Bob Dylan – O2 Guildhall 2015 (Eat A Peach EAT 88/89)


Bob Dylan, “O2 Guildhall 2015” (Eat A Peach EAT 88/89)

Disk 1; Introduction / Things Have Changed / She Belongs To Me / Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ / What’ll I Do / Duquesne Whistle / Melancholy Mood / Pay In Blood / I’m A Fool To Want You / Tangled Up In Blue (44:14)
Disk 2; High Water (For Charley Patton) / Why Try To Change Me Now / Early Roman Kings / The Night We Called It A Day / Spirit On The Water / Scarlet Town / All Or Nothing At All / Long And Wasted Years / Autumn Leaves / Blowin’ In The Wind / Love Sick / Busker outside venue (60:15)

Released as part of an unintentional trilogy of concerts released by the bigger labels as Dylan set about his 2015 European tour – and really, put your hand up if you thought you’d be reading THAT if you had owned Dylan’s original LPs straight from release – Eat A Peach join the group who have offered out an audience recording of one of these gigs. The location this time is Southhampton’s O2 Guildhall, set neatly in the middle of the city, the venue was this years curveball – the unspecified selection that wasn’t London’s Royal Albert Hall but one, as Jeff Rosen is purported to have chosen, a more opulent setting and fitting match for this range of ‘Sinatra’ shows.

A great recording that’s only slightly marred by a rowdier audience than the previous 3 shows that we heard on Crystal Cat’s or Rattlesnakes recordings. That’s not to say that you hear the muffled scuffing that you got on earlier boots as a microphone brushed against a jacket or a well oiled scenester bellows for his favorite album track before crumpling up his plastic pint glass in rage as it doesn’t get played but an audience enthused is a better listen sometimes (Although the bloke who keeps shouting ‘Go on, Bob’ through, “What’ll I Do” could have tempered his noise a bit). There are moments when people get a little too close to the microphone or deal in drinks orders while the later (original) material is played. More importantly, it tells that Bob Dylan, despite the lacklustre reviews that followed his shows from last year that are not to be judged on paper, is much more an exciting proposition than you might be lead to believe if you’d stopped following him a few years ago. Ossie, the EAP label’s efficient taper has captured a very fine sounding show, with a little studio help, the recording is nice and rounded, balanced to allow a fair breather to each of the instruments.

It’s fair to say that the fire that burned up until around early 2000 isn’t quite as hot as it once was, nothing is, but things have changed, Dylan is now a little more crooner than crower, stands still but then that’s more of a steely stance than moving round dodging bullets, his band do a lot more of the leg work while the address is to the people who have come to see him.

The setlist remains largely static, show on show, the only changes coming time to time as Dylan flips his phrasing every so often, none more so than when he gets to “Tangled Up In Blue”, when Bob gets a little animated than before, unfortunately, this comes to the cost of his pronunciation as while he makes up lyrics on the spot, they become unintelligible. A little bit of lyric mixing never hurt proceedings though and the effort that moves in it all is quite captivating.

To round of the set, Ossie, as he left the Guildhall O2, caught a little of the performance by a busker who had set up not far from the venue among the bootleg t-shirt sellers and other crowds. Not a bad little performer either, it adds a little extra to an already fulfilling show.

Another sterling Dylan show from the EAP label, it sits well along side the CC and Rattlesnake releases, edges more towards the completist end if only for the intermittent noise made by the audience from time to time.

The packaging is the same standard set by the label – A mini LP sized slipcase with two full colour inner sleeves, fantastic images of a live Dylan included. A 4 page booklet with notes by Joel Nohnn is included.

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