page by Bill Pagel
Review by Erhard Grundl
sometimes everything falls into place: i have been a witness of Bob as a
live performing artist for over 22 years now and last night he once again
amazed, entertained and stunned me. To start the show with "Down along the
cove" naturally blew everyone away, including several "more than 300s" who
didn`t even recognize the song at first. Bob ended it with a big smile
-even laughing- and this set the mood for the evening. I have to admit
that i am as ungrateful to Bob as many others when it comes to the odd
routine(Baby Blue, It`s alright, Ma), but i nevertheless enjoy EVERY song
he does because "weaker" numbers give me the chance to take a closer look
at the man and take it all in visually. "Simple twist" was a nice
surprice.Although he somehow ruined it by going up with the voice at the
end of nearly every line, it is very entertaining to see him really trying
out the song, trying to find a perfect way to sing it with the voice of an
old man (same with Tambourine Man). Man in the long black coat was
perfect. Really, really great! Do i have to say it again, that i enjoyed
last nights show very, very much? who could forsee that my favourite song
would be "rolling stone"? to be precise, the second verse&chorus was just
fantastic, maybe one of the best moments of this song in concert since
Dylan ended the Tour of 1966 with it. i am getting carried away here... At
the end of the show a woman from the audience handed Bob an envelope(yes,
he stepped up to the front of the stage) that he passed on to George - and
then doing his best Stan Laurel-eyebrow-rising, as if he was surprised
that the envelope was made for him. A great night.
Review by Markus Prieur
Enjoyable, extremely enjoyable. There we were, my wife and I, for the
first time back in our native Germany, more than four years after our move
to Ireland. There we were, less than four weeks after seeing two fine
shows in Stockholm and in Karlstad, standing in Frankfurt’s
Jahrhunderthalle, at the rail, some twenty feet away from the keyboard,
where Bob Dylan would start the 43rd concert I had the pleasure to be a
part of the audience.
What happened in the following few minutes, was one of the reasons I enjoy
to keep going to several shows of a European tour these days. Bob played a
huge surprise, started the concert with a new and fresh version of an old
song, and one I never witnessed before at that. I did not recognize it
during the intro, which already bounced, as did the whole song, and so did
I, at the rail, watching Bob sing this brilliant version of “Down Along
The Cove”, a song he had not played in more than two years.
Many people reading this would know how much I had loved Bob opening his
shows with those gospel cover songs in recent years, but this opener last
night in Frankfurt takes the cake for “most energetic opener I have ever
seen”, replacing “Jokerman” from Cologne 1994. Absolutely amazing stuff.
Everything following immediately would have to be an anticlimax for me,
even though every song was enjoyable; but this opening song already was
worth the price of admission, and the plane ticket, and the rental car.
But this show had many high points, and no low points really worth
mentioning, and I have no urge to focus on the occasional slip in the
lyrics of some of the songs, but on the brilliance of the perfoming art we
were blessed to experience in Frankfurt. First of all, Bob’s singing was
strong and very focused most of the time, and by now the band is as
together as can be. They were smiling a lot, already during the first
song, and they all were enjoying to play together, that was obvious.
All the rocking songs which appear a lot on this tour, were extremely
intense and well performed, especially I would like to mention “Things
Have Changed”, “Highway 61", and “Honest With Me”. The solo from Freddy
Koella during the big instrumental break of “Summer Days” was one of the
best things I ever saw any band member do on stage. Freddy, who was
wearing a hat, rocked all the way in Frankfurt, but unfortunately I could
not see much of him unless he stepped up to the center stage area, for my
view of him was usually blocked by the piano playing singer.
That singer was exchanging glances a lot with his most attentive drummer,
whose skills I valued more than ever during this show. The other two guys
on the other side of the drums, what can I say, they are as reliable as
ever, and to see them all interact like they did in Frankfurt is pure
pleasure, performing art at its best. The choice of songs is secondary at
this stage, but the changes to the previous show were more numerous than
usual on this tour, more than half the songs this time.
So we got to hear a sublime “Love Minus Zero”, with some of the fineset
singing by Bob I ever saw. Also there was another new song for this fine
European tour, a surprising and beautiful “Simple Twist Of Fate”, which I
always love to hear, as it is my favorite 70s song preceding “Slow Train
Coming”. And to witness the new version of the “Man In The Long Black
Coat” was a real treat as well, I am glad I did not miss that boat.
