Date: Sat, 15 Jul 1995 14:14:03 GMT From: Tim Anderson (freer@CIX.COMPULINK.CO.UK) Subject: Phoenix 14th July 1995 It's Friday, a disused airfield near Stratford on Avon (no, he didn't sing "Shakespeare's in the ally", and it's the Phoenix festival, open-air with camping and an impressive and diverse array of bands lined up. Arrived about 2pm, got my green wristband, threaded through security, peered anxiously at the sky. The weather was mercurial, by turns warm sunshine and angry grey drizzle. There was a nice relaxed atmosphere around the site, music everywhere, strange to walk around and hear bits and pieces of sundry simultaneous musical experiences bombarding the ear. -time passes- and here we are in front of the main stage, maybe halfway between the stage and the soundboard. The Fall, interesting band, entertaining to see Mark Smith wandering around stage reading lyrics off scraps of paper. The crowd however were not fully engaged for the Fall, especially when it started raining. Nor were they for Van Morrison, although he did a good set, rather too mellow for my taste. The heavens approved, no rain during Van's set. There was real atmosphere for his encore, and superb vocal counterplay between Van and Brian Kennedy (BK is worth seeking out BTW, a great keening, soaring vocalist, very unusual voice, Irish as well). Van is followed by Tricky, curious planning. Most of Van's crowd is replaced another crowd of younger, more rebellious types. His sound is excellent, and I enjoy the contrasting voices and strange beat. Not for everyone though, and clearly Tricky felt it was hard to get through. "I've got news for you, Dylan's not coming and you're fucked. We're going to play twice as long." It started to rain again, lightly. The set finished. Dylan was next. The field was filling up, there was real atmosphere building during the 5-10 minutes before Dylan appeared. Dylan wore shades and looked cool and in control. He opened with a thunderous Drifter's Escape, I must admit I didn't realise what it was until listening again later that evening. It functions in much the same way as Down in the Flood on earlier dates, although I don't personally think the song is quite so strong. Hard to hear the vocals, overpowering, but you know for sure the concert has started. It contrasts beautifully with I Want You that follows, a personal favourite. Vocals clear as glass. I want yoooo ... so baaad. Honey I want you. By the way, why does Bob do such long instrumental workouts on his songs these days? Is it to save his voice do you think? Just an idea. You guessed it .. All along the Watchtower. I can't get no relief. No-one knows what any of it is worth. Still a great song, though, still sung with conviction. Next a surprise. "We carried you in our arms, on independence day." Tears of Rage was a delight. Real desperation in Bob's voice, "Why must I always be the thief?" I was in heaven, not so many of the crowd though who wanted to hear the likes of Maggies Farm, LARS, Blowing in the Wind etc. About this point I realised I was going to find this frustrating. Why does someone make the considerable effort to get to an open-air concert in the middle of the countryside, buy a ticket, park the car, walk miles, and then spend the entire Dylan set chatting to friends? What kind of love is this, that goes from bad to worse? Why not do that at home or in the pub? Well, to be fair, maybe they didn't like Bob Dylan. Maybe they came for Tricky, or Suede, or to find drugs or women. But I came for Bob. Oh well. Perhaps it adds a kind of poignancy. Next is Silvio, great performance, really tight. Then the acoustic set ... and it is, Tangled up in Blue, one of the songs I'd been hoping for. I like it better than the electric version I heard in Brixton, but I'm not sure Bob has this song right at the moment, still seems a bit thrown away, too jaunty for a song about parting. Very enjoyable all the same. Mama you bin on my mind is great though, pace just right, attractive picking, vocal tender and slightly playful. The next song was a highlight One too many mornings, sung with passion. It's a restless, hungry feeling ... restless is a great word to evoke Bob Dylan. Why does he tour all the time? Why still singing the old songs? Why is he willing to sing from the depth of his spirit to a crowd gossiping about Ethel and John and going to the cinema and what's on next week? Hmmmm. The only problem with this gorgeous acoustic sound is that it doesn't drown out the voices too well. The electric numbers are better for that .. and here we are, after band introductions (Bob's only words throughout the set), with Seeing the Real You. I don't regard this as one of Bob's great songs, but he almost won me over, he sung it brilliantly. That was the end of the set. Much clapping and shouting. Behind and to the left, someone cries "Cmon Bob, do some of your old Bob. Enough of this crap" I wonder if he knew how old most of the songs were? Another voice, "Blowing in the wind." Well, Bob did what they wanted ... nearly. Rainy Day Women, and they loved it. OK, I enjoyed it too. I would not feel so all alone .. it is as if Bob decided, in closing, to give in for a moment and please the crowd. And as it happens, I have not heard Bob sing this before... That was it, and the roadies were on to change the set for Suede before you could blink. It was kinda satisfying to see most people leaving ... nobody should follow Dylan. The sky agreed, and Suede opened to torrential rain. Me, I was alright, in the Carlsberg tent hearing the last 25 minutes of Brian Kennedy's solo set. Then it was a burger and out. So there you have it, 10 songs, Bob in great form, but not the magic of Brixton (for me anyway). I particularly liked I want You, Tears of Rage, and One too many Mornings. I have a DAT of the event by the way, not the greatest ever but a nice souvenir. I'd love to trade for other DATs, or any tape of Philly 21 June 1995. And in case you couldn't be bothered with the above verbosity, here's the setlist: July 14th 1995, Phoenix Festival Drifter's Escape I Want You All along the Watchtower. Tears of Rage Silvio Tangled up in Blue. Mama you bin on my mind. One too many mornings. Seeing the Real You at Last. Rainy Day Women.