Stuttgart, Germany
April 16, 2002

[Sascha Krieger], [James Strohecker], [Marco Mazzotti], [Carsten Wohlfeld], [Clemens Martin]

Review by Sascha Krieger

Getting there was the hardest part. Due to some chaos on the German railway
system I only arrived ten minutes before eight after fighting my way through
the neverending South-west German rain. Things, it seemed, could only get
better - and they did!

The arena, usually used for sports events, was just filling, only in front 
of the stage there was already something like a crowd. Unlike two years ago,
the stage was situated on one of the long sides of the arena and there
were no seats in front of the stage, only in the stands at the back, with
the effect that the rear part of the audience would not rise until the end
of the show. All in all, the arena provided less atmosphere then the one
in Berlin last week, and as far as the audience was concerned this proved

Five minutes after 8 p.m. the lights went down and the boys came on stage -
the band in matching bordeaux suits, Bob in one of his usual dark suits
with some silver around collar and pockets, sporting a white hat this

The show started with some pure country feeling - a relaxed Hallelujah,
followed by a standard Times, which saw Dylan confuse verses at the
beginning, but that ended in a very decent and enjoyable fashion. Alright
Ma was as sharp and poignant as ever, with the usual applause for the
"President line". 

After that the first of many surprises of the night, given away by the
characteristic guitar intro, accompanied by Bob's first harp solo: 4th
Time Around. Harp playing and singing were both very tender, the latter
also being very sharp, especially when it came to the "gum"-"come" rhymes.

The electronic set began with a hard-rocking Solid Rock, which seems to
get better with every performance, and continued with a brilliant Cry a
While, which saw the band effortlessly managing the various rhythm changes
and even plying with them freely towards the end. These guys obviously
enjoyed playing a lot!

After this, the second killer chice of the night: Every Grain of Sand!
Beginning with a long intro that sounded an awful lot like Times, it was
the wise, relaxed and thoughtful rendition one expects from Bob these
days. Just beautiful. A hard-edged Highway and on came the second acoustic

This started with a dry and precise Masters which however lacked George's
great military-style drumming he showed in Berlin - generally, he seemed a
little less inspired this time and his drumming wasn't as hard and
energetic as in Berlin. Now for the next great surprise: Tomorrow Is a
Long Time, introduced by a beautifully tender harp solo and moving into a
quiet version of this beautiful song, which in my opinion gained a lot by
Bob's matured voice and singing. A melancholic love song by someone who
has a right to sing it.

Then followed Hard Rain - which he had to do because of the weather, I
guess - poignant and sharp, with some flashes of the spirit of what the
song originally meant appearing in his bawling out the chorus.

Back to the Stratocasters and on with high-speed rockabilly at its best:
Summer Days. You almost thought the roof would take off at some point and
with it the band who were certainly approaching their limits. Another huge
highlight! Next up was another big surprise: Simple Twist, wonderfully
relaxed and peaceful (dominated by Larry's steel guitar) and ages away
from the restlessness of Blood on the Tracks. A version fitting the Dylan
of today!

Instead of the usual John Wesley Harding track at this point, Bob surprised
us with his great up-tempo rendition of Cold Irons Bound, bluesy and rocking
and just cool! The guys finished the set with a predictable Rainy Day
Women (again with Larry on steel guitar) which however I've never seen and
heard in such a playful manner, with a very strong blues element. When Bob
produced the band, they all got little solos and they obviously enjoyed
this song more than one could expect them to!

Now the encores. First not a big but a very pleasant surprise: Man of
Constant Sorrow. Very sharp and dry, Dylan being vocally on the top of his
ability (very nice background singing from Charly and Larry). After that,
the usual crowd pleaser, a very decent Rolling Stone, followed by a
mercilessly relaxed I Shall Be Released - what a beautiful rendition of
what is one of the man's best songs.

Honest with Me was the usual rocker which saw the band at their very
best. After this came the usual closer, Blowin', which never sounds
boring these days, with careful singing by Bob and nice choruses with the
backing of Larry and Charlie.

