Roskilde, Denmark

Roskilde Festival 2019
Orange Stage

July 3, 2019

[Amund Børdahl], [Laurette Maillet], [Christof Graf]

Review by Amund Børdahl

How many times has Bob Dylan played Roskilde? 1990, 1995, 1998, 2001,
2006... and now, ladies & gentlemen: 2019. This could be the last time, we
don't know; but if so, what a grand finale. Robert Plant was in the crowd,
I was told shortly afterwards. (The teller was Johnny B Basement Borgan on
the phone from beyond the polar circle; he was following the events down
in sunny Denmark with the eyes of Argus; another aficionado, Don Canto
Gisle General Selnes, Bergen West Coast Norway, was on the phone hungry
for news even before the concert was over: Concertgoers in absentia amount
to a considerable crowd when Bob is on tour, as is richly documented by
the Discussion pages on Karl Erik Andersen's Expecting Rain site). Mr.
Plant surely must have enjoyed Dylan & His Band's rollicking deadpan
lively rock performance, and it probably sharpened him up a bit before his
own show the day after - albeit The Man of Joy is not the nervous type;
not even Jimmy Zoso Page proposing another Black Dog Dazed and Confused
Communication Breakdown Tour from Atlanta to Kashmir can make him give up
his stand; like The Voice of His Generation, the Led Zep icon prefers to
move on. How come you go to a Bob Dylan concert? I asked a totally
charming bunch of 17 year olds (not a misprint for 77 there) who were
right in front of the stage, having, as they told me, been in readiness
for hours in order to secure the best possible view; why, Why? because he
is the best, they asserted in chorus, adding that they also looked
mightily forward to hearing Robert Plant - and Johnny Marr, "although he
is more like from the 80's", as one girl from Sønderborg explained to me
in an almost apologizing tone, stars in her eyes. The company of these
youngsters during an hour's waiting time didn't exactly ruin the
atmosphere where I stood. As far as the eyes could reach everybody else
was happily awaiting His Bobness as well.

Bob Dylan opened the show with "Things Have Changed" - one thing which
hasn't changed for a while; since 2013 (as will be well known to many
users of Bill Pagel's pages) he has consistently used his Oscar Winning
movie song to warm up his voice and his band. (The exceptions are two
spectacular erratic and consequently legendary Rome concerts in November
that year where he suddenly changed his set lists in the style of the
90's/earlier 00's tours - for two nights in a row! before returning to his
usual repertoire, with THC as the unchanging item). Various proposals for
alternative openers were discussed in the wake of his Karlstad concert
three days before (in the company of the aforementioned aficionados); like
what if he started with the masterful version of "It Takes A Lot to Laugh,
It Takes A Train to Cry" that he now ends his concerts with? (In Rome
2013, the openers were "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" and "Rainy Day Women
#12 & 35" respectively; there are dozens of dozens of candidates, you name
them). But wait a minute, tonight's "Things" was as strong an introductory
note as any. Crystal clear, articulated, thundering LOUD. High spirits.
Then followed the usual setlist, but in a reduced festival format (why?):
"When I Paint My Masterpiece", "Tryin' To Get To Heaven" and "Scarlet
Town" were left out. Did it matter? Of course it did; tears in our ears.
But did it matter? Not at all! Big smiles on our faces. We were treated
with a big screen, big scream version of Dylan's outdoor concert in
Bergen, Koengen, which opened the summer leg of the tour a fortnight ago. 

There were even actual, physical big screens on both sides of the stage -
focusing most on Bob, of course, but alternating also between close-ups of
his band musicians - Mr. Definition of Cool Charlie Sexton, a lion in a
cage compared to the roaring Summer Days in the early 00's side by side
with "the great, great" Larry Campbell (to borrow from Michael Gray's
description of Sexton's successor Freddy Koella in The Bob Dylan
Encyclopedia), now exercising an efficient less-is-more musicianship which
is truly remarkable and well worth studying each time the singer will let
us look in any direction other than his (which is not too often); the
joyful George Receli, whose drum solo on "Thunder on the Mountain" is one
of the great, great crowd-pleasing moments; the aristocratic,
multi-talented Donnie Herron, whose contributions were unusually well
audible tonight; and the locomotive bass player Tony Garnier, whose
importance for the overall sound and rhythm can hardly be overrated - and
consequently I have to confess a change of opinion as regards big screens
in a Dylan concert; in an arena this size they are probably a good idea.
The idea behind NOT having them is even better still, so a careful balance
between various concerns is necessary.