“Every Grain Of Sand”, my favourite of all Bob Dylan lyrics, started with
an extremely fine harp solo, and was delivered word perfect, not one slip.
Great that he treats almost every European audience with this particular
gem this fall, during this what I would label “The Leaves Are Starting To
Fall - Tour”, where not only sixties songs rock through the so called, yet
pre-planned encores, but also every night a wonderful rocking “Cat’s In
The Well”, which by now ends with the first drum beat of “Like A Rolling
Stone”. Minor thing, but very effective. “May the Lord have Mercy on us
aaaaaaaalllll”.... BOOM .... “onceuponatime you
So what do I say? Meeting nice fans, enjoying a fine show, hearing great
songs, performed by the greatest living artist and his excellent band, it
is quite a way to spend an evening. And you never know what might happen.
A great opener we had, and a great finish too this time. After all the
music stopped, and the band was standing to take in the appreciation of
the audience, Bob stepped up to the front of the stage where an envelope
was being given to him. Immediately he turned around, walked to the drum
riser, and handed it to George, pointing to him as if to say “this is for
you”. Then he walked back to his spot center stage, and looking to the
first row, pointed to himself with a look on his face which said “What,
this was for me?”. I could see the subtitles in my mind. It was the most
Chaplinesque thing I have ever witnessed.
Review by Tobias Freimueller
After listening to about 20 shows from 2003 my expectations were quite low
for this show. Bob’s voice seemed to be very close to terminal breakdown
in summer – but after all this was a very strong show, actually the best
show I’ve seen since fall 2000 and the best show I heard from 2003.
The Jahrhunderthalle was packed when the band came out (Freddy was
disguised as Michael Stipe) and started... Well, what was this? Puzzled
faces all around until Bob finally bent down to sing
DOWN ALONG THE COVE. Great start! A completely different arrangement from
the one they played in 1999 and 2000. More laid back and funky, driven by
a prominent riff played by Freddy, nothing too spectacular but really
nice. Bob sung lyrics that sounded extremely unfamiliar to me, he mumbled
and invented lyrics on the fly, but at least he had great fun with this
and brought out many many verses – must have been about 6 after all.
Between two verses the band would stop playing and we got at least 5
„solo-guitar-spots“ by Freddy or Larry (or both). These breaks sounded
similar to the erratic one-note-ramblings Bob used to play on the
Wicked/Drifter-song (ok, maybe more professional). Freddy and Larry came
center-stage for this every time what looked like some weird kind of
choreography. In the dark after this song Larry sat down for
IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE. Solid version, although I am really getting
tired of this arrangement by now. Bob brought out the harp for a rather
flat solo and switched into the sing-song-voice for the first time.
Nevertheless I was impressed how clear and „open“ his voice sounded.
Whatever forced him to use this hoarse croaking throughout the summer,
it’s all over now.
CRY A WHILE followed as expected. Very strong version. Bob nailed most of
the lines (as he did throughout the show), he was very concentated, no
smiles, just the usual leg and shoulder-wiggling...
LOVE MINUS ZERO/NO LIMIT. Weirdest song of the night! Bob started the song
with a great harp-solo and sung a brilliant first verse. He almost
whispered in a very low register. But unfortunately for some unknown
reason he did not leave any room between the lines for Larry to play his
little descending chord-figure. Larry looked quite surprised and was
forced to play some „one size fits it all“-steel guitar instead of the
usual melody. The song sounded somehow cheesy because of this, even though
Bob was doing a good job vocally and avoided the sing-song for most of the
IT’S ALRIGHT MA was strong as ever. But this is one of my all time
favourites, so Bob could play this on a trumpet and I’d love it anyway.
SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE was next. Another favourite of mine, but this was one
of the lowpoints of the show. Maybe because it was the third
pedal-steel-song already and because it sounded not very different from
Love minus zero. That Bob completely stuck into the sing-song-voice did
not help much either. Right in the middle of the song Bob did his first
little walk across the stage, including some extremely bizarre body
motions too. If I would see someone moving like this on the street I would
seriously think about calling a doctor or the police, but that’s just Bob
THINGS HAVE CHANGED followed. Band was on autopilot on this song. Larry
and Tony looked like hypnotized and did not move an inch. Bob was still on
top of the game what made this to one of the better versions of this song.
