page by Bill Pagel
Review by Reinald Purmann
Strike another match, go start anew - yes, it's true, Bob Dylan changed a
lot of things on stage since the last visit in germany, - but it all works
perfect and gave a night to remember for a long, long time. And the Oscar
is still there - The "Docks" is an old cinema, transformed in a
dance&music-hall, situated in the middle of the local red-light-district
in St.Pauli. The next door to the venue is a shop specialized for condoms,
but no need to get nervous. No name, no poster outside the venue spoke
about the star tonight. The crowd, some 1000 younger and middle-aged
people went through tough security, searching every one closely. It may be
the fan community, because the show was sold out immediately months ago.
This was the first of two so-called club-concerts to start the german
tour-leg. I 've never seen Dylan in such a very small venue and the nice
and little shabby atmosphere and the fact that there is so little
distance to the men on the stage made a special feeling. The sound was
perfect all night. - At 7 p.m. the Copeland-western-atmosphere arose and
people get ready. Than the new anouncement (more a "Call in the Ring")
with the tabloid-style phrases, parody of the phoney definitions some
people tried to this man, and then, 7.05 pm the hell break loose... Mr.
Dylan in black suit with silver stars, black shirt with rhinestones
looking sharp like a knife on the left side, facing the band. In the
center Mr. Recelli with a lot of metal and his usal cap. Larry, Tony and
Freddie in dark, gray suits. I was waiting for "Alone with you..." and
they roared in a perfect "Maggies farm..."This first song showed what the
night will bring: Great performing Mr. Dylan, enunciating every word and
a tight, great, very rocking band. I expected "Baby blue..." and we get
"Senor", the first big higlight of the night. Dylan delivered this song
with pinao, harp and unique voice, the band was backing up only. "Cry.."
was good, followed by a better "If You See her..." again with a perfect
harp. Dylan was really good singing, concentrated like acid. Dylan
directed the band with some finger pointing. "Drifter" started a series of
3 songs with Dylan in the stage-center, playing guitar. In this song Dylan
turned to Recelli and he gave a big solo on his drums. "Cold Irons Bound"
was perfectly nailed down, very rocking. Than a little change and Dylan
did "Spanish boots" on the piano, like an old time ballad, another
arrangement that can bring a stone to tears. I like "Dignity" much
(because he is singing my name), great work from Freddie and Larry on
cittern. I remark, that most of my expectations I brought with me have
not fullfilled this night. The set-list was not predictable, Freddie K.
fitts perfect in this great band and creates new potentials, Dylan was in
top form every second. All the time a roadie was busy to bring and take
other guitars on stage, perfect organized. The next two songs were great,
may be "Love minus ..." with a nice slide-guitar by Larry a little weaker,
but "Summer Days" was magic. Recelli hits the drums and the stick broke
and flew away. At the middle of this song something changed, they produce
some unbelievable groove, no one can escape. Than Dylan stood in stage
center, both thumbs up, very jovial without any smile. The encores hit
more my forecast. "Cats in the Well" was very good, rocking, changed
arrangement. "Like a rolling stone" gave another great harp solo, perfect
singing, lights on for the audience, its you I mean, out there tonight,
"just like a rolling stone". Watchtower was the last highligt, bringing
the full potential of this band to gloom. The crowd roaring in excitement.
Dylan with the fists up, than turning away, snapping his harp from the
piano with a flick of the wrist. Grab my stuff, job done & gone. Great
night. My conclusion: They are all in great form, Mr. Dylan at first. He
concentrated on his key abilities: His own songs and words, his voice
and a perfect band, who can do various styles. No one is missing here
(with all respect to the great "Saxton Years") but there is a changing of
the guard ! I saw Freddie Koella for the first time and he will add a lot
to the music of this band. They have everything they need and will give
you all a great time. Don't dare to miss...Greetings to Scholle, who knews
it all. Waiting for Berlin.
Review by Johannes Wilbrand
The Docks is a very small venue, Club type, with two Bars inside, a
little empore at the back where the control equipment was set up.
