erasing clouds

Live Review: Bob Dylan @ SECC, Glasgow, Scotland, 23rd June 2004

by anna battista

He's considered the icon of a generation, the rebel king of rock 'n' roll and one of the best songwriters (if not THE best one) in the world. Today he's also been awarded an honorary degree in music by Scotland's oldest university, St. Andrews' (he's only accepted one other honorary degree, from Princeton University in 1970, so this is a bit of a major event). We're talking about 'Doctor' Bob Dylan, who, after a few years, is back in Glasgow for the first of two concerts. This is the bigger one, with 9,000 people crowding the largest auditorium of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. Unfortunately, it is a less intimate gig compared to the one scheduled for tomorrow at the Barrowland, yet to see all these people gathered here for only one man and his band is equally exciting.

As soon as the lights go off in the auditorium, the screams and shouts of the crowd rise to greet Dylan. Sporting his by now trademark hat and a black suit, he enters the stage and directs towards his keyboard (tonight he will only play this instrument and the harmonica) and opens with "The Wicked Messenger". After concluding the first song, he goes towards his backing band (Dylan's bandleader since the late 1980s Tony Garnier on bass and double bass, Larry Campbell on guitar and fiddle, George Recile on drums, Stu Kimball on guitar), tells them the next song (a thing which he will keep on doing for the rest of the evening) and rewards us with the classic "The Times They Are A-Changin". His voice, which sounds a bit more cracked than usual, is at times a sneer, at others a pure bluesy voice, at others the lament of a tortured lover. Tonight's set includes also other classics, among them "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again", "Man in the Long Black Coat", "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "Forever Young". At the end of the gig, Dylan comes back on stage for an encore which includes "Like a Rolling Stone", the most cheered song of the night, saluted by a mighty roar, and "All Along The Watchtower". He might have just become 'doctor of music', but he's still definitely the rebel king of music, a title nobody will ever be able to steal from him.

Issue 24, June 2004

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