MOONLIGHT is a song that usually bores me to death – well, not tonight! In
fact this was the best song so far. Fullstop. (Can’t believe I type
this...) The Jahrhunderthalle shrinked down to a small jazz-bar within
seconds. Fantastic vocals by Bob, fantastic solo by Freddy (who sounded
much better now compared to the spring-shows). Biggest cheer from the
MAN IN THE LONG BLACK COAT followed and was just another highlight. Better
than the Hamburg version, maybe better than most of the versions I can
remember. Great great stuff! The only complaint would be that Freddies
solo was not that good here.
HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED rocked like it always does. Much longer than previous
versions. They have made this to the real Freddy & Larry-song, both of
them got more than one chance to show their skills here. Bob looked rather
lonely plonking on the left during these guitar-duels.
EVERY GRAIN OF SAND was solid but suffered from Bob’s staccato-style
(„every [pause] hairis [pause] numbered [pause] byevery [pause] grainof
[pause] sand“). Crowd loved it anyway.
HONEST WITH ME blew the roof off the place and yes, Bob was s t i l l
concentrating hard on the lyrics, nailed every line instead of barking
them out. When Bob after this song was again on his way to the other side
of the stage, he met Tony there in the dark and told him something. Tony
now had a very surprised look on his face and shook his head as if he
would say „No, Mr. Dylan! Please believe me, I am r e a l l y not
Lionel Richie!!“ But Bob was already cruising back to his keyboard, so it
will remain a mystery what they were takling about.
MR TAMBOURINE MAN was the next lowpoint for me. I had hoped for Hattie C.
or for Boots or even for the „new“ Girl from the north country they played
in Freiburg (Stefan told me about it while we were waiting in line), but
alas, it was the tambourine man again. He regulary ruins this one –
tonight was no exception.
SUMMER DAYS. I miss Charlie.
CATS IN THE WELL was good, but nothing to write home about. They went
without a break into
LIKE A ROLLING STONE. Bob did his best, but he sung on one note more or
less now (well, since summer days actually he was in the barking modus
again). Crowd loved it though. Great guitar work by Freddy again. No jokes
tonight during the band-introduction, until Bob introduced Tony in very
theatralic (sp.? sorry, I type this in a train without having a
dictionary) way. Tony nodded his head and made a
„Yes-this-is-true“-gesture, and than he pointed to Bob and mouthed to the
audience „Bob! This is Bob!“ Bob saw this and smiled from ear to ear
pointing back to Tony.
ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER closed the show. Nothing special. As great as the
instrumental parts are, I still don’t like these slowed down parts during
the verses. Bob was more or less still singing on the same note he has
been on since summer days, now combining this with sing-song-voice. Well,
not very impressive really. I heard some very negative remarks about the
sing-song-voice on my way out, too. Great episode happened when they stood
in formation: Bob saw someone in the frontrow with a notepade for
autographs, he signalled Tony to get this. Tony was surprised again
obviously, got the notepad and handed it to Tommy who flew with it
offstage. Bob was pointing in the backstage direction. Most people here
say he pointed to George. May be true, from my point of view it looked, as
if Bob signalled that they would give their autographs backstage. Would
not make too many sense to the owner of that notepad – how should he/she
get it back? – but it was fun to see...
All in all a very good show, the enchores maybe not that strong, but even
the worst song (Tambourine) was better than most of the Dylan/Dead-stuff.
So Düsseldorf, here I come!
Review by Stefan Flach
After the miracle that took place in the Black Forest the day before, I
took Frankfurt mainly as a bonus on my way home. Arriving for the first
time in five years in an area where I once was raised (some 60 kilometres
from Frankfurt), proved to be rather nightmarish for me, apart from the
fact that Frankfurt simply IS the most fucked-up city in Germany, even if
it gets a credit for not disguising its discrepancies – the misery of all
the drug addicts, dealers, whores and pimps crowding the rather huge area
around the central station is plain visible. Another, more positive bonus
point it got from me this time was for having a REAL river, the Main, not
a would-be rivulet like the Spree in Berlin, and the extended streetcar
ride to my hotel alongside the Main, was somewhat enjoyable.