The stage - sharp guess - 100 m away. When we came in the crowd huddled
merely round the stage, so we took our places in the back by the controls.
At 7 sharp Bob and Band came on stage and after the intro - the long
intro is new for us in Europe - the Band went straight into a very
great version of Maggie's Farm. Also first time for us to the Freddie
Koella on stage, great guitarist!!! Just a pity the guitar sounds drown
Bob's piano playing a great deal.
i've always loved him perform Senor since i first heard it live in Essen
in 1998. Some time during these first songs - the lights went out in-
between songs - one could see that something was being prepared for
another guitar, i had already notice the mike stand in the center of the
stage. When the lights went back on an electric guitar was lying by the
drumset. After Cry A While and If You See Her Say Hello, as well as It's
Alright Ma he took up the guitar and performed Moonlight Cold Cold Iron's
Bound and Most Likely You'll Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine on guitar. For
Boots of Spanish Leather he was back at the piano. Since he stood right
underneath a spotlight, the club is not very high, thus the spotlights
hung pretty low and Bob was visibly sweating like crazy. i loved the Cold
Iron's Bound version particularly since it sounded so close this time to
the new version on the Masked and Anonymous Soundtrack CD (worthwhile to
have!). Well, Boots of Spanish Leather was followed by Dignity, Long Black
Coat, Honest With Me (another one of my most favorites from Love and
Theft), then came Love Minus Zero/No Limit (still sounds like a painting).
i love to sing that song myself sometimes. After Summer Days the lights
went on, Bob was at the center mike both thumbs up while the crowd cheered
endlessly, yes, ENDLESSLY, if it was here that he wanted to introduce the
band, he wasn't able to, the audience cheered until he was back on stage
with Cats in the well as encore song #1, a bit expected on my part since i
studied the set lists over the previous days. Like a Rolling Stone had to
be there with the lights shining over the audience as most of the time at
this song. That's just our turn, isn't it? After All Along The Watchtower,
the atmosphere was really such that all of us expected a second encore, i
could've bet on it, but it wasn't to be. Well, the second encore plus more
will be in store for me in just a couple hours time -- my 23rd concert
since 1996 i think. i always love to see his variety of stage theatricals
again and again. Just prior to the tour i discovered a special edition of
Uncut Magazine at Medium Books in Muenster, where i live, it was the first
issue in a series of Uncut Legends, and it features entirely none other
than our legendary performing artist BOB DYLAN. The only link i find
referring to it is here:
http://www.mags-uk.com/all/acatalog/uk_uncut_legends_1_dylan.html The site
of the magazine itself is here: http://www.uncut.net/archive.php Maybe
that's of interest to some collectors - no strings attached.
Review by Stefan Flach
Around five minutes past 7 pm the lights went down, the intro (which I
still find hilarious) was spoken, Bob and the guys came on stage and went
Pretty good version with Dylan already stretching and bending some words
to fine effect - "ain´t gonna work for Maggie´s paaaaaaaaaaaa (using some
tremolo) no more!" - and with an extended, lively, jam-like ending.
Since it´s my very favorite song for many years now, the one I feel most
close to (Would it has been possible for the song not to get so much in
touch with me? No.), I immediatly recognized it on the first chord and ...
well, what can I say ... it´s something quite unusual to finally stand in
front of one of your most desired and loved poetic ... "items" and it´s
somewhat difficult to handle it. In a way I didn´t quite knew what to do
with this song. Starting with the first bridge, Dylan did quiet a bit of
his "up-singing" at the end of lines (for the only time this night), but
stepped on the song´s ground again in the last verse, donating the last
lines with some overwhelming and gorgeously theatrical dramatic phrasings.
The last "Senor" of the song must be heard ...
"Cry a While"
Killer version. Right from the start Dylan got into the lyrics (or rather
the pretext for what´s coming out of his mouth) really deep, displaying
somthing which is manic, sarcastic, playful and sexually loaden at the
same time (when for instance he´s apparently ENJOYING it to suddenly find
some words being a goldmine for him: "Feel like a fightin´ rooster, feel
beeeeeeeeeeetter than I ever felt!" . The band and most of all Freddie
brought the house down here (the first time of the evening).
