Bob Dylan 2000.09.24 in Portsmouth, England
Guildhall, Guildhall Square
Subject: Portsmouth mini review
From: John Fox
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2000 22:54:22 +0100
Just got back from Portsmouth.
Excellent show. Started at 1945 and finished at 2135.
Highlight for me was a lovely version of If Not For You, but the
show is filled with so many good songs it's hard to choose.
Biggest cheer of the night was when he actually smiled at the
Took my 14 year old son who thought he was a "moody old
man".....doh, kids, they just don't understand class!
By the way, if you're in Portsmouth tomorrow (Monday) there's a
get together at South Parade Pier between 11.30 and 6 pm, and
them again after the show.
2000: March -
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2000 11:54:27 +0100
Subject: Portsmouth 2000.9.24 Review
Portsmouth Guildhall, 2000-09-24
The smallest venue I had seen him in. Fifteen feet from the man.
Close enough to see the sweat drip from his nose. The lines on
the face are deeper now and the mask of indifference is more
secure. This means we hear even louder levels of excitement
whenever the mask drops a little. The almost imperceptible
raising of an eyebrow or sideways movement of the eyes is our
visual proof that a flame still burns. The half-smiling grimaces
to Larry as, together, they light up the centre break of ?Like A
Rolling Stone? reassure us that he?s doing rather more than going
through the motions. And we get a few of those Chaplinesque
duckwalks which draw more roars of approval.
The sartorial look is an elegant cross between Las Vegas and
Riverboat Gambler: black suit with sparkly lapels and white side
markings, white shirt with longish collar, white silk tie.
The music is pretty damn good too. The sound is excellent on
acoustic and slower numbers but a bit too distorted on his voice
for the heavier stuff.
For me, the standouts were ?Visions of Johanna? and ?4th Time
Around? both delivered with real clarity and delicacy - I hadn?t
seen either of these live since the Albert Hall in 1966 - and ?If
Not For You? with impressively stretched syllables and altered
The shift of pace and sound from ?Searching For A Soldier?s
Grave? to the electric ?Country Pie? is a great piece of theatre.
My only disappointment was that ?Things Have Changed? was missing
tonight but we did have the first appearances of six songs on
this leg of The Tour (?Visions of Johanna?, ?Mama You?ve Been On
My Mind?, ?Gotta Serve Somebody?, ?If Not For You?, ?4th. Time
Around? and ?I?ll Be Your Baby Tonight?) to more than make up for
For my wife Jennifer, there were no song overlaps with the first
time she saw him in London in 1964. She still has the concert
programme he signed when she chased his cab after the concert ?
he stopped the cab, got out and signed the programme. I don?t
think either of them would do that today.
To: "Karl Erik Andersen" ,
Subject: Portsmouth (24th) - review by Markus Prieur
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2000 12:58:21 +0100
We did get tickets for my 30th Bob date after all, as we were
offered seating tickets by a friend of an American I tried to
furnish with a Vicar Street ticket. Since we already have
standing tickets for the second show, I didn't think twice and
ended up on the balcony of this old and small venue, third row
center (I mean CENTER). Watching from above with or without my
binoculars I enjoyed a perfect view and a lear and loud sound; an
of course a brilliant setlist. Only eight repetitions from the
night before in Cardiff, but again, some were as fresh as could
be. Even "H61" (my 9th on this tour) was most enjoyable. But we
do go to multiple shows not to hear ten times the same songs
(although some I wouldn't mind at all seeing every night, as I
didn't mind the fourth omission in a row of "RDW"), but to hear
the rare ones, don't we? And Bob did not disappoint. The third
appearance of "THE WICKED MESSENGER" was as intense as possible.
Three songs were performed for the second time on this tour: The
wonderful opener "SOMEBODY TOUCHED ME", which didn't surprise me,
as , like in Glasgow, "it was on a Sunday". And "TO RAMONA" and
"CAN'T WAIT" he had performed before only at Vicar Street.
But the real nuggets were among the six new songs for this tour,
three of which I had never seen before: "VISIONS OF JOHANNA" was
a very nice change in the number three spot, delivered
beautifully. I'm glad I finally got to see it. "IF NOT FOR YOU" I
didn't recognize before he started singing, and it was sung quite
powerfully. "FOURTH TIME AROUND" was new to my eyes as well, and
performed for the first time this year. He told it like a recent
story is told to a small circle of friends, like someone eho
says: Guess what happened to me the other day. Bob does that at
The other three additions to this tour-songlist I had heard
before, "I'LL BE YOUR BABY TONIGHT" even eight times, but the
arrangement always changes a little. "MAMA YOU BEEN ON MY MIND"
(which featured a nice harminica this time), we had seen before
in Muenster 1996 and in Munich 1999.
