page by Bill Pagel
Review by Krister Törneke
Expectations were high in the Globe arena last night, as Bob was giving his
first concert in the European 2002 tour, and indeed his first show outside
the US since the release of "Love and Theft". I was there with my wife and
my 14 year old son for their first and my fifth Bob concert.
At 8 pm, 30 minutes after schedule, Bob was on stage. "Humming bird" was new
to me. It had a real country sound to it, not exactly my choice, but Bob seems
to prefer that type of starters. "Times" followed, and I was getting worried
that Bob's voice might not last for the whole show. However, half way through
"It's allright ma", which was next, it came through clearly and grew even
better after that. Also, the guitars did not seem to come perfectly together
in these first songs. The first real highlight was "Don't think twice", which
was the last in the first acoustic set of four.
The electric set started with "Man of constant sorrows", which I was not able
to recognise, followed by "Lay Lady Lay". Someone in the audience shouted
"Rock'n roll" and off came the real rarity of the night, a hard rocking "Solid
rock". Someone said he has not performed it for 20 years, and as I read the
lyrics, it's interesting how Bob still seems to be preaching like in those
days. Although I would have preferred "Every Grain of sand" or even "When He
returns" from that period, this one was a real surprise. Starting with an
excellent harp intro "Positively fourth street" followed, again in a rocking
version that I enjoyed.
Next came the first of totally four "Love and theft" songs, "Twiddle dee", and
it was excellent. This was followed by "To make you feel my love" which is one
of my favourites from "Time out of mind", again with a harp intro.
Unfortunately the guitars did not seem to be quite happy together for a
while, but this was made up by another harp solo which brought the song
"Maggies farm", which came next is not one of my favourites, but again the
rocking version was good. "Summer Days", another "Love and theft" track
followed, and I appreciated it. I had been looking forward to "Sugar baby"
which came next. I would have been disappointed if it had been left out.
As Bob sang "Look up look up, seek your maker" this was probably my peak
moment of the evening. The second song I was not able to recognise directly
was "Drifters Escape". During this song the lights made large sharp shadows
of the performers alternating, and this had a great effect. This great
performance again ended with a harp solo. I can't remember having heard his
harmonica in the heavy electric portion before. The set ended with "Rainy day
women", which is a song I could have done without. As soon as it started a part
of the audience ran forward until the passage was blocked. At the end came the
band intro followed by a short break.
The first encore was not "Like a rolling stone" which my son had been hoping
for, but - to my pleasure - "Things have changed". Again this version was more
heavy rocking than I have heard it before. Second my son got his "Rolling
stone", which was OK but nothing special. The lights turned out to the
audience. "Forever young" followed in an acoustic setup, and Bob gave us
another harp solo. "Honest with me" came next, only slightly altered from the
"Love and theft" version. Finally, an acoustic "Blowing in the wind" ended the
show. It amazes me that Bob can still sing this song and give the impression
that he really likes it. It seems impossible to wear that song out.
As a whole the show was certainly impressive. The sound was more hard rocking
than previous shows I have been to, quite similar to the "Love and theft" sound.
I would have appreciated a bit more of the acoustic setup. The show was very
different to that in Borgholm last july. At that time we were all much closer
and could follow the interaction between Bob and his band. But the setlist
then was a disappointment (with only two songs later than the 60's). This time
the setlist was great with many of my favourites and a good mix through the
years, although the 60's still dominated, as usual. The performance was on top
but not as "close" as last time. This was possibly due to the difference
between the Globe arena and the Borgholm castle ruin. It also hit me that the
best performances were not necessarily on my favourite songs. I need to go to
many more shows before I get to hear all favourites, I guess…
Review by Jan Semneby
So there we were again in the Globe Arena. Bob has pleen playing three
times in five years in this huge building in southern Stockholm that looks
like a giant golf ball. The anticipation was high this time. Love And
Theft has sold well here, it even reached number one even if it was only
for a week. And apparently he has reched a new and younger audience
lately. When we was waiting in line ootside the box office one early
morning to buy are front row tickets we had four people in their twenties
in front of us who had stayed overnight in sleeping bags. I think that
most of the approx 11 000 were satisfied. It turned out to be a great show
and a show of surprises. And a set with a new structure which I liked.
Bob had his usual outfit and this time also a hat on. Just like he had on
the Grammy Awards at Staples Center. It seemed that he was still suffering
from a a slight jet-lag, the first couple of song was not good. He was
really struggling with his voice on The Times they are a-changing´. But
from It´s allright Ma he hit the groove. He was really into it from there
on. It was one of those nights when he looked really concentrated. Not
much smiling and moving on the stage but just digging into the songs. The
”president line” received the usual cheers from the crowd and the
following Don´t think twice was reaaly wonderful with tender singing from
Bob. The best version I heard for years.
And what can I say about Man of constant sorrow and Solid Rock? Great
surprises of course but also unusual good performances on songs that
haven´t been performed for a long time. There seems to have been quite a
lot of rehearals before this tour.
Positively 4th street however was a dissapointment as he forgot some
words and mixed some lines. But he soon recovered with a beautiful Make
you feel my love. And Maggies farm, not one of my favourite songs, sounded
fresh in e new and effective arrangement.
The highlight of the evening? Summer days! It really rocked hard. And
Sugar Baby was fine too even if I would have asked for Mississippi
After the main set the more predictable encores felt like a slight
dissapointment. Nothing special here except for two young girls from the
audience who was allowed by Bob´s security and guitar technician to come
on stage and dance during Like a rolling stone. Honest with me showcased
some nice work from the new drummer George Receli who sounded much more
into it than on the tapes I´ve heard from the earlier shows this year. All
in all a nice tour starter and I look forward to see the concluding shows
in London in five weeks time from now. See you there. Jan Semneby
Review by Anders Tidström
Let me twist my review into a brief piece of thoughts, instead of listing
a concert catalogue:
"Well, I´m hangin´ on to a solid rock made before the foundation of the
world, and I won´t let go, and I can´t let go ..." Dylan sang to the
Swedish audience, April 5 in Stockholm. You can notice he served Solid
Rock as piece number seven. Holy number seven, for God´s sake? Resting on
the beautiful mountain top of his creation isn´t bad. His creation? His
creation, yes! Still can´t help but rocking on the rocky foundation there
is. A rock, a spirit, a faith, a world - you decide and design as Dylan
continues: "It´s the ways of the flesh to war against the spirit". Do you
think there is a link to the real life and death ... of the Middle East?
Dylan didn´t perform Solid Rock or Man of Constant Sorrow for years. He
prefers to let us into this path, these days! He also steers into more
joyful and careless trails like Summerdays and Sugar Baby. Widely spanning
forty years of production. Wide production.
When it comes to artistry - what could Dylan possibly do here in Sweden to
trump the Borgholm concert of July 3, last year. And there could hardly be
a Globe concert trumping June 9, 1998? But this was an excellent average
show irrespective of that.
Outstanding versions of Don´t Think Twice and Man of Constant Sorrow were
exercised. Maggie´s Farm was transformed into a firestorm which almost
lifted the Globe venue from the ground. Sorry it didn´t physically, as
that could´ve resulted in a blessed landing, deforming the house into
acceptable acoustics. This is still a giant golf ball, perfect for all
kinds of sports, but not really a pleasure for music.
As Dylan rocks and rolls further on his seemingly endless line he swings
his cowboy hat for the good of America and performs the humanity of his
jewish heritage simultaneously. Thus: "Good luck to mankind!". Dylan
repeats this over and over again - Charlie Chaplin style!
Review by Johnny Borgan
Did Bob shoot a man named Gray and take his wife to Italy? Is it true? And
did Gray survive the shot?
