Zacatecas, Mexico

XXII Festival Cultural Zacatecas
Plaza de Armas

March 25, 2008

[Oscar Montes], [Alberto Ortega Gurza],

Review by Oscar Montes

It’s kind of hard to start this review because of the excitement that’s still 
running and blowin’ through my body. Thanks to the owner of this wonderful page
I could contact the other two greatest Dylan fans of Mexico, Alberto Ortega and 
Edgar Perez, we decided to go to this show in Zacatecas driving in my car, our 
first plan was to leave Mexico City on March 25th in the morning (6:00 AM) but 
on Monday 24th about midday, we decided to leave this day at 6:00 PM, this was 
crucial and this changed history forever (By the way I met these two guys this 
very day). Another friend of mine Luis Lopez joined us and there we were heading 
towards Zacatecas listening to Bob CD’s and taking about the songs. We 
arrived at Zacatecas at about 1:30 AM and we went directly to Plaza de Armas, 
it was really freezing but that was not a problem, there was nobody making a line 
to wait for the start of the show and we had no place to sleep so we decided to 
sleep in my car. At 7:30 AM we went again to the Plaza and were the first ones 
to make a line, some people appeared 1 hour later, 2 hours later and so on. The 
doors opened at about 4:45 PM and the four of us ran as never in our lives to the 
stage and there we were in first row just in the middle, Jesus it was great, real 
Dylan fans deserve that! 

The show started at about 8:35 PM, you could feel in the air that this was not 
going to be a conventional show, when Bob appeared wearing a white hat, black 
suit and a red shirt with white spots on the stage singing a powerful Rainy Day 
Women #12 & 35 I had a feeling that I was watching a ghost, I mean I could not 
believe that the guy a lot of people had in their shirts was there playing in a 
square surrounded by a Colonial Cathedral in a City 650 kms away from Mexico 
City, the next song was a nice It Ain’t Me Babe well recognized by the audience, 
I’ll be your baby tonight was next and good and closed his electric set. Then a 
powerful Masters of War was the following song, you could feel that Bob still sings 
it with anger because of the differences between governments around the world. 
The following was a rocky and nice Rollin' And Tumblin' and then the first wonder 
of the night It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), it was simply a masterpiece 
performed for the master of masters, Spirit was the following with Bob on harp, it 
was really good. The second surprise of the night was John Brown, excellent. A 
girl threw her bra to the stage and that made Bobby and his band feel really good, 
then another girl did the same, that for sure started to make Zimmy feel that he’s 
still young. The next song and wonder made everything happened and fit into 
perfection during the rest of the night, Just Like A Woman with Bob on harp, 
everybody got excited when he said Nobody feels any pain…and just after the line 
(Have fallen from her curls She takes…) everybody in the Plaza and outside this 
place sang the line in perfect tune …Just Like A Woman… Bob and his band were 
surprised and pleased for this and after (With her fog, her amphetamine and her 
pearls She takes…) and (Ah, you fake just like a woman, yes you do You make 
love…) just the same, excellent, perfect, wonderful (they said the attendance 
was about 8,000 people inside and about 12,000 out, yes, there were people on 
the streets surrounding the Plaza with two giant screens. In total about 20,000. 
The following was a great and powerful Highway 61 Revisited, excellent. When 
The Deal Goes Down cooled things a little bit down but the next song This 
Wheel's On Fire with Bob on harp was unbelievable, fantastic, we could feel the 
spirit of The Band and The Basement Tapes there and what’s more important 
we could feel Dylan saying to us that he, a wheel on fire is rolling down the road 
and best notify his next of kin because this wheel shall explode! Most Likely You 
Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine) was the following, a great surprise and well 
performed song. The following song was the Rock ‘n roll tune Summer Days with 
Bob playing, dancing and enjoying what he and his band were doing, once again 
he seemed to try to be Little Richards or Jerry Lee Lewis, great performance. 
Like A Rolling Stone made once again everybody sing, great classic and most 
recognized song in Mexican lands. Bob and his band left the stage, everybody 
was really excited, he returned singing a great Thunder On The Mountain, 
really rocky, the next song was a  wonderful and powerful All Along The 
Watchtower, excellent. Then the band was just starting to play the following 
song (Probably Blowin’ in the wind) when Bob went to Tony Garnier to tell him 
there was a little change in the program and they started playing a wonderful 
Forever Young with Bob on harp, a lot of people were singing the lines forever 
young, forever young, may you stay forever young in a mixture of the 
performances of The Last Waltz and At Budokan, this really brought a lump to 
the throat, we believe Bob wanted to sing this song because he really felt 
young once again this magical and mystical night or maybe he dedicated it to 
a one of his greatest fans in the world but who knows…

