UNCUT editor ALLAN JONES’ second report from the Never Ending Tour
Allan Jones, Uncut’s esteemed Editor, sends a personal note from a hockey stadium, where the powers that be are taking no chances.
KeyWest Arena, Seattle
Friday October 13 2006
I’m standing on the concourse of Seattle’s KeyWest Arena where in a couple of hours Bob Dylan plays the second of his Fall 2006 US tour.
What I’m looking at in front of me here is a walloping great sign that advises that before I am allowed access to the home of the Seattle SuperSonics, the 2004 WBNA champs, the Seattle Storm and, by God, the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds – I have to be frisked for weapons. I am gravely warned that none of the following are allowed in this clearly hallowed arena – knives of any description, fireworks, explosives, hard-sided missiles and other potentially dangerous missiles.
You wonder why they don’t add to this fearsome list Stinger missiles, Scuds, assault rifles, high-velocity automatic weapons – surely all similarly to be worried about in this fretful atmosphere, and just as likely to be concealed upon my person.
In the event, a crusty old codger pats me down gently, flashes a torch in my shoulder bag and waves me through into the cavernous hinterland of KeyWest, free to wreak potential havoc if that’s what I’m here for.
Which, I’m not – luckily for a sold-out crowd of some 17, 000 unsuspecting souls. What I’m here for is the second show of Bob Dylan’s Fall 2006 US tour, which as previously reported opened two nights earlier in Vancouver.
It’s become part of the enduring folklore of Dylan’s Never Ending Tour that he rarely plays the same set twice. I remember in the dark days of 1991 when he toured with a poorly rehearsed band and was most nights drunk on stage, Dylan, in either Switzerland or Belgium, had, unthinkably, played identical sets at consecutive concerts. The hardcore Dylan fans known as the Bobcats were left spitting feathers, and there were sinister rumblings that all was lost in Bob’s world.
Tonight, Dylan is true with a vengeance to the idea of nightly changes to his concert repertoire and spectacularly overhauls the set-list he had opened with in Canada.
So out go “Cat’s In The Well”, “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”, “Tweedle Dum And Tweedle Dee”, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and “Desolation Row”.
In come, instead, “Maggie’s Farm”, given a melodic new lilt, “Love Minus Zero”, “Positively 4th Street”, “Just Like A Woman”, a stunning “A Hard rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, plus the live debut of “Thunder On the Mountain”, the powerhouse opening track of Modern Times, played as the first of three encores.
A great Seattle crowd goes duly ballistic. None more so than the woman standing next to me, who has spent much of the evening whooping with delight and occasionally sobbing. During one between-song lull, said woman, overhearing me talking to someone from a local radio station who’s just invited me to talk about Bob on her show, tells me for no obvious reason that she bets I am the only other person in the hall whose heard of Ruby Wax, the formerly ubiquitous TV personality.
I am baffled several times over by this remark. The she goes on to tell me that she was, in fact, at high school with Ruby and indeed featured somewhat prominently in the documentary Ruby made some time ago about her class reunion.
She is clearly thrilled when I remember the film and seems crestfallen that I don’t recognise her.
“Give my love to England,” she says, anyway, putting on a brave little face.
I tell her I will, and go back to cheering Bob.
KeyWest Arena, Seattle
Friday October 13, 2006
Love Minus Zero
Lonesome Day Blues
Positively Fourth Street
It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
Just Like A Woman
When The Deal Goes Down
Tangled Up In Blue
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Watching The River Flow
Workingman’s Blues No 2
Thunder On The Mountain
Like A Rolling Stone
All Along The Watchtower