Bob Dylan’s live Rough And Rowdy Ways World Wide Tour, supporting his 39th and latest studio album of the same name, began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 2021 and is predicted to continue until 2024. Its UK leg saw him grace the stage of Cardiff International Arena, by no means for the first time – but, any Welsh Dylan fan must be thinking, potentially the last.
Walking towards the venue on a mild early evening, the crowd were already queuing around the corner of Little Man Coffee. Once inside, we meet with a mixed audience, from hipsters and hippies to all the young dudes, collecting their evening refreshments readying themselves for an uninterrupted show (no support act and no photos permitted, be they from a phone held aloft or a professional’s camera stage front). An air of nostalgia and excitement fills the arena.
With the stage in darkness, and the PA system counting down to showtime, Bob Dylan’s live band approach from backstage, silhouettes bathed in a dim orange light. The stage, it transpires, is a simple, elegant one, dressed from floor to ceiling with a plain orange curtain. The five members of the band are all suited in black; the back of an upright piano faces the audience.
As the band start to play, the stage remains unlit. Whereupon Bob Dylan’s head pops up from behind the piano, the lyrics flow, the lights brighten and the audience erupt with applause, whistles and shouts of “we love you Bob!”
Dylan remains near-permanently behind his piano throughout the show, only briefly stepping out to the side, a frail figure presenting itself to an appreciative crowd. His band consist of three guitarists on both electric and acoustic: Bob Britt, Doug Lancio and Donnie Herron, who also plays lap steel, mandolin and fiddle. Electric upright bassist Tony Garnier plucks away, while Charley Drayton’s loose and bouncy drumming style both relax and excite the senses.
The evening comes to a close with a standing ovation, which seems to last an eternity. Dylan and his band exit the stage. We anticipate more: applause, whistles and stamping of feet fill the arena. The band return to the stage, take a final bow… and again swiftly leave, evidently unprepared for an encore. The auditorium lights rise and the crowd disperse.
Bob Dylan – the songwriter, the lyricist, the poet, the legend – will remain in my heart and mind for a long time, and I suspect the same goes for all those present tonight for the Rough And Rowdy Ways Cardiff stop off. Thank you and goodnight, Mr Dylan.
Bob Dylan, Cardiff International Arena, Wed 26 Oct
words ANTHONY CONWAY
Bob Dylan’s Cardiff setlist
Watching The River Flow
Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine
I Contain Multitudes
When I Paint My Masterpiece
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
My Own Version Of You
Crossing The Rubicon
To Be Alone With You
Key West (Philosopher Pirate)
Gotta Serve Somebody
I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You
That Old Black Magic (Frank Sinatra cover)
Mother Of Muses
Goodbye Jimmy Reed
Every Grain Of Sand