"If You See Her, Say Hello"
In it´s usual rockin´ arrangement (which never fits the song too well in
my opinion) and with Bob smiling, sweating and having fun on the piano.
There was a slight lyric change again: instead of "Someone has to take her
place, you know I don´t to be alone", he sang "... you know it´s hard to
be alone". Good, floating version.
"It´s Alright, Ma"
Very, very well played and sung. In fact I´ve never been more amazed by
the song (which I likely have heard a bit too often on recordings and to
which I didn´t look forward much). Dylan leaned into it (which also means:
in what the lyrics say) to the extreme, raising it on the level of a
frenetic and urgent sermon, being in full aggressive harmony with the band
... Poetry in action.
Then it was time for Dylan to get his sunburst Stratocaster and step to
the microphone in the center of the stage to surprise us all with
while usually "Things Have Changed" gets played in this slot. In a way
Dylan seemed in a less good mood on the three songs he played on guitar
this night than when being on piano. Having a rather grim (but still
gorgeously cool) look on this face, he played some excellent weird licks
and sung the song overall well, but a bit absent-minded (he also did some
"Cold Irons Bound"
followed similarly surprising instead of the awaited "Haaaaawaaaay 61",
with Dylan singing almost completely on auto-pilot and the band rocking
the hell out of the song as usual. I began to worry about the possible
re-introduction of the same old "Drifter´s - Wicked - Irons Bound"
sequence for the future shows (which thankfully didn´t came true the next
"Most Likely You Go Your Way"
another song I generally enjoy very much, followed, but sadly it was quite
mediocre compared to the fantastic versions from Gilford and Syracuse on
the summer tour. Bob apparently wasn´t interested much in what he sang and
the band didn´t know what to do with it either (the only time of the
evening when Freddie didn´t shine his light while going wild at soloing).
The weakest song of the evening for me ...
But the seasons they were turning quickly and Bob DID strike another match
and started a new some moments later with
"Boots of Spanish Leather"
Now this was the most magical, adventurous, playful and FREE thing I ever
saw him do in concert. Going for a wild ride on a tightrope, Dylan sang
harmonies on the song that have never been there before, which his ability
of getting into the song so much let him invent here. And in a GREAT
interplay with the audience (in this case me), this enabled me to actually
foresee some phrasings ... before he went "how can, how can, OH HOW CAN
YOU ask me again" I knew he would sing it this way, just because it WAS
THE RIGHT THING TO DO (which means nothing more and less than he and I
felt the same need here, a need to which we were both able to respond) ...
followed and I can´t say too much about it since I still was into the
"Boots" experience. It rocked strongly, it was fun and Dylan (though
getting the words wrong at some points) leaned into the lyrics the usual
(in my opinion) rather "going through the motions" way.
When the first chords of the next song started, I didn´t knew what would
shape up ... Since this doesn´t happen too often, I gladly pushed the
slight recognizing of the verse structure in my mind a bit back and
consciously only knew that in some moments we would hear "on a line
hanging dry". Which song does include these words? As soon as Dylan sang
the first word, my jaw dropped: oh f*** me, it is
"Man in the Long Black Coat"
Maybe my second or third favorite song for a long time now, being played
to my complete surprise for the first time since last summer (when he
NAILED it in St. John and pretty much spoiled it in Quécec City the next
night). I was so overwhelmed by the sheer fact that it´s played that I
could hardly concentrate on way he sings it for the first verse or so,
after which I was shocked to see the chords of the bridge (one of the
greatest ever) already approaching - but it was "only" an embellishment
they added to the structure of the song and it worked very successful (in
musical terms: when the song is played in Am the verses would go: Am - C -
G - Em - Am - C - G - Am and the embellishment was some kind of quick
turnaround: F - C - G - Am = back in the next verse) ... So after a while
I finally was able to appreciate what Dylan did here vocally. He sang it
overall very concentrated (not the slightest mumbling) and with much care.
There also was a tremendous new line in the bridge (when it finally came):
"People Then it was time for the next favorite of mine, the song I
meanwhile enjoy most of "Love & Theft" when played live:
"Honest with Me"
It was a PURE JOY to experience the overwhelming power of the arrangement
(Larry´s monster slide riff never sounded harder to my ears) and Bob´s
lovely (am I a pervert or what?) way of chewing the words, moving them
around on his tongue and spitting or belting them out (to create a new
imperial empire) ... Another important part of the séance that went on ...
"Love Minus Zero"
was next and thankfully the only song that showed Larry on pedal-steel,
playing ... cliché riffs. Bob sang it well, using his soft, "reserved for
acoustic songs" voice which I usually don´t like too much since it
sometimes has something of an attitude, but which worked well here after
all. When he sang "even the pawn must hold a grudge" he turned around to
band and shouted (off-mic): "right, boys?!?" ...
The grand finale of the main set followed:
In a way the song was the best thing the band did this night (and the
following night too), Freddie - who went center stage for soloing - does
such a great, great job on this song (Eyolf Ostrem already explained what
makes his playing style so great earlier this week and I completely agree
with him) that he is the star here, not Dylan. And it´s great to see that
Dylan doesn´t to seem jealous at all, that he makes room for him. Anyway,
the song brought the house down in many ways and likely it was the best
piece of jam I ever heard in person.
"Cat´s in the Well"
followed as the now usual first encore and Dylan seemed in a strange mood
when the band started it. He wandered around the stage (outworldly cool),
looking for the right harmonica for three whole verses. Then he finally
sang - and did a great job. The newly arranged bridge (starting with a
minor chord) he sang twice, which means he left out "... his hair´s
falling out and all of his daughters need shoes" in favor of a second "...
the world´s being slaughtered and it´s such a bloody disgrace" - a line I
acutally regarded as a major comment on Dylan´s part here and it´s maybe
even the reason he plays the song every night now. But it´s a fine choice
to start the encores with anyway.
"Like a Rolling Stone"
of course came next and though I wasn´t keen to hear this one another
time, I was suprised how fine it turned out to be. Dylan again started the
song late, searching for harmonicas, keys and the rain somewhere on stage,
but nailed a big part of it really carefully. After the instrumental verse
(with a gorgeous solo by the french man again), Dylan finally did another
great verse on harmonica, bending notes and getting into the song through
this instrument very much, adding something new to it which also rubbed
off on the third sung verse - it seldom sounded that fresh in a long time
"All Along the Watchtower"
let the wind began to howl in a big way this night. It was purely
dramatic, exciting, basically serious and done with as much splendour and
care as the band and singer are able to display. The last "worth" at the
end of the repeated first verse at the end was something of a promise and
a warning all over the place ...
