Bob Dylan at Bournemouth International Centre 5.11.2022

Yup… Bob Dylan…in Bournemouth. “What, the real Bob Dylan?” asked the librarian when I went to print my tickets off. “Yes, yes the real one”. Why would I be rushing to a library on the day of the gig to print off tickets when everyone is going paperless? I’d read the ‘no phones’ warning email that arrived the day before, stating that you couldn’t even use your phone to show your tickets to enter.

No Cameras No Phones – secure pouches

So the novelty for me at this event was technologically enforced mobile phone and camera ban so I shall expand on this experience.

Of course, there are many events where personal cameras and phone use is not allowed, and not so appropriate. An all-seated theatre performance of anything is not where waving phones is what most people want. The quieter and more intense performances also benefit from a bit of phone restraint. Some artists just don’t like it due to publishing rights or disclosure of new material – that’s fine – but with the arrival of security pouches this is starting to be enforced more rigorously on occasions.

I had my pocket camera locked away at The Palladium once for a Morrisey gig but tonight is my first experience of the security pouch, to prevent any unauthorised phone use beyond the venue doors. In this age of etickets, mobile phone payment, car parking apps and Uber pick-ups, not going out with a mobile is not very practical. Besides I wanted to see how this system worked so I was always taking mine.

The BIC sent a warning email to explain what was going to happen, including that you could not enter the venue without a hard copy ticket or print-off. My urgent library trip to print my tickets off on the afternoon of the gig was successful – mildly concerned my tickets (cheaper ones at £100 a go!) might go to waste. I may have gone paperless too early it seems.

On the approach to the BIC there were numerous staff offering to help those with no print off or hard copy ticket. It looked like they viewed your phone etickets and gave you a token to verify that. At the door all phones were removed, and searched for, and then we are given a soft neoprene type pouch with a secured closure which once shut can only be opened with an associated electronic device held by security staff. You have to turn your phone off first or you will be in a spot – if it rings in the performance you won’t be able to open the pouch to stop it ringing. Bob would not be happy.

Pouch photo from Yondr website

This pouch thing is now of course much bigger than your phone – they are designed for the largest – so you then have to find somewhere to stuff it. On departure after the gig, there were none of the delays I was expecting. Plenty of staff available to unlock the pouches and take them from you – that is the essential bit. If you needed to make an urgent call you could go to a cordoned off area, have your pouch unlocked and stand on this naughty step to make that call. Still, I expect a few people got in a right mess – there must be some stories.

The secure pouch firm being used was Yondr and more details on that link.

There you go – I say my blogs are less attempts at traditional reviews and more a reflection of my gig experiences, a digital scrapbook… and a context for my photos, although that puts me in a bit of spot with this one eh 🙄.

Discovering Bob

I have seen Bob Dylan before at Hyde Park in July 2019, with Neil Young who I’d gone to see. At that point I hadn’t been through my period of Dylan enlightenment.

In Lockdown, in those desperate days of containment, I found the Rolling Stone magazine Top 500 albums of all time and started work my way down through the top 50. This brought me to three Dylan albums which got multiple plays: Blood on the Tracks, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde – in that order (9,18 and 38). That was me hooked. Building on those through recommendations and other ‘best of Bob’ lists, I was drawn to Street Legal; The Freewheeling Bob Dylan; Slow Train Coming; Desire (which I bought in a second hand shop in Bridport) and Nashville Skyline, enhanced by Johnny Cash and my September trip to that fabulous city of music.

Then came Murder Most Foul (2020). I heard it on the radio not realising there was new Dylan material coming and thought is was an epic. 17 minutes of Bob’s genius commentary on modern misery. The album, which I bought as my first new Dylan album, Rough and Rowdy Ways – a double vinyl – I think is one of the best if not THE best. Hence, I am pleased with the fact Bob played the whole album tonight with only Murder Most Foul missing – must be too long.

Bob Dylan live at the Bournemouth International Centre 2022

No support tonight. The Windsor Hall at the BIC fills slowly – we watch it all having got in about an hour early and avoided the sordid queues for unimaginative and expensive beer. (The Brewdog pub is a short walk away and the Royal Exeter hotel bar over the road are preferable for pre-gig refreshments.)

The house lights dim and a white stage set illuminates: the whole added stage floor is lit with no lighting from above and just a few extra side and stage uplighters. The stage is contained by huge theatrical curtains giving the the look of a lounge club or 70s Vegas hotel show.

To the right is Bob’s piano. Nothing grand but an upright honky tonk piano with a rough back you would expect to be hidden up against a wall. When the band and then Bob come on, all I can see is hair, eyes and forehead…. but he is here…he is in the same room…in Bournemouth.

The first few songs are old ones including one from Blonde on Blonde. The Bob live style is more poetry with piano these days, squeezing the words out quickly so it takes me a while to recognise old songs. That ripple of polite applause, as a song is recognised by the hard core down in the front blocks, gives away the ones I feel I should know.

Gems from the latest album, False Prophet and Black Rider are separated by a second old one – another just released as a single (and on greatest hits albums). Full Setlist here, published on the Dylan website.

My concentration is broken – boy this makes you focus – it’s intense stuff – when the chap next to me nods off and lets his ugly two pinter of horrid expensive lager go down my leg and on to soak someone’s puffy coat in front. No one is happy but hey – I’ve had my moments – let it go.. and later he did. At least he served as a human barrier to the splayed leg troubled geezer who I was originally sat next to.

After another new album gem, Key West, is the best of the set maybe: Gotta Serve Somebody (San Francisco album 1980). There are whoops to add to the applause ripple to the start of that one. The flow of Rough and Rowdy Ways material is next interrupted by the crooners’ cover of That Old Black Magic: it fits well with the backdrop curtains and the jazzy side stage drum kit, occasional double bass and the dinner suit style of the band.

Bob steps out from behind his piano a few times so we can see him and he bows gently and smiles. He stands and sits to play… he is 81 now and small and frail but still dressed for rock’n’roll.

Goodbye Jimmy Reed (tribute to a Blues artist) is the penultimate song – another very recognisable track from the last album. The harmonica is out on this one – I could hear a quiet gasp of appreciation and here and there people were moved to get to their feet to applaud its arrival. Great song.

Bob, after saying hardly a word all evening, says, “It’s been my privilege to play for you tonight – I could carry on all night like this.” He seems quietly happy and content. And in to the last long: Every Grain of Sand from the 1981 album Shot of Love. Crowd on their feet now. At the end Bob steps out and bows and stands once again absorbing the adulation and respect. Single flowers are thrown on to the stage from several of the front block devotees. The cheers and applause go on and on but no more… the lights come up. Thanks for coming to Bournemouth Bob. What a wonderful experience.

Published by ivaninblack

Still wild about live music - bands - gigs - festivals - after 42 years at it. All photos have been snapped by me or I will point out otherwise - I'll even own up to any blurry mobile phone ones. If gigaholic is a phrase then in recent years I think I've become one.

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