London, England
Brixton Academy
November 25, 2003

[Neil Millar], [Oliver Fry], [Tim Smart], [Toby Richards-Carpenter], [Graham Cole], [Martin]

Review by Neil Millar

Dylan ended his European arena tour with shows at three different 
London theatres on consecutive nights.  It was three nights of 
genuine surprises: Quinn The Eskimo (at Shepherds Bush Empire), 
Romance In Durango, (at Hammersmith Apollo) and Yea Heavy And A 
Bottle Of Bread (at Brixton Academy).  There were also wonderful 
highlights.  Tonight (for me) these were: Blind Willie McTell, 
Tangled Up In Blue and Hard Rain.  At earlier shows on this tour 
(when the arenas were cavernous and Bob, we are told, had laryngitis)
there was, perhaps, a feeling that the set lists were becoming repetitive.
 The final three London shows, which were all at comparatively small
venues, were a marked contrast.  Although Dylan played his now usual
17-song set each night, he played a total of 36 different songs during the
three shows (if I've counted correctly). Of course, set lists don't tell
the whole story.  These were also great performances.  I know such things
are highly subjective, but I thought Dylan and the Band were quite
outstanding at these three shows.  It would be hard to chose between them,
but he seemed to get better each night.  Dylan gave a virtuoso performance
at Brixton and, at the risk of sounding corny, it was a privilege to be
there.  He may an old man, but at these final shows of his European tour
Dylan was close to his best.  I suppose this is why we keep buying the


Review by Oliver Fry

The superlatives run out when seeking to descibe this show. Bob and the
band were on immense form tonight, delivering the most energetic and
inspiring performance I've seen from any live outfit, and sending the
lucky crowd into a frenzy of appreciation. We were in the presence of true
greatness tonight!

In particular it was a real pleasure to hear Larry Campbell up front in
the mix; he was given greater freedom to cut loose with some first class
lead breaks to complement his incisive rythm work, and was the driving
force in the band tonight. I've missed Charlie on this tour, but Freddie
delivered tonight too - not dominating, but adding a new dimension to the
sound where one was required. Indeed the whole band interacted perfectly
throughout the show - with Bob relishing the role of bandleader, waving
his arms and pointing at the players in an amusing fashion.

The maestro himself clearly enjoyed himself, bobbing the head wildly,
singing strongly and with humour, engaging fully with the band and feeding
off the energy of the crowd. Some fine harp playing too - particularly on
a powerful Tangled, to which Freddie contributed some splendidly sparing
lead.  And what a setlist he chose tonight - perfectly paced and with
enough surprises to keep us on our toes. There were no low points, but
Wicked Messenger, Lovesick and Hard Rain were highlights for me, along
with a perfect Boots of Spanish Leather which was brilliantly embellished
by Larry's fine playing. Jokerman was a real treat too, well delivered
(even if with the help of a lyric sheet atop the keyboard) and Highway 61
featured even better guitar work than usual from Larry and Freddie. 

Perhaps the best thing about tonight was the crowd's response to the show,
which was lively and ecstatic, in marked contrast to the semi-torpor of
some of the arena crowds. This pushed the performance onto another level
and seemed to give the musicians extra verve. I hope Bob goes home knowing
how much his English fans appreciate that he still comes here, and still
bothers to reinvent his material and pull surprises on us. He certainly
left tonight's audience hungry for his next visit to London. 


Review by Tim Smart

Just got back to Cambridge from Brixton. What a great show! B W McTell was
just outstanding. There were many highlights tonight and the set list was
great. Went to Dusseldorf and it was good to hear about 28 different songs
in total. Yea! H and a B of B was a great surprise, TUIB raised the roof.
I know this as i was sitting in the back row upstairs. Highway 61 rocked
as did Love Sick.Then JOKERMAN(brilliant) and Bob really nailed Hard
Rain.Bob rocked us all again with Honest With Me and Summer Days with a
stunning Hattie Carroll between them.The encores followed which really got
the balcony going. I was heading for my sixth joint at this point and was
dancing on my seat.Watchtower absolutley blew me away.Then it was all over
and i lost my voice so needed to go to the pub.Just to say that i think
that Freddie was outstanding. He gives Bobs music new dimensions and the
slurping country sound has now forever gone.Bye the way, my wife and I saw
Nigel from Eastenders in the pub who funnily enough was in the same pub
when Dylan was last at Brixton. Did anyone else see him? Hi to every one
from The Cambridge Dylan Society. See you on Friday. 

