March 30, 2007
Review by Ole Bernt Lysne
What a fucking brilliant concert!! Absolutely unbelievable!!
First shock: Bob's playing electric guitar again! And giving us some
really nice solos, too! Hmm..this looks promising!
After a shaky "Cat's In The Well" Bob gets down to business. "Don't Think
Twice, It's All Right" is the first of many highlights. Strong, powerful
vocals, great arrangement.
"Watching The River Flow" is next. It clear Bob is enjoying himself. The
rhythm section really cooks. I'm starting to believe we are in for a night
"When The Deal Goes Down", first of five songs from "Modern Times".
Another highlight, really gorgeous singing!
"Highway 61 Revisited", Bob is bopping at the keyboard, the band is
rocking. Great fun! I haven't seen Bob enjoy himself like this for a long
"Spirit On The Water", again really, really wonderful singing! My voice
is starting to get shot from all my yelling! I can hardly believe my ears.
What a show this turning out to be!
"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall", wow, one of the best versions I've ever
heard! (If this gets any better, I'll faint, for sure!!)
"Rollin' And Tumblin'", what a great blues band!
"Tangled Up In Blue", oh, my God! What a great arrangement!
"Nettie Moore", another stunning number!
"Summer Days", the band is swinging like crazy!
After a grand and majestic version of LARS the band leaves. We're all on
our feet yelling for more.
"Thunder On The Mountain", another treat.
Band introductions and then "All Along The Watchtower". George Receli is
pounding his drums like crazy, driving the band like a mighty engine. They
all gather at front of stage, Bob grins and raises his hands like a
winning prize fighter.
And, yes, he played some wonderful harp, too!
One of Bob's best concert in Oslo ever (maybe even the best!)
Me, I'm so happy I'm could cry!
"We can have a whoppin' good time!" Yes, indeed!
Thank God Bob is still blessing us with shows like this!!
Ole Bernt Lysne
Review by Espen Aas
I must admit I was more excited than in many years for this show. Being
slightly disappointed the last times I saw him, both with this band and
with Freddie Koella et al. earlier, I’ve heard the shows from last tour and
knew that the band had got it together after Modern Times. We had
nice seats at 12th row, slightly right of the stage. When the lights went
down, and the speaker started “Good evening ladies and gentlemen…”, I
soon saw Dylan pick up his guitar and the band started with the same
song as in Stockholm two days earlier, “Cat’s In The Well”. I had hoped
that he had dropped that one this time around, but the good feeling of
seeing Dylan as “himself” with the guitar in front of he band made up for
the rather disappointing opening. It felt more like a Dylan-concert now…
Donnie Herron was playing violin, but there was absolutely no way we
could hear him, he was mixed way too low unfortunately. They quickly
continued with “Don’t Think Twice…”, Stu Kimball had changed to the
acoustic guitar. Fine version, not the best, but I noticed how well
Dylan was singing now. The words rang out so clearly for every line.
After a few chords on the third song, I recognised “Watching The River
Flow”, no favourite of mine, but it had its nice bluesy feeling, and Dylan
seemed to enjoy himself on the stage, wagging from one leg to the other,
playing through the song. It was also interesting to see how Tony Garnier
sent small messages to Dylan and he others with eyebrows, looks etc. when
they were going from verse to a bridge or other changes in the songs.
