Nick Morgan and crew
Review by Nick Morgan
BOB DYLAN AND HIS BAND
London November 20th 2005
sort of people go to watch Bob
Dylan? “Look”, I nudged
The Photographer as we trained towards Brixton,
“It’s Father Ted and the auld fella”.
There they were (“Father and son”
said the Photographer) Dublin brogue, blue folder
with careful computer printouts of all their travel
and ticket details, anxiously plotting their course
from the station to the Academy. Like apparent
innocents abroad they stepped into the army of
hustling touts that filled the platform and disappeared
into the night.
wrestled our way to the throng and joined the queue
that snaked almost round the theatre – all
ages, a large selection of (mostly Caucasian) nations,
Dylan tour T-shirts from way back, lots of old friends.
And lots of security. The Photographer was disappeared
into the office by a burly looking prison guard
from Cell Block H and returned after about 5 minutes,
paler and sans camera. We went in search of drink.
seated, black stuff, hotdogs, potato crisps, chatting
with our companion when, out of the blue, “Sure
it’s yourselves again, now come on Michael”
said Father Ted, or should I say Joseph, “you
just sit yourself down here with the folks aff the
tube, and I’ll get the beer”. Open mouthed
at this non-metropolitan familiarity from these
strangers on a train we then found ourselves drawn
into both conversation and the wonderfully wacky
world of the Bob Dylan fan(atic). That was Joseph
– as his dad Michael explained, “I’ve
only been doing it for a few years, but he’s
been going forever.” I got a bit confused,
but am pretty certain they’d been to Rotterdam,
Prague and Munich on this tour. I wasn’t sure
how many nights they were doing in London, and I’d
guess they’d be going to Dublin too. Joseph
returned from the bar, where he’d been proselytizing
– “those kids wanted to know what it
would be like – it’s their first time.
told them, I said it doesn’t matter what it’s
like, just remember you’re in the presence
of a Living Legend”. “Now you must be
going to Jimmy Ketchup’s after show party”
said Joseph; “You’ll know Jimmy K”
said Michael, “now he’s a nice boy -
young mind, but a nice lad, very keen”. “And
always great parties”. “Did you see
the touts – worse than New York? Tell them
about New York Joseph”. “Which time?”
So we got the New York story (which involved them
staying at the Chelsea Hotel), learned that they
had only just arrived but were staying at London’s
Rock and Roll Hotel (“is it good - you
must have stayed there yourselves?”), and
got good tips on how to get various electrical devices
into the Bobster’s concerts – “in
my boots” said Joseph. “Sure there’s
always room for my camera, i-pod, I like to keep
my mobile and Blackberry there too …I’ll
send you some pictures, but it won’t be for
a while mind, I’m not in much and I don’t
like these computers”. They were looking twitchy.
“Now drink up Michael, you know he’s
always on time”, “never late Joseph,
as punctual as a judge” and at 7.15 they were
off into the crowd, as a pre-recorded overture heralded
the imminent arrival of his Bobliness.
from the noise that’s gone on in the UK around
this tour it’s clear that Dylan certainly
seems to polarise folks, but I reckon that for five
nights in Brixton he must have had 5,000 or so devotees
each night eating out of his hands. He’s certainly
hot at the moment, what with the Martin Scorsese
film (‘No Direction home’) and all (are
you listening Santa?). And this, lest you should
be in any doubt, is Rocking Bob. Keyboard all night,
a little bit of harp (which brings out whoops and
bellows of delight from the audience), no guitar.
He out Bill Frisells Bill Frisell in his reinterpretations
of his songs, particularly the sixties classics.
And his voice sounds increasingly like a parody
of a parody of a parody. He says “thanguverymch”
once before his final number, and introduces the
band as if he’s singing a parody of ‘All
along the watchtower”, which he does as his
I should mention that the band are very good (although
there were a couple of moments when I swear they
were all playing different songs) – very rocking
– and the sound balance is the best I’ve
heard (outside of the Barbican) all year. Nice stage
set, simple lighting, very professional. And Bobtastic
Bob, hunched over his keyboard, occasionally taking
the centre of the stage for harmonica solos that
wouldn’t disgrace a ten year old child, is
…, well…, Bonkers Bob (what was he doing
with his harps when the band lined up at the end
– a secret The Brotherhood of the Bob symbol
– like the strange Masonic design projected
onto the stage and printed on all the merchandise?)
an unlikely looking character to wield an almost
messianic influence over his audience.
photograph of the gig by Nick's brand new Nokia.
When will Leica('s remains) make cell phones?
most of them seem as devoted as Joseph and Michael.
They know the old songs, they know the new songs.
They’re all a bit more drunk than I anticipated,
and the group in front of us are largeing on the
exotic hand rolled smokes, but it’s all very
friendly. The man next to me cries when Dylan plays
‘Don’t think twice’ as his first
encore; at the end outside folks are embracing,
“see you next time” (tomorrow night?).
This is real fan land. So I knew I didn’t
need to bother with the set list. You can get it
along with almost anything else you need to know
– why they might even get a link to this Whiskyfun
review too. There’s even a website
for fans who compete in teams to predict what
each night’s set list will be (respect to
Bewildering Bob and the band, they ring the changes
frequently) – it’s where Jimmy Ketchup
hangs out apparently. So I really don’t need
to add any more. Oh yes – The Photographer
thought it was about seventy odd points, maybe three
and a half stars, I might have given it a little
more. But foolishly, although it was a Sunday, we
were only there for music, not worship. I’m
sure Joseph and Michael, lounging in their rock
and roll hotel, trashing their tea making facilities
John Bonham style, would have given it 100 plus.
Oh yes, and that reminds me boys. Whiskyfun might
not be the Financial Times (sorry Serge –
we’re back to the New York story), but at
least we put you in our review. And you were worth
the (hefty) price of admission. - Nick Morgan
(outside photo by kate, concert by Nick's new Nokia).
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