When I arrived (for the first time) at the Jahrhunderthalle in Hoechst
(mainly an industrial area), I was almost shocked to find it literally in
the middle of nowhere. I had to go to a toilet and couldn´t find a single
pub in the nearby surrounding, so that I idiotically had to take a bus
some stations back to find yet another trace of civilisation. Anyway,
later, while standing in line in front of the venue, I gladly met the very
sympathetic Notdarkyet and his incredibly lovely wife Precious Angel, who
– while being of german origin – live in Ireland and came back to visit
Dylan here. Thin Man and Zimmo came along too, Carsten Wohlfeld I met
inside the venue and the chats with all of them were nice and I almost
didn´t notice it when it was fifteen minutes past 8.00 and the ol´
caballero and his four gunmen entered the stage to open the show with …
something unknown. One could tell from the start that the driving shuffle
rhythm that sailed down through the air and came down to the room DIDN´T
belong to either “Maggie´s”, “Alone with You” or “Tombstone” and some
seconds before Bob belted out the words:
“Down Along the Cove”
the certainty of finally hearing a new opener got me a warm feeling inside
– and what a blast it turned out to be. The huge cheer of the crowd
immediately faded away and (likely) everyone listened appreciative to what
the guys were doing. Dylan improvised great parts of the lyrics here, like
he did on “To Be Alone with You” on some shows of the fall tour 2002
(Tucson for instance), which means he “invented” some word-like sounds
that rhymed (more or less) with a real word at another point of a verse.
For instance there was something like (1st line of a verse) “… (mumble) …
-ain, (2nd line) … (mumble) … the Jackson river (mumble) down the drain”.
I think we got at least five or six sung verses (while the song originally
has only three), the last one being actually rewritten: “Down along the
cove, with a suitcase in my hand / down along the cove, with a suitcase in
my hand, ain´t you glad, girl, that I am your man?” But Dylan´s vocals
didn´t play the lead role here – this definitely was done by the AMAZING
groove displayed by the band, basing mainly on a nasty, rough and fast
riff by Larry (which wasn´t there on earlier versions) that run throughout
the whole song. There also were quite a few of those gorgeous guitar
breaks (with the drums being silent for some beats), Dylan is so fond of
this year. A great part of the audience was visibly dancing and moving
around already on this first song, and I was sure to having witnessed the
best opener of a Dylan show in a long time (or as good as the newly
invented “Silvio” on the US Summer tour).
“It´s All Over Now, Baby Blue”
was the now standard second song this evening (even a not so welcomed
regular coming after a surprise, gets to us on a different level) and
after I heard three versions of this less than favorite song of mine the
last weeks, I can say it improved somewhat. This version had a very
pleasant density, brought about by a rough, yearning vocal by Dylan. Even
if it´s rather dubious to say this, I always LOVE it when his voice
displays an abstract furious despair (the “I just gotta pick myself up off
of the floor” side of existence – at least of mine) and cracks up in a
certain way, like it did on some points here. Of course he also used the
notorious up-singing again as well, but it somehow made sense here, since
it had an almost statue-like quality – as if it already was a basic part
of the song itself, which can be used in one way or another on a certain
night. A good performance.
“Cry a While”
was next, and rocked in a terrific way once more. Dylan grabbed his
harmonica during the instrumental verse and blew some wailing notes
against the furious wall of sound the band produced in the usual lovely
staccato rhythm. Even if “Tweedle Dee” was fantastic the night before,
“Cry a While” likely is the better choice in the 3rd slot, since it works
on a consistantly high level (while “Tweedle Dee” needs special nights)
and suits Dylan´s current vocal style perfectly. A pure pleasure to
When Larry walked to the pedal steel again, I thought (and somewhat hoped)
we´d get “Shooting Star” maybe, but apparently forgot that the currently
“Love Minus Zero”
gets the pedal steel treatment as well (which is why I´m a bit reserved
towards the song – the wailing sweetish sounds that Larry produces always
have something of an unnecessary cliché in my ears). But as soon as Bob
started singing, something beatiful happened – he approached the song on a
remarkably different level than on earlier occassions, which is on a much
more intimate and subdued way. It was as if he told a secret story to a
special group of persons (“come gather ´round friends, and I tell you a
tale”), using a wonderfully low and almost whispering voice throughout
(emphasizing every word very much, the exact contrary to the hilarious
mumbling on the opener), which he exposed at the same time, as if he was
to show us all how sexy it can be. After the instrumental verse (which
sometimes can be a distraction from that unique breath of vocal
intensity), he didn´t find the exact path back into the lyrics and made a
few flubs at certain points (“bankers nieces seek protectio … perfection”,
“my love … the night howls like a hammer”), but even if they were quite
noticable, they didn´t spoil the verse. One of the very best performances
of the night this was.