Then it was was over - a very good one again! Yes, the crowd wasn't as
responsive and enthusiastic as in Berlin, yes, Bob wasn't dancing and
smiling as much either, but musically this was a top performance by the
five of them, and the killer setlist made up for everything anyway!

This is the the best Bob Dylan for a long, long time, and these shows are
an absolute must!


Review by James Strohecker

Like a Swiss Watch that first must start ticking slowly and then will grove 
fully with strength, excellence, and relevance, Bob Dylan and his band brought 
their show to the Stuttgart Schleyerhalle last night, where they started rough 
and slow but then just kept getting stronger and better and produced a great, 
long-lasting show that impressed the crowd and gave them something to keep in 
their memories for a long time.

The Schleyerhalle, which was far easier to find than the Frankfurt 
Jahrhunderthalle, is a big cavernous sports or event structure that had a 
cement floor ringed by fixed seats at least 15 feet or more above the floor.  
The band/promoter cut off the south end with curtains and made it a semi-circle 
venue.   As usual, Bob's sound filled cohesively the place so that even fans at 
the back were talking about the great show.

The group opened with a nice Hallelujah, I'm Ready to Go --- bright and springy.  
Bob was resplendent in his black suit and white cowboy hat while the band all 
wore their maroon suits.

The strength of their first song out of the chute was challenged by a weak, The 
Times, They are A-Changin'.  Bob's voice was rough and for the first time this 
tour, he looked tired.  Heck, they all looked a little tired - and it's hard 
not to be. Not wasting any time tonight, the group launched into a consistent, 
It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding, that was strongly played and clean, but 
lacking vital energy.

However, this was to change as Bob and the band next picked their way into new 
strength and rolled out a precious, yearning, Fourth Time Around.  This is my 
favorite song of this tour so far and it rated the second best song of the 
night.  Clean, soulful and dynamic, Fourth Time Around captivated the audience 
- as Bob played to the virtual silence of people straining to listen to every 
note and word.  Sweet.

The band followed Fourth' with a biting, Solid Rock that's a … solid rocker.  
This song is a real keeper and has become a flagship of the tour so far, and 
the crowd certainly enjoyed it.  And they book ended the song with a crafty, 
Cry A While, that had Charlie Sexton and Bob going toe-to-toe with some good 
electric pickin'.

Next up was my friend Lutz' favorite, Every Grain of Sand, a rarity on any 
Dylan tour and so special in Stuttgart - well played, sung and articulated.  
Bob can be so clean and precise on songs such as 'Sand, and tonight's version
was no different - it was worth the price of admission.  As a result, it took 
the song of the show award - which was like picking out the best diamond from 
a jewelry store.

The band followed this with a Strat-go-round on, Highway 61, which had Charlie 
stepping up with Bob and nodding along to Bob's lead.  Charlie was on tonight, 
all night, and he really added valuable energy to the group with his 
surprising licks, laughter and showmanship, and contributions to Bob.

The band added some good fret work and acoustic pounding with a wise version 
of, Masters of War, followed by a sexy, soulful version of Tomorrow Is A Long 
Time that had haunting harp work by Bob and some smooth, echoing harmony vocals 
by Larry Campbell that made the crowd gasp.  Just a great song, well played and 
performed.  Almost painful at how good it was. Yow.  

Tomorrow was just perfect - and it created a nice transition to an excellent 
version of, A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall.  Bob led this song, of course, and 
just stood and delivered a tasty performance that shined from start to finish. 

Clearly the show and the boys were getting stronger as they were going along.

Next up was Summer Days, which was a huge crowd favorite, as usual on this tour, 
and the Stuttgart fans boogied to the tune and roared their appreciation at the 
end.  The band picked, jammed, strutted and plucked away and grinned at the end, 
-- enjoying themselves and the crowd's reaction.  This showcase song again saw 
the band clustered around George and Tony for their gigging and jam session, 
where Bob clearly was both enjoying the playing and showing off himself with 
this own fret work.  

