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Author Topic: Bob Dylan in Sheffield, 1966.  (Read 78 times)

Offline patch

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Bob Dylan in Sheffield, 1966.
« on: December 02, 2019, 06:00:54 AM »
Quote
New blogpost. Bob Dylan in Sheffield, 1966.https://andnowitsallthis.blogspot.com/2019/11/bob-dylan-john-tams-magic-michael.html
https://twitter.com/andnowitsallt/status/1201415053184028672



Bob Dylan, John Tams, Magic Michael & the Commissionaire
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Whenever Bob Dylan’s 1966 UK Tour is discussed, talk inevitably turns to the infamous “Judas” incident from the Free Trade Hall, Manchester.  But there were 13 other British dates on that tour (plus one in Ireland) and on May 16, one day before the “Judas” show, I saw Dylan play in Sheffield, just 30 miles away across the Pennines.

Our story begins some weeks earlier when I was dispatched to the Gaumont cinema, located in Barkers Pool smack-bang in the city centre, to secure tickets for a group of college friends.  This was not nearly as straightforward as it sounds.  Ticket buying in the pre-internet age was a painstaking, labour intensive affair.  Telephone booking was some years away (in fact, many British households were still without telephones in 1966) and purchasing concert tickets involved turning-up at the box office in person to conduct a cash-only transaction with the grim-faced matron behind the glass.
Until it became a multiplex in the late 60s the Gaumont cinema juggled the big movies of the day with regular live music events.  Together with Sheffield City Hall, conveniently situated just yards away across Barkers Pool, it was arguably the most important concert venue in town.  Both had hosted shows by the Beatles in recent months and Dylan played at the City Hall a year earlier in 1965.  A pair of box offices were situated at either side of the Gaumont entrance and buying tickets involved a curious double queuing method out on the street alongside (but separate from) moviegoers who were waiting to see Alfie or The Good, The Bad & The Ugly or whatever the latest flick was.

John Tams
Finally, the big day arrived and I took my seat in the Gaumont alongside John Tams, then just a school friend but later to become properly famous in the world of folk music and theatre as a member of The Albion Band and part of the cast of the TV series Sharpe, for which he also wrote and performed some of the music.
Old beyond his years, Tams cut a kind of benevolent Flashman figure and carried himself with a casual self-confidence the rest of us were lacking.  He dressed in the latest boho chic, sported an impressive Brian Jones-style haircut and most galling of all, he had a desperately attractive girlfriend.  Even then Tams was a passable guitarist with a great singing voice and while we were still struggling with the basic chords to Dylan and the Beatles, he had many of the trickier Bert Jansch and Tom Paxton tunes down and knew loads of traditional material besides.  At 17 he was already the complete package and his opinion of the Dylan concert would be sought many times in the coming weeks.
Along with the Albion Band, Tams also recorded with Home Service and Muckram Wakes and later released a trio of critically acclaimed solo albums.  He has received a string of radio, TV and theatre awards and performed for the Queen and members of the Royal Family.  He was a musical director and actor at the National Theatre from 1976 to 1985 and his work on the 2007 stage musical War Horse has been described as the most successful show ever staged by the National, receiving six Olivier Awards nominations.

Bob Dylan
“This never happens with my electric guitar” muttered Bob as he struggled to tune up before “Mr. Tambourine Man”.  Seven songs into the acoustic half of the show and it was the first time Dylan had spoken.  It was also the first song of the set to receive anything resembling audience recognition, with a smattering of applause greeting the opening line.  Delivered, for the most part, as per the record, “Mr Tambourine Man” went off-piste toward the end when Bob abandoned the script and began to suck and blow the harmonica like a man possessed.  It was as if he'd suddenly realised he had 20 notes at his disposal and was determined to use them all.

Then, suddenly, it was all over and, as the stunned crowd began to shuffle out into Barkers Pool wondering what the hell they had just witnessed, the spell was broken by a single incongruous verse of “God Save The Queen”, then obligatory in all British theatres and cinemas, played over the theatre Tannoy system.
Walking through the city afterwards we were on a real high.  We had shaken off Magic Michael along the way and on the platform of Sheffield Midland station someone (John Tams, probably) produced a harmonica.  There we sat singing Dylan songs, wishing the night would never end.
A day later in Manchester, Dylan would be denounced as “Judas” and soon the entire world would sit up and take notice.  But that was yet to happen and for just a few hours more he belonged to us.
It’s been said that the Sheffield show was one of the best of 1966, both in terms of Bob’s performance and the recording quality.  This was borne out on the monumental 36 CD box set The 1966 Live Recordings, featuring every known recording from the tour.
https://andnowitsallthis.blogspot.com/2019/11/bob-dylan-john-tams-magic-michael.html



Offline Janice1066

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Re: Bob Dylan in Sheffield, 1966.
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2019, 10:06:01 AM »
As a folk music fan, I actually had heard some of John Tams' work before I ever heard of Sean Bean, so I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw Sharpe for the first time and found out that John was involved in it.

Offline patch

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Re: Bob Dylan in Sheffield, 1966.
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2019, 12:20:54 PM »

It was the same for me.I started watching Sharpe attracted by the familiar music from John Tams.
I was lucky enough to see John Tams in concert at a local folk event.There were several requests for him to play "Over the Hills and far away",wich he did.
The music,Sharpe,Sean Bean,everything fell into place.

« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 11:00:33 PM by patch »

Offline Clairette

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Re: Bob Dylan in Sheffield, 1966.
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2019, 11:38:18 PM »
Very interesting. Thanks!

Offline Janice1066

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Re: Bob Dylan in Sheffield, 1966.
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2019, 06:07:13 PM »

It was the same for me.I started watching Sharpe attracted by the familiar music from John Tams.
I was lucky enough to see John Tams in concert at a local folk event.There were several requests for him to play "Over the Hills and far away",wich he did.
The music,Sharpe,Sean Bean,everything fell into place.

So we are a couple of "old folkies"!  :mutley: