Milan, Italy
April 20, 2002

[Luca Mazzotti and Marco Mazzotti], [Alessandro Cavazzuti], [Duncan Hume], [Michele Ulisse]

Review by Luca Mazzotti and Marco Mazzotti

Bob Dylan and his band were on stage at 20:05 in front of about 10,000
people. The band was in grey, and Bob Dylan was in black with a big white
hat. The audience was served with 21 songs, and 2.5 hours concert, and the
impression that Bob Dylan would have liked to sing another tune, if
somebody in the crew hadn't told him that it would get a bit too late to
go on the road again towards Zurich. The concert was musically outstanding
from the first instrumental gig to the second encore, i.e. AATW. Bob
Dylan's voice was strong and clear from the very beginning (contrary to
Stuttgart, where I was present, and had the feeling at the beginning that
the man would find it hard to go through to the end of the concert - of
course, I was wrong!). Bob Dylan could use the whole extension of his
voice masterfully, offering songs with completely different moods such as
the very sweet Love minus zero, Visions of Johanna (I had the feeling that
the audience found it difficult to recognize it until the first "...
visions of Johanna ..." line), Boots of Spanish Leather, and the
rock-and-rolling Summer days, Wicked messanger, All along the watchtower.
Highlights of the concert were for me Positively 4th street, a very
different version of Stuck inside a mobile, Boots of spanish leather, A
wicked messanger, Not fade away .... well, to be honest, all songs were
really outstanding. Bob Dylan's guitar playing was particularly effective
tonight, and so were his few harp solos. The band is as usual really good,
with outstanding work from the two guitarists. I love when the two have
the chance to sing along with Bob Dylan, as they did in Not fade away,
Knocking on Heaven's door (wonderful!), BITW, and AATW; they look like
brave heroes, ready to support their master in all present and future
challenges (wow!). Well, you can see that I liked the concert very much,
but ... There was a "but" indeed, particularly after being in Stuttgart,
and admiring the light show that was offered there (this was already
mentioned by other reviewers with reference to other concerts). What
happened in Milano was that there was no light show; actually two or three
spotlights were directed towards the audience during the whole show (these
were the spotlights used so effectively in Stuttgart during the "-- what
does it feel?.." line in LARS), and rather dim lights were used on the
stage. The outcome was that one could hardly see what was going on there.
This happened because there was some problem on stage at the beginning of
the concert, that even made Bob Dylan pull the microfone towards the back
part of the stage during the first series of acoustic songs. Only at the
beginning of the electric set he felt comfortable again with staying again
close to the audience in the first rows. I was too far from the stage to
understand what happened in reality, and I would be curious to know more.
My assessment, or better my conjecture, is that there were too many
flashes being shot towards the stage when the band was introduced ("Good
evening, ladies and gentlemen, could you please...."); by the way there
was no personal check or search at the entrance, and everybody could have
carried inside anything. I guess that, the flashes annoyed Bob Dylan, to
the point that he didn't sing in the first gig (I have noticed that claims this was an instrumental version of Humming
bird - I am not sure...), and that he didn't want to stay in the light
(front part of the stage) for a good 15 minutes. Thus, I believe that
shooting the spotlights towards the audience could have been a
countermeasure to avoid more flashes during the show. I am expecting more
from those, who were closer to the stage and could figure out some of Bob
Dylan's signs and talking with the crew during the first part of the
concert. Interestingly however, these problems didn't affect the quality
and intensity of the band performance that was outstanding as I said.
Dylan was very dynamic, shot a kiss to us at the end of Blowing (?!), and
insisted with the band to play a second encore, when Larry Campbell had
already gone. Amazing. I recommend the audiences in the next shows to
avoid flashing at the beginning of the concert, since this might lead to
missing the light show and to not seeing the band well!

Luca Mazzotti and Marco Mazzotti


Review by Alessandro Cavazzuti

Wait for the light to shine.
Well, no, that song wasn’t  played last night in Milan but it would
have been the perfect opener. Wonder how come Bob didn’t  promptly
give instructions to the band and switched to it instead of performing
Humming Bird. Maybe he thought it’d be too much…it’s ok
to tease the audience but you can’t push too far, right Mr. Dylan?
Whatever, I wasn’t waiting for any particular light to shine but I
(and all of us) had actually the lights turned up against us all thru the
show. Dylan’s revenge, I guess. Someone threw something on the stage
(a lit cig?) just as soon as Bob and the band took the stage. He turned
back, looking upset, talking to this (security?) guy, shaking his head as
if saying no, as the band was going on playing Humming Bird, Larry and
Charlie doing the humming. Dylan plays some nervous strums on his guitar,
goes back, whispers something in Charlie’s ears, the song comes to
an end without any single word by Dylan. The band hits the first chords of
Times the are A-changin’, Bob grabs the mike stand and pulls it
back, just about where Tony usually stands. And starts singing. Times is
boring as always, but Bob’s singing is clean and good.  By the time
they got to Love Minus Zero, the mike is back up front, although it will
be brought back once again soon after and then forth again…Dylan
needs some walking tonight, evidently. The walking that  he didn’t
have in Ravenna the night before, maybe? After this long, weird scene,
you’d expect the man to be distracted, not focused, angry. Well, not
really. Angry? Probably. But not distracted. His voice and phrasing in the
first four acoustic numbers, were way better than in Ravenna. Not
outstanding, but pretty good anyway. It’s Alright Ma features the
usual great work by the band (Receli above all) . Pity, Bob just
can’t catch up with the song. He chases the lines instead of
controlling them, always running behind them, skipping almost all the
opening words to each line. When the first electric set starts, the show
takes off. Solid Rock is actually rocking, really good, but you get the
feeling that a little something is missing, whatever it is. Lonesome Day
Blues is one of the highlights of the night. Literally rocking the house
down, as powerful as can be, Dylan’s singing is full of rage, irony,
stretching the last word to each line in the wildest possible way. Truly
inspired, terrific. When I hear the intro to Positively 4th Street, I
think there could be no better night for it to be performed. Spit your
anger out Bob, let it just flow. But no, this version is average at the
best, Bob’s delivery is dull, he’s going through the motions,
no direction home really. Stuck Inside Of Mobile is probably the most
boring song you can hear at a Dylan’s show these days (well,
actually it’s been like that for years now). Acoustic again. Now,
I’ve been to lots of shows for the past 25 years and my ‘holy
grail’, the song I never got to listen live and I was dying for, was
Visions Of Johanna. I recognize it after a few chords. My heart starts
beating fast…here it is, finally. But Bob is somewhere else. The
first line is sang in way less than a second. The faster, the better, Bob
seems to think. The overall rendition is gentle but Bob is not caring much
about it. I watch him and hear him as the song develops. Bob sings it as
if he was thinking ‘What do this lines mean??  Did I actually write
these??’ No commitment, no passion. Fortunately, my disappointment
is tempered and soon forgotten thanks to the best version of Masters of
War I’ve heard in ages. Now THIS was powerful and inspired. Bob is
really focused. It’s the kind of performance you just have to
surrender to. Ain’t no reason to resist, you couldn’t make it
anyway. Just let it come and it gets to your bone and your blood as well.
Fantastic. Summer days is another highlight. Pure fun, this band is really
majestic. Charlie is doing most of the job here. Different licks, riffs at
almost every verse. You just got carried away and can’t stop
swinging, dancing, shaking around. Make you feel my love is nice enough,
but I doubt I will remember it for a long time. The song would need a more
subtle arrangement to me. This one sounds a bit too heavy to my ears. As
long as the shows proceeds, the feeling grows that the electric numbers
are way more challenging, inspired and interesting than the acoustic ones.
Aside from Masters of War, not even one of them was much more than
adequate, often even boring. Not Fade Away is further evidence of this.
Perfect, strong, clean. The right opener to the encores. Rolling Stone
wasn’t bad but you have more fun watching the audience cheer than
listening to Bob singing it these days. ‘Nuff said. Knockin’
On Heaven’s Door was actually beautiful (tho not even close to
Masters in the acoustic ‘pool’) and I got pleasantly amazed by
Honest With Me, a song I never really got to like, but whose live
rendition is really convincing.

