An Alternate History of Dylan's London 1995 Stand
1995-03-29-31, Brixton Academy, London, England
I love looking at old cue sheets. Those are the printed setlists laid in front of each band member every night before the show. Sometimes they just show the songs the band would then go onto play, which is sort of what you’d expect them to do. Those aren’t super interesting.
Many other times, though, the printed setlists don’t line up exactly with what the band would actually perform that night. They offer an alternate history of a given show – roads not taken, songs not played – and a window into Bob’s thinking in the middle of the show. Where there are a few song options listed in a given slot, why did he pick one song over another? Or why did he ignore all the songs listed and play something else entirely? What changed between what he thought he was going to play an hour before going onstage (or whenever they printed these out) and what he actually felt like playing as he stood there under the lights?
So today, a brief look at the cue sheets from Bob’s three-night run in London in March 1995. I’ve pasted each cue sheet from the stage (helpfully preserved on Olof’s Files) on the left next to the actual performed setlist on the right. You can compare them yourselves. I also noted some things that jumped out at me.
Night One - March 29, 1995
The headline on night one comes six lines down. “Obviously 5 Believers” almost had its live debut that night! That’s right, the Blonde on Blonde track had somehow never been played live. And, when the night was over, it still hadn’t. In the moment, Bob selected its mid-‘60s compatriot “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” instead. “Obviously 5 Believers” would have to wait another two months for its concert unveiling. Sorry London – so close!
A few lines down, in the final song of the acoustic three-pack, another in the so-close file: This would have been the first “Visions of Johanna” in three years. But instead he picked the much more common “Don't Think Twice, It’s All Right” from the listed options.
After the acoustic set, he skipped “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” entirely. Interestingly, that is the only song here with its key listed (A). Perhaps a sign that the band wasn’t as confident in it? They’d played it a few times in Fall ’94 so it wasn’t some super-rarity, but maybe they had tried to tweak something over the interim.
After “Dignity,” which song does Bob pick among the “Man in the Long Black Coat” / “I&I” / “God Knows” trio of choices? None of ‘em! He pulls a total audible and plays “She Belongs To Me” instead. No loss as none of the three were super rare, but “Man in the Long Black Coat” was so damn good this tour it’s a shame to lose any.
Night Two - March 30, 1995
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