Sheffield, England
Sheffield Arena
November 20, 2003

[Trev], [Mike Woodcock], [David Reid], [Kevin Fletcher],
[Linda and David Conneely], [Martin Hewitt], [Jayne Harnett]

Review by Trev

Just arrived back from Sheffield. Great to see a few poolies and suchlike,
although didn't see everyone I was planning to see. Great fun at Alec
Martin's busker set. That was great fun. Nice meeting you all.

Anyways, onto the show.

Well I spent most of the show trying my best to make out the small dot at
the left of the stage with binoculars that were actually irritating my
eyes. But I still got to see him rather close up through the lens'
wandering the stage like he'd lost something.

Considering the seriousness of his throat/vocal complaint I have to say he
delivered a rather impressive vocal throughout the show. Highlights being
Girl From The North Country, Desolation Row and Hattie Carroll which at
times was masterful.

This was most certainly a good show. Better than my last show - Newcastle
last year- but it wasn't a great show. In fact I think I am yet to see a
great show. But who knows what's around the corner.

It was intriguing to see uncle bob behind the keys for the first time and
also interesting how being behind the keys seems to free him up vocally
allowing him to be much more expressive in a way he wasn't before. 

Freddy Koella. Well.... I understand why people either hate or love him
and I find myself sometimes in the middle and sometimes not. His playing
is very interesting. It's like subversive grammar. Like Dylan - except
more technical and fluent - Koella likes to create tension building to a
climax and sometimes not completely delivering. But I rather like his full
stop new sentence manner. He holds out on a song and tries to pull at the
structure by stretching the rhythmical sense of a song. Yes he seems to
pluck one notes, but in watching how and where he does it, it makes
perfect sense. He may not be Charlie sexton. But this certainly isn't the
same sort of band and so I respect Koella in what he is doing and I see so
does Campbell who let off grins of respect at certain points during the

As people around me stated there wasn't as much band interaction tonight,
they weren't having as much visible fun. Perhaps because of the worry over
Dylan's ability to make it through the show, considering his vocal
difficulties of recent days.

I noticed Recelli was very watchful of bob at all times.

Dylan definitely delivered a good performance. I came away feeling
satisfied. First time since Philly 2001 that that has been the case. So
all in all a good show.

Also. People consistently mention Larry Campbell's distance in the band
and how bob seems to ignore him. TRUST ME. This always seems to go around
like a bug during European tours. There is NOTHING wrong with Larry. He is
the backbone of the band, he's the guy pulling all the riffs, keeping the
structure intact, he has a lot of work to do and he is most certainly a
worker. Believe me, this is a very close band; they're very respectful and
affectionate towards each other. But first and foremost they are there to
do a job not to put on a face for the fans in order to reassure them of
things that actually don't need reassuring. Larry's position is fine. Bob
likes him.

Tommy again was playing a lot of guitar during this show. But I've been
led to believe this is because bob needs prompt as their is no monitor
near his keyboard so that he can effectively keep in time with the guys.

Speaking of which. Bobs timing is impeccable. The way he toys with the
spacing between vocal nuance and expression is as great as ever. He slowed
his vocal stops between the penultimate verses on watchtower right down,
until I found myself on the edge of my seat (lies, I was standing up
dancing) waiting for him to deliver the punch line. Testing stuff Mr
Dylan. Keep on keeping on.

Now to the song layout:

Please note I didn't have my notebook with me this time and because of my
distance from the stage - I was in the second A block - I was unable to
get a consistently good visual. My binoculars were more of a hindrance
than anything else. Anyways I wasn't able to take detailed notes of the
show and in fact i just for once enjoyed the show instead of concentrating
too much on detail. I came to this show with an open mind, thank god.

Maggie's Farm

'Twas a good intro. Very much in the typical vein, nothing much more to be

Its All Over Now Baby Blue

Again, nice but nothing stand out. A solid enough performance.

Cry Awhile

He's starting to get into it. His voice is actually rather good, all
things considered.

Desolation Row

Wow. Ok so he's on a roll. Yes tonight's sound system may be shit. But...
This was special. I liked the leather cup line.

It's Allright Ma

Very good. Crowd started to wake up at this point. Pres reference got
typical cheer from crowd.

