Comment | The Tap and Barrel, Pontefract | Comment and Photos by Allan Wilkinson
Once again a packed house at the Tap and Barrel, as every single seat was snatched up by Dylan fans and general musos alike. Introduced by Rev Reynolds, the evening was packed with music courtesy of writer Clinton Heylin, a leading music journalist who specialises in the life and work of Bob Dylan, presenting a couple of films shown in eager anticipation of the new 14 disc box set covering Dylan’s chaotic Rolling Thunder years (released tomorrow) and Martin Scorsese’s new documentary Rolling Thunder Revue, out on Netflix next week. The first half of tonight’s event concentrated on highlights from the 1975 Rolling Thunder tour, a white-faced Dylan on blistering form, delivering such songs as “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, “It Ain’t Me Babe”, “Sara”, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” and “Just Like a Woman”, backed by a band made up of such notable musicians and singers as Mick Ronson, T Bone Burnett, Roger McGuinn, Howie Wyeth, Joan Baez and Ronee Blakley. The second half of the evening showed a very different, almost unrecognisable Dylan from the first, much less amused, in fact positively seething, filmed at the Fort Collins, Colorado show just a few months later. The songs in the second half included “Maggie’s Farm”, “Mozambique”, “Shelter From the Storm” and a scathing “Idiot Wind”, which Clinton claimed to be possibly his favourite live recording of Dylan’s entire career. Tonight, was unusual as the chat was kept to a minimum, in order for everyone to fully absorb these historic performances, with excellent sound, albeit possibly too loud in places. Sitting in a comfortable chair to the side, the author of such books as Judas!: From Forest Hills to the Free Trade Hall: A Historical View of Dylan’s Big Boo, No More Sad Refrains: The Life & Times of Sandy Denny and more recently, What We Did Instead of Holidays: Fairport Convention and Its Extended Folk-Rock Family, occasionally played air drums and frequently looked out at the audience to gauge reaction. Not so much a talk, nor a live concert, more an evening of appreciation of one of Rock’s most enigmatic and important artists. It was difficult to resist applauding after every song.