Reviews

Osaka, Japan

Zepp Osaka

March 16, 2010


[Kathleen], [Sonny Boy McFitzson], [Peter Gray]

Review by Kathleen



The wind was whipping around at like 20 miles per hour and it was freezing
prior to the show.  Some guy in a polyester leopard print tight shirt with a
leopard skin Uncle Sam (cat-in-the-hat) hat came running up to where I was to
exclaim that Catís In the Well and This Wheelís On Fire were soundchecked. 
Thatís how it all started.  Very good versions both.

I donít have something to say about every song, though all were
entertaining.  I think it was a pretty mellow night overall.  Bobís voice
sounded a little rough at the beginning of the show, I thought, but got
better.  All the songs that were firsts for 2010 were slightly different
arrangements or had extra improvisational sections, but nothing way out and
wacky like Shelter.  Just fine rock n roll.

So, I can hear the griping about Summer Days in spot three already, but it
was fun and it worked just fine.  No, itís not the glory days version with
Bob, Charlie, and Larry all on guitar that got faster and faster until we
were all dizzy, but itís upbeat and well-played all the same.  Itís now.  When
Bob did the ďIím leaving in the morningĒ verse, everyone went wild because,
well, we are all leaving in the morning, after a week here.

It was wonderful to get Forgetful Heart tonight.

John Brown was good, a stop-start version.  Donnie could be heard well on
all his specialty instruments tonight (and he has made it fine onto the
recordings, despite my worries.) So hooray for it also sounding so balanced
tonight in the hall.

The crowd loved Under the Red Sky and recognized it right away.

Highway 61 had some ultra unique parts.  Bob was on the end of his keyboard with
his back to Donnie for some of it, pushing his hands down the keys toward the
audience.  Bob did some call and answer stuff with Charlie and all sorts of
other little fun licks.  Itís hard to get bored of this song as Bobís enjoyment
of playing it is infectious.

Poor Boy was lovely.  Bob did a terrific job.  Charlie sounded smooth.

Thunder on the Mountain is truly the new Summer Days.  Jump dancing version,
builds and builds.  Tonight it just went on forever, which was not long enough.

Not much to report on for the encores as I was back in the crowd, thankfully not
squished.

Bob was Mr. Keyboard tonight.  Tony was doing a lot of bowing on the stand
up bass.  All were focused again, though Bob had a few audience smiles and
the band seemed to be having quiet fun. Charcoal pin-striped suits with
black velvet on the collars and pockets for the guys.  Bob had red
accessories.

Some things Iíve been meaning to say:   Every time the eye logo came down in
Osaka, there was this collective ďwooĒ which was almost childlike.  Itís been
fascinating to be in a country where everything means something.  (As opposed,
of course, to nothing means anything.)  Everyone likes the 50s warm-up music. 
And itís pretty wildly held among the people who saw all the shows that the 12th
was THE night. Oh, and Baron is alive, I finally saw him, so thatís a relief. 
But still the crowd was good as gold and security wasnít busy at all.

Several people near me were reading books prior to the show each night.  When I
got in my spot, amidst all the quiet people, I sighed, ďIím so happyĒ and
probably like 20 people around me started cracking up.  Iím sure they are all
thinking Iím soooooo American and commenting like I am commenting on Japanese
culture.  Hopefully I havenít been too oafish.

In keeping with my chant to try to keep myself as humble as possible, ďitís not
our countryĒ, I was finally successful at putting people on the rail in my spot
for the encores, which I had been trying to do the entire week.  People were so
honorable, no one wanted to go there.  But tonight we did some good shifting and
finally got some short people to the front.  I know what itís like not to see. 
And besides, I am so lucky to be from the same country Bob is and always get to
see him.   It is different though, not seeing.  All of us have numbers in like
the 1000 vicinity the rest of the shows, so I consider the end of tonight
practice for our next experience.

I did a couple extra reviews this week because of my extremely good luck at
getting such unobstructed views all but the first night in Osaka and to do a
little service for a community that has done so much for me.  Peace and love to
my benefactors the past two nights who brought me from second to first row even
before we bonded over our mutual love of the Reverend Gary Davis, beautiful
guitars (thatís redundant, isnít it?), and our familiesí thinking we are crazy. 
 Good company and ecstatic dancers, you are.  Friends forever.

You know Iím not a Facebook girl, my life is very private.  And if you spend
lots of time writing about your life you arenít out there living it.  I have
bullet trains to ride, museums to see, spas to enjoy, mountains to view, people
to meet, and hot yoga classes in Japanese to attend.  Look for the rest of my
reviews in the ether.  Theyíll be there.

Thanks, Japanese friends.  Thanks, Bob.

[TOP]

Comments by Sonny Boy McFitzson



Kathleen.  I'm the leopard skin Uncle Sam guy.

Yes, I heard them soundchecking "Wheel's" & "Cat's" Both were played interruptedly 
and dully just like soundcheck.  Singing on "Wheel's" for sure was Bob. Following "Cat's" 
was instrumental.  I made sure at the time one more violin song is coming.
-----
In addition to Kathleen's

2. This Wheel's on Fire - Just astounding on center stage. But Bob sang verse 3 twice,
verse 1 missing.
  
5. Forgetful Heart - Bob's been teasing us but we were so glad to hear this
unforgettable performance at the last show in Osaka. 7. John Brown - NYC,
17Nov09 version was a totally new arrengement. But this was the turned-back
"Jack O'Diamonds" version, except stop-start as Kathleen mentioned. 