Review by Sven Lewandowski
The Docks is small club next to Hamburg’s famous Reeperbahn - so maybe it
was the right place for me to celebrate my 50th Dylan show. When I went to
Hamburg to see Dylan I was quite worried about those standardized set
lists he performed since he hit European soil again last week. But to tell
the most important fact right at the beginning of my review: The Docks
found Dylan being back in business and the first three or four songs made
it very clear that he was taking things serious - that meant first of all
that it was obvious that he figured out that he could not keep on keeping
on performing standard songs at a small club overcrowded with hard core
fans. He started with two songs that have not been performed during the
previous shows - Maggie’s Farm and Señor. I liked both of them and Dylan’s
electric piano didn’t sound as bad nor as dominating as on the few
bootlegs I heard during the last months. Cry A While followed and while
Bob sang “I cried for you” during the second or third chorus he looked
very strangely at Freddy (but I am going to tell you some things about
Freddy later...). The next song sounded a lot like “Absolutely Sweet
Marie” at the beginning (at least to) me, but then it became clear that it
was If You See Her, Say Hello. Bob came on with some changed lyrics (like
he has done before) and it was nice to hear him playing this song with the
concentration that it lacked in both 1996 and 1998. It’s Alright, Ma was
to follow and I could not say that I like this song too much. But the
performance was good - although Bob stumbled over the lyrics during one
verse and sang parts of it off-mike. The song also featured a strange solo
by Freddy - some kind of solo that seemed to belong to a completely
different song and that didn’t fit at all. There was also a nice interplay
by Larry on cittern, which should have taken a little longer. Moonlight
featured Bob on guitar for the first time this evening. And for the first
time the centre of the stage was not empty anymore. From my point of view
I have to say that it is not a very good idea that Bob’s piano is located
at the left side of the stage, because most of the show the centre of the
stage is empty. Thus it looks like there’s no band leader and not even a
band, but five musicians who are standing around a void - or maybe around
an absent person. Anyway - Dylan had now picked up his electric guitar and
was standing right in the middle of the stage. Well, a lot of remarks had
been made about his guitar playing during the years - on Moonlight there
was only one remark to be made: you could not hear very much of his
playing. If any doubts were leftif he had chosen NOT to play his usual
set list - the choice of Cold Irons Bound blew them away as the song
itself blew the audience away. Well, the song rocked and especially George
leaned intoit. As a rare choice Most Likely You Go Your Way followed.
Splendid ! Now it was more than obvious that Bob did his best to AVOID the
standard set list - no Highway 61, no Things Have Changed. Thinking about
the set list I figured out that this show could become the turing point of
the whole tour: no more boring and predictable set lists, no more
lacklustre performances etc - and it was obviously a show (and a set list)
that was dignified enough to be my 50th show. Okay, I have to admit that
Most Likely should have been sung in a more aggressive way, but I still
liked the performance. As it was most likely to happen, Dylan went again
his way after finishing this song and his way leaded him back behind this
piano. The new Boots Of Spanish Leather followed. Well, it is astonishing
how Dylan has changed this song. Although I personally did not like the
new arrangement, Dylan deserves recognition for having invented a totally
new voice to sing Boots ! If I had not seen that it was Dylan himself, I
could not believe it was him - where did he find this new voice ? He was
singing with his mouth wide open - with mumbling being impossible. It was
really impressive ! During the show I was thinking that Bob has regained
some kind of dignity that he might have lost (considering this year’s
shows so far). And thus it hit me by surprise that he performed Dignity.
For me it was one of the highlights of the show (and one of the biggest
surprises, too). The song sounded much better than the versions performed
in 2000. Thanks to Bob’s piano playing the sound was much tighter and the
whole performance was very powerful. Another surprise followed - Man In
The Long Black Coat. At the beginning I had problems in recognizing the
song (I haven’t heard it in concert since 1998). A good performance and
some slightly changed lines. Honest With Me was powerful, but I liked it
much more in fall 2001. Love Minus Zero was the best version that I have
heard in concert so far (all the other times he performed it for me, it
was boring). Larry played pedal steel and once or twice he started an
instrumental part, but Bob interrupted him by starting with the next
verse. You should have seen how angry Larry looked at Bob ! Summer Days
made very clear what we lost with Charlie Sexton. Larry has now overtaken
Charlie’s part. Well, he didn’t do a bad job, but… And what about Freddy ?
