Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Bob Dylan - Live In Manchester (1966)


Recorded live in Manchester 17 May 1966

Erroneously billed as The Royal Albert Hall concert, this epochal "switch from acoustic to electric" show made famous by the shout of "Judas" from a folky in the crowd was actually recorded at Manchester Free Trade Hall. Here it is, all these years later, as part of the excellent, official Bootleg Series. The sound is really impressive, certainly as good as you could expect it to be from 1966.

The concert it separated into two halves - a seven song acoustic first half including excellent renditions of recent lengthy masterworks in Visions Of Johanna and Desolation Row. The sound is crystal clear on the whole, apart from tiny bits of live concert hiss and Dylan's voice and delivery is top notch. His diction far better than it would be in later years. The protest songs were long gone and Dylan's abstract poetry delivered in song abounds in these two songs and also in obscurely romantic ones like the beguiling It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.

Then, for the second half, a wired-up Dylan tells The Hawks (as The Band were then known) to "play fucking loud" and they duly do just that, pounding out that "wild mercury sound" in incendiary fashion. The clashing power of it is visceral and you can feel the tension in the air crackling as earnest folkies realise their worst nightmare is happening before their very ears as Dylan "goes electric". He attacks songs originally written for acoustic guitar like I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met), Baby Let Me Follow You Down and One Too Many Mornings with a searing electric verve that almost renders them different incarnations. The organ swirls all over them and the drums pound. This was a seminal moment in contemporary music history. Every track is delivered with a real supercharged intensity. For proof, just listen to Like A Rolling Stone or that bass/drum interplay near the end of Tell Me Momma. It is before Like A Rolling Stone that the "Judas" thing occurs and the instruction to play loud. It is one of rock music's greatest moments, captured here forever.


1. She Belongs To Me
2. Fourth Time Around
3. Visions Of Johanna
4. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
5. Desolation Row
6. Just Like A Woman
7. Mr. Tambourine Man
8. Tell Me, Momma
9. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
10. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down
11. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
12. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
13. One Too Many Mornings
14. Ballad Of A Thin Man
15. Like A Rolling Stone