchtower; Roll on John.
Bob Dylan – vocals, piano, harp. Band: Tony Garnier – bass; George Recile – drums; Stu Kimball- rhythm guitar; Charlie Sexton – lead guitar; Donnie Herron – banjo, electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel, violin
“Doctor, doctor, tell me the time of day; Another bottle’s empty; Another penny spent; He turned around and he slowly walked away; They shot him in the back and down he went.
Shine your light, move it on, you burn so bright, roll on John.
From the Liverpool docks to the red light Hamburg streets; Down in the quarry with the Quarrymen.”
(Bob Dylan, Roll On John, 2012)

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2 responses to this post.

  1. […] See a review of the same concert at Vintage Rock. […]

    Reply

  2. […] See a review of the same concert at Vintage Rock. […]

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