Well, he played something being less than impressive. Oh, I miss Charlie,
his guitar playing was so much more sophisticated ! Cat’s In The Well was
the first encore. Right at the beginning Bob was walking all over the
stage - some steps left, some steps right, some steps left and so on. The
band played the intro - once, twice, three times… After a while Bob
decided to go behind his piano, then decided to have a look for his harp,
while the band continued to play the song’s intro. Then, finally, Bob
somehow found out that it was his part to sing. So he started to play the
piano and to sing… Well, the song was not bad, but I think a lot of people
wouldn’t have cried if he left it out. That can also be said about Like A
Rolling Stone. Like A Rolling Stone is usually welcomed by the audience -
or at least by the “tourists”. But this time there were very few tourists
around and thus nearly no one cheered. The only interesting thing was that
the song featured quite a lengthy harp solo. All Along The Watchtower
began with some harp playing by Bob. But it only lasted for a few seconds
- like he was trying to find out if the harp was still working. And it
really had to work on that particular song ! Watchtower sounded very, very
dark, but in the middle of the song Dylan came up with some strange harp
solo. It contrasted very much to the darkness the song created and still
this harp solo fitted better that anything else would have fitted. A truly
magical moment. It somehow reminded me of Shakespeare’s King Lear. There
are those scenes on the heath, featuring King Lear and the Fool. The storm
is still at one of those scenes, but the atmosphere and the scenery are
somehow dark - like All Along The Watchtower as it was performed at this
show. But if the fool was to sing a song to the (already mad ?) King Lear,
it has to sound just like Dylan’s harp solo. And if mad Lear had to sing a
song to the reasonable fool on that heath, it had to sound like Dylan’s
harp solo, too. Somehow Dylan’s harp solo transcended the whole song, like
darkness and lightness becoming the same while still being different -
like the fool becoming reasonable and the king becoming foolish, but the
one still being king and the other the fool, but being unable to tell who
is who. There must be some kind of way out of here - maybe… But anyway -
Watchtower and especially the harp solo show that the genius hasn’t
forgotten Bob Dylan.
Let me finally add a note on Freddy (for he is the only band member I
hadn’t seen before). I already mentioned that I missed Charlie. Well,
Freddy did a solid job - all in all, but on some songs his solos just
didn’t fit and sometimes I thought that someone should explain to him what
the songs are about. And, well, a friend of mine pointed out that Charlie
Sexton was “pure sex - plus a great guitar player”. And although she told
me not to criticize Freddy too hard, I like to say that he - looking like
Pete Townshend being older and younger at the same time - is rather a
sleeping pill minus a great guitar player…
Comments are welcome: Sven.Lewandowski@stud.uni-Hannover.de
You had to know someone bigger and better than Santa Claus to get into
these sold-out-since-August club shows! Those of us so blessed funneled
our way into Hamburg from points all over the globe. Where ever you roam,
even 4,941 frequent-flier miles from home, a trainload of fools is certain
to follow: Just as with Masked and Anonymous, His presence in Hamburg
drew an international cast of epic proportion.
Despite His two-night stand at Docks, the only English on the marquee was
"Black Music Night," which followed Bob's first matinee performance.
But the Docks club shows were two once-in-a-life-time chances to witness
ubber Bob up close. The stage was neither wide nor deep. Freddie stood
in the half back position on the Maestro's shoulder, peering at the
keyboard as if cheating on an exam.
The current Euro tour so far has offered no surprises. Opening night in
Hamburg was largely the same simultaneously fantastic yet average
performance that is His hallmark. The set list was generally regarded as
the best yet on this leg of the tour.
Standing in the shadows, the Maestro put an end to that foreign sound in
my ears with Maggie's Farm. The spotlight emerged revealing His facial
expression accompanying the latest locution of "Señor." If You See
Her featured a Multi-Tasking Maestro playing piano with His right hand,
harp with left hand and cueing the band. It's All Right Ma was
especially "saaaayâ€”cred"; sweat spattered as He head-banged "Naked."
Nary a mumble, Bob was hooked on phonics tonight.
Taking center stage for three interim guitar songs, Moonlight, Cold Irons
Bound and Most Likely You Go Your Way, the sound got noticeably better.
The small stage made him appear larger and closer then ever before. The
improved sound continued as He returned to the piano for Boots Of Spanish
Leather followed by a spirited Dignity. A revamped Love Minus Zero was
not readily apparent even though noted on the scouting report.
After an extended double thumbs up to the crowd, a three-song encore
started with Cat's In the Well, preceded by a nice, prolonged intro. A
less-electric Watchtower, followed by a second double thumbs up to the
crowd finished off Frietag night.
page by Bill Pagel
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