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It's all over now

Pauline McLean | 11:51 UK time, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Bob Dylan may not have been there in person, but he was very much present at a special tribute concert at Celtic Connections ahead of his 70th birthday in May.

Scots musician Roddy Hart was the driving force behind the concert and he and his band - the Lonesome Fire - provided the backing band for this epic three-hour concert featuring everyone from Roseanne Cash to Laura Cantrell, Tim O'Brien, James Grant, Rab Noakes, Thea Gilmore, Nell Bryden and many many more.

Hart admits when he first touted the idea to Celtic Connections director Donald Shaw last summer, he envisaged a much smaller event - "maybe King Tuts or Nice and Sleazy" .

Instead he got the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall - and a sell-out gig, with scores of fans prepared to stand in the circle just for a taste of the concert.

If the sound suffered because of the rapid coming and going of performers, it was overlooked by the enthusiastic audience, keen to hear old favourites given a new twist or more obscure numbers given another outing.

Stripped-down version

Eddi Reader is a surprise guest - not least on the eve of Burns Night with another gig in Ayrshire - guesting first on Tim O'Brien's blue grass version of Lay Down Your Weary Tune from the days of The Byrds.

Then a solo stripped-down version of Buckets of Rain from Blood on the Tracks.

English folk singer Thea Gilmore introduces a darker strand with the first overtly Scottish Connection - her version of Poor Immigrants (believed to be based on the Scottish folk song Tramps and Hawkers) not to mention a blistering version of Masters of War - its bleak lyrics still as relevant today as they were in 1963.

Then it's Jemma Hayes - one of the youngest contributors - with a lively version of The Times They Are a Changin.

Obscure numbers

Hart admits that getting artists to choose the more popular numbers was harder than it looked - most wanted to sing more obscure numbers or songs found on B sides.

Chris Drever restores A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall to a folk setting; Nell Bryden belts out a big band version of Just Like A Woman, complete with breezy Hammond organ, and Thea Gilmore and James Grant lead a blistering guitar heavy version of All Along the Watchtower.

It's hard to keep up with the pace now as Laura Cantrell launches into a country tinged version of I Threw it all away and Tommy Reilly tackles a song written before he was born - It Aint me Babe.

Rab Noakes takes to the stage alone for a bewitching rendition of The Mississippi and before we know it, it's 10pm and we haven't even seen the headline star - Roseanne Cash.

Series of encores

She doesn't disappoint - avoiding her father's classic 1969 duet with Dylan on Girl From the North Country, in favour of a return to the original ballad.

With a cold, she jokes she might sound a bit like either gentlemen.

Then it's a series of encores for all the musicians as they run through the hits - My Back Pages, Forever Young, It's All Over Now, Baby Blue, I Shall Be Released and finally Like A Rolling Stone.

Everyone not already on their feet is now, and singing along.

The birthday boy may not have showed up himself but he missed one hell of a party!


  • Comment number 1.

    Last nights concert was a bit like a free mike session and was really enjoyable with artists coming and going.I wasnt particulary enamoured by the large number of female singers simply because they sing Dylan songs too high for my liking.The stand out act for me was one Tommy Reilly who wakened the place up,looking and sounding like a young Dylan who had just plugged in an electric guitar.I dont think he was given enough stage time but he appears to be a rising star.A wee question?
    When was Dylan with the Byrds?Certainly McGuinn got a few Dylans songs electrified with the twelve stringer and created that unique sound but Dylan with the Byrds?
    Rab Noakes excelled with a truly wonderful rendition of Mississipi.

  • Comment number 2.

    It was indeed a great night - however I believe you're mistaken a couple of points. It was actually Nell Bryden that performed 'All along the watchtower' (and did so amazingly!) not Thea Gilmore. Also I believe it's 'Gemma' Hayes not 'Jemma'.

  • Comment number 3.

    Bob in the Byrds? Hope you don't get paid for your inadequate research. Sure, they covered plenty of his tunes and were partly responsible for bringing his words to the masses, but the only commercial outfit Bob has been in was the Travelling Wilburys side project featuring amongst other Roy Orbison, Top Petty and George Harison.

    I wasn't present but I would imagine Poor Immigrants was in fact "I Pity The Poor Immigrant" and The Missippi was most likely "Mississippi" from Love & Theft.

    A dissapointing review from what I hear was a very good night.

    Public sector cutback blues indeed.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's a fair cop, Alice. It was indeed Nell Bryden and James Grant who led All Along The Watchtower. Last week, I had the misfortune to be seated next to a reviewer tapping away on a blackberry throughout the Tom Jones concert and I was determined not to be similarly annoying. So I took my notebook and took notes in the dark - and that's where it all went wrong!

  • Comment number 5.

    The above & all the twitter traffic showed what a great night it was, am now in high anticipation for the Ricky Ross BBC Radio 2 Celtic Connections broadcast on 2nd Feb with some music from this event!

  • Comment number 6.

    Jugsy77,you are correct to say that the song Mississipi came from the excellent Love and Theft album however the beautiful rendition by Rab Noakes was an accoustic version which can be found on the later Bootleg Series album.Have a listen if you can.Best wishes.
    PS Any further info about Dylan with the Byrds?
    Over to you,Polliemac:D:D

  • Comment number 7.

    Sounds like I missed a good gig - too long a schlep from Fife, I'm afraid. Would you mind if I put in a tiny plugette for another Dylan night coming up: Dylan Uncovered, at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh on 10th Feb - part of the Let's Get Lyrical campaign involving Edinburgh City of Literature and Glasgow Unesco City of Music. Lots of indie bands doing a really eclectic mix of the well- and lesser-known of Mr Zimmerman's back pages. You can get more details on the gig, and the LGL events generally, at


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