In short, this concert was a big treat. The highlight again was the
fantastic new version of "Like A Rolling Stone" - it is a stroke of genius
to place this song in its present shape near the middle of the set; the
crowd goes wild. Arguably, that same stroke produces a weakness: How
follow up and avoid a diminution of intensity after the stone has rolled
its way home? However devoted fulltime fans may be to "Early Roman Kings"
- the climax verse in particular is always a thrill:  "I was up on black
mountain / The day Detroit fell / They killed 'em all off / And they sent
'em to hell / Ding dong daddy / You're coming up short / Gonna put you on
trial / In a Sicilian court" - there is no denying that the majority of
listeners are not quite well enough prepared to soak it all up, and one
COULD argue a case for "Ballad of a Thin Man", "Tangled Up In Blue", "Mr.
Tambourine Man", "Just Like a Woman" or something of that scale as
offering a better way of keeping the crowd on their toes. Why doesn't he
do that? I look at him - and I wonder. Even "Gotta Serve Somebody" doesn't
quite make it as a closer of the main set. But now I begin to sound like a
music critic, so I'd better stop. Hooray for this man. If anyone reading
Bobdates is in a position to get a ticket and a train but hasn't yet got
under way, do not hesitate one minute more. We don't know how many more
years the greatest phenomenon in modern popular music will last. May it
last as long as great, great things last.

Amund Børdahl


Review by Laurette Maillet

Roskilde festival.July 3.I arrive in Roskilde town by train. I walk the 3
km to the HUGE field ( many fields).I manage to enter the music area where
thousands of volunteers are preparing the first day of music though by now
thousands of youngsters have been camping in the camping area for days.
The camping area is an immense....garbage dumpster!.It smells pee all
over.The music area is by now pretty clean. Artists are making "grafitis"
and shacks for food and drinks are under construction.On the "Orange
stage" the Bobby's grand piano and George drums are on. The techs are
testing the sound. There will be no real soundcheck as there will be 2
groups before Bob today. He'll be on at 8 pm.I spend the day hanging
around.By 7.30 pm I take a position on the second railing. No use to be
front. The view will be blocked.To my immense surprise the big screens are
on. Bob will be filmed and pictured. Whoa!No job for Barron!Thousands of
youngsters are packed behind me. Most of them probably hea
 rd of Dylan through their....grand parents. A lot ( if not all) of them
 are by now drunk or loaded ( both?).Right at 8 pm the Stravinsky music is
 on. No announcement of no photos. So...I will take many of the screen.Bob
 is dressed in his black pants with white straps, a polka dots shirt black
 and white (dots) a white scarf/tie and heavy black boots. No hat. The
 wind blows in his disheveled hair.His face is pale and his eyes puffy. He
 looks tired and will never smile but grin a lot!The sound is not the best
 ; too much bass and drums not enough guitar and piano. The mic is
 catching the wind and his voice though clear is "crashing".I would say
 Bob is not in a good mood. Not much talk with the musicians and
 absolutely no contact with th public except right after LARS he will move
 center stage for few seconds of...pause??Some of the first rows are
 moving but nothing like hysteria. A lot folks pass in front of me
 to...leave the field! Yes disappointing.Particularty that the setlist
 will be shorten ; no "Trying to get to heaven" no " When I paint my
 masterpiece" or worst of all no center " Scarlet town" . whoa! That could
 have been a great one.But Bob doesn't like the camera on him. I
 believe."Cry a while" not the best choice "Can't wait" would have been
 more Rock and Roll!"Girl from the north country". But a Capella doesn't
 fit here. The public is young and wild."You've got to serve somebody" is
 not inspiring. Just few seconds break before the encore.The last song is
 far away the best, the highlight of that short performance. But this is
 the end.A short bow and off he goes.Bob should not do festivals.It just
 doesn't fit his new set list and his small cozy Band.See you in better
 mood in Hamburg.That must be a lot better.Thanx anyway.


