July 4, 2007
Review by Howard Teller
I was looking forward to last nightís concert and considering how
fortunate we were to have Bob Dylan visit us again so soon after his
November 2006 show at the Bell Centre (12,000 capacity). Last nightís
performance was at the main concert hall at Place des Arts, a smaller
concert venue (3,000 capacity) as part of the Le Festival International de
Jazz de Montreal. The previous night Van Morrison performed on the same
stage. Ticket prices were high priced and being such perhaps prevented
some new younger fans from attending the show and appreciating the music.
The summer of love was forty years ago and here was Bob Dylan still
touring and performing his songs and music as relevant today as 1967. It
was great to see Bob Dylan playing guitar again on the first four tunes of
this concert before switching back to the keyboards. The sound was concert
hall clear and his band was grooved. A highlight for me was ďShelter From
the StormĒ with Dylan playing a beautiful sounding harp and ďChimes Of
FreedomĒ perhaps in consideration of July 4th.
Review by Howard Weiner
I awoke in a hotel room in Montreal at 5:30 AM. I couldnít get back
to sleep, I felt like sucking the milk out of a 1000 cows. I thought
about packing my bags and making my way to the nearest Greyhound
station for a bus to Ottawa. Unfortunately, Iíve paid for two more
nights at this hotel and have tickets to see quality acts here at
the Jazz Fest. Well if July 4th in Montreal had to be my last
rendezvous with the Cowboy Band this summer, what an unforgettable
parting of ways.
I made my way into the incredible venue named Salle
Wilfrid-Pelletier. I had seen a strong performance by Van Morrison
here the night before. If youíre a performer looking out from the
stage the place looks like a space ship. Once again, I was in the
thick of the action in my fourth row seat. Starting from my right I
was staring down Stu, Oscar, Donnie and Bob, and to my left was
George, Tony and Denny. Dylan was wearing his standard black suit,
but had traded his grey top hat for a black one with a red feather.
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 was a welcomed opener. The crowd immediately
sat down after greeting Dylan. I wanted to shuffle around a bit, but
this seemed to cause a big controversy. Three security guards had a
conference call and finally decided it was ok if I wanted to shake
and bake. I decided just to sit in my chair and rock back and forth
like a madmen, I didnít want anymore conference calls.
Donít Think Twice sounded better than ever, thanks to the pristine
acoustics of this venue. It was intense; Dylanís music reverberated
all over the place. Iíll Be Your Baby Tonight was as powerful and
rocking as Iíve ever heard it. As usual, Itís Alright Ma took itís
place in the fourth spot, but wow! Dylan smoked our minds with that
one. In one year this song has gone from sluggish to getting the
royal treatment it deserves.
Bob made his way over to his keys to pluck out some ring tones. From
behind his control center he leads the band and really expresses
himself. When the Deal Goes Down was amazing, the words came
blasting out of Bob in an abrasive style that was still reflective
and sentimental. I canít imagine this venue has ever witnessed
anything as authoritative as the ensuing Rolliní and Tumbliní. Bob
has really made this song his own. These Modern Times songs continue
to grow on me Ė Iím coming to the realization that this is my fifth
favorite Dylan album.
Iím typing on my laptop and laughing out loud when I think back to
how good that Shelter From the Storm was last night. Bobís vocal
presentation sticks out as he pushes forward a sweet melody from his
command center. Heís found a new way to make this song resonate and
the band carefully adds their brush strokes. Denny plays a well
constructed lead and Dylan comes back singing with even more
passion. Then they rinse and repeat. By the time the last verse was
finished everybody in the place was in awe. Dylan stamped this
version as a masterpiece by grabbing his harp for the first time and
floating out a poignant double tiered solo. Enter High Water (For
Charley Patton). Forget the beaches, picnics, barbeques, and
fireworks, a real July 4yh celebration was brewing. Donnie was
picking the old banjo while Dylan had us scrambling away from the
raging Mississippi River. Dylan has recaptured the greatness of that
song on this tour with these powerfully concise presentations.