The band followed this with a surprise treat and moved into a complex version 
of Simple Twist of Fate where Bob added some exceptional harp play to the end 
of the song -- that tied it up so nicely like a gold ribbon and bow on a well 
wrapped present.  Clean, full and haunting, the song again captivated the crowd 
and demonstrated the band's versatility as they went from the rocker to the 
soulful without missing a beat.

Almost immediately, they began the psychedelic montage of Cold Iron's Bound, 
and pounded out a good strong rocker that featured Charlie and Bob going 
toe-to-toe with single-note theory on Strats.  Enjoyable and tight, the song 
hit the mark and led into what normally would be a pedantic, band-intro, 
get-it-over-with, Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.  Tonight, however, Bob 
encouraged each band member (everyone but Larry) to play a riff after he 
introduced them, and all of them stepped up and performed.  Tony got Bob to 
laugh with his bass work that mirrored the picking that Charlie ripped - giving 
this song a fun and funny element, adding to the crowd's entertainment and the 
concert's eclectic nature.

After the break, the group launched into an excellent, Man of Constant Sorrow, 
that featured tight back-up vocal harmonies by Charlie and Larry and made them 
sound like the actor, George Clooney, and his fellow singers in the movie, 
"Oh Brother Where Art Thou?"  Excellent backcountry vocals, picking and 
delivery, this song is a match for a second set starter.

Bob and the group rolled into the home stretch with their signature tour song, 
Like A Rolling Stone, which displayed some fine picking by Charlie and Larry. 
Normally, this song plays the bills, but tonight, there was some icing on the 
cake.  They followed 'Rolling Stone with a rich, complete, I Shall Be Released, 
that offered some penchant harmony vocals by Charlie and Larry to back Bob's 
soulful crooning.  Most excellent.

Finally, the band concluded with a secular, Honest With Me, and finished with 
a tight, Blowing In The Wind.  The latter featured a sweet nightcap of Bob's 
yearning harp intro - his harp playing on this just keeps getting longer and 
more enriched show after show.  

Such a smooth, complete end to a show that show that was well wound, excellent 
and dynamic.  Again, just another sign that this band and Bob keep getting 

RANDOM NOTES … Try finding a hotel room in a city that hosts an international 
Football (soccer) match.  Good luck.  The soccer fans' game anticipation, 
coupled with the Circus (whose trucks were arriving when the Dylan crowd was 
leaving = Smart!) added extra energy brimming in this city.  One of the better, 
more organized lines to get in - no pushing or crowd problems … Not that I'd 
advocate it, but tonight's show would be a, ahem, show worth listening to 
again on CD.  It was one of the better, more consistent Tour sets, combined 
with some real song jewels and band interaction … No sign of Freddie Blade 
tonight, the percussion dude who sat in with the band in Frankfurt …


Review by Marco Mazzotti

I am reporting my impressions about Tuesday night concert, after reading
the comments by Sascha Krieger and James Strohecker, and I am impressed
how my thoughts were and still are similar to theirs. I was pretty far
from the stage, thus I could hear well, but I could not see the details.
Nevertheless, I had the same feelings, namely a rather difficult start of
the concert, with a steady improvement from "Cry a while" on. And in the
end, I believe it was a great concert, with a very special set list, and a
number of gems. To me, these were "Every grain of sand", "Tomorrow is a
long time" with an incredibly effective duet of Bob Dylan and Larry
Campbell, "Summer days", where the three guitarists played a very good
improvisation, "A simple twist of fate", "Cold iron bounds". The whole
encore part was very good, the highlight being the guitar solo by Bob
Dylan almost at the end of "Blowing in the wind", after a 2 hours and 15
minutes concert. My impression is that every concert is indeed an
experience, where neither the audience nor Bob Dylan and his band know
where they will end up with. This was clear in Stuttgart, where the start
was really difficult, but they changed gear after a while and started to
get more and more fun during the concert. It is also rather clear to me
that something is going on on the stage, in terms of personal exchanges
and interactions. Larry Campbell plays and sings wonderfully, but he looks
kind of isolated on many occasions, as the other reviewers already
noticed. However, this apparently creates no tension; it seems to be only
the present dynamics in the group, that's all. All in all, in every
concert, Bob Dylan delivers a lot: good songs, either strong or sweet,
good music, and a lot of emotions, which have not only to do with his
music. That's why I try to attend his concerts whenever I can, and I
consider a privilege having the chance to see him again next Sunday in
Zurich. Best regards, Marco Mazzotti