Fourth song was not surprisingly “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
which he has done quite regularly over the last years. It is indeed a song
with nice lyrics, but might have been slightly more Dylan on autopilot
singing-wise. When ended, the guitar was put down for the rest of the
show, and back to the keyboard and it was right over to “When The Deal
Goes Down” which was a treat indeed. His singing was tender and the band
played so nicely. I’ve heard recordings of the song from the last tour,
but it was no doubt something special to see them do it. The only thing
I’d noticed was that the setlist after the five first songs were identical
to the second Stockholm show, and I was wondering whether we were going
to continue with that (although that hardly ever happens). And not this time
around either, the band banged into “Highway 61 Revisited”, a setlist
regular for many, many years, but it’s a song that I like to see him and
the band to, much more than hearing it on a tape (and in my book a better
song than “Honest With Me”, which had that spot in the previous show). One
of the highlights for my part was up next, “Spirit On The Water”, with
lovely harp-playing. Once again, his singing was so good and heartfelt. We
even shouted “no” after the “over the hill/passed my prime” lines…! I had
some small difficulties recognising the next song at first, but after a
few lines I discovered it was “Things Have Changed” in new arrangements,
maybe not to the better really. More of a regular rock-song than the
original arrangements, but that’s Bob…! Donnie was playing violin again,
but still I just saw him play it, rather than actually hearing it… Back to
early days for the next number, in a beautiful “Hard Rain”. Because his
voice was so good, and perfectly mixed with the music, I kept following
all those brilliantly written lines, the whole journey from “the blue eyed
son” to the last hard rain had fallen down… From this lyrical journey, it
was time to rock’n’roll again, with “Rolling’ And Tumblin’”. Perhaps not
the strongest lyrics, but it made the house rock, and Donnie Herron’s
electric mandolin gave it a very cool sound. There was little doubt about
what was next when I heard the first chords from Stu’s acoustic guitar of
the next song, we we’re “Tangled Up In Blue”. I’ve heard this so many
times in both shows and tapes, but it was like meeting an old friend
again, nicely played, and the minor lyrics-changed from last tour (or was
it before that..?) was still in place. It was also a nice warm-up for the
evening’s definite most beautiful moment, “Nettie Moore” (this time
slightly more of the violin was to be heard, but not enough…). The way
Dylan sang it, and the band played it is difficult to explain…it was just
such a big treat, and around where we were sitting, people stood up and
started clapping along (to the discomfort of people at the back, and the
sat down again after a while…). The was he sang the chorus was like a warm
summer-breeze sweeping over us all… Probably a good thing that the next
song out was one of my least favourites, and a regular these days “Summer
Days”. And it was exactly “Summer Days”, nothing more, nothing less. When
the first chords of the 14th song were played, I quickly wrote down “Like
A Rolling Stone” on my sheet of paper, but then a sudden harmonica-solo
(well, not a solo really, but unexpected harmonica-playing.) I wasn’t
quite so sure, but it was indeed “LARS”, but in all new arrangements (at
least to my ears). Much more low-key than the ones we've heard over the
years. No doubt very popular amongst the crowd, despite the somewhat
unfamiliar arrangement. The band then left the stage, but was cheered and
clapped back fairly quickly, and I was pretty sure we were going to hear
“Thunder On The Mountain”…and we were! It’s an excellent concert-song,
gives lots of tempo and Dylan was still dancing along behind his synth.
Band intros with jokes about how Denny Freeman drives a limo in his spare
time and was it possibly Donnie Herron drives a bus in his spare time…? (I
have to go back the recording to check that out). Underneath the last
spoken words from Dylan, we started to hear “All Along The Watchtower”
lurking around and that was the finale… It’s been done better, but is at
the same time a perfect closing song. The grouped in front and bowed, and
the show was over… So…was my excitement met? Oh, yes, this was the best
show for some time, I must back to the Charlie Sexton years to find
anything as good as this….no less than FIVE songs from Modern Times of the
16 song long setlist. I liked it…
Review by Amund Børdahl
This concert has already been well received by the above reviewers, so I shall
be brief. The concert was good, especially in its maximum moments: the ballads
from that masterpiece Modern Times, When the Deal Goes Down, Spirit on the
Water, and in particular Nettie Moore late in the set, with its brilliant blend
of sorrowful old English ballad and that old tongue-in-cheek Sulmonian
dreamer’s panick-stricken reaction to the interpreter’s interpretation of his
nightmarish vision of the white heifer and the bawdy crow. At those words the
blood ran freezing from my face and the world went black before my eyes. Dylan
actually drew a tear from the audience at this stage. More amores! Initially
there may have been one rhythm’n’rhythm number too many (Thunder on the
Mountain would have been the perfect opener), and the legendary It’s all right
Ma and H61 have been better played, notably under the reign of Koella the
Great. Supreme oldies included a Hard Rain that began to resemble the best-
version-ever-period performed in Wallingford, Connecticut, August 17, 2003, as
well as a Tangled Up In Blue that will be worth listening to carefully, he did
something with the song along the lines of “Lady with the Dog” that only a
faultless Nettie Moore could top. So, unlike some other concerts (Oslo 2002
comes to mind), there were things to criticize, but where were we critics when
Bob created the crocodile? At its peak, the man’s voice is now better than
anything else you will ever hear, save Bessie Smith, and at its worst it is
still far more worth, believe it or not, than a ton of Dylan-books, with their
lack of humour and poetry past 1975-or-something.