Girl From the North Country

Wow!! This was definitely one of the highlights. very tenderly delivered
by bob. I like Larry's guitar part on this very much. The melody has
somewhat changed and it works for sure. Bob really tried on this. His
lower register used with parts of his falsetto range really makes this
sweet. I thought it was boots at first. Can you believe it? ! 

Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum

Rocked as usual. Koella has a lot more confidence. As I noticed he comes
out from behind bob to jam with Larry more now. He's a different player to
Larry or Charlie but like Charlie works on an emotional tension creating
level. I like him. Though I think for Koella's understated style to really
work bob also needs an extra guitar player or even keyboard player to fill
in the gaps in the overall sound. Koella has most certainly taken the band
in an interesting direction, one that I'm not critical of, but rather
intrigued by.

Man In The Long Black Coat

Great again!! Who would've thought a few years ago that this would get
such regular play? All this nonsense recently about Bob's sets being
boring gets me down. I mean look at the songs we're getting that we know
for a fact we would've dreamed about getting a year or so ago. Of course
in 98 I believe it was a staple. But I really like this new arrangement
and the blood on the moon line is interesting.

Stuck Inside of Mobile

Well this just rocked. Brought me back to the days of Newcastle 2000.
Koella shined, as did all the guys. This performance was really quite
good, considering how boring the songs has become recently. 

Highway 61

Yes, This one actually got me moving. I started dancing in my isle. This
song really worked for me tonight!

Every Grain of Sand

First time for me to hear this live, a bit of an anticlimax. Bob was
searching for an emotional spot and couldn't seem to hit it. A shame

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

What can I say? This was a highlight for sure. Bobs reference to
parliament also, instead of politics.  He pretty much nailed it from my
recollection and it got a good crowd response.

Summer Days

This one took a while to take off, but eventually it did. It may not be
the b52 it was in late 2002, but it still reaches the heights at time. 

Cats In The Well

Love this new version. Lots of extended jams. Was it this song where
Tony's bass become rather loud and dominant and to say the least pretty
damn cool??


Not as good as it could've been but as I said earlier there were aspects
of this that were pretty good.

All in all a good show!! Shame it's the only one on this tour I can make.
Hoping to see four or five next year in the US if I can and will be saving
for it as well as looking for ways to get from show to show in the spring.

Hello to everyone I saw and hello to everyone I didn't get to see.

Hope you all dug the show. I think we were real lucky to get to see him
tonight. It was evident he hadn't been out on the drink with Woody. His
ailment was certainly serious and evident. Yet he overcame it with great

4 stars bobby!!



p.s nice to see Mary again. Also Dave Harrison and Gill and co. Wouldve
loved to come back to the pub after or even to have seen you guys before
the show but it wasnt so. had to get back to Ncle.


Review by Mike Woodcock

Great news that Bob shakes off the throat infection that caused him to
cancel a gig two days earlier. He's in great form and so is the band, but
who on earth was responsible for the sound mix? Whenever the music rocks,
and that's most of the time, Dylan's vocal is drowned. I know all the
songs, but often couldn't make out a word he was singing. God knows what
those who know little of Dylan but came to check out a legend made of it
all. Perhaps they left wondering what all the fuss is about. Highlights?
The two acoustic numbers Girl from the North Country and Hattie Carroll.
Bob coming across loud and clear as the band stay in the background. Every
Grain of Sand, a personal favourite, not far  behind. And a magnificent
ALTW as a closer. Fantastic arrangement and a great vocal by Bob, even if
much of it was drowned out. Bob has assembled a truly great band  and they
transformed old favourites and the newer numbers. Dylan as enigmatic as
ever. Facial tics, hand movements, walkabouts around the stage and not
once an acknowledgement of an audience until it was time to say goodnight.
He seemed to revel in the magic of his  band. Perhaps that's the problem.
I wanted more Dylan and less band.