Tim Smart


Review by Toby Richards-Carpenter

"Sailing Away"

Tonight Bob Dylan sang the last verse of 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' in a way 
that placed me on the mountain's edge, praying for salvation and living on hope 
as the weather closes in. I couldn't tell you, in the dazed afterglow, how he 
did this, but I know he couldn't have placed the lines of the song with greater 
authority had he carved them in stone. It was a version of 'Hard Rain' that 
started with a stumble. Bob ended the first verse by attempting to sing a line 
he hadn't written, when the first chorus should have beckoned. But he didn't 
fall - he climbed higher and higher to the song's climax. It was a performance 
to guide me through the dark times.

'Hard Rain' contained the moment of the show for me because to me the song means 
so much. In truth, though, most of the fantastic songs Bob played tonight were 
delivered form the same elevated perspective. It was an absolutely storming show 
with which to close out the tour. 

The atmosphere was blazing hot the whole evening - the most raucous of all the 
UK crowds - and Bob made clear his appreciation after the final song, 'All Along 
The Watchtower. To the baying mess of hysteria before him, he feigned a gesture 
of wiping tears from his eyes. I'd expected to feel sad or even to panic at the 
end of the last show, at the thought that my time in Bob's company was finally 
over. In the event, I felt nothing but joy at having heard such a wonderful 
concert - I just couldn't get upset, no matter how hard the parting. Thank you 

After the set-lists of the two previous evenings, in Hammersmith and Shepherds 
Bush, one curve-ball song at least was expected. Tonight it came at number two. 
A cantankerous 'The Wicked Messenger' to open was followed by the cranky, 
creased chords of 'Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread' - we were back at MSG 2002 
once more. Everyone had a good laugh with this one. The pace picked up quickly 
with the following 'Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum', bursting with energy as usual.

'Blind Willie Mc Tell' was the first of the show's heavy-hitters. As Bob crooned 
knowingly over the shifting, simmering music it became clear that Bob was setting 
high standards for his vocals this evening - a fine version. 'Tangled Up In Blue' 
was a wonderful surprise, and Bob's voice wandered high, wide and afar, projecting 
the scene with power and clarity. He loved blowing the harp on this one, and saw 
the song out with a mazy turn of repetition - this performance nestles in behind 
'Hard Rain' as my second-favourite song of the night.

'Million Miles' runs it close though. Emulating the performance of the previous 
two nights, it was another scary-hilarious strop, delivered with immaculate timing 
by Bob and his band. 'Jokerman' was a pleasure to hear once again, with Bob 
delighting in singing the verses with varied intent.

Overall the Brixton show had the feeling of a full-on rock assault, which 
contrasted with the quieter, slightly more reflective tone of shows earlier in 
the tour. Added to the songs I've already mentioned, 'Highway 61 Revisited', 
'Love Sick', 'Honest With Me', 'All Along The Watchtower' and 'Summer Days' gave 
the show power on a brutish level. Despite this, Bob was so 'on' this evening 
that, on the couple of occasions he turned his hand to the 'storytelling' set 
pieces his European audience has recently been enjoying, he portrayed them with 
moving conviction. 'Boots Of Spanish Leather' was characterised by daring vocal 
flourishes, whilst 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll' was laid out with full 
sombre meaning. I'll be amazed if Bob has done a better 'Hattie Carroll' all 

Other special moments return to me. 'Honest With Me' was sung with magnificent 
sarcasm, bordering on incredulity. 'All Along The watchtower' featured some 
tuneful, dominant piano playing from Bob. I should also mention that the hapless 
Freddy Koella, bless him, played the gig of his life on lead guitar tonight.