My favourite addition and probably the peak of our
ten-gig-journey (if he doesn't pull out "EVERY GRAIN OF SAND"
tonight, before we had home to Ireland tomorrow), was a superb,
magnificent and rocking "GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY" at the ninth song
of the night, which even surprised me, as I was expecting it to
replace "COUNTRY PIE", which it didn't. We were hoping to see it
but once on this tour, flashing our cloth sign between songs
whenever we stood close to the stage. (My wife had never
witnessed Bob performing this gem, and I had not seen it since
1991), Bob performed it for the seventh time this year and he
performed it well. ("You might be Bono, you might be Sting")
Whoever we are, Bob Dylan still seems to believe that we all are
created to serve the Lord; the Lord, whose hand keeps touching
him, while he is praying, and whose nail scarred hand alone
imparts lasting glory.
Markus Prieur / http://notdarkyet.tripod.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: PORTSMOUTH REVIEW
Date: 25 Sep 2000 20:01:47 GMT
Organization: AOL, http://www.aol.co.uk
Portsmouth 24th September 2000.
As always, because I don't carry pens and paper to write down the setlist, so
I have used Bill Pagel's site as reference.
Arriving at Portsmouth, hours before the concert, I had decided to take a small
tour around the sea port. A very quiet and peacful city - perhaps because it
may have been a Sunday and everybody's at home, relaxing. Saw a couple of fans
wearing Dylan shirts, and walked past the venue where the pre-performance
meet-up was held. I thought I come back to it later.
Touts were offering standing tickets for "Eighty quid, but I could do it for
you for seventy-five " even though the local newspaper
predicted that black market prices would be in the region of £100. By the way,
FYI, the newspaper had an article about Dylans concert the day before, about
how they had to increase security, not because it was Bob on stage but to
protect the equipment. They had to sweep the whole venue just in case someone
was hiding or something along that lines.
Anyway, the venue itself, the building is very elegant, imagine St Pauls (for
Londoners) but the dome bit turns pointy and the steps are a-plenty. Lines
were forming once I got there (14:30) and thanks to someone who gave me
information about the venue the venue is literally within a stones throw from
The tickets stated "Photography forbidden" but yet there were a lot of flashes.
Security, sadly, are like dinosaurs, non-existant/extinct. A couple brought
in a bottle of red wine, everyone should know that glass bottles are not
allowed into the venue, nor into any venue for that matter for safety reasons.
Fans were not searched so people could have brought in camcorders or other
recording devices (despite the fact that they were forbidden).
The concert itself. I only stayed for the main set because I had a train to
catch. Bob came on at 19:50-ish with a song that I was able to sing along to,
Somebody Touched Me. First time I heard it live.
Then came to Ramona which was welcomed with cheers from the standing crowd.
Next, for me was a surprise, Visions of Johanna, another song that I was able
to sing along to.
Mama You've Been on My Mind was a fab song that sounds great live. I've ehard
it from a bootleg so I was able to recognise it. Then came "Tangled Up In
Blue" which got everyone going since that's a song well known to both hardcore
fans and the casual fans. The acoustic set was finished with, "Searching for a
A running trend for the UK sets is "Country Pie" opening the electric set, oh
me, oh my. "Can't Wait" was next followed by "Gotta Serve Somebody" which
sounded different to the studio and previous live versions. IMHO.
The show ended with, "If not for you", "The Wicked Messenger" and "Leopard
Skin" which has the teasing intro of "Rainy day".
After that I left. I missed the encore, but should have stayed just to hear,
"Love Sick", "Firth Time Around" and, "I'll be your baby tonight" - Oh well ;-)
At least I was there.
Subject: cp lee on portsmouth
From: Peter Stone Brown
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 17:41:22 GMT
Organization: EarthLink Inc. -- http://www.EarthLink.net
X-Newsreader: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.50.4133.2400
Over the past few days, CP Lee has been sending me in various parts his
review of last Sunday's Dylan show in Portsmouth. At his request I have
compiled them and am now posting them for your enjoyment.
Fraternal greetings from the People's Republic of Catatonia!
In 1940, at the height of the Nazi blitz on England, my mother set out on a
journey across the UK to say goodbye to my father who was shipping out in
the Royal Navy. She took along with her my elder brother who had just been
born and who my father had never seen. Just outside Portsmouth where my
father was stationed, the train was attacked by Stuka dive-bombers. When
they got into the city many hours later they found an urban landscape
devastated, burning and under almost perpetual bombardment.
For the duration of my father's 48-hour shore leave they hid in a cave and
found what peace they could.