Review by David Reid

Making a swift exit from the show my wife and I were approached by a radio
reporter and asked what we had thought of the show, My wife responded  "It
was Good".  The last show Julia was at was the boring tented affair in
Liverpool.  I heard myself respond "Alright".  Immediately i was thinking
to myself, now, I have to explain what 'alright' really means.  Here goes
- obviously, Bob's voice was still not as strong as it has been earlier on
this tour but I don't think that had much to do with my response to this
show.  Maybe it was the venue, another big hanger of a place with surplus
sound bouncing around, or maybe the atmosphere,  there seemed to be little
excitement amongst the audience throughout the whole night, perhaps it was
the selection of songs, i so wanted to hear, Floater, Senor, Trying To Get
to Heaven, even Bye and Bye, Mississippi obviously being out of the
question.  The first two songs passed without me really tuning in.  Cry
Awhile and Desolation Row went by well enough.  I wasn't expecting much
from It's Alright Ma but the solid raw strength of the band made the song
sound better than I had heard it in a long time.  The band's sound has
changed for the better.  Having Bob on piano rather than guitar seems to
reduce his capacity to disrupt any overall groove the band might achieve. 
That being said, Honest With Me and Summer Days still sound as incoherent
as ever on stage.  Man In The Long Black Coat and Hattie Carroll made the
night for me.  Hattie Carroll was particularly moving, it seemed to have
shifted a little from its most recent form and Bob's emphasis on the 'six
month sentence' phrase this night was the most effective I have ever heard
in a live performance.  Every Grain of Sand had moments of desolate beauty
but Bob sang the perfect finished plan ending which always spoils the song
for me.  We were stage left and had a clear side-on view of Bob as he sang
and played at the piano - a view not experienced before.   On reflection,
you come to realise that you have once again experienced the unique oddity
that is Bob and his music, and that things have changed within him and his
music since the last time he came by.  "Alright', indeed.

David Reid


Review by Kevin Fletcher

After reading that Bob had cancelled Cork with "viral laryngitis", the
panic set in: will he make Sheffield and the rest of the UK tour? After
several phone calls to the arena and checks on their website the news
looked reasonably hopefull. Bob's management indicated by lunchtime that
he would be performing, and by 3.30pm the news was "Bob is in Sheffield,
the stage has been set up and was going ahead". Joy! So, at 7.20pm we
arrive (three of us), good seats third row from front smack in the centre.
And from were Bob's piano set up was placed we were in for a great view.
The murmers rumours were rife in the crowd, would he be up to it? would
his voice be even worse than ever?was the illness just an excuse for a
bad/good night on the piss with Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards who were
both seen at the first Irish gig? After the usual long intro, out he steps
with the band, ripping into Maggies. No complaints from me. His voice was
clear, loud and in tune. The whole show was IMHO a superb performance, and
I've seen good and bad since 1965 including the '66 Free Trade Hall
pinacle. He was much better than last year at Manchester and Birmingham.
Far less mumbling, forgetting words, or crazy tuneless attempts at
classics. True he did have a head cold, as verified by the dew drop that
regularly formed on the end of that famous nose, but he seemed more
determined than ever to sing his heart out. Very impressive. Highlight for
me - Man in a long black coat. Superb version, very strong and with some
improved lyrics - no more "people don't live or die, people just float"
instead - "I went down to the station(?) but I just missed the boat". Also
Hattie Carol - beautifully delivered. The one song he had trouble with was
the new version of Girl from the North Country. His voice just wasn't
strong enough for this difficult new melody. Nice arrangement though with
Tony bowing his double bass. As for the new (to me) guitarist - Freddie,
well he's good, very good but a little over eager to please and looked
very nervous most of the time. Looking to Bob for approval. As for Bob's
antics on stage - what is he doing? He prances about in the middle of
songs (when Freddie and Larry take over) and just wanders around
aimlessly, giving the odd out of sync handclap, before hitting the
keyboard full force, right chords or not.Crazy guy. I'm sure he's loosing
it.  Either that or he just doesn't know what to do with himself during
the long instrumental breaks. He's become the conductor of his band, with
regular thumbs up signs and pointing and laughter, especially at the
drummer, going on. At one point he could be heard returning to his piano
saying" O.K. Guys lets go!" I kid you not. Just wait for the boot. We also
had the treat of a new band member - a roadie or guitar technician was
constantly being waved on by Bob to play rythmn guitar, I don't think Bob
was quite happy with the sound he was getting out of the piano, as the
other stage crew were flitting around most of the time tweaking equipment.
From the look on Bobs face though you can't tell what he's thinking! He
grimaces and shakes his head a lot during songs, but is he annoyed, or
into the music or what? or just Bob Dylan? Anyway we came away as did
every body I could see, on a big bob high. Thanks Bob, see you next year.