Spirit on the Water gave me an opportunity for a pit stop and an
ice cold Molson Dry refill, and I made it back for the last two or
three minutes which were enjoyable. Tangled Up in Blue started
awkwardly Ė Bob wasnít happy with the tempo. The band and Dylan got
locked in tight about half way through and the ending was magic. I
tried watching Denny as he was tearing up an impressive solo, but
couldnít take my eyes off Dylan. He looked like he was
side-saddling the golden calf while bobbing for apples.
In full Independence Day mode, Bob led his mates into Chimes of
Freedom. I was pumped; I havenít seen that in about 20 shows.
Dylanís singing was so attentive and vibrant Ė not only are his
songs timeless, but apparently so is the man. Freeman really cooked
a head turning solo and then the band tried ending the song. Their
bad! Dylan kept playing through the mistake ending and delivered
the last verse. It was July 4th, he was determined to finish the
song in style. After that highlight, the band exploded on a
roughhouse journey down Highway 61. It was a red white and blue
kind of night and the Cowboy Band song was looming.
I love every single line of Nettie Moore. You havenít lived until
youíve seen Dylan perform this live. No other song captures the
magic of Dylanís late-career renaissance better. As magnificent as
this is on Modern Times, Dylan breathes something extra into it
live. And the musical arrangement is fuller; Donnieís violin playing
is sublime. After that religious production I was out of my seat and
flying around like a Russian Cossack dancer for Summer Days which
contains Fitzgerald/ Dylan philosophy 101: ďYou can't repeat the
past." I say, "You can't? What do you mean, you can't? Of Course you
Then came the decisive moment, was I going to see my sixth
consecutive Blowiní in the Wind or the greatest song ever. Recile
slammed down the beat as 1000 delirious French speaking Canadians
rouse to there feet for Like a Rolling Stone. What a brilliant
ending to my last show of the tour. I realize ever once in a while
Dylanís has to give Rolling Stone a break, but itís a superior to
Blowiní in the Wind.
I stood there hooting, hollering and clapping for the full five
minutes until the Cowboy Band remerged. Tony (Dylan fan sitting
next to me) mentioned that the Dylan logo banner got stuck halfway
when it was lowered during the encore the prior night. As Thunder
on the Mountain triumphantly began, Dylan kept a watchful eye on
the banner which came down unfettered, and it was off to the races.
I can truly say that this Thunder on the Mountain obliterated any
previous version. From my perspective, the band was in awe of each
other. Denny rocked as hard as Iíve ever heard him. Garnier
chuckled and did a double take as if to say, who is that madman?
Dylan introduced each member of the band by adding what city from
the good old U.S.A. theyíre from. Hibbing in the house!
As Bob played Watchtower for the 2783rd time, some new magic came
out of nowhere. During the second verse, he sang this with some real
ingenuity. The pacing, inflection and cadence was like nothing Iíd
ever heard before. Donnie Herron had a joyful stunned expression on
his face. I donít know how does it either Donnie, thatís why I keep
Review by Dana Enciu
I just found out that Bob Dylan was awarded the Montreal Jazz Festival
Spirit Award and at his request the prize was presented to him backstage
by Alain Simard and Andre Menard, the presidents and founders of the
Montreal Jazz Festival. The award was created especially for this 27th
edition of the festival and was inspired by a self-portrait that Miles Davis
presented to the festival in 1988. According to the press release, "the
Festival wishes to showcase quality and musical innovation, as well as the
author-composer-performer's undeniable influence on the international
pop music scene".
Salle Wilfried Pelletier at Place des Arts is a beautiful, smaller venue (around
3,000 seats), with great acoustics where I usually go to ballets and
classical music concerts. Last night's concert was sold-out. The seats are
very close to the stage and there were no barriers set up , so since I had
the first seat in the 3rd row at the left of the stage, I could see Bob Dylan
very well, I could look at him straight, he was at a few meters from us.
That was awesome, I was spellbound and I almost couldn't think for a
while, it was that overwhelming. He looked so good in a black suite with
a few silver studs on the side of the pants, a gray tie and the black hat
with 2 small feathers.
