The stage and massive crowd

The stage was set - the lights went out

The waiting was finally over. Dylan's set started off with an instrumental version of My Back pages, those of us at the back couldn't see that Dylan wasn't actually on stage yet. When during the last few bars he came on a cheer rolled it's way back from the front although we probably didn't know what we were cheering for!!

So the first time I heard Dylan sing turned out to be an unrecorded Freddie King cover version, Love her with a feeling which he followed up with a new song from Street Legal- Baby stop crying. He was wearing black trousers, a black jacket and waistcoat, a white open neck shirt, some beads and a top hat borrowed from the doorman at the Dorchester Hotel. At the beginning of the set he wore shades but after a while he took these off. Although these details were unknown to me at the time! From where we were we could however tell which one was Bob and he sounded great!

Before a jaunty Just like Tom Thumbs Blues Dylan said, "Thank you thank you, we're just starting to get going here". This was followed by a jerky, almost staccato version of Shelter from the storm then Dylan put down his guitar to stand at the microphone to sing It's all over now baby blue. This show was the only time I've ever seen him do that.

Dylan sang a plaintive Girl from the North Country backed only by piano and saxophone before two more up-tempo numbers. Ballad of a thin man was brilliant, similar to the version on At Budokan with the sax solo in the middle. Maggie's Farm rocked out and was followed by a organ dominated version of Simple twist of fate with little fiddle bits at the end of some choruses.

Dylan takes his hat off to us

Being so far back we didn't have the visual stimulus that we would have had if we'd been close enough to see the stage clearly so when Dylan played Like a Rolling Stone I picked up my copy of writings and drawings that I bought earlier and followed the lyrics in the book. A slow guitar led version of I shall be released followed with a guitar riff that reminded me of Clapton's Wonderful Tonight.

The first half finished with 2 songs from Street Legal, Dylan introduced the first, "Here's a new song, at least we recorded it a few months ago, it's called Is your love in vain?" after which he played Where are you tonight? For the only time on the European tour.

"I fought with my twin, that enemy within, 'til both of us fell by the way"

"We've got some other people in the group too" rasped Dylan introducing the interval "I'm gonna have the 3 girls and one of the guys sing because I'm getting tired". First up was Carolyn Dennis who sang Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come. Dylan then introduced us to Helena Springs by saying she was gonna sing 10 songs for us. Worse than that she warbled her way through a Byrds inspired Mr. Tambourine man - the groans from the audience must have be audible on the stage.

"Jo Ann Harris wants to sing you a Paul McCartney song, she likes him" Dylan informed us before she sang The long and winding road and finally Dylan introduced his guitarist Steven Soles as a genius "You've got to hear this guy sing - he writes original songs too" Steven Soles sang a song called Laissez Faire, which he informed us, was hot off the press. It was awful!

My only picture of Mr. Dylan

The stage emptied after Steven Soles and Bob came on with a acoustic guitar and harmonica and sang a solo version of Gates of Eden picked out by a spotlight. It was a magical moment as one of the criticisms of the Earls Court concerts had been the lack of acoustic songs. Someone decided to wreck the atmosphere and midway through the song a very noisy firework shot into the night sky.

"With his candle lit into the sun, though its glow is waxed in black"

On the subject of Fireworks - Either side of the stage above the PA system (which in itself was huge, apparently a combination of the Dylan tour sound system, Pink Floyds rig and a system brought over from Germany) was what looked liked a firework rig. Although it was covered you could just about make out the words Bob Dylan on stage right and Blackbushe 78 on the other side. Why they were there was anyone's guess as nothing happened with them.

And while we're talking about things that didn't happen there were Harvey's Silver Balls!! About half way through the set a huge silver ball appeared either side of the stage. These bobbed up and down and when they had a spotlight turned on them they appeared to be….large silver balls!!

The band came back on and they launched into another new song, True love tends to forget which was followed by a storming version of One more cup of coffee which remains to this day the only time I've seen Dylan perform a song from Desire.

The tempo was brought right down with a very contemplative Blowin in the wind with the questions asked rather than spat out. I want you kept the pace slow and almost brought it to a stop! Then came the highlight for me. For some reason he said it was inspired by Harry Dean Stanton; "He's in the house tonight, stand up and take a bow, put a spotlight on this man" Dylan shouted! Senor (tales of Yankee power) was just the best.

Dylan takes of his guitar

Senor, senor, let's disconnect these cables,
Overturn these tables.
This place don't make sense to me no more.
Can you tell me what we're waiting for, senor?

Masters of war stole it's riff from Louie, Louie, Just like a woman followed - it must be getting near the end now, the legs were starting to cramp from sitting on the hard runway all day - but still Dylan kept pulling them out of the bag.

To Ramona started off slowly but built into a gospel type affair with beautiful horn work by the band. Don't think twice( it's alright) was introduced as a Reggae version before Dylan corrected himself and said it was Southern Mountain Reggae. All along the Watchtower was 3 minutes of genius, up-tempo with fiddle breaks and a rock'n'roll guitar solo.

Then came All I really want to do with Dylan singing Do-ooh-oh during the verses. At the end of it Dylan said he'd been told that they were running out of time and then introduced the band in less than 30 seconds! It's alright Ma (I'm only bleeding) was a huge rock number with Dylan spitting out the words.

"But even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked"

Bob rocks out Dylan spoke to the crowd " We've been ending the shows with this song, we're gonna end with it again. I hope we get to see you again real soon I want to come back" and then played the opening bars of Forever Young. "Eric Clapton's back" he shouted. The song brought the show to a fitting climax with Clapton's Blues Guitar weaving in and out. At the end of the song Dylan left the stage.

The noise of the 200,000 people shouting for more must have been heard for miles and after a few minutes the band came back on and played another new song Changing of the guards much to my brothers relief (It was one of his favourites off Street Legal. The show finished off with The Times they are a changin' with Dylan shouting over and over "Thankyou, I want to come back real soon" he left the stage before the end of the song.

And later on as the crowd thinned out

So that was it, we'd seen him! He'd played for around 3 hours and he'd been absolutely fantastic. Now all we had to do was get off the site, find the right road, meet up with our Mam and Dad and continue our holiday. The only problem was that was roughly what everyone else wanted to do!!

We found our way out of the arena and eventually hit the road. We bought a copy of the local papers souvenir issue and spotted a Policeman. We asked him which way to Hartney Whitney and he pointed down the road (the wrong way). Luckily even at 16 I had the sense to ignore him and head off the other way.

My parents had parked their car in a Petrol Station forecourt and were waiting for us. They said they could hear the concert so they knew when it had finished. My Dad said that suddenly thousands of people came streaming down the road. Garry and I were amongst them and as we walked we suddenly heard our names being called and looked up and there were our parents. We got into the car and set off on our holidays.

On holiday still wearing the Blackbushe sweatshirt


  • The Yearly Chronicles by Olaf Bjorner
  • Slowhand Tourography for the Clapton setlist and Chris Argue for the CD.
  • Lasse Brundin and Chris Argue for getting out their vinyl and scanning in the EC photo
  • Bob Dylan for his lyrics - used without permission - Sorry Bob
  • Phil Sutcliffe and Hugh Fielder for their excellent review in Sounds
  • Simon Fowler, Paul Haley and Pennie Smith for some of the B&W photos from the press at the time
  • Me for remembering after all these years!!

Other Sites

Were you there?

Someone must have been!! There were 200,000 people in the audience!! Do you have any memories or photo's?
E-mail them to me and I'll include them here

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