A quick question to finish with.
What the hell is Larry Campbell doing there?? He’s a great guitar
player, as we all know. But he isn’t allowed to express not even the
smallest part of his huge potential. Til a year or so ago, Larry used to
feed the songs with his light, classy, varying style. Most of the songs
had his distinguishable trademark. Now he's just a plain and simple
rhythm guitar player that strums the chords. Whatever it is, there’s
something wrong here. It’s clear enough that Bob has a special
feeling with the boy standing right of him on stage. He often heads to
Charlie while playing the solos. And Charlie replies with his licks. They
seem to have the best of fun together, which is great but….Larry is
out of place, looks outnumbered. Well, if this is all that Bob requires of
him,  I don't need a fortune teller to know who's gonna be the
next to leave the band.

Alessandro Cavazzuti


Review by Duncan Hume

I like Michael Gray and am therefore very happy he missed the show in
Milan last night. Given his less than impressed view of the first
Stockholm show, had he witnessed the first 25 minutes last night he'd have
thrown a rope over the nearest lamppost and ended it all.

The Fila Forum, a monstrous hollow lump of concrete located in the middle
of nowhere was packed. Lights down and on they came. Given the number of
camera flashes, beeps, red blinking lights and luminous digital screens on
display in the front section of the crowd one could be forgiven for
thinking you had arrived at an electronics' gizmo convention not a Bob
show. Bob, being, shall we agree, camera shy, was less than pleased. To
borrow Andy Muir's phrase 'old grumpy chops was back'. In an attempt to
show his disgust he yanked his microphone back as far away from the front
of the stage as possible and pointedly refused to join in the vocal so all
we got of 'Hummingbird' were the tail feathers and a perhaps a beak.

Things didn't improve in 'Times' when Tommy made the school boy error of
returning said microphone to it's original prominent position. Bob, still
very pissed off with the unwanted attention of multiple flashes and no
doubt numerous video camera's, returned it back to the back of the stage.
I had the feeling that given the option Bob would have happily moved the
backstage and performed from there. This wouldn't however have given him
the opportunity to scowl at his fellow band members and crew which he did
on a regular basis. 'Love Minus Zero' was delivered, well the first two
lines, before a further tantrum ensued, related no doubt to spotting more
unwanted audience recording of some description. After an enthusiastic
response and thumbs up signs from the front section of the crowd, Bob,
like Nero, gave us the thumbs down. It reflected his mood perfectly and
confused the crowd no end.

I assume in an attempt to make it easier for 'security' to spot further
offenders the house lights were left up. Unfortunately for those seated on
both sides this meant a blinding set of lights being directed at them
making if difficult to see an already darkened stage. After a dreadful
'Stuck inside of Mobile' 'Visions' offered some hope. Halfway through
however, the good citizens of Milan seated on either side of the hall
began an organised protest against the blinding lights, which got nowhere
although at this point Bob was aware of the problem. At the end of
'Visions' he clearly told the crew to turn down the lights. He meant the
house lights but they assumed he meant the stage 'lighting' resulting in
'To Make You Feel My Love' being performed in almost total darkness.

Things finally improved by the encore with Bob's mood visibly lifting by
the minute. 'Not Fade Away' and 'Watchtower' being particularly fine. He
blew us a kiss and left. The joy and musical excellence of Leipzig seemed
a million miles away last night.


Review by Michele Ulisse

Finally I come to write down this review,
well I couldnıt defy really a review because Iıll write just a few lines
about the Milano concert but Iım interested to clear a point about the
matter at that show.