When I went, sixty years later, I had a great time. The great Bob Dylan
caravan had trundled into town, bringing in its wake the flotsam and jetsam
of the Children's Crusade, the fans and the freaks, the weird and the geeks.
The legendary Lambchop, even thinner now, but with his regulation Bobhat on
his head, would Bob recognise him tonight? All the way from Australia the
equally legendary Tricia Jungwirth and Chloe her daughter, standing firmly
at the front of the line, waiting to get up close.
There was Jurgen and Derek, Dave D and the "Back Pages" crew. Christian and
Larry, Sadie Jane and offspring. Even the Italian girl, looking like an
extra from Pasolini's "Salo," standing drenched in the rain with her fog,
amphetamine and her soaking piece of cardboard with the words "I NEED A FREE
TICKET" scrawled on it. Yes, all human life, including us, was there,
waiting to see Bob.
In the hotel and bars around the gig rumours abounded. Cardiff had been
great, how could he top that one? Did you know that security were screening
the line, picking out only the people that Bob would like to see in front of
him? He was being stalked. Did you know he wore a bulletproof vest
underneath his suit?... Did you know?... Did you know?
After settling into our hotel and saying "Hi" to folks we hadn't seen in too
long, we walked across the road to the gig and were delighted to find a real
ale pub that sold first class brew at a very reasonable rate. My two
companions were also very pleased by this - My wife Pam because she's been
known to favour the occasional glass of sherry, and my buddy Mike who was
going to play guitar with me the next day, because he runs the best real ale
pub in Manchester (well, Salford really, but who's counting?), and so we
partook of a couple of rounds and sat in a window seat directly opposite the
hall in order to watch the crowd. Around seven o'clock we decided to go in
and check out the vibe. What struck us immediately was how much the inside
of Portsmouth Guildhall was an exact replica of Manchester's Free Trade
Hall, all the other north westerners there remarked on it too. Mike was
particularly freaked by this as the last time he saw Dylan was at the FTH in
1966 when he'd booed Bob and The Hawks. He promised not to do that tonight
though. The next surprise was that despite the fact that our tickets said
"Standing Only" the hall managers had put a bank of seats at the back, and
noticing that I was using a walking stick (which I'd cunningly filled with
brandy!) we got seats directly behind the mixing desk, about eye level with
I just knew that this was going to be a good one and by the time the lights
went down and that old familiar voice intoned the opening invocation,
"Ladies and gentlemen.... " the magickal air exploded into light.
I've heard "Somebody Touched Me" on so many field recordings that I thought
it would be too familiar to me, but nothing prepared me for the power of it
as an opening number, in the flesh as it were. My immediate impression was
how tight the band were. Great harmonies and great playing. The following
afternoon Clinton Heylin would describe the current backing band as a "bunch
of no-hopers" - in light of this and other statements he made that day I
feel that somewhere a perfectly decent village is being deprived of its
idiot - anyway, back to the gig.
"To Ramona" followed. Now I'd seen this in Manchester in 1998 and there Bob
had played it as a kind of Mexican cantina version. Tonight though was
subtly different, less Latino, more Italian if you catch my drift... Things
were flowing along very smoothly now and then he moved into the third number
and completely blew my mind. I was catapulted back into 1966 as "Visions of
Johanna" rang out. Mike, sat beside me, audibly gasped as well. All the
years that have gone by and I never expected to hear this song live again.
Don't know why not, it just kinda took me by surprise that's all. And what
a version, sounding as fresh and mysterious as when I'd heard it first that
night in May nearly three and a half decades ago.
I was, to quote a phrase, wacked, and when "Visions" finished and Bob and
the boys moved into "Mama You've Been On my Mind" I was almost in ecstasy.
Then when Bob put down his guitar and picked up his harmonica all I could do
was sit open mouthed in my seat and count my blessings. Such a simple
straightforward tune, yet full of resonances and memories but sounding so
freshly written and fitting perfectly into Bob's acoustic package.
"Tangled" came next, and I have to admit that I've got "Tangled" fatigue.
It's a great number there's no denying, but maybe it should be given a rest
from time to time. I guess this is one of the numbers that irks the folk
who go on about how Bob can't sing anymore, but I think they're missing the
point. All the way through the show I was happily surprised at how good his
voice did sound. He lent a depth and texture to many of the songs that
belies the argument that his singing is now virtually non-existent (more of
that later). You get it immediately in the next number, "Searching For A
Soldier's Grave". He harmonises and leads with a confidence and security
that should silence all doubters, but I guess it's an argument that's gonna
run and run. On Sunday night, Bob zapped into "Country Pie" and so did we
on Tuesday on the way home. The arrangement that Charlie and Larry play is
so beautifully close to the original whilst still allowing them a chance to
cut loose. It's a perfect synthesis of the old and the new and kind of
leads me to think that Bob is often harking back, or more properly,
referring back, to his musical past in an interesting and constructive way.
