June 28, 2014
Review by Nick Knight
This was my second live Dylan experience, the first being the 2008 show at
the same venue, and this year's performance was so much better. I loved
the overall experience in 2008, but his vocal performance was reduced to
incomprehensible fast mumbled lines, alternating between just two notes
most of the time. This time around, his phrasing was more diversified,
thought out and expressive than on any of his recent records, and his
voice much clearer than on Tempest. I was impressed at how he could switch
from the powerful vocal outbursts in songs such as Pay in Blood to soft
delicate, more "conventional" melodic singing in Forgetful Heart. And it
all seemed so effortless. He had full control of his voice, letting it
crack exactly when it should crack, and perfectly hitting the notes.
The band of course was great as usual. I noticed two things, which for
some reason are not written or talked about a lot. 1) There's a lot of
jazz going on. I think there's just as much jazz in the band's style of
playing as there is rock & roll and folk. 2) When it comes to rocking,
this band's energy is insane. It's that rare combination of fast paced
rockabilly and hard rock.
.) Things Have Changed & She Belongs to Me - These were basically their
warm up songs, so I didn't expect too much. Not overwhelming.
.) Beyond Here Lies Nothing - Similar arrangement as on the album, harder
sound. Unexpectedly passionate vocal performance - compared to the laid
back studio version.
.) What Good Am I? - Again, similar vibe as the original version, but sung
with more expression and authenticity. He actually sounded like he's going
.) Waiting For You - To be honest, I didn't know this song existed, and
didn't really know what to make of it. I did enjoy the silly waltz rhythms
though, musically it was a welcome change in pace.
.) Duquesne Whistle - I'd hoped they would focus on that powerful guitar
riff, but they played a fast paced, delightfully dancy, jazzy version
instead. This song got a lot of people dancing, including myself. They
played the guitar riff slightly differently from the album version, using
more bluesy chords.
.) Pay in Blood - This was pure hard rock. Great performance by Dylan. I
loved how he sang "another politician pumping out his piss" (not "the"
piss), delicately letting those hard consonants ring.
.) Tangled up in Blue - People seem to like his current version of this
song, but to me the less fluent phrasing of the lines doesn't do justice
to the sense of confusion and urgency conveyed by the lyrics.
.) Love Sick - Funny how this song made people dance. The whole band
played a very consistant hard beat, which gave it a disco type of feeling.
I had thought they would choose to play it in a similar fashion as What
Good am I, but after all this is a song about heart ache, so the never
ending pulsating beat did fit the lyrics well.
.) High Water - Sounded as expected. This is a type of song that's hard to
enjoy in such a large location. I would love to hear an acoustic version
of it. No dancers by the way. During the line “the cuckoo is a pretty
bird, she warbles as she flies” he spread his arms and flapped his
hands, made me laugh.
.) Simple Twist of Fate - He sang the lines in a rapping, storyteller type
of fashion. Still the overall feeling of this song was very similar to the
album version, very "real" and touching.
.) Early Roman Kings - I had expected this to be the lamest song of the
night, but they played it with so much more energy and passion than on the
album. I always wondered why the album version was so soft. The lyrics and
blues form suits his voice so well. He sang lines such as "they're
lecherous and treacherous" with so much attention and honesty, that you
had to wonder if he was singing about himself or about his greatest enemy.
.) Forgetful Heart - For this one song, he switched to unexpectedly
conventional, melodic, ballad-style of singing. To be honest, I didn't
think he could even do that kind of thing (especially after hearing his
recent Sinatra cover). Just beautiful!
.) Spirit on the Water - Very similar to the album version, just lovely.
Stu Kimball (rhythm guitar) played those simple jazzy chord progressions,
which are the soul of this song.
.) Scarlet Town - Interestingly, I don't have much memory of this song,
neither good nor bad. I assume it was not that overwhelming then. Having
said that, I never enjoyed the album version that much either.
.) Soon after Midnight - Lovely little song, but nothing more. I thought
it was funny how he sang the line "I've got a date with a fairy queen",
that sounds so silly and naïve.
.) Long and Wasted Years - Wow. Probably my favorite song of the night.
The song's structure and style perfectly suit his voice. Everything about
this song and about this performance was passionate, real and unmistakably
clear. I had hoped I would be lucky and hear them play Like a Rolling
Stone last night, but after hearing this performance of Long and Wasted
Years I was satisfied, that's all I need to hear.
.) All Along the Watchtower - This song being part of the encore, they
turned it into an entertaining pop rock song, which is OK I guess.
.) Blowing in the Wind - Again, not the most sophisticated performance,
but a nice classic encore.
