by Neil Watson


At this stage of my life I find myself craving change. It’s a restless hungry feeling... I guess It is all too familiar these days, like the next Bob Dylan concert? I didn’t greet the latest Dylan UK shows with the enthusiasm that would to be expected of me. I fancied the idea of another jaunt to Cardiff. I’d made it to the last two shows at this venue and very good concerts they were too. In the end, I didn’t make it there in 2002. I was still moving though and ended up at the NEC which was to be the only UK show I did see. I would probably have preferred to have been at virtually any of the other shows instead. Never did like the NEC arena.

Anyway, the night arrives, Dylan is on stage.. and immediately messes up the opening lines to “Maggies Farm”. A muddled few seconds and composure is restored. Bob does seem a little distant and vacant to the stage he is performing on. Is it Dylan, or is it me? Next up a good performance of “You’re A Big Girl Now”. It’s always good to hear any song from ‘Blood On The Tracks’ live and this is no exception. Bob could perform the entire album plus the out-takes in a one off concert special for me. Some concept hey? Still moving, but in a new direction. That something new and different that we crave for. That change.

What a joy it was to hear Bob perform ‘Tomorrow Is A Long Time’ at this show. Really nice. It’s a long time since 1963. It’s a long time since the ‘young poets’ and the Beat Generation.

This NEC show was okay you know, but I still found myself wanting something else. Something I didn’t know. That something to knock me ‘offa my feet’. The excitement of days gone by have gone by! I just don’t get that buzz
like in the early days of Dylan concert going.

This show was a little different of course as it gave me my first opportunity to hear some of the songs from ‘Love And Theft’. On the whole they seemed to work well enough live. The band seemed to have them mastered and there was some nice interplaying. The best of these for me was ‘Cry A While’ closely followed by ‘Honest With Me’.

But what was it you wanted? Tell me again so I know. Was it ‘Abandoned Love’? ‘I’ll Keep It With Mine’?, ‘Wallflower’? I want to hear Dylan sing ‘I’m Not There’ so that you can understand it!? When you think of that song. Oh, that voice. Alas we didn’t get any of this. What we did get was Dylan cocking up the opening line to ‘Like A Rolling Stone’. Probably only his most famous song.

All the superlatives have been said of Dylan. Possibly what we need in the near future is for Bob to do a joint tour with some of his contempories. He did a joint headliner with Van Morrison at the NEC a while back. Why not with more artists of this calibre? A Wilburys tour never happened, but what about with Neil Young, or Tom Petty. Even better, Willie Nelson and Ry Cooder. That I would love to see. Throw in a few incredible duets with Leonard Cohen and there is really nothing else you could desire. Simply nothing!