“It´s Alright, Ma”
then glowed brightly in the dark again and proved to be another majestic
ride past destruction and existentialist fear and loathing. The
instrumental interlude wasn´t as inventive and playful as in Freiburg, but
no matter: Bob delivered a tremendous vocal again, especially on the last
verse, and the song brought the house down.
After Larry went for the third time to the pedal steel (which wasn´t used
at all the night before), I thought that this time we´d get “Shooting
Star”, but the famous intro of
“Simple Twist of Fate”
was heard instead. I´m no fan of the instrumental backing of this song
either, but Dylan did a truly breathtaking (= breath giving) thing here,
as he went DEEP into the drama of the song and made many strong images of
the story appear. He used his up-singing intensively here, but it worked
great for me, as it´s no longer a (rather cheap and lazy) trick as on so
many occassions the last year (when I think of a depressing “If You See
Her, Say Hello” from second London show for instance as an opposite
example), but again rather as a basic and already fixed element of his
delivery to which he can add different shades and weightings then (related
to the here and there, as always). It´s insteresting that two of the most
successful vocals of the evening (“Love Minus Zero” and “Simple Twist”,
with the latter having been more “authentic”) based on two experiments
with opposite means, which doesn´t only mean “low” and “up” singing.
“Things Have Changed”
then followed in it´s usual 7th song slot and made many people in my
surrounding (10th row approximately) smiling and moving around. Even if it
pleases me to see one of my favorite Dylan songs being loved by other
folks as well, this version didn´t do much for me. Bob´s singing was
rather average (whatever this is), as were the instrumental parts. Can´t
say more about it.
The fact they played
then, likely was influenced by the big fat full moon shining through the
trees outside (Precious Angel pointed to it after the show). I can´t say
much about this either, since my mind was wandering around a bit at this
point of the show and my attempts to concentrate more again weren´t too
successful. I noticed some major lyric flubs, as when he started the
second bridge with “The purple blossoms soft as snow” (one line to early)
and replaced the next line with “… (mumble) … -ow” then. Pretty much
up-singing here again, but much less effective. I was rather glad when
they finished the song.
worked on a quite different level then. The band was as tight as it can
be, Freddie and Larry threw nasty and phosphorescent riffs and licks at
each other, while Bob RULED over everything high up on this throne,
stretching and crumpling up words and syllables with that special
authoritative mixture of FUN, URGE and LUST, which is so much his own. It
was another major pleasure to witness this.
Dylan then wandered around (like he did on many occasions this evening,
picking up harmonicas, testing their key and mostly putting them back
again), had a short talk with the others and before he took his place at
the keyboard again, the first chords of my second favorite song
“Man in the Long Black Coat”
swelled up in the air and laid the foundation for that special tight,
menacing and sorrowful atmosphere of this darkest and most endangered song
of Dylan. Another very fine performance it was then, even if the vocals
lacked something for me, though I don´t know what. The part I enjoyed most
about it was again the small, pounding interlude figure between verses
(which is some kind of herald of the monumental bridge; if played in Am,
it goes: F – C – G – Am), which adds a whole new dimension to the song (as
if a sad person would lean back and hit hard on the table in front of
him), even if it´s only a detail.
“Every Grain of Sand”
was next and worked again “rather” well, especially on the first and
second verse. Dylan again used a (much welcomed) slightly harsher approach
to the lyrics, though not as much as in Freiburg. The instrumental backing
was as unimaginative as it´s always been, and Dylan´s harp solo was rather
average as well. Overall: ok, but nothing to write home about.
Since this was the last show on this tour for me, I said a warm and nice
“Honest with Me”
then. Again I was mesmerized by the sheer power it displayed, Dylan and
the boys made their attempt to create a new imperial empire as tight,
rough and intelligent as on all earlier shows I was at, though it didn´t
reach Freiburg heights (no clumsy dancing on Dylan´s part either).
“Mr. Tambourine Man”
was played in the “last surprise slot of the evening” (the one before
“Summer Days”) then, and even if I felt a slight dissapointment during the
opening chords, Dylan´s reading turned out to be highly interesting. He
used the up-singing again on some points (not as precise and imaginative
as on “Twist”, more effective than on “Moonlight”), but mainly presented
us with a serious and impassioned vocal (going down again with his voice
on crucial points), which moved me pretty much. A detail: On at least two
choruses he added an “ahhh, won´t you” between the “Mr. tambourine man”
and “play a song for me”.
