Paris, France

Zenith Paris

April 20, 2017

[Laurette Maillet], [Rene Baumont]

Review by Laurette Maillet

We arrive in Paris, H. And I (from Amsterdam) in traffic jam but we find
the hotel easily. We will stay here for 3 nights. It is reasonable price
and close to a metro station, plus there is a  supermarket just accross
the street. From Amsterdam,  on line, we booked 2 tickets for the Louvre
museum. There is a special Vermeer exhibit and some more Dutch painters.
It takes forever to access the paintings hanging on the wall but we are
used to queuing. The collection is worth the pain. Few hours inside Le
Louvre,  a cup of coffee and a French baguette later we move to Le
Zenith. 6 p.m. people arrive slowly, mainly from metro stations. For 2
hours there will be an incessant wave of humans passing in front of me.
Scalpers are all over and quite aggressive. My sign brings smiles and
sarcasms on the lips of the Frenchies. It says :   "if you have an extra
ticket you don't need , I will be happy to use it".  It is clear that I
don't want anybody to buy me a ticket or do any sacrifice but still people
have harsh reactions. I say hello to some acquaintances and ignore others.
At 7.45 p.m. the queue is still long and there is no way everyone will be
in at 8 p.m. , time of the show. The security is re enforced due to menace
of attack or just panic and unnecessary paranoia. I start smiling at
myself and the comic of the situation as people start being aggressive, 
precisely because of the queue. A young man approaches me and just says ;
' you want a ticket?' 'Yes, but I can’t give you any money'. 'ok, follow
me'. Alex will tell me later that he was amused by my sign. He wanted to
give this extra ticket to a real Fan. He has the tickets code on his
telephone so we move in together. We get inside at the time Stu strumms
his guitar and Bob moves to the piano. It is now 8.30 p.m. We don't even
mind to find our seats. We just stay on the rail, all away on the top on
the Zenith. We see Bobby's back on the piano pretty clearly. Alex is
remarkable, one of those Fans I realy appreciate being with. He is sorry
about the cold attitude of the public. From where we are nothing much is
happening,  not even in the front,  not even on " highway 61". I dance
and sing. I must be one of the few. I feel awkward. I suddenly realise Bob
doesn’t do the songs in order.

1.Things Have Changed (Bob standing at piano)
2.Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (Bob sitting at piano)
3.Highway 61 Revisited (Bob standing at piano)
4.Beyond Here Lies Nothin' (Bob sitting at piano)
5.I Could Have Told You
6.Pay In Blood (Bob standing at piano)
7.Melancholy Mood (Bob center stage)
8.Duquesne Whistle (Bob sitting at piano)
9.Stormy Weather (Bob standing at piano)
Early in the list instead of "Scarlet town"
10.Tangled Up In Blue (Bob center stage then sitting at piano)
11.Early Roman Kings (Bob standing at piano)
12.Spirit On The Water (Bob Bob sitting at piano)
13.Love Sick (Bob center stage)
14.All Or Nothing At All (Bob center stage)
15.Desolation Row (Bob standing at piano)
16.Soon After Midnight (Bob standing at piano)
17.That Old Black Magic (Bob center stage)
18.Long And Wasted Years (Bob center stage)
19.Autumn Leaves (Bob center stage)   
20.Blowin' In The Wind (Bob sitting at piano)
21.Ballad Of A Thin Man (Bob standing at piano)

Not the best show I've been in to witness but the most remarkable
uncounter with Alex. If only the 6000 fans had been like him! What a feast
that would have been! No Bobby's fault or any Band mistake. On the
opposite Alex and Me found the musiciens exceptional. I have admiration
for Charlie, more and more. I paid attention to his playings tonight and
he was GREAT. Thanx Bobby and the Band and few Fans like Alex who still
have the Rock and Roll attitude.


Review by Rene Baumont

It was my tenth Bob Dylan concert after Paris in 2000, 2003 and 2005, 
in 2006, Paris in 2007 and 2011, Lyon in 2012 and Paris again in 2013 and 
2015. I must say that I am an absolute fan Of Dylan since my German 
cousin made me listening to the album Desire when I was 14 years old.

I arrived at the Zénith around 7 pm to enjoy a bit of the pre-concert
 atmosphere. It's always fun to watch the public of Dylan's concerts: A 
 very mixed public, with fans of the first hour who must follow a large part 
 of the tour and who are often English or German speakers; In fact little 
 French in these fans of the first hour. The Parisians arrive a little later, 
 often coming out of work, some even arrive from the office still dressed 
 in tie suit ... obviously they are not connoisseurs but curious people who 
 want to see Dylan at least once in their lives ! Some even come with 
 their children to see the myth of their youth. But, listening to their 
 comments after the concert, there is often a disappointment, because 
 they thought to come listen to a folk singer with his guitar ... and maybe 
 even see Joan Baez join him for a few songs. It's a misunderstanding of 
 what a Dylan concert really is.
At 8:15 pm - a Dylan concert always starts on time - the now guitar ritual 
of Stu Kimball sounds the beginning of the concert. One distinguishes in 
the darkness the other musicians and Dylan taking place. As usual Dylan 
starts by "Things have changed" and chained with some masterpieces of 
his repertoire, tonight "Do not Think Twice", "Highway 61" and "Beyond 
Here Lies Nothin'". This 4 songs set is particularly successful, the musicians 
deliver a good energy and the voice of Dylan is astonishingly powerful and 
as clear as it can be. The audience warmly applauds and seems satisfied 
with the best known songs being easily recognizable. Then the concert 
continues like for 2 years now with an alternation of pieces of the last 
albums of compositions and covers of the classics sung by Sinatra. Unlike 
the last European tours no intermission. This will not give us even the 
opportunity to hear the voice of Dylan addressing the public to announce 
the intermission.

Then comes the interpretation of "Love Sick" with Dylan at the center of 
the scene. For me, it was undoubtedly the highlight of the concert by the 
depth of Dylan interpretation and by the finesse of the guitar of Charlie 
Sexton which makes wonder on this piece.

Then Dylan continues the alternation of Sinatra covers and recent pieces 
of his repertoire, with in the middle a very interesting interpretation of 
"Desolation Row", the first time I heard this song live.  

It's now 1 and 1/2 hours since the concert started and we did not see 
past time when the cover of "Autumn Leaves" ended. Dylan and the 
musicians leave without a salute or a word, some spectators wondering 
if the concert is over or if it is the intermission. But they came back for 
the encore with as usual for two years now "Blowin in the Wind" in this 
interpretation embellished by the violin of Donnie Herron. And the concert 
ends with "Ballad of the Thin Man", a song to which Dylan is faithful 
throughout all the eras of his career and which he always arrives to
interpret with greatness. A brief standing ovation with all the musicians l
ined up ... and Dylan and his musicians left the stage definitively for tonight!

On the way out, as usual among the French public a mixture of satisfaction 
and disappointment for those who do not know what a concert Dylan! 
Personally I appreciate this minimalism without lighting on the singer, 
without addressing the audience. We're coming for music and that's good 
enough. Some take this for arrogance; I prefer to think that it is humility. 
What could Dylan tell us? Trivialities like "Thank you Paris!" as do all the 
other artists, no interest. And always the same boring discussions on
Dylan's voice; As Gloria Swan, said on Youtube: "His voice may not be 
pretty, but it is great because it is him and it is genuine and he is the 
creator of the words, which are not meant, simply to be pretty. Others 
hearing that weary voice that comes from deep within those who 
appreciate his words and the power of creation." To conclude as it is said 
in a song of Michel Delpech written in the sixties: "Dylan is Dylan"!

René Baumont


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