Review by Carsten Wohlfeld

11 years on, the people of Stuttgart still haven't forgiven Bob - or so it
seems. 11 years and 10 months ago on this day, Dylan performed his worst
ever show at the Liederhalle in Stuttgart, later imortalized on the aptly
titled "The Worst Of Bob Dylan, Name That Tune" bootleg. So while in most
other German cities they sold about 5 000 to 7 000 tickets, the
Schleyerhalle in Stuttgart, which holds approx. 9 000 people, was FAR to
big for Bob. They decided to close off 2/3 of the seats, so I suppose in
the end the venue looked even worse than before and held about 3 000
people. They opened the doors early and even though Gunter and I arrived
late, it would' ve been no problem to get to the front still. We decided
to take things easy though (after all we had a pretty decent spot the
night before) and settled for a center spot in the back. The show started
pretty much on time, the band this time wearing their  matching purple
suits again. Bob wore his black suit tonight and a white cowboy hat,
rather than the black one he had on for the night before. The show had the
same loose atmosphere on stage that had made the Hamburg  gig a week
before so enjoyable. Maybe George's apparent injury and the presence of
Brady Blade in Frankfurt had changed things slightly for that one show,
but Stuttgart was destined to be a fun concert from the start. They
started with

               Hallelujah I'm Ready (To Go) (acoustic)

Bob's vocals sounded a bit rusty, but the rendition was fast and livid and
got the crowd going right from the start. A good start.

               The Times They Are Changin' (acoustic)

A killer. Bob, that is, not the song. He completely massacred the tune.
Sounded tired and weary and Bob had major troubles remembering the lyrics.
Fortunately, he spared us the harp solo. I believe that the band wanted to
end the song early, but Bob just kep playing and so the guys continued as
well. A mess.

        It's Alright Ma (acoustic)

As strong as the night before, despite the fact that Bob (and the band)
looked tired, it still sounded very good. A shame to see though, that he
apparently hedropped the great new "Desolation Row" arrangement for the
time being.So far it was pretty much a hit and miss affair, but it all
changed with the next song, that saw Bob waking up at last.

        Fourth Time Around (acoustic)

Sounded better than any version I've heard in 2000. Charlie on electric
and Lary on cittern added beautiful lines and Bob's singing was
convincing, clean and very, very solid. The crowd seemed to be very
impressed and as if Bob wanted to confirm that he had finally arrived at
the Schleyerhalle, he picked up the harmonica for the first time. The solo
wasn't his best, but things really improved from here on in.

        Solid Rock

More powerful than the night before, very dynamic and thus a huge crowd
pleaser despite its "obscure" status.
        Cry Awhile

I enjoyed the songmostly due to the fact that it was the only one tonight
I hadn't heard before. The arrangement with its weird ryhthm structure is
pretty challanging for a live show and while Larry and Charlie did a great
job and even Bob's guitar playing (often duelling with Charlie) was
surpringly good, I still don't think the song worked well for most people
in the audience.