As for the newspaper reviews the day after, they were superb. Especially the
million dollar guys in “World’s Gang” (3 points) and “Dayblady” (4 points) were
outright breath-taking. Unfortunately, these first-rate magazines with their
firm grip on prose and culture are only available in Norwegian (why?), but the
following review of one of the poet laureate’s 1966 concerts pretty much sums
up the highlights from the Oslo Press anno 1990–2007: “Dylan monotonously and
untunefully slowly belted out his numbers... His manner toward the audience
bordered on insolence... accompanied by an unprogrammed quintet... Dylan’s
voice, half drowned by the backing, didn’t seem as bad. And one could also hear
the words... the applause was lukewarm... On the basis of this concert, Dylan
would be advised to remain in the background and let other more seasoned
performers with more personality and stage appeal interpret his work”
(Australian newspaper April 27, 1966). Enjoy!
Review by Anders Tidström
Six fighters, eight thousand supporters and sixteen songs in two hours. That´s
Bob Dylan and his band in show in Oslo. Honestly, knockin´ on heaven´s door
this time. Most of you already view Bob Dylan as an outstanding singer
songwriter, a heavy poet and an energetic showman. He once more lived up
to all that. This cahplinesque buddy certainly grew up where the winds hit heavy
on the borderline but the answer of how he succeeded in making a million friends
is still blowin´in the wind. Pure creativity, maybe, but is there more in the brew?
Others have already told which songs were sung and also delivered their opinions
on this and that - I feel like there is no specific detail left to add. I´d
rather just like to briefly view the whole range of Dylan concerts I´ve seen so far.
This is almost a lifetime and current history. When he first appeared in Stockholm,
1966, no man hadn´t yet even stepped on the moon. Dylan was jet lagged,
tuned up his acoustic guitar, complaining: "this guitar has been to Australia
recently". I quoted those words in a review in my local newspaper in Gävle (the
town where Joe Hill originally came from). Myself still a teenager as Dylan already
was an old man of 25. He´s offered a great bunch of shows since that day and
I´ve been to quite a few. Some are forever unforgettable. The intimate
atmosphere in Cirkus (Stockholm 1991) and the after ski crazy thing on the alp
peak of Ischgl (Austria 1999), seem to be on different planets. The most magic
night, 2001, outdoor in Bornholm when the sun set and the swallows swirled
high above us and finally the funny coincident of Dylan performing in
Karlstad (2003) the night just before my moose hunting nearby. All these
events are shining brightly in my personal contemporary Dylan history, part one.
For some reasons the Oslo concert 2007 will also be among those most
remembered outstanding concerts. Firstly, it was purely great swinging stuff all
night long, you couldn´t ask for more. Secondly, I joined a Dylan concert along
with all my family, first time ever. Thirdly, we were in Oslo celebrating my 60th
birthday and Bob was unknowingly leading the choir to praise my rite de passage.
In Sweden a big jam producer actually has Bob as a trade mark. But that´s damn
far off. Bob never seemed to be in a real jam. Passed 65 and just goes on rail.
Creativity, spirit and hard work - is there something more in the brew? No breath
of any blowin´ wind will ever tell. Probably have to revisit highway 61 in a brand
new leopard skin pillbox hat to find the missing ingredients - if needed by
someone. Dylan performs it perfectly without you knowing how, anyway.
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