Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 04/11/99


San Sebastian, Spain

April 11, 1999

Velódromo Anoeta

Thanks to Jan Pöhlmann for the following review:

Since no one is writing about Dylans superb San Sebastian Show, I will have
to report the event: 

I guess everybody was surprised by the Grateful Dead opening, which had a
lot of duet singing with the other guitar player - maybe to save Dylans
voice a little in the beginning. 
A concise My Back Pages followed, with the headliner message in the chorus
that proved true this evening. 
Masters of War was no surprise in these troubled times out of mind but
nonetheless overwhelming. Made many teardrops fall on the floor of the
bicycle racing course.
Todays surprise, Tomorrow is a Long Time, was sung naked & honest. 
Tangled up in Blue was vivid and filled with joy and humor, Dylan grinning
his way through the song, pointing with his head to his shoes in the
"laces"-line and shaking his left arm in the "sleeve"-sentence - Yes, he did
use parts of the '84-version-text. To me he expressed that he has come over
that story a long time ago. This night Tangled seemed to be nothing like
Dylans remembrance of a funny story that happened long ago, and which is
only amusing him. However, he couldn't help but being amused tonight anyway
with this grateful crowd, applauding even for for the way he itched his

Everything Is Broken was the first rocker of the evening. A rocker with
capital R. Dylan dancing and grimacing all the way through the song. The
text had some positive changes in the choruses, which made the song appear a
little less pessimistic. Not Dark Yet was sung in the most pessimistic
manner indeed, but in between the verses Dylan was smiling and dancing, as
if trying to gain a distance to the sad lyrics. An extremely beautyful
version, with the "burden" line shouted out with a harsh echo in the
concrete building. 
After Not Dark Yet, I think, he spoke to the enthusiastic audience: "Thank
you, you're so kind...", then he introduced the band. Dylan was clearly
overwhelmed by the almost hysteric crowd, so he confused things a little,
introducing guitarist Larry Cambell as the drummer, but correcting
Stuck Inside was boring average. Dylan taking a little rest, the band doing
its job…
Just Like a Woman was one of the highlights of a show which had many. Face
and body expressions to the maximum and cynically stressing the word JUUUST
in the chorus. The guitar player (Larry) played the song's traditional
chords while Dylan was trying to hit bluenotes; a weird effect but still an
interesting experiment.
Highway 61 was the second capital R-rocker of this show. I have heard and
seen Dylan do this song so many times, but never with this much tempo and
fire. It was as close to heavy as Dylan has ever been.

The first encore, Love Sick, displayed Dylans voice: It started with a
whispered verse while the song's last lines were shouted out. A very
heartfelt version.
Maggies Farm was a fast & funny country-rocker. The audience was almost
going nuts at this moment, so even Blowing in the Wind was accepted.
Tonight's final song, Not Fade Away,  took everybody by surprise again.
Again a lot of duet singing and very heavy-handed guitar-playing.

The overall impression was that Dylan was moving away from the sad tunes and
turning almost every song into expressions of brightness and optimism. This
atmosphere was stressed by Dylan's superb and jokingly guitarplaying and his
very positive bodily expressions. He was smiling all the way through the
concert and was talking & moving restlessly around on stage between the
songs as if he just couldn't wait to get on with the show. The audience was
touched by so much happiness, which clearly touched Dylan. 
How humble, I thought, it is to begin and to end a show with such strong
songs of his own with borrowed tunes. 

Jan Pöhlmann

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