This was the best show of the five in Mexico and has been the best one of my 
life, it was just magic, just perfect, thank you Bobby for singing the last 
song of this show, maybe your last show in Mexico, and May You Stay 
Forever Young…

Oscar Montes


Review by Alberto Ortega Gurza

Describing ordinary facts of life in writing may be a task easy to accomplish 
quite accurately.  The same goes for good and bad news. But attempting 
to express yourself in order to describe greatness may require some 
heavenly aid. 

What I had the fortune of witnessing Tuesday night, was everything from 
virtuosity, to an outstanding assemblage of gifted musicians, to an audience 
in awe of the indescribable performance of some of the most transcendent 
songs ever written, to the fascination of the most powerful creative artist 
of our time, glowing like a full moon in the wilderness. The Bob Dylan we 
had the privilege of having in front of our very eyes appeared like a vision, 
and like a vision he vanished into darkness of the chilly night. 
Bob had left Mexico on the March 2. Three weeks later, being already in 
Uruguay, at the far south end of the continent, he came back all the way 
to Mexico, having to cross a dozen countries in order to perform a a single 
show in the colonial, picturesque, mountain surrounded, mine town of 
Zacatecas.  It would be interesting to know, whether being and 
performing in a mine town like his native Duluth means anything to him.

A week before the far away but free concert in the remote town of 
Zacatecas, Mexico, I got in touch with Oscar Montes, who judging by 
his previous four Dylan Mexican concert reviews posted in "Bob Links" 
seemed to be somewhat an immense Bob Dylan follower.  "Hey! Hi!" 
said I. "Hi!, Hey!" said he, in a most familiar tone. He asked me whether 
I had any plans of attending the up-coming concert. I said "It´s only 
natural". He said I was welcome to join him and his non Dylan fan friend 
Luis to drive north across the country to get to Zacatecas. Then I made 
a last minute invitation to my friend Edgar. He said "I got no money,
man" I said "That ain't necessary". We set up that night for the cold in 
the north. We drove through a high place of darkness and light. Eight 
hours later we arrived into the town. On March 25th by 1.30AM, we 
were there, standing in front of the "Plaza de Armas", the venue for 
the concert to be. The wind was a-howling and the cold was 
outrageous. In the midnight hours and with no one else in sight, we 
went back to the car and slept for a few hours, until Edgar's   voice 
woke us up. "Let´s go, you guys ready?" We went back to the "Plaza 
de Armas", and stood as the first ones in line, with the fixed purpose 
of walking into the venue before anyone else when it opened ten 
hours later. By 10AM, there were already hundreds of fans standing in 
line behind us, which by 2PM had turned into thousands, having arrived 
from different states of the country, let alone the hard core American 
Bobfans, who follow the Never Ending Tour around the world. Someone 
from California told me he had seen Bob in concert 355 times. I said 
"That´s the best news that I´ve ever heard". They let us in at 5:30PM. 
The beautiful "Plaza de Armas" was at its full 8,000 people capacity. And 
so the 12,000 others, who couldn´t make it inside, were ready to hear 
and watch the show from the outside cobblestone streets, with the 
help of a few giant video screens.

So we made it to the center, right up in front of the stage in the chairless 
Plaza. And there we were, leaning on the short fence which separated the 
stage from the audience, watching the sun slowly sink to turn the clear 
blue sky into a starry night, framed by the XVI century constructed Palace 
of Government building on the left side and in front of the stage, just 
across the Plaza, the majestic Cathedral built in the year of 1546, 
back-rounded by the silhouettes of the peaks from the mountain range 
that saw the Revolutionary leader Pancho Villa, ride with his "Dorados" to 
take over the city in the historic battle "Toma de Zacatecas" on 
June 23, 1914.

At 8:25PM the lights went off and a well dressed Bob waiting on the last
train appeared with a Fender Guitar, that could not be heard through the 
first few seconds of Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 on account of the roaring 
audience, which also out-sounded the instrumental performance of the 
five piece band. It was a deafening roar.