People were asked by the security guards not to stand up (probably
because of the layout of the venue) and this was a real punishment, both
for us and for Bob Dylan. I don't think it is much fun to play for an
audience who just sits there like the Canadian softwood lumber. For the
first part of the concert Dylan seamed somehow distracted probably by
the fact that he got the feeling he was playing for the walls, with people
being so still during the songs. I am sure he was wondering what to do to
us to get us going (he talked briefly with the band members). It's obvious
that he likes it when the audience responds to his music, but this didn't
happen much in the beginning, only at the end of each song people
would stand up and cheer. The first 4 songs where the same as in Quebec
City, but played in a more subdued, classical manner, rearranged to be in
tune with the jazz festival. He doesn't stop amazing me how he can take
the same song and play it so differently from one show to another.
When the Deal Goes Down was the 5th song and I felt it came too early
in the show, there was still a need to increase the momentum before
getting to this one. We listened to it with respectful silence like you listen
to the Sunday Mass - the lyrics are so wonderful and his voice was so
gentle and sweet that he almost made me cry (and I tried hard not to
because I was going to ruin my make-up). Then he brought us back to
reality with a powerful Rollin' and Thumblin'. Shelter from the Storm was
awesome and I got the feeling that the he played it like "Twas in another
lifetime" - I don't know if Bob Dylan's intention was to render it like this
but to me it sounded like he was telling us a story from a long, long time
High Water was superb, simply amazing and I couldn't keep still and
apparently I was not the only one. At this point things started to pick-up
and I could see Bob Dylan lightening up as well when the audience
started to move and participate more. After this, Spirit on the Water was
played "traditionally" (if one can say that anything about Bob Dylan is "
traditional") compared to Quebec City, and we didn't miss the opportunity
to shout "No", " No" when he sang " You think I'm over the hill/You think
I'm past my prime". I think the audience really enjoys it and so does he,
since Spirit on the Water is part of most set lists. Nettie More was also
great and the line "They say wisky'll kill you, but I don't think it will" made
some people cheer.
A wonderful surprise came with Chimes of Freedom: the tempo was
changed and it sounded lighter and very melodious, almost like dance
music but this didn't take away from the beauty and truthfulness of the
lyrics so I knew why I love Bob Dylan when I heard him sing
"Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an' forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin' constantly at stake
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing".
"Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts"
I just had to jump out of my seat on Highway 61 and some other people
where standing and dancing as well, to Dylan's delight, and from then on
we were rocking With Summer Days and Like a Rolling Stone and for the
encore with Thunder on the Mountain and All Along the Watchtower,
and Bob couldn't keep still either, he was moving a lot behind the
keyboards dancing with us.
In the end he got a very long standing ovation, he came out pointing to
the crowd, then he graciously smiled and saluted us and he also talked
briefly to some fans in the first row who came very close to the stage
saying something to him. It was a beautiful concert, carefully crafted for
this special venue and occasion. It was also a great opportunity to see
Bob Dylan up close, and since it was the first time I attended one show
after the other, it was really interesting for me and it was something I
always wanted to do. I will remember 2007 as the great year when in
less than 3 months I got to see Bob Dylan in Paris, Quebec City and
Montreal (not to mention the November 2006 concert in Montreal), and
the year is not over yet, I can't wait to see the fall tour announcement.
Goodbye for now, until we meet again for another sublime encounter
with Bob Dylan and his magic.
P.S. It is such a pity that none of these shows were officially taped, the
live concerts are nothing like the CD versions and in the end, all we are
left with are our stories and memories of how it was, and even these
memories will last just for a little whileÖ Who will be here in 100 years to
tell the stories about Dylan's concerts? We'll just have the CDs like we
have now Shakespeare's plays, but no one knows how it really was back
then. It is such a loss that future generations won't be able to get the
full picture, the absolute splendor of Bob Dylan.
Dana Enciu ("aikizum" )
| Click Here
to return to the
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists