page by Bill Pagel
Review by Paul Denham
Bob took the stage only a few minutes late at 8.30 and the
band ploughed into the jangly cacophony that is their warm-up
number. Dylan was wearing a black suit with a minimum of
piping on the jacket, a necktie and black stetson. He looked
frail, nearer 70 than 60, like somebody's grandpa which I
suppose he is and reminded me of a supporting actor in an old
Hollywood western. His face is thin and his mouth seems to have
collapsed, but the eyes still sparkled under severely-arched
brows. I anticipated Times They Are A-changing and prepared for
But he kicked into Girl Of The North Country, which isn't one
of my favorites, and hey! this was as good as I've ever heard
it. The hope that this could be a very good night was
reinforced by It's Alright, Ma-- sharp, intense, with strong
guitar playing. A peep on the harmonica and he was into I Want
You, fresh and scathing as when it was bland new.
It was to be mainly an uptempo, unplugged night but Dylan
pulled on his electric guitar for Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (a
bit of nonsense that makes The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judus
Priest sound like a classic of zen wisdom). Then another brief
blow on the harp and those were the chords of, yes, I Don't
Believe You, delivered with some of the old passion of '66 and
extended guitar work at the end.
Two numbers from Love & Theft, competently done. Then a
beautiful version of Don't Think Twice, pleasingly drawn out.
Nothing spectacular but as good as you're likely to hear it
again. Bob seemed to be enjoying himself, in strong if
occasionally whiney voice and exchanging nods and smiles with
Charlie and Tony. Hard Rain was somewhat dull in comparison,
though Larry played the cittern (a kind of mandolin ?) nicely.
There were one or two mistimed lines and a critically quizzical
look towards those on his left. Then, when I'd abandoned hope
of it, Tangled Up In Blue. Dylan seems to have given up
playing solo, and this was not the hard guitar-driven version
either, but kind of short and jangly.
During Summer Days, all 1950s rock and roll, with Charlie
working a big red guitar and Jim Keltner in the middle of a
drum solo, there appeared to be a power cut on stage. It would
have been best to leave it there, but after some fumbling in
the dark, the band resumed the number though Charlie had lit a
cigarette and had to look very closely to see what key Dylan
was playing. Dylan's body is rather rigid above the waist, but
he does this funny little gig with his legs. Somehow it made
me feel that I know what Adolf Hitler would have looked like
Shooting Star was surprisingly poignant. "The last time you might
hear the sermon on the mount.. the last radio is playing," he
sang which made me think that one day this great institution
like the Berlin Wall or the French franc might just be a
Somehow they didn't find the groove for Cold Irons Bound. There
was no swirling mist round a desperate soul sinking waist-deep
in the mud. Time to study the surroundings. Hall Rhenus is a
barn-like place but the stewarding was remarkably light and
everyone friendly and polite. The sea of people standing before
the stage was appreciative and warm. The lighting was strong
enough to see clearly and subtle enough to stay interesting.
Before huge drapes were piles of boxes and amps, like they'd
been dumped rather than set up, with Dylan's Oscar on display.
I went out to get a beer and have a pee to the opening
chords of Rainy Day Women, which seemed to turn into a 12 bar
blues jam session and perhaps Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat as Dylan
was introducing the band when I returned.
With hardly a break they were back for an encore. Man of
Constant Sorrow sounded straight from Harry Smith's Anthology of
American Folk Music. Like a Rolling Stone and Forever Young were
notice that things were winding-up. Honest With Me was lively
and the band was really humming, with Larry at last given
something to do that stopped him looking bored. The Blowin' In
The Wind and goodnight.. but no, they were back with the driving
intro to All Along The Watchtower. "None of them along the
line know what any of it is worth" were his final words, then
a bow to the audience and he was gone. Nearly two-and-a-half
hours, thank you Bob.
And thank you Bill for the Dylan pages.
page by Bill Pagel
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