Balc. R70°
3.3 (4 votes)
DVDylan ID: D242.m
Recording type: Audience
City/Venue: Birmingham, England/National Exhibition Centre
Date: Friday, 10th May 2002

Two identical versions of this source circulate including 'Masters Series Volume 105'
  1. Maggie's Farm
  2. You're A Big Girl Now
  3. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (frag)
  4. Tomorrow Is A Long Time
  5. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
  6. Tweedle Dee And Tweedle Dum
  7. Moonlight
  8. Cry A While
  9. Fourth Time Around
  10. Masters Of War
  11. Tangled Up In Blue
  12. Summer Days
  13. Sugar Baby
  14. The Wicked Messenger
  15. Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 & 35
  16. Love Sick
  17. Like A Rolling Stone
  18. Forever Young
  19. Honest With Me
  20. Blowin' In The Wind
Number of discs: 1
Running time: 01:50
Video standard: PAL
Authoring: DVDs with menu and chapters are circulating
Filmer's note: Upped by request, this is direct from the master recoding.

SOUND Quite good sound from the stage, but marred by audience conversations at the beginning. Quite a number of occasional momentary dropouts. From Tomorrow Is A Long Time the sound improves noticeably, with good balance between bass and higher frequencies, and less audience voice-overs. The beginning of Masters Of War is cut.

IMAGE Distorted format – couldn’t adjust picture height without losing some of the width on a 4 by 3 screen; better on 3 by 2. Shaky start, with a lot of searching for the stage, obscured by people taking their seats, all the way through Maggie’s Farm. Brief glimpses of the stage during You’re A Big Girl Now. After the fragment of It’s Alright Ma, we suddenly get very close up, unobscured but very grainy and out of focus for Tomorrow Is A Long Time. When the taper pulls back to frame the whole band, the image gets a bit clearer, but s/he keeps zooming in – and it really is fuzzy. A shaky transition from Fourth Time Around into Masters Of War soon settles down but with no improvement in clarity. Bleaching from Tangled Up In Blue onwards, very pronounced at start of Summer Days, then the image gets noticeably clearer even when close-up. A pity that there is quite a bit of zooming and the occasional jitters on Sugar Baby and Wicked Messenger. Late on in Like A Rolling Stone the picture suddenly becomes VERY clear, but falls off slightly during the final three songs.

PERFORMANCE As sometimes happens, Bob seems to throw away the opening number, then gradually warms to his subject. Tomorrow Is A Long Time is sung with feeling, but the following Tom Thumb seems to lack it. Moonlight was done beautifully, and so was Cry A While. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Fourth Time Around and enjoyed the new arrangement. Bob does a gentle dance over the intro to Tangled Up In Blue. He seems to put more conviction into his recent material such as Summer Days and Sugar Baby. Having said that, there’s a very spirited Wicked Messenger which has a Hendrix feel to it, with extended instrumental, including a bit of harmonica – and no repeat of the first verse, as he does in later performances. What seems like a long, bluesy harp intro to Rainy Day Women was in fact the outro – no vocal at all on the film. The encore opens with Love Sick – again a very solid performance, and Bob looks quite happy with it at the end, repeatedly nodding acknowledgement to an appreciative audience. LARS was nothing out of the ordinary, Forever Young came over with feeling, Honest With Me less so, Blowin’ In The Wind more so – but the vocal accompaniment in the refrain, to my mind, was a bit too strong in the mix. Otherwise, the band provided excellent backing – they showed commitment, compared with the ‘cowboy bands’ of later years, who, while good musicians, seem to lack spirit. For me, the highlights were Moonlight, Sugar Baby, Wicked Messenger and Love Sick.

COMMENT This is a film of two halves. Picture composition is very good through most of the filming, with views of the rest of the band. It’s such a shame that the camera image is so fuzzy early on. This was my second visit to see Bob – my first was at the Isle Of Wight in 1969. At Birmingham we were in the middle of the balcony where the sound was on a par with the recording, but the figures on stage were so small that my wife had difficulty in distinguishing Bob as ‘the one in the white hat’. Being a Bobhead, I can appreciate the closer view of the action despite the early haze, but I won’t inflict the first half on my wife, who is no fan. One for the enthusiast. I'd like to give 3 and a half stars, but as I can't, I'll have to give only 3, because of the focus problems. Thanks to the taper, who only got one chance to film the concert, and who may have been silently cursing as s/he tried to get a clear picture. But no thanks to those people who keep leaving their seats during the performance. Perhaps there ought to be creche facilities for those who can’t survive just over 100 minutes without yet another drink and a pee.

Reviewed by mybackpages on 18th November 2009