        Every Grain Of Sand

Wow! Its always a pleasure to hear this song, but I was surprised to find
this rare gem in the same set as "solid Rock". As Tim remarked after the
show, something must've happened. He either found god again or somebody
gave him copies of his born again albums for revaluation. Or something.
Whatever it was, the performance was AMAZING. Bob obviously likes to
challenge his band sometimes by changing parts of the song without notice
and then they walk on thin ice when they are improvising, but on this
song, Bob just kept to what they had rehearsed and that made sure that the
music was stunningly perfect. Bob really concentrated on his part (the
singing)as well, and while I've heard many renditions of this song before,
none have been as beautiful as this one. Without the doubt the highlight
of the night, maybe even the whole tour so far.

        Highway 61 Revisited

Rocked as usual, and even with George on drums it's not that different.
Lots of interesting interplay between Charlie and Bob, the jam parts were
long and energetic and put some new life into this overplayed song. Bob
even smiled a few times when Charlie managed to surprise him with some new
licks. Nice!

        Masters Of War (acoustic)

Sounded a bit tired. Sometimes it has a really driving guitar part and a
military style rhythm, tonight the guitars sounded weak and the drums were
unconvincing as well. The lyrics were well sung though. The first verse
was repeated and the song ended with the last word of that verse. A

        Tomorrow Is A long Time (acoustic)

Bob started it off with a harp solo that sounded a lot like "Tamborine",
but fortunately he pulled out this lovely tune, with Larry on harmony
vocal for the chorus. Unlike on previous versions, Bob decided not to sing
the song WITH Larry, but rather AGAINST Larry, which resulted in a
hilariously funny "solo" for Mr. Campbell on the second chorus. Bob was so
behind with his lines (on purpose or not), that Larry sang his lines all
by himself and Bob basically repeated after him.  It was a weird version,
but I actually prefer a weird "Tomorrow" than having to hear the umpteenth
"Tambourine" or "Tangled", so I for one was happy.

        A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall (acoustic)

Was much better than in Hamburg, although that still doesn't mean that it
was a highlight. I don't know why he has to sing this song over and over
agin, even though it seems to be obvious that he can't sing it anymore.
Can' t make him (or the crowd) happy?!

        Summer Days

Like the days before, this was stunning good. 'nuff said.

        Simple Twist Of Fate

Some thought it was a surprise move to pull out this song, but after
"Shelter" the nightbefore, yet another "Blood On The Tracks" tune didn't
surprise me at all. Although it's rarely played (this was only the second
rendition with George), it was very well done, both from the band and Bob.
He seemed to enjoy this song a lot, putting a lot of energy and emotion
into the lyrics and even closing off the song with a harp solo.

        Cold Irons Bound

The arrangement is still the weird and rather complex one debuted at the
Cologne show it 2000, it's still good to hear, although the more rocking
choices from "John Wesley Harding" seem to work better for the crowd in
this slot.

        Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 & 35

The best thing about this song was that it showcased how much Bob and his
band can change. Within 15 mins we got a rockabilly song, a balladesque
love song, a "difficult" blues rock song and a comedy blues. Wow. The song
was the usual rocking jam until Bob started his band intros and things got
very weird/funny. First of all, he said "Ladies and gentlemen, I want to
intriduce my band. do you mind if I do that?" (or words to that effect).
After he had introduced Larry, Charlie began to move around, holding up
his guitar. At first, Bob seemed to be surprised, but after he had
introduced Charlie he went over to him, encouraging to play a solo (at
first by his own, then together with Bob). A minute or so later Bob
introduced George and then Tony - and they got their solos as well!!!
Tony's part made Bob burst into laughter, too! It was very, um,
intersting. After the band intros had finished, Lary played a lap steel
solo as well, even without Bob's encouragement! A very entertaining way to
end the main set.

        Man Of Constant Sorrow

This kicked off the encores and while it wasn't very different to the
previous versions, it was still a highlight, much loved by the crowd.

        Like A Rolling Stone

Seemed to be a lot more energetic than the previous night (maybe because
George felt better and hit the drums harder?), and Charlie's solo parts
were longer and stronger as well.

        I Shall Be Released (acoustic)

I'm convinced this song started off as "Forever Young" and they band
switched to "Released" when Bob kicked in this his harp solo. Maybe I just
completely misheard it? I like "Released" better anyway and this was a
very nice version, although Bob again tried to challenge backup singers
Larry and Charlie with his phrasing.