If asked to assemble a single, “most astonishing”
from different performances (using a snipet from Kent 02, a snipet from
Joliet 03 etc.), I´d most certainly take the whole vocal part from the
version of this evening. Dylan was on fire while singing here, putting a
gorgeous biting and playful sharpness in his delivery, while sadly the
instrumental part (the “heart” of all live performances of the song)
wasn´t as great as on many other nights (of course it still was EXCELLENT,
only the magic of true creative invention wasn´t around this night) …
“Cat´s in the Well”
opened the encore set as usual, and again I can´t say too much about it,
save for the facts that it worked again splendidly and the “blending” into
“Like a Rolling Stone”
again was overwhelming. Dylan was in good mood throughout the song and
seemingly enjoyed singing it (which isn´t always the case). I was quite
surprised to find myself clapping to the rhythm of the song together with
all the folks standing next to me, even though I didn´t join in the chorus
line … Freddie´s earth-shaking solo from Freiburg couldn´t be reproduced
(which is perfectly ok, I think), but the instrumental verse was again
“All Along the Watchtower”
rounded up the evening in the usual thunderous, aggressive and “crying in
the wilderness” way. A very satisfying version to put an end to a concert
that was interesting mainly for the things that CAN HAPPEN, that CAN BE
TRIED, that DON´T HAVE to be successful, but maybe are.
Review by Werner Kehl
To post a review three days late may seem somewhat pointless, especially
to those who follow closely the current tour at this wonderfully
maintained site. I had actually already written a review just hours after
the concert but at 2 a.m. in the morning, the computer in my hotel decided
that not only would it not send my review, but it wouldnt save it either.
So now, back home in Berlin a few days later, I strike another match.
The sun shone so brighthly and beautifully in the south-west of Germany
the other day, lighting up the golden-brown leaves left hanging on the
trees in such an exquisit manner, that one almost forgot about the
bomb-scare at the main train-station in Frankfurt just a few days prior.
I had flown in from Berlin and was using the S-Bahn to get around. You
could sense the heightened tension, but I chose to concentrate on the
better things that lay ahead of me. I checked into said hotel near my
brother's house in Bad Homburg and since he had prior committments took
off by myself for the Jahrhunderthalle in Hoechst.
Totally unrevealing from the outside (like the top part of a cracked-open
egg shell) it is the neatest place inside, remiscient of a Ken Adams set
from the mid-sixties (James Bond comes to mind, possibly in a scene taking
place in a kind of observatory or control-center from where the world
would be saved). The main and biggest part of the hall is the
general-admission floor leading upto the stage and it is very nicely
wood-panelled (covered with mats used as a ground-protection measure).
The domed ceiling above is made up of what seems like hundreds of thin but
long iron bars batched together (shaped like those used to make up
escalator stairs) flowing over one another towards the center of the
ceiling. The stage and the only seating area (behind the floor) are
actually set up in a way so that they are more or less in place in the
middle of the building as opposed to at complete opposite ends. So that
sound doesnt get lost in all the vastness of this inside-openess, big
square boards acting as sound barriers/containers have been suspended
horizontally, lapping over and on top of each other stretching all the way
from the stage to the back of the seating area, acting as an in-between
roof, and thus creating an intimate environment perfect for about 3 to 4
thousand to enjoy any kind of musical performance. I have really come to
dig this hall (3 Bob-shows in the past 3 years) and I am somewhat
convinced Bob is also very much into it. In the foyer downstairs thru
wich one passes to access the hall, behind glass-windows, guest-books are
on display signed by those who have performed in this venue in the past
such as Duke Ellington or Leonard Bernstein. I don't want to exaggerate,
but the Jahrhunderthalle is worth its trip a thousand times over,
especially if Bob plays there.
As far as the show is concerned, from its surprising opener to the
roof-raising encores (especially the last two songs: show-stoppers in the
real sense of the word), this one was a gem! In trying to analyze it, I
had its origin pinned down to what I imagined must have been a totally
gelling, smoking soundcheck; but after having read about Freiburg, I
totally buy into the theory of magic having happened already in the
Black-Forest the night before (and obviously carrying over a few gigs, as
D-dorf's 4th encore seems to prove). I was in Hamburg both nights (first
and only time I saw this latest line-up with the new guitarist Freddy
Koella, who was outstanding thursday night), and this was definetly much
better!! Indeed, as one reviewer up north in Scandinavia recently pointed
it out so well: Not always as consistent as in the years before but
definetly never ever a thing of the past with the man on the keyboard to
the left of the stage still mightily in charge calling each and every
Bravo, Bob & Band!!!! And keep it up!!!!!