If not, why is it that the great and seemingly surviving Michael Gray uses
so much effort and passion to put Dylan's performing art down in his
report from springs opening show in Stockholm, "On the trail of the
Bobcat"? After using most of the article to critizise the arena, the
audience, the audiences income, hairstyle, age, the fact that people shows
up with their sons and their daughters or their parents - Gray uses just a
few lines to write Bob off as a cynic, a fake, safe-playing self-parodic
and painfully poor wooden Dracula-figure "who wants fresh meat: young
people who don't remember how incomparably better he once was". Grays
review of the concert bears the resemblance of many a Dylan-review over
the years, though often written by ignorants who don't know or accept
Dylan's demanding work and style - and we shrug our shoulders, knowing
that they don't have a clue. But this writer should know better, shouldn't
he - or is this a result of a common disease for the heylins and the grays
of dylanology - who don't really accepts the live and living Dylan, with
all his strong and weak sides, preferring the historical Dylan that can be
analyzed, categorized and finalized in the Book with a capital B? How can
the living Bob one single night live up to these expectations? Do they
really want to see the Legend and not the Man on the stage? They will
surely be disappointed - as far as I'm concerned the never-ending tour is
all about the legend taking his life back, in public.
I was in Stockholm, too. It wasn't a perfect show, maybe not even a great
show. Bob looked more than a year older than last summer, he looked tired
- but maybe it was just a bit of jet-lag, and a bit of that pressure the
first show on a tour supposedly can bring: "Is everything okay? How are
the boys playing? Will I make it this time, too? Am I getting too old for
this?" Human thoughts may occur, even in Bobs head, I suppose. But it did
work out - it was a good show - with highlights and surprises and a good
time with great music, all kinds of it. The band played on - good time
Charlie got the blues and played guitar like the devil. The heavy
treatment of "Man of Constant Sorrow" with Bob living the blues and
sneering the words - I'll never forget it - the story of his life, indeed.
And the disbelief when we got a familiar intro, but could it really be....
yes, it was "Solid Rock". And yes, it was solid rock. "Tweedle Dee and
Tweedle Dum" and "Summer Days" fits the band like a glove, and we got a
beautiful and tender "To Make You Feel My Love" with great harmonica
intro. And what about the majestic "Sugar Baby" - Where was Michael Gray?
It was a good show, with more than enough magic moments to justify the
trip from Oslo, and with the unique power to give us expectations of an
even better show in Oslo two days later, maybe with Bob leaning a little
more forward, a little more of his left-foot-dancing and of course, a
completely different setlist. And that's exactly what we got.
Dylan has been quoted saying that the critics shouldn't compare "Love And
Theft" too his old albums, but it should be compared to other albums
released nowadays. Maybe the shows should be treated the same way? Where
else can you go to get this energic multidose of blues, gospel, country,
bluegrass, jump-swing, ballads and rock'n roll combined with classic
poetry. Of course there's great artists on the road today, but still, and
even when you accept the limitations of Bob, few is even in the same
And Michael, when did the audience start to reflect the superiority of a
Dylan show - would you prefer the puritanism from the early sixties, the
hecklers from '66 or the booers from '79?
In Oslo Bob kicks off the show with "Wait For The Light To Shine" - his
prologue to the post-September-11th-shows in US this autumn, a nod to Hank
and a word of hope, even in the darkest hour. A perfect starter for a
really great show - I mean - Hattie Carroll, Desolation Row, Visions of
Johanna, Mama You Been On My Mind - in the same show.... hello!!! A
surreal Don't Think Twice, a killer version of Summer Days, Charlie's on
fire, Larry joyfully jazzes his guitar on Floater. And what about the
thunderous Lonesome Day Blues: I'm gonna spare the defeated, I'm gonna
speak to the crowd. Rolling thunder - and Bob sends beautiful smiles back
to the drummer, just the glimpse of the same smile reaches the audience,
but the crowd's response is explosive and warm - both the bobcats and the
first-time-to-see-Bob-passengers. And Bob seems happy and free.
Michael Gray is wrong - generalizing from the Stockholm show, from any
show, it ain't right. It's not lack of neither knowledge nor musicality
that makes american audiences vote Bob to best live act for the autumn
shows, that makes the norwegian audience leave the arena with happy
smiles. They're not victims of a fake - they're witnesses to something
really real in a world of fake. Maybe incomparably to whatever he has done
before - but still comparably to whatever's going on in a concert hall
these days - Bob's still on top of his game - and we are lucky to be alive
at the same time!
page by Bill Pagel
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