        Honest With Me

Rocked as usual.

        Blowin'In The Wind (acoustic)

Pretty weak, it seemed as if Bob's performance came full circle and he
returned to the weak start of the show ("Times") with this song.

So after 2 hours and approx. 20mins the show had ended. Still no
"Watchtower" for me - a pity. Unlike the previous two concerts I had seen,
this wasn't very consistant. "4th Time Around", "Every Grain Of sand" and
"Tomorrow." were simply stunning, the blues rock songs were all very
enjoyable and rocking, but some of the stuff in between really was
sub-standard. Not a bad show, much better than the one at this venue in
2000 (not to mention the 1991 gig again). After the show we took off to
lovely Lake Constance, while Bob no doubt made his way directly to Munich
for the next show. Thanks to Gunter, Tim and Regine, couldn't have done it
without you! Stay tuned for more from Munich soon!

Carsten Wohlfeld


Review by Clemens Martin

I went to see both the Frankfurt and the Stuttgart show, so this is also
going to be a kind of comparison of both concerts. It was the first time I
saw two Dylan shows on two following days and the somewhat surprising and
relieving experience was that there were no surprising differences - last
year I found the contrast between the Schwaebisch-Hall- and the Loerrach
show really puzzling. The band was quite the same (you didn’t really miss
the percussionist in Stuttgart), the music was quite the same, a lot of
songs had the same titles and were performed in a comparably similar way
(in fact, nearly one half of the set) and even Bob Dylan seemed to be the
same person, although his hat was different. Both shows were on an
artistically high level with a couple of very thrilling moments and both
also contained some songs which could have been done a lot better. On the
whole, Dylan’s singing seemed to be a little better in Stuttgart, the
voice was more intense and tender and even more tuneful. On the other
hand, the Frankfurt set was tighter and more rocking. Especially „Solid
Rock“ was really driving and „solid rocking“ in Frankfurt but in Stuttgart
it dragged a bit. To have nearly the same encore set was disappointing,
but both sets had a couple of pleasant surprises. It is a pity that Dylan
at last seems to have fallen into the „Very Greatest Hits“-Trap, too (at a
time when even the Rolling Stones have left it again and give their
audiences their „Satisfaction“ at the very beginning or not at all) - it’s
amazing that somebody who refused to give the audiences what they expected
for forty years suddenly seems to feel obliged to play both „Like a
Rolling Stone“ and „How Many Roads“ at the end of every concert. But it
was the pleasant surprises which made the shows unforgettable. To hear him
sing „Tomorrow Is Such A Long Time“ and „Forth Time Around“ in Stuttgart
was in itself perfectly sufficient to make the show worthwhile coming.
„Forth Time Around“ nearly made me cry. I never heard him sing so tender
and intense, opening his heart for everybody („My back pages“ in Frankfurt
had a similar but less strong effect). „Wicked Messenger“ was very hard
and heavy in Frankfurt, with a touch of Patti Smith; and „Cold Irons
Bound“ was fine in Stuttgart. Then there were the three „Blood On The
Tracks“-numbers in two concerts; especially „Simple Twist Of Fate“ in
Stuttgart was very touching. Other surprises didn’t turn out well, maybe
due to lack of practice. „Mama You Been On My Mind“ in Frankfurt seemed to
be „Don’t Think Twice“ with altered text and „Every Grain Of Sand“ just
couldn’t find any music to fit it. On both concerts Dylan’s harp playing
was reduced, concentrated and amiably unpretentious without any of the
shrill screechings which he awkwardly insisted on at last year’s Loerrach
concert. Same with the guitar playing. Most solos were played by Charlie
Sexton and Bob’s soloing was solid and effective, he did not do much of
his usual minimalist twanging, exploring the possibilities of two notes.
(A German newspaper recently termed this style as being „cubist“, which I
found very nice, and if you start to think about it, it actually even
seems to make some sense - he fragmentizes the musical landscape of a song
and keeps showing the scattered fragments from all of their perspectives.)
The most astounding thing in both concert however was the stunning
difference between his performance of the old songs and the new „Love and