Review by Christof Graf

Dylan's successfulstart at the Roskilde Festival 2019
„He is one of the few who does notrepeat himself. If he is not the only
one left, "the Danish traditionalnewspaper POLITIKEN judged. Another sheet
said that he had „leafed through theback catalog.“ The media were in
agreement: Bob Dylan's sixth Roskildeappearance was a successful start to
the festival opening in 2019.The Roskilde Festival in Denmark, about 35
kilometers southof Copenhagen, has been around since 1971 and is
considered the largestEuropean music festival. In 2019 it was opened with
Bob Dylan as the firstheadliner on the first of five matchdays.How to get
from Copenhagen to Roskilde? By train from theCentral Station, there are
three stations and about 30 minutes train ride. Thecosts 35 Danish kroner
(about 5 euros). Arrived in Roskilde, take the shuttlebus to the festival
grounds for another 25 crowns or walk about half an hour onfoot. Then it's
another twenty minutes across the festival area to the centralmain stage,
the legendary "Orange Stage".Admission to the festival site on July 3,
2019, the firstfestival day was at 17.00 o`clock. 130,000 fit on the
infield terrain. You canfeel fast, the Roskilde Festival is different than
other festivals. It is ahuge party with music, art and an extensive
gastronomy, where the audiencecelebrates not only the artists, but also
themselves. Moreover, it has been anon-profit festival since the beginning
of its time. Profits are used forcharitable purposes. The peaceful
coexistence can be felt 24/7 at every pointof the festival area. The
Roskilde Festival manages to keep alive the myth ofWoodstock even in the
50th anniversary year of the "mother of all musicfestivals". Dylan's
appearance goes well with Roskilde's reputation. The older crowd sees a
little "Woodstock" in"Roskilde". The younger audience unanimously turns
this into theirlillte "Coachella". Old hippies run as well as young posh
fashionladies.Dylan first appeared in Roskilde in 1990. Whenever his
namewas on the festival program, I was drawn to Roskilde. After 1990,
1995, 1998,2001 and 2006 this year again. The one-day ticket cost 1050
Danish kroner thisyear.In Roskilde security is important. The organizers
havedeveloped a security system to ensure that "front of stage",
despitethe 80,000 who wanted to listen to the "master" at the Dylan show
infront of the central Orange Stage - perhaps one last time in Roskilde -
doesnot happen. On June 30, 2000, Roskilde Festival caused a tragic
accident duringthe performance of Pearl Jam. Nine people died. They lost
their grip on muddyground, fell and were suffocated by the oncoming crowd.
That should neverhappen again. Today, nine birch trees and a memorial
stone with the inscription"How fragile we are" commemorate the accident on
the festivalgrounds, not far from the "Orange Stage". As I said, that
shouldnever happen again.So you installed the so-called Stage Pit, in
which a maximumof 3000 people are admitted before each concert. All others
are distributed inother public corridors. If you want to get into the pit,
you have to queue forthe security for a so-called "Blue Wrestband" about
two hours beforethe concert begins. So you could queue for the snake
later, to get into theStage Pit with the other 3000. Those who made it in
2019 experienced a BobDylan open-air concert with indoor character in
daylight.There was a unique, completely relaxed and peaceful
concertatmosphere. I have not experienced anywhere else, friendlier and
more helpfulsecurity than at the "Roskilde Festival".The double queuing
had been more than worthwhile at Dylan'sconcert on 3 July 2019. My reward
for the long journey from southwest Germanywas the second row, about 8
meters away from Bob's piano. The journey seemed abit like a trip to a
fridge and back. In Germany it was at the same time 34degrees Celsius, in
Roskilde it was 14 degrees. But it was dry and the cloudgame in the sky
and the long-lasting sunset were able to give a little"Midsummer Night"
feeling. Dryness is always a rarity in Roskilde,but when Bob Dylan was in
Roskilde, it never rained, except for the 1990concert. My God, that was 29
years ago. When I look around, I have theimpression that back then all of
them were already standing in front of theOrange Stage, only they were
just like me, 29 years younger.Just before 8:00 pm, excerpts from
Stravinsky's "Sacredu printemps" accompany Dylan and his band on their way
to the stage. Allmusicians look briefly into the 80.000er mass and go
quickly to theinstruments, in order to experience a faster and in the kind
unusual rockesque"Things Have Changed". Dylan, who is immediately behind
his piano ashe is doing on the 2019 tour, seems to feel the energy of the
crowd and returnsthem with faster rhythms. - Indoor concerts are more
relaxed. But Bob laysdown. "It Is not Me, Babe" and "Highway 61 Revisited"
areas powerful thrown against the 80,000. Yes, Bob reinvents his songs