.) There were two microphones attached to his microphone stand center
stage, which looked like studio microphones - I wonder if maybe they're
recording these shows for a future release? That might explain why they
played a different setlist at some of the recent shows, including a few
classics, so they have more material to use for a live album. I could be
wrong of course.
.) During Scarlet Town, as Dylan sang the line "the streets have names
that you can't pronounce", Charlie Sexton (lead guitar), who stood behind
Dylan, put his hand behind his ear and looked at Dylan, as if he tried to
hear what Dylan was saying, then Sexton turned and looked at George Recile
(drums) and both of them laughed. I guess Sexton was joking about how for
Dylan, who is known for his not-that-clear pronunciation, any street name
must be hard to pronounce.
Review by Martin Manuzi
In a way, there’s very little to say. He is singing his heart out. That’s
the long and the short of it. Anyone who has ever had an interest, even if
just a passing one, should not miss what is going on here. And for the
long-termers, don’t be put off by the set lists - I admit that I almost
was. For here is a man who is still somehow at the top of his game. For
sure, a very different game now, but of enduring artistic endeavour and
exploration. And while there have been many miraculous achievements over
these decades, perhaps the most remarkable thing is that the voice
remains, and indeed has more than returned: it has found a new tone and
texture. Having seen some shows recently, even one in my home town last
november, I did suspect that Tempest selections had been deliberately
picked to convey harsh sounds, to throw us off track maybe too. But I must
admit that it was a real pleasure to have a full show without any
scorched-earth sounds, growls and monotone recital. Yes, real singing.
The Vienna show confirmed a confidence to stand centre-stage - constantly
gripping the various microphone stands (there are now three, which can
make it difficult to even see that famous face) - and sing. The music
accompanies and provides a setting for the voice to sit clearly and on
top. And this was no delivery where the beauty is immediately taken away
with end of phrases swallowed and lost. The words were delivered in
beautiful melodies which lasted through the course of the songs. I read a
review of Simple Twist of Fate saying that it was perhaps the most
beautiful for some 30 years. Very possibly. But on this form, the next
shows could surpass it. But anyway, my Vienna flight and ticket cost was
worth this song alone. What good am I? again, wonderful delivery. That
great band provided the perfect setting to bring this gem to full
fruition, probably in a way which surpassed the great versions we got when
Oh Mercy came out. Tangled up in Blue was very moving. I hope that someone
caught all of the words of the final version. I just got a part: “Some
went to the mountains, some are in the ground, some (….), and some just
left town. But me, I’m still on the road….” I read a review on this site
some days ago saying that he is just sticking fingers up at his public. I
was not at the show which prompted this comment, but I can scarcely
believe it; in fact, I don’t. Here is a man who has outlived physically
and artistically so many of his contemporaries, and must surely be
thinking that there will less and less opportunities for this artistic
expression . It seemed to me that so much was given in the show. “The more
I die, the more I live”….
On a few other occasions, he simply captured the whole arena. Forgetful
Heart, what internal dialogue and what singing. The arena was hushed. And
Long and Wasted Years: what a delivery! Thunderous appreciation from the
Overall, he did not put a foot wrong all night. Sure, many like me may
just be a little spoilt and may have left secretly or even openly wishing
that there was more variety in the set list, particularly in the encores.
I think its an unfair thought. Furthemore, if the static sets are because
something new is cooking, then who are we to even think of disappointment.
That re-found voice, Shadows in the night - hopefully mean that there is,
incredibly, more to come. Should he make it around again - not to be taken
for granted - then I will certainly be standing in line again.
Review by Terry McGovern
In the neighborhood just east of the Stadthalle a few hours before the
show I walked past a parked car with three old Dylan stickers on the back
windows. I found this to be a remarkable coincidence because the car had
Vienna license plates. I was looking at the car of a true local Dylan fan
who was not there because of the concert. I took it as a nice augur and
sat down to enjoy some great coffee house coffee.
It seems to me that he’s having tremendous fun playing. He flashes big
smiles that look sincere and spontaneous. The smiles were even incongruous
and unnerving a few times, for example during “Love Sick.” But he
appears to be just having a great old time playing, with this improbably
long left leg sticking straight out and under the piano, terminating in a
sharp-looking white boot, as he bangs chords out and sings:
“You think I'm over the hill
You think I'm past my prime
Let me see what you got
We can have a whoppin' good time”
He was nearly laughing it out, it seemed to me.
I saw the same set list eight months ago (one change: “Pay In Blood”
moved from 5th to 7th) and I wasn’t disappointed by the repetition. I
wouldn’t be disappointed if I’m hearing the same set again next year.
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