Kevin Fletcher


Review by Linda and David Conneely

Forever the troubadour.  That's Bob.  That's what I had to keep 
reminding myself throughout the show as I strained in my seat sideways
squinting into my binoculars.

In a perfectly tailored dark suit, he was like a puppet. on stage.  
Were his hands touching the keyboards or not?  I could not hear the 
keyboard - just the thump of the bass and drums and the frantic playing of
the guitars as I searched the stage in the hope of glimpsing a mandolin,
fiddle or slide guitar waiting for their moment of glory.

The mandolin appeared, but got eaten up by the pulsating strong blues type

Bob has reinvented himself yet again since I last saw him in Manchester
and had got so excited about the fact that he appeared to be Bluegrass
bound.. Bringing a little of the mountains that he loves into his music.
But it wasn't to be as he bumbled through his set with a sore throat to

Overall, it was a good pub gig.  And I got excited about seeing Bob in the
'flesh' and how he interacted with the musicians.

Perhaps traditional instruments get swallowed up in large venues, but come
on Bob, lets see some style.  Maybe more gigs in smaller venues?

Linda and David Conneely


Review by Martin Hewitt

I`ve seen Bob on many occasions but I`ve got to say this wasn`t one of his

Got to agree with Mike that lyrically it was very difficult to understand
most of the words.My girlfriend had never seen him before, but commented
after the show that the only words she understood was " like a rolling
stone" !

The great man was obviously still suffering from a throat infection also a
poor mix didn`t help.

Fortunately I was familiar with all the numbers played so could appreciate
a number of songs.

Girl from The North Country, Desolation Row, Man in the Long Black Coat,
Watchtower all good performances. But best of all Hattie Caroll.

So it was`nt a total waste of time for me.

Must admit couldn`t get used to Bob messing around on the keyboards he
looked to be totally lost during some of the songs .

Good to see better reviews in London and wish I`d been there to catch him
at a smaller venue and in better voice.

Anyway here`s to many more concerts on these shores.

Martin Hewitt


Review by Jayne Harnett

First a thanks to the guys from Liverpool who generously gave
me a spare ticket and sorry to Chris who had a ticket for me but who was
driving up from Aylesbury and stuck in traffic at 7.45pm.  The concert
started earlier than advertised apparently.  Thanks also for the
occasional loan of the binoculars from the couple on Row A. It is great to
see the action on stage move a bit closer.

There seemed plenty of empty seats when the lights went down but the Arena
was packed from the end of the first song, and a big crowd standing
throughout at the front – worshipping. I have seen Dylan every year in the
UK since 1998, but also saw his first magnificent concerts in Sheffield in
’ 65 and again in ’66 so am an old timer fan and despite his efforts to
crucify every song he has ever written, I can forgive that.  But last
night he did look a bit frail and I worry about him, although he was
moving around the stage and seemed quite animated at times, going to the
crowd at the front and engaging, or so it seemed from where I was sitting,
with the audience.  He didn’t introduce the band until the end and I
thought he had forgotten, but when he did he seemed in a good mood as if
he had enjoyed the show.  I hope he did and his lyringitis is better. The
best for me was ‘The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll’ which was powerful
and dreadful at the same time.  Dylan enunciating the words, dramatising
the awful crime and projecting the horror.  The lighting came on
sympathetic as well.  The band was overpowerful all through and on some
numbers, seemed out of sync, but to good effect on 'Highway 61'.  Maybe
they are trying out some new arrangements. I think I would like to hear
more acoustic Dylan even with that voice. I was surprised there wasn’t
more of a reaction to the naked USA president in ‘It’s Alright, Ma’,
…despite searching lights, the audience merely murmured.   It has been
said before but Dylan’s lyrics are truer today than ever before and more
people should listen to them, however impossible that is the way he sings
at the moment. I enjoyed driving home listening to ‘Blood on the Tracks’
almost as much as seeing him in person.  But I’ll be there again if he
comes back next year. No-one touches him. 

Peace and Love from Jayne


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