Theft“-material, especially „Moonlight“, „Cry Awhile“ and the
breath-taking „Summer Days“. When I heard „Moonlight“ in Frankfurt I
couldn’t believe that he still can sing like that on stage, that his old
voice still has the range for this song - I was already amazed when I
heard it on CD last year and I‘d never have thought that he could do the
song exactly like that on stage. So it’s definetely not simply a matter of
voice when on stage he reduces so many of the old tunes to two or three or
four „cubist“ notes. And „Summer Days“ was even more amazing. It’s a nice,
cheerful song on the album, but it was such a feast on stage, the
performance and the singing was just great and of an incredible musical
quality. And it was incredibly great in Frankfurt as well as in Stuttgart!
The instrumental part at the end could have gone on for ever - on both
nights. Probably Bob Dylan felt like that, too - he had a very cheerful
smile on his face in Frankfurt. It might be an oversimplification, but I
think the big difference between the old and the new material is that Bob
Dylan really s i n g s his new songs, but what he does with the old ones
seems to be more or less a matter of citing them. „Summer Days“ is still
the same song he recorded last year, so he can sing and play it the way he
recorded it, but „Times They Are A-Changing“ can’t be the same song
anymore he recorded nearly forty years ago, as his songs have to change
with the times or they can’t be true: They have to start swimming. So
„Moonlight“ is still the „Moonlight“ he recorded, but „Times They Are
A-Changing“ nowadays is a different song going under the same name, using
the old text and some of the old chords and notes and thereby citing or
quoting the recorded version. Most of the time there’s this tension
between the actually performed song and the quoted song by the same name.
And you can feel the tension in the audience. Most people come to hear the
„old song“ and they can’t really relate to the song being performed till
the moment it turns out which song is being quoted. There’s this
„recognition game“ going on during every concert. Some recognise the song
by the chords before singing starts and they give their joyful yells of
recognition (but this can be misleading, see „Mama You Been On My Mind“ in
Frankfurt), others start their whistling after the first audible couple of
words („darkness at the break of noon“ or anything similar) to show that
they got it, but the loudest clapping and applauding and yelling is always
at the moment (usually the beginning or end of the chorus) when the line
which gave the song its name turns up: Now it is „official“ which song is
being quoted and this somehow seems to be a kind of relieve for everybody.
Even this was different with the new songs: Either because it was to
obvious or because a lot of the audience didn’t know „Love And Theft“
there was strikingly not any recognition applause at all when he did
„Moonlight“ in Frankfurt. If the songs only have to be cited and all the
rest is something which develops from the interaction and juxtaposition of
cited song and new music than you need only a couple of notes to sing the
song - in this respect you can compare Dylan to a priest reciting the holy
litany, but also to a jazz musician who is improvising on the tune of an
old standard. Something which fits into this context is that in some of
the new arrangements, especially in the encore set - „Knocking On Heaven’s
Door“, „I Shall Be Released“, „Blowing In The Wind“ -, Charlie and Larry
sing the well-known choruses just as we are used to them while Bob does
his usual improvising. This can be very effective and it also does an
important job in making the two levels visible - or, better, audible - on
which a Dylan show works: There’s this interaction or interplay between
the level of fresh new song Dylan came to sing and the level of the old
known song we came to hear. Maybe this is the reason why it is so
interesting to hear Dylan perform the same song for the umpteenth time.
But in most cases you need the background of the old song to make the
contrast visible. As a seemingly disappointed Swabian girl I overheard on
my way out put it: „Well, if you don’t know the songs they just somehow
always sound the same.“ I don’t agree with her, of course, but I
understand what she meant. She didn’t mean „Summer Days“, that’s for sure.


page by Bill Pagel

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