My final, personal, restless farewell to Bob came during 'Like A Rolling Stone'. 
From my perfect vantage point in the front row of the balcony, I saw Bob 
straining his eyes upwards during the instrumental verse, picking out the figures 
gazing down at him. This was my moment, and I jumped up, waved and ginned and 
thanked Bob for all I was worth, for all he was worth. Tonight, for the last time 
in 2003, we'd sailed away from life's mundane, and now he was to disappear after 
taking me on a long, thrilling, eight-show voyage. 

A few minutes later it was all over. And now I feel blissfully happy. The moments 
have passed as I knew they eventually would, but the music was timeless. I'll 
never forget it.


Review by Graham Cole

Bin here and gone, to quote an old blues song.
Now he?s bin here and gone, and will be back home for Thanksgiving today.
For me, it?s now over twenty-four hours since Bob?s last show of this tour
of Europe and my review comes a bit late ? sorry ? but it has been tiring
trekking up and down motorways to see this wonderful series of shows.
Getting to Brixton proved almost as tight as getting to the NEC with South
London traffic holding me and a spare ticket up, but into the theatre and
ready for the almost same time start as on the two preceding evenings at
Shepherds Bush and Hammersmith.  Not so close this evening but with
excellent sight lines of everyone in the band so no complaints and, as
usual, everyone around me in very good spirits at the prospect of the
final show.  What would it be like, what would they play, would we get two
encores, and so on, all questions going though my mind, and would I be
telling Loraine again what a great show she had had to miss? The answer to
the last question was a resounding yes, although personally, it didn?t
quite match the wonderful Hammersmith night and the particular beauty of
Romance in Durango.  But on a  sheer enjoyment rating, it went high from
the outset and stayed there pretty much all evening.  A different starter
with The Wicked Messenger, and I enjoyed this really well, perhaps
increasing my mental ponderings about how much he might change the setlist.
Imagine then our surprise and sheer delight when the familiar introduction
to the seldom played Yea Heavy and a Bottle of Bread came out for number
two.  For the third night running in this slot (Mighty Quinn and You Ain?t
Goin? Nowhere previously), Dylan went back to his Basement days, and I
felt the spirit of Big Pink and the Catskills was amongst us on this
wonderfully bizarre, folky tune.  Even if the sound seemed a bit muddy at
times, perhaps that all contributed to the evocative nature of the
performance. On all shows I have seen this tour, Dylan has been prepared
to change tempo and mood in an exciting and stimulating way, so the move
into Tweedle Dee and then Blind Willie McTell showed just this side of his
varied performances.  The latter song always brings out the best in his 
audiences given its almost mythical status, and for me tonight?s version 
was really lovely, with it?s chord changes and song structure that are quiet 
unlike anything else he has written..  When he then moved into Tangled Up in 
Blue, the crowd became even more excited, and quite rightly so.  There was a 
time when this song became something of a tiresome staple of the setlist, 
but now that it is appearing less frequently, it comes as a very welcome
inclusion.  With particularly strong harmonica playing on this song, and I
really do feel that Bob?s harmonica in these last two shows has been far
better and more meaningful than, say, at Wembley or the NEC, the
performance was especially impressive, and the way he delivered
Taaaaaangled ..... up in blue, drawing out the lyrics with real passion,
held the song so strongly. After this came Million Miles, slower than we
have been used to, and after a jazzy start slipped into a deep bluesy
feel.  Boots of Spanish Leather has been a favourite throughout the tour for 
me, and tonight was no  exception, delivered as it was, delicately and 
precisely.  Yet again the soundboard worked hard this evening to get things 
just right and Bob?s voice sounded so crystal clear at times, and far less 
raspy than we have previously heard.
Highway 61 did not reach the heights of Shepherds Bush, but I really rocked
to Love Sick and welcomed its inclusion in tonight?s set.  The reverb gave
it a stately feel, and the song played so smoothly, and poetically. 
Jokerman has now appeared on all three small venue nights and I feel each
time it was presented differently (tonight a slightly heavier
arrangement), yet each time very enjoyably.  This was followed by the old
?protest? song, Hard Rain, which, the last time we saw Bob sing, he had
the audience to help him out when the sound went down at just the wrong
moment.  No such technical problems tonight with a performance that was
spine-tingling as far as I was concerned and proved to be another of the
evening?s highlights. As the evening went by and we moved into the last
three of the main set, Honest with Me, Hattie Carroll and the rockin?
Summer Days, I could not help but feel that we were inexorably getting
close to saying Farewell once again to this great troubadour.  These three
songs were as they have been when performed on the tour, each beautiful in
their own different way, with the ever stand-out Hattie Carroll?s lyrics
getting the wonderful enunciation that Bob has afforded them at each
performance of the song, whilst Honest with Me gave us the best
performance of the Bob (dance routine) of the night.