again andagain in Roskilde. And that one and the same song sounds quite
different todaythan it does yesterday shows the performance of "Simple
Twist OfFate", which he now sings in a seated manner and also picks up
theharmonica in piano playing.Dylan's Roskilde concerts have always been a
bit different.They are also a bit shorter due to the following line ups.
In 2019 Dylan playsonly 17 songs, instead of the current 20."Tryin To Get
To Heaven" and "ScarletTown" and "When I Paint My Masterpiece" are
completely missing.Also "Can not Wait" is missing. For this he plays as
fifth and sixthsong "Cry A While" and "Honest With Me". For both songs
hesits at the piano and peeks out with his head behind the black
instrument.Sometimes he sticks his head backwards, he closes his eyes,
grimaces and chewsthrough the words.Then follow the classic songs of the
currently "secondhalf of the concert". "Make You Feel My Love". Sometimes
Dylansits at the piano. But he never walks to the middle of the stage.
Otherwise -at indoor concerts, he likes to do so at "Scarlet Town" to give
alittle bit to the "Sinatra". There is no time for "Sinatra"in Roskilde,
here he gives more "Dylan". Non-communicvative asalways, no word addressed
to his audience. Twice he even makes the"Elvis". After "Gotta Serve
Somebody", he even offers theenthusiastic audience a classic rock'n'roll
pose, which is celebrated with evenmore enthusiasm by the audience.Bob
wore his black suit in Roskilde, a black shirt withwhite dots and a white
scarf. The time of the "Mississippi" captainsteamer looks to be over. The
rest of the band wore light gray suits and blackshirts. Dylan was not
wearing a hat. Charlie decided in the last third of theshow also for hat.
Dylan's translucent white hair has not been seen inRoskilde. Bob was dyed
and had nice hair. ?However, Dylan was very enthusiastic when he
played"Like A Rolling Stone" in such a rarely heard version. Tony
Garnierswitched from electric bass to stand up bass. Absences of melodies
are oftenmosaic reduced to a poetic skeleton. The Dekunstruction is still
concept.It was similarly rocking with "Early Roman Kings".Dylan accented,
was precise and articulate, almost emphatic. He seemed highlyconcentrated.
At the later "Love Sick" it became a bit slower andeven quieter. 80,000
listened to Dylan his devotional rhythm downright devout.At 21.17 the show
was over. The band put down theinstruments. Dylan peeled out from behind
his piano. There he stood or satduring the entire 90 minute gig. Not only
the front rows, saw him grinning and smiling,as he bowed a second time in
"Elvis" pose in front of his audience.Yes, not only the front rows were
able to observe, analyze and interpretDylan's facial expressions and
gestures throughout the concert. Two large,stage-high video screens, to
the left and right of the Orange Stage,transmitted every movement from Bob
to the backmost rows. An unfamiliar concertexperience for me, as I've only
been to two concerts so far, where Bob allowedvideo projections of his
show. Roskilde is different.The additions were also different. It takes
until thechorus, until the audience "Blowin 'In The Wind", the classic of
1963on Dylan's second studio album "The Freewheelin'", recognized andsang
along. Dylan stretched and hacked the lines. He lets the melody
shinethrough only rudimentary except for the chorus. In the last song "It
TakesA Lot To Laugh", the rock legend returns to his poetic chant in a
hoarseand husky voice. Then Dylan gets up, pushes to the middle of the
stage, lookssmiled into the audience. Dylan stops unusually long. He is in
the middle. Tothe right of him are George Recile (dr) and Charlie Sexton
(lead guitar), leftTony Garnier (bg) and Donnie Herron (pedal steel and
many more).The applause over the expectant appearance took a long time.The
audience is more than satisfied. The elders in the audience (60/70
plus)were surprised by his enthusiasm, the volume and the tempo of the
songs. Theyoungsters around 20 just seemed happy to finally have
experienced the"legend" live in Roskilde. Most of the youngsters present
in Roskilde2019 were probably not yet in the festival-visitor-age in
2006.There is a touch of sadness when "His Bobness",who had grown old in
May 2019, left the "Orange Stage" for the sixthtime. After all, he was
there when the Roskilde Festival was launched in 1971.And yes, it still
is. The Roskilde Festival is by the way a similar companionon the
much-cited "Neverending Tour" as bassist Tony Garnier. Garnierwas also
present at the first Roskilde Festival appearance and stormed 29
yearslater still dreamlike peace. - Even though times have changed, not
everythinghas changed. 

Christof Graf

P.S.: The more memories I get of this wonderful festivalexperience with
Bob Dylan, the more I note in my 48-hour travel journal in myblog and sort
the pictures. :



Click Here
to return to the
Main Page

page by Bill Pagel

Tour Guide
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location