13. Thunder on the Mountain - Charlie suddenly made a flashy surprized face to the 
crowd. It took a while to figure out what happened; his guitar feedback. 

15. Like a Rolling Stone - Tonight's biggest highlight. Bob failed 2nd "How does it 
feel?" in the 1st stanza because the whole crowd shouted it together. In following
verses Bob kept a happy smile to the crowd and sang along to them
"How-Does-It-Feel/ To-Be-Without-A-Home/ With-No-Direction-Home/
Like-A-Complete-Unknown/ Likarolinstone" The crowd failed of course
"To-Be-Without-A-Home" and "Likarolinstone", except ME!   

16. Jolene - Charlie's 2nd surprized face due to another feedback.

Musta been the happiest hours for Bob during these 5 Osaka nights.

Thanks to:-
Kathleen for writing reviews, English-speaking & Japanese-speaking friends
acquainted there, Pablo.
  
Special thanks to:-  
Manabu & Yuta at jerrys.zero-city.com for taking a pic together.
Heckel & Akiko 

...and to F from Italy:-
May God Keep Your Health, May Lady Luck Give You a TIC everywhere you go.
We laughed and had a good time you and I.

Sonny Boy McFitzson

[TOP]

Review by Peter Gray



Because I live in Sapporo, Japan, a beautiful city that has never been on
Bob's concert itinerary, seeing Bob in concert is like stumbling upon an
oasis after being lost in a desert for years. It doesn't happen often, it
usually involves a bit of luck, and the water is sweet, sweet, sweet.

On March 16, I flew from Sapporo to Osaka to see my fifth Dylan concert.
Zepp Osaka is a nice intimate venue. I was about two-thirds of the way back in
the general admissions (standing) area. There was no pushing or shoving but more
crowd excitement than in the two other Dylan concerts I have seen in Japan
(March 1986 in Nagoya, and March 2001 in Tokyo) when everyone was just sitting
down.

Cats in the Well made for a lively opener. Bob's voice sounded like it was
already warmed up.

This Wheel's on Fire was a nice surprise. I didn't expect anything from the
Basement Tapes. This band didn't sound anything like The Band, but this version
worked well, building up excitement after Cats.

Summer Days was the first high point in the concert for me. This is such a
fun song and the band really put it into gear and rocked. Before I knew it
I had tears running down my face. This is the reason you go to a concert,
to be surrounded by loud, fast, joyous music, and to cry because you are so
happy.

Two songs later, Bob changed pace, with a simple, stripped down version of
Forgetful Heart. The band seemed to fade into the background and there was
just Bob singing and Donnie playing a lonely, haunting viola. When the
concert was over, this was the song that got stuck in my head.

The next song, Most Likely You Go Your Way, was another highlight for me. I love
everything on Blonde on Blonde. The songs on that album all seem to have an
extra ounce of Dylanness. The lyrics are more lyrical, the music more musical. I
can't put my finger on it, but that album is special. Also, this was the opening
song of the first Dylan concert that I ever saw (Feb. 1974 at the LA Forum).
Memories abound.

On John Brown, Donnie's banjo was the standout. The banjo is such an
American sound. It was the perfect accompaniment to this song of American
patriotism, American wars, and American soldiers caught in the middle.

Honest to Me was the low point of the evening. The band sounded harsh.
Bob's voice went to gravel. I knew the words he was singing, but I couldn't hear
them.

Masters of War surprised me, another anti-war song coming so soon after
John Brown. I always thought of this song as a word song, with the simple
tune there just so that Bob could call it a song. However, for this
version, the stage lighting became very dark, and the band played a
throbbing beat that gradually built up tension with each verse. Visually,
musically, lyrically, a real message song.

Charlie, who stood at center stage most of the concert and was really
lively, moving around, looking at the other band members, sometimes going
down on his knees while he played, got to shine on Highway 61. Great guitar solo
in the middle of the song. Go Charlie!

Po Boy was OK, but I missed the sweetness of the album version.

Things picked up again with Thunder on the Mountain. The band really jammed near
the end of the song. Everyone looked like they were having a great time. I was
having a great time.

Having read the reviews of the first four concerts at Osaka, I knew Bob
would sing Ballad of a Thin Man, but I was kind of hoping that he wouldn't
because it is one of the few songs that I sometimes skip over when I listen to
the Highway 61 album. If I put Bob's songs on a sliding scale from profound to
preachy, Thin Man goes way over to the preachy side. However, the crowd
obviously knew this song was looking forward to it. And Bob's singing was
incredible. Every word was perfectly clear. His voice suddenly sounded 20 years
younger. How does he do it? And even if the words grow on me a bit, the music is
great.

The encore was the same three songs as previous concerts. Like a Rolling
Stone is always a thrill. The band really jammed during Jolene, and Bob
introduced each member of the band at the end of this song. When Bob sang
All Along the Watchtower, he sang the three verses, Charlie played the
solo, and then Bob sang the first verse again, so that instead of the
concert ending with the words, and the wind began to howl, it ended with,
none of them along the line know what any of it is worth. Hmmmm.

The first time I saw Bob Dylan in concert, I was 17 and he was 33. Many
years down the road I have seen him only four more times, but I treasure
these oasis moments. I also appreciate everyone who has posted information
or reviews on Bob Links, a great way to keep up on all the concerts that I
can't attend. Thanks.

Peter Gray

[TOP]

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