As the main set closed, the audience showed its pleasure and gratitude
with what I felt to be the best,  noisiest and longest reception of these
past three nights. The customary final trio closed the show itself, and I
thought the version of LARS was his best yet of the tour, again thanks to
some clear phrasing of the lines ? you?ve .. got .. no .. se .. crets ?
and the enthusiasm of the crowd for this classic oldie.  Even Watchtower
was better for me than previously, and listening carefully on the
penultimate verse gave me the clearest strong piano chording I could
remember seeing and hearing Bob play all tour. And then after what was
clearly a desire to show us just how much he appreciated our applause for
tonight?s show, and indeed for the tour as a whole, he was gone, skipping
gently into the darkness of the wings, the damp London night, and ....
This has been the first time we have followed Bob around so much on a

Someone else will count up the number of different songs we have heard,
when Bob last played this tune or that one, the setlists show who played
what on which songs, and there will always be endless debate about which
was the best show.  Me, I?ve just soaked up the sheer experience of seeing
this wonderful performer in five completely different shows, and, without
being blinkered about the whole thing, I have loved every minute of it.
 I hope and pray he?ll do it again, and sooner rather than later, and if
he does, Loraine and I will do our level best to be there all over again.
For now, to Bob and the band, thank you for some great concerts; it?s been
a fabulous series of shows with some truly wonderful performances. 
Romance in Durango will stay with me for a long time, perhaps forever, and
I am comforted by the thought that at any time, we have your treasury of
music to listen to until you come back in person. Thank you Bob. in peace


Review by Martin

The shows weren't perfect - I missed seeing It's alright ma again which I
really like - but Bob's energy and mood, and the songs, really made them
Shepard's Bush had so many surprises in the setlist and the excitement in
the air was overwhelming.  The venue is lovely and very small, and I was
second from the rail almost directly in front of Bob.  People in the crowd
were going crazy in response to some of the song choices.  The only
downside was the sound of Bob's mike - which wasn't that clear (although
that might have had something to do with where I was standing, I'm not
sure) plus the fact that he had a bit of trouble with words on a couple of
songs (Tough mama and Tombstone blues I think).  Apart from that it was
fab.  Hammersmith was definitely the best of the 3 in my mind - every song
up to Hattie Carroll was sung, I think, almost flawlessly.  This was at
least partly to do with Bob having lyric sheets on his piano for the rarer
ones - Tough mama was much better this time (as was Dear landlord), the
rare L&T songs were very fresh, Jokerman was spinetingling (sorry to
resort to well worn adjectives) and Romance in durango was word perfect
and beautifully sung (as in, you know, beautiful for Bob).  Lots of
people, including me, were laughing out loud in amazement while that song
was taking place.  What was great about a lot of the surprises was that
they weren't just novelties, they were really great performances.  After
that, the regular encores at the last 2 nights were a disappointment, and
although there were a lot of good things about Brixton, it seemed like the
most predictable show (after Yea heavy had finished of course.  It still
had an awesome Hard rain and Boots of spanish leather).  I should just add
that Freddie was very inoffensive for a lot of the time, mainly because
Larry was  leading the way with the rare songs, so Freddie played rhythm a
lot.  At one point in Hammersmith he had a sound problem and was totally
inaudible for a song or two!  

I was trying to think of a more impressive Bob concert than Hammersmith,
and of the 34 others I've been to now I could only think of maybe 4 or 5
at the most.  If the encores had been really special, it might have been


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