- 15 Jul 19
Kilkenny was purring like a cat in anticipation of this concert, and under a blistering sun fit to roast a packed stadium of worshippers, it did not disappoint.
Hansard kicked off with a typically furious set, especially with ‘Grace Beneath the Pines’, his old Frames standby ‘Revelate’, and a passionate version of ‘Shelter’ preceded with him effectively accusing our (unnamed) Minister for Foreign Affairs as having lied personally to him over the housing issue. Irish rock has long been bereft of much in the way of political engagement, but in addition, 'Bird Of Sorrow', 'When Your Mind's Made Up', and 'Way Back In The Way Back' also made for an impactful set which ended with him promising that next time he plays “this field” he’ll be “fuckin’ headlining”.
Sonically, Young’s set was no less furious, he and his new band The Promise of The Real feeding “this field’s” packed audience with relentlessly angry guitar-fuelled seventies power chords, apart from a reprieve in the middle for a comparatively measured ‘Heart of Gold’ and ‘Old Man’. Almost every song was delivered long and loud, with established favourites ‘’Mansion On The Hill’, ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ and ‘Fuckin' Up’ their one-dimensional approach scoring big-time with an audience in full-on fun mode, and a defiant ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’, seeming longer than some band’s albums, brought his set to a glorious, celebratory close.
Dylan was similarly looking back, unpredictably now taking four songs from 1997’s Time Out of Mind, in the process stealing that album’s ‘To Make You Feel My Love’ back from Adele. Rumours that his voice is now reduced to a feeble growl were shredded by an extraordinary version of ‘Girl From The North Country’, with just Dylan on keyboards and long-time bassist Tony Garnier on bowed double-bass. That voice was also stunningly expressive on ‘Love Sick’ and on the souped-up run-through on ‘Thunder On The Mountain’.
As usual, Dylan made few concessions to listeners who don’t keep up with his every-changing setlist and re-inventions of his catalogue. This can be a risky undertaking for both musician and listener. ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ was gleefully playful, ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’ was sly and slinky, and his encore of ‘Blowing In The Wind’ is now well settled in its new arrangement.
But some retreads can appear pointlessly perverse and challenging, ‘When I Paint My Masterpiece’ a case in point. Gone was most of Bob as ersatz crooner and instead we got some straight-up blues and rock’n’roll, with ‘Honest To Me’ sparking outbursts of jiving on the pitch. There was a touch of boogie-woogie underpinning ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, and ‘Pay In Blood’ sounded suitably vengeful. Guitarist Charlie Sexton was superb throughout.
Young came back for a rousing version of the old gospel classic ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken’, their first performance together in twenty years. Shucks, Dylan even got a cheer when he took his hat off for ‘Early Roman Kings’.
And by the time a blast through ‘It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry’ allowed a sated audience to drift off into the balmy night, Kilkenny had indeed become a city for old men.