The Never Ending Tour Extended: Pay in Blood


I don’t know what it means either: an index to the current series appearing on this website.

The Never Ending Tour Extended: This series primarily uses recordings selected by Mike Johnson in his inestimable masterpiece The Never Ending Tour, and looks at how those performances of individual songs change as time goes by.   The selection of songs from the series, and the commentary below, are by Tony Attwood.

Pay in Blood was played 477 times between 2012 and 2019 and I must admit I come to this song now with even more interest, and indeed excitement, than before as in the last article I re-discovered the changes made to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum by Dylan on tour.  If you missed that last piece I would urge you to go back  to the last recording, not because of anything that I have written, but because of the final performance of that piece in the last outing of the song.  It is still being played daily in my house.

But we move on to Pay in Blood.  And here Bob manages to make the song appear slightly softer and a trifle slower.  And such is the change of atmosphere it almost sounds as if he’s changed key, although in retrospect I don’t think so.  It is just that the whole sound and approach gives an extra level of menace in this performance which was somehow not there on the album recording.

So what I am now listening out for is that sort of subtle change, especially in the final year of the tour…  We start in 2013… which doesn’t particularly contain any surprises but is a very enjoyable outing for the song, even though it is a song about danger.

2013: The art of the Dramatic Monologue


The second recording I’ve chosen comes from the same year and it seems to me to have increased the sense of menace and danger that was always there, even more.   Partly this is due to the balance of the band, which of course can be down to the recording itself.   It’s not a major set of changes, but there is something different here.

2013: Softly softly golden oldies


And as we move forward there are more changes but they are still very subtle.  It is almost as if Bob knows there is something he can do with the song that is different, but what….?  In fact what we get is a softer version, especially as the song continues.  Consider how he is performing around the third and fourth minute of the song and listen to the very short instrumental section that ends the performance.

2015: Bring on the setlist


So was this going to be another song which in retrospect we find that Bob played what is after all a perfectly good and enjoyable version all the way through the tour without variation?  Or we will find a sudden change of direction as we found with Dee and Tweedle Dum – an unbelievable journey?

Certainly by 2018 there were hints of change…. although not as dramatic as we have often found with other pieces…

2018 Riding the Setlist Wave


But this did not prepare us in any way for what was going to happen

2019 We can either play or we can pose

So again we have a song that was kept much the same as the recorded format but in his last year of performance on the Never Ending Tour, Bob decided to kick the piece a different treatment.

Hearing the similarity of performances across the years (before the final tilt at the song if one may call it that) it strikes me that in these last years of the tour Bob was generally changing songs far less – and that might be seen as a prelude to the Rough and Rowdy tour in which both the set list and the arrangements remain similar across many shows.

But what does come across to me here, and of course most particularly in the previous edition with the final version of Tweedle Dee, is that Bob has decided to give his old favourites a kick in a new direction.   One wonders what might have happened to these songs with their new variant performances if Covid had not come along and stopped the show.  What would he made of this song, and Tweedle Dee next time around?

Other articles in this series…

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