Review by Sascha Krieger
Two and a half weeks after Berlin, I rejoin the travelling circus that is
Bob Dylan's 2003 European leg of what he doesn't want to be refered to as
the "Never-Ending Tour". This is his second show at the beautiful
Jahrhunderthalle, a modern circular concert arena that despite its size
manages to create an almost intimate atmosphere. For once I hade a seat on
the balcony with a great view of the stage and the audience.
Dressed in a black suit with silver buttons, Dylan took the stage about 15
minutes late and launched into a surprise opener: Down along the Cove -
strong, bluesy, energetic, featuring some great licks by Larry Campbell.
There are a song Bob has played quite often on this tour and the next two
were among them - displaying some exhaustion. Baby Blue was countryesque
and atmospheric but felt as much as a routine number as the next, Cry
Awhile that seemed to lack some of the energy of earlier performances.
Both very fine versions but if their were weker moments during this show,
these were the ones.
Love Minus Zero was next and by now Bob and band were into it a hundred
percent. Beutifully flowing along on Larry Campbell's pedal steel guitar,
Dylan was whispering and reciting and spitting out the lyrics of one of
his greatest love ballads. Not much to say about It's Alright Ma. The
strange but perfect combination of hard-edged blues rock (featuring a
George Recile at the top of his game) and Larry's lyrical cittern play
worked brilliantly again, providing the perfect backdrop for Bob's barked,
howled, growled vocals.
Unlike during the early part of the tour, Bob did not pick up the guitar
now but stayed behind the piano for the entire show. Up next a surprise:
Simple Twist of Fate, tender and full, riding on the musical wave of Bob's
carefully formed vocals and Larry's painfully beautiful pedal steel play.
As usual on this tour, they followed it up with a hard rocker, the
heaviest version of Things Have Changed I have heard, featuring a great
rough, hard rock guitar solo by Freddie who clearly profited from his new
role as rhythm, blues and rock guitarist of the band. The harder, rawer,
unpolished, bluesier stuff is his terrain and when he can roam there, he
Moonlight was beautiful and tender, Long Black Coat as strong as in
Hamburg. Even a little stronger maybe, as George's pointed drumming and an
excellent bluesy solo by Freddie Koella drove the song forward. Highway 61
was the usual roofraiser and Bob turned into some kind of savage, hellfire
and brimstone preacher, delivering his sermon relentlessly and
unforgivingly. More room for great guitar work and a great duel between
Freddie and Larry who even moved into the middle of the stage for this.
Every Grain was as tender and beautiful as ever, featuring some fine harp
play from Bob. Honest with Me rocked as if it had just been written -
without any of the somewhat exhausted routine of the Hamburg performance.
Especially George, Freddie and Larry worked hard on this one. Before the
regular set ended in another breathtaking performance of Summer days and
an unbelievable guitar duel between Larry and Freddie we got what was
probably Bob's strongest vocal performance of this show at least. Mr
Tambourine Man was played in the fashion it has been done these last few
years, but the vocals were unbelievable. Bob fought with, for, against
every word, he gave them all he had, putting everything into these old,
much used lyrics which arose again in front of our eyes, resurrected by a
man who sang them as if he was just inventing, finding, discovering them.
A truly stellar vocal performance.
Then it was time for the encores: Another rocking Cat's in the Well which
led straight into another highly energetic performance of Like a Rolling
Stone. After a "Thanks, friends!" and the band introduction one more
apocalyptic hard All Along the Watchtower which left the audience gasping
for fresh air.
While taking in the thundering applause, Bob did a most unusual thing: He
went towards the audience and opicked up an envelope from a fan. He went
to George and handed itto him then turned around. At this point the fan
must have said or shouted something for Bob looked that way, then pointed
at himself as if to say "Oh, that was for me?". A simple, true, unmasked
moment - just like this whole great energetic show. these days, Bob Dylan
is not out there to please anyone or to fulfill anybody's expectations.
he's out there to play music, to play some rock'n roll. No more, no less.
What more do you want? Me? Nothing.
page by Bill Pagel
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