Right now I have gathered precise news and some peopleıs opinions.
The cigarette, this a FAKE-AFFAIR to me,
and itıs been since the beginning to be sincere, immediately after the
show. I was if the first raw, when the light went off someone threw a
cigarette on the stage, but nobody was on stage yet. The cigarette arrived
on the side where Larry stands and it was not so close to his position.
Than the the band arrived on stage and Bob was the last. I think they
didnıt even saw the cigarette. We had that mess with Bob not singinı on
Humming Bird, and Bob talkinı to Tom. In a little while Jim, come back
after many years, appeared in that empty space between gate and stage, and
he started goinı around to stop people who were flashing with the cameras.
And they were many. I told to Jim that there was a smokinı cigarette on
the stage, maybe just because I donıt smoke, maybe because I thought that
it could be disturbing to someone, well Jim told me no problem about that
and went on to stop pepole flashing. This was his problem. In Milano we
had this other fact, the lights up to the crowd, something strange, first
time I see this. In last 2/3 years Bob seemed to be more comfortable with
this photos situation ­ Iıd have a tale about this, in Brescia last year
with a strangely nice Baron ­ but my idea was that the flashes were really
too many and to avoid people usedıem they turned up the lights, Bob could
have come back to the hate for this behaviour and the security had order
to identify anyone who took photos, so they needed light. I had another
kind of idea too. A little paranoic one maybe. Some days before italian
show a strange accident happened, a little plane in the Pirelli
skyscraper. And the first circulating news was of a crime act. By the way
it reminds for sure to the Twin Towers. Right now thereıs a war, there are
many to be sincere but the most famous is the one Israel is leadinı on.
Well, Bob is american, more, Bob is one of the symbols of America. And he
is jew. The day before Milano, Ravenna, - such a bad concert ­ I knew from
the local organization that Bobıs manager took back all the passes to the
people workinı there. They werenıt even allowed to go inside the venue to
park their cars. Bob was in paranoia, the guy told me, ³he had Lennon in
his eyes². Maybe, in my a little bit paranoic key,  they wanted light on
just to control people, not simply for the flashes. And Bob was nervous
for sure in Ravenna, he gave us a bad concert.

In Innsbruck I spoke with Jim, and he told me clearly that Milano could
has been a better concert yet if people ­ who donıt respect rules he
underlined ­ didnıt use those fuckinı flashes. Now we know that the
mangers are askinı to stop using the cameras because theyıre distracting
to Bob.

I donıt know about the real paranoia of Bob, to be a possible target,
people selling his photos and gaining money on his image, or what, but for
sure the problem in Milano wasnıt that fucking cigarette.

The few lines of review are the followinı:
Milano has been the best italian concert since Pistoia ı96,
powerful and a fire stream,
this tour is the best one since ı96, and probably we owe something to mr.
Receli, Bob has come back to acts he hadnıt since many years, changinı
positions in the setlists to songs that were stuck in a cage, like moving
a song from 12 position to 4 or stuff like that, again I see Bob is
playinı in the acoustic set songs that he played in the electric one ­ I
threw it all away ­ I think Bob in in a great mood. Iıd like to say to my
friend Paolo Vites that is possible what he said about that Exodus chords
(I wanna verify) but Bob has always many positions together, in fact Bob
has come back to play many of the christian songs, itıs a strange way to
be on the side of Isreal in this war, while thereıs a sense in linking
those first chords of Watchtower to the jewish culture because the song is
absolutely linked to that culture and this doesnıt mean to be on the side
thatıs winning. And about Larry, dear Paolo, jeeze he is fundamental, how
can you think that he gotta to do just the rhytmic work, HE DOES THE
STRUCTURE, and heıs clearly happy to be where he is, in my opinion, try to
ask this to Joy Munsey. But I allow myself to express this on my own, I
take the risk.

Thanks for the patience
Michele Ulisse


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