"Can't Wait" came next and socked it to me with what I always hear as a kind
of swamp thing going on. It's chilling and powerful, broody and
magnificent. What more can I say? It was definitely a surprise to hear
"Gotta Serve Somebody", even though he'd opened with it back in 98. Solid,
chunky and enervating, for some reason it always tickles me when I hear, "It
may be the Devil or it may be the Lord". I'm sure I heard a roar of
approval for the former. Now came "If Not For You". What is Bob up to?
From whence came this raiding of the back catalogue? So much material
tonight from John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline... great. Again, a
number I'd never have expected to hear live. And what a fabulous version.
Rolling and lilting, shifting and swinging. One of the greatest love songs
And so into "Wicked Messenger" - Who would have dreamt we'd be treated to
such a plundering of the archives? Again Bob played harp and stopped my
heart. Pump up the volume and if you can't bring good news then don't bring
Then it was back to the Free Trade Hall and 1966 with "Leopard Skin Pill-Box
Hat" Way back then this was probably the final straw for the Traditionalist
die-hards in the audience, Mike among them. This time round it's a
rollicking romp through the joys of whatever was going through his head when
he wrote it. Flashy and trashy, neat and wild.
Then it's time for the formation. Now I've never seen this before and
wondered what everyo0ne was going on about. Well now I've seen it for real
and it's a hoot. I dunno if it's some kind of Brechtian device or Bob's
failed attempt to do the English toddlers version of "I'm a little tea-pot
short and stout" as he stands there with his arms on his hips, staring down
the crowd. Whatever, it works and it's a gas.
Larry was the first one to break the formation and off stage went the merry
band and the electric pied piper. By this time, even those of us who'd been
sitting were on our feet clapping for more. Now the whole concept of
encores at gigs is a thing that amuses me. Everybody knows that the "star"
is going to come back on again because the amp lights are still lit.
Encores have become a ritual. You shout for more even though you know
they're going to play more, and my suggestion is that in the case of Bob we
should start referring to them as intermissions because that's what they
feel like in length. In fact I figure that the break lasts for about as
long as it takes to smoke a cigarette. And so, thusly our hero did return
to the stage -
A chilling, spine-tingling version of "Lovesick" followed, all chinking and
screeching as it ground to its crescendo. Yet again another tour de force.
Then the stage lights swung round onto the audience and it was time for
"LARS". This is Bob's anthem and the crowd did it justice by hurling back
the lines at an obviously grinning bard as he led the band through the
familiar refrain. Charlie really seems to be digging deep into the archives
to recapture the flavour of the original and it was nostalgic and
exhilarating all at the same time. Again, nothing could have prepared me
for the next number, "Fourth Time Around". Mike and I couldn't believe the
treasure trove of FTH tunes that were played, seemingly just for us!. Call
me young, call me innocent, but when I first heard him sing this all that
time ago I completely missed the sexual references and metaphors. This time
round it was like watching a dirty old man, with Bob leering and slurring
lines like "Come" and "Thumb" and "Her drawers". How did I miss it when it
first came out. Outstanding, but he wasn't finished yet.
"I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" came my head like an eagle on amphetamine. What
was once lilting and beautiful know sounds richer and even more beautiful.
When it comes to reinterpreting classics, Bob does not "mutilate, bend,
fold, or in any other way damage" the goods. They are carefully crafted,
thought out, arranged, and, in my addled opinion as a "minor Dylanologist",
played to perfection.
And still ever onwards. Swapping electric for acoustic, Bob moved into his
hymn to childhood, "Forever Young". This is another one that send shivers
up my spine. It is immaculately beatific, the rabbi in Bob coming to the
fore as he spreads his gentle benediction all around.
The crowd was going crazy, the lights was a flashing, my head was a buzzing
and "Highway 61" hurtled form the stage. Boogie time chillun, and dance
they did - in my seat I swayed sedately - Those boys can cook!!
As if that wasn't enough, "Blowin' In The Wind" brought the show to its
conclusion. Acoustic and accompanied by searing background harmonies from
Charlie and Larry, I've never heard this particular arrangement before. It
really brought the show to its logical conclusion.
Then the formation again. More wild applause and Bob walked off into the
night, as indeed, so did we. Back to the pub for a post-mortem on the
night's proceedings. What more can I say, what more can I add? Maybe I'll
write about the following night when I've recovered enough from writing
about this one.
"Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times." --Bob
Peter Stone Brown