Thunder on the Mountain was delivered with a whole new astonishing 
arrangement. Just Like a Woman, a song every single soul in Zacatecas 
seemed to know, provoked the loudest sing-along I have ever heard.  Bob 
waited until people were done singing the line "Juuuuuuust Liiike a woman", 
to sing a quick "Just-Like-a-Woman," every time the chorus came up. Not 
possible to put in words, but exciting as can be for those of us who were 
there. While performing When the Deal Goes Down, I looked back to see 
an ocean of cell phone lights swinging to the rhythm of the ballad. This 
Wheel´s on Fire was striking. Absolutely beyond belief. Oscar, Edgar and I, 
sang-along "This Wheeeeeel´s on Fire/ Rolling down the Roooooooad….." 
really believing we were in cloud nine. Bob Dylan´s vocal delivery let us 
know how he was feeling: Full of life and future; young and in full control 
of his art; eager to keep on keeping on. Last night Bob Dylan was actually 
and literally standing on the mountain so all souls could see him. He knows 
the wheel of his existence is on fire, rolling down the road. Other amazing 
and surprising songs were It´s Alright Ma (I´m Only Bleeding), Most Likely 
Your Own Way and I´ll Go Mine and in a very special way John Brown. 
John Brown to me was the utter musical highlight of the set list. I wish I 
could explain how it sounded, how it made me feel, but there is no sense 
in trying. A version that outshone my previous favorite (MTV Unplugged) 
in more ways than one. Those timeless two hours the songs kept blasting 
were a high dosage of many different forms of music-art delivered in one 
perfectly wrapped-up package.

The band members were on stage so connected and inflamed, they 
couldn´t help but look at each other laughing joyfully while playing, just 
knowing they were performing music like no other band in the world could 
possibly be. Oscar and I agreed Bob Dylan in Zacatecas was the greatest 
concert we have ever attended, of any artist. Ever. 

Feeling as young as he was looking and sounding, Bob Dylan performed 
Forever Young, the most shocking surprise, which reportedly had not been 
played in three years. And again, the three of us, standing only a few feet 
away from His Royal Bobness, were singing along "Forever Yoooooung/ 
Forever Yoooung/ May you staaaay/ Forever young…
Bob glanced at us. I still can remember the way that he smiled. 

A few days prior to the first of the five shows in our country, I wrote the 
article "The Genius of Bob Dylan in Mexico" which was published as a cover 
story in a big Mexican magazine. I brought a copy with me to the concert 
with a note for Bob in dedication and threw it on the stage. It landed four 
feet away from Bob's keyboard as the gig approached its conclusion. A 
member of the crew picked it up when the show was over. I wish I knew 
whether it got to Bob´s hands. I never will. Anyways, being there on that
intense and magic night was the thrill of a lifetime in itself. The sight of 
such a sparkling, renewed and driven Bob, performing  songs which 
sounded more like a distant fact of life and  a legacy of mankind, than an 
artist´s work, made me realize how blessed we all really were to be there, 
in  seventh heaven, before an icon of the ages. 

Watching Bob van Beethoven at work in the corner of the globe where 
the wind shifts its course, made me think, yet know, that even the new
biographies of the artist will continue to be outdated the minute
they are printed, still for a long time to come.

When delivering the last words of When The Deal Goes Down, It felt as if
Bob was speaking individually to each one of those he refers to as "All my 
faithful and my much loved companions," pronouncing word by word 
unhurriedly, with a voice most tender and profound:

"I owe my heart to you
And I say It true
And I´ll be With You
When The Deal Goes Down"

Pancho Villa took over the town of Zacatecas in 1914.  Bob Dylan took 
over the hearts of consciences of 20, 000 people in Zacatecas on the
night of March 25, 2008.

I thank Bill Pagel, this legendary Website Webmaster, for helping me get in 
touch with Oscar Montes.  Bill deserves credit beyond words.  Although 
plenty of people around the world appreciate his valuable contribution, I 
wish to say this: The nearly 20 million visits to "Bob Links" mean that
20 million times Bill´s work has spread out Bob´s spirit throughout 
178 countries around the sphere called planet earth, touching lives.

Thank you, Bill.

Alberto Ortega Gurza                             


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