DVDylan ID: D1031.dl
Recording type: Audience
City/Venue: Manchester, England/Manchester Evening News Arena (M.E.N.)
Date: Monday, 10th October 2011

If you are interested in how this DVD looks then I will keep it simple: It is fantastic, unbelievable, awesome, striking... you get the idea. The video is crystal clear, providing a wonderful study of Dylan as he emotes is way through a characteristic latter day show. The sound is excellent. I don't have enough imagination to manufacture a single complaint regarding the technical qualities of this video. Technology is confronting reality in 2012, and there is very little other than atmosphere and fellowship that one is missing as you compare this video experience to the being there live. Certainly the view of Dylan wins hands down as I sit here at my computer typing - quite the privilege indeed! So there you have it. Get this video. Enjoy it. It's a great watch that is skillfully shot and edited.

If you have nothing better to do than read the meanderings of a fellow hard core Dylan head killing time as he takes in the performance while sitting at the keyboard then read on. Leopard Skin Pillbox leads off, rock solid and journeyman, 45 years young since it was publicly birthed in this same place. Don't think twice is fascinating. At first I was disappointed that he didn't play guitar on the tune, but watching this ancient yet cherubic rabbi like figure noodling on the keyboard, heavy on the schmaltze, was revelatory. His right hand was at times a little heavy, but the passing chords that closed the tune were sublime. Front and center naked then for Things have Changed, Honest with Me and TUIB. All solid performances, nothing exceptional. One gets a great sense of how Dylan works with his band. The quick visual cues, deftly obeyed, the incredible devotion that his entire, rock solid band devote to him always.

Dylan's guitar finally shows up for Twist of Fate. It was worth the wait. The sound is clean, the short, choppy, chordal riffing is spot on. Dylan's playing is adding color and range to the song. His vocals are evocative. The power is still there. He has earned the price of admission. Back at the keyboard then we settle into Summer days, what for me has always been a basic blues work out. Still, watching him run through his paces, engaged and face full of light, framed by shadowy top hat, where flowers have long ceased to bloom, and understated yet tasteful cravat below, is more than enough to keep you riveted.

You don't need any visuals to keep interest in Hard Rain. He walks right up to this monumental monument of a song and breathes on it. It comes to life. He settles into its confines with the band right there in lock step. History blends into the moment and we are all transported to a timeless place, weightless, sometimes breathless. Quite the ride. Which is what we are taken on for highway 61. We get intense keyboard playing from D that at times truly propels the band, rather than the other way around. His joy at doing so is unmistakable.

Forgetful Heart is an atmospheric tour de force here. Dylan's performance is inspired. He clearly throws body and soul headlong into this one, with resultant sublime harp, heartfelt vocals, and body language that is crystal clear. Thunder on the Mountain repeats the pattern of retreat into a more standard form blues/shuffle/boogie. Clearly the Band doesn't mind. Sure its work, and it pays the bills, but they are having a whopping good time just the same. D and his band's willingness and capacity to change dynamics and turn on a dime are greater than I remember in the past. The give and take is refreshing, and D is not shy about showcasing his bountiful chops.

I loved the little reverb/delay that was placed on D's vocals for Ballad of a Thin Man. It is amazing that he can still keep it fresh, but that's exactly what he does - and plays n sings the heck out of the tune while he's at it. Rounding the corner then it is time to start the celebration. Which is what Rolling Stone sounds like, complete with deliriously ecstatic audience participation.

The preacher man (equal parts joker and thief) introduces the band while simultaneously playing winding joyful carnival chords on keyboard. . Then it is all business as we step up into the Watchtower. A modern day rendition not unlike the original John Wesley Harding version in its poignantly succinct delivery. As the show closes the wind begins to howl...

I'd like to give a shout out and thanks to both the taper and especially Yassou, whose conscientiousness and kindness allowed me to view this wonderful performance by Bob Dylan and his band.

Reviewed by c6sailer on 11th May 2012

This is an alternate authored sound upgrade that uses the same excellent video and audio assets as D1031.2. For those who prefer to have the entire concert on one disk, then this is the ticket. The unidentified filmer does a fine job of zooming and panning with some extreme close-ups and frequent shots of the whole band, though Stu and George are less frequent due to the left balcony vantage point. The highlight of the show, IMHO, is a deeply meditative "Forgetful Heart," a song that seems perfectly suited to Dylan's gruff vocal stylings (see here: http://youtu.be/t2afj4-0LwY). Like D1031.2, this one is a "must-have" for fans of modern Bob and deserves no fewer than 5-Stars.

Reviewed by yassou on 21st March 2012