Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 04/07/98


Porto Alegre, Brazil

April 7, 1998

Opinião Club

Review provided by Eduardo Bueno

Bob Dylan played a very nice concert tonight in Porto Alegre, in a small
club (for 1,800 people, but probably there weren't no more than 1,500 there
-- it was sold out anyway. The real good thing about it is that the place
-- famous for being awfully full in other historic nights, as Deep Purple,
last year : 2.200 people in a tinny room --, happilly was "breathtable"and
not totally packed, if you know what I mean.... So everybody could enjoy.
And specially Bob, who was in really good mood, smiled few times, dance his
strange dance and JUST DID IT playing the guitar several times during the
show. The guys in front of the stage could be as close as two feet from the
man. And he LOOKED to everybody right in the eye! That was one of the best
things about this unique Porto Alegre night. Bob's mood.
 The show was scheduled to start at 10 PM. But in Brasil EVERYTHING usually
starts at least an hour later. In Opinião Club (the place that held the
show) many concerts often start TWO hours in delay. So it was really a
surprise when Dylan - with the same silver jacket and black pants, with
silver details along the legs, and the black boots of the Grammy night--
went on the stage, with his touring band, five minutes BEFORE 10 PM. Man,
really strange (and good, and nice) to the braziliam crowd.
 He opened with a fair version of "To Be Alone With You". Not wonderful,
but quite allright.
 It was followed by a regular version of "I Want You". The words were
difficult to understand and you feel as if Dylan and the band were still
warming up.
 Well, they where: right after that, they dived into a torrid version of 
'Cold Irons Bound' proving that, for the second time in it's history the
Grammy, did it right (The first was when they gave the award for "Gotta
Serve Somebody", eh,eh, maybey I'm kidding...). Anyway, the live version
was much better than the one in the record (it means, the one which
received the prize...).
 The show could start to go right to the top right then. But the 'fourth'
song was, well, "Positively 4th Street". In the beggining, something was
missing. it sounded like "I Want You", in a weird kind of way. But then, in
the second half, things started to go to the right places. Then, the last
verse  -- , you know, THAT ONE, "Yes, I wish for just one time you could
stand inside etc..." -- was sung in a wonderfull way, and sounded as full
of irony and of a strange kind of despair as it should.
 Then, 'Sylvio". It was my first live "Sylvio "ever, and I have to confess
that I could never guessed how HOT and cool, and rocking and rolling that
song could be. It was the first real first class moment of the show (in
spite of "Irons Bound" have beeing so good). The audience went crazy, Bob
and the band kept the rhythm for more than seven minutes. By the end of it,
Dylan did the LEAD guitar, dance in his strange way and faced the audience
in the eyes for a long time.
 I don't really know the name of the first acoustic song of the night. It
wasn't Bob's. It was a cover, full of ancient echoes of the Appalaches,
Dylan sounding like old man of the mountains. I guess the refrain said
something like "I live my life in sorrow... cause ( well I don't know,
maybe "my love ones are dead" or something like that) It also said
something about a willow tree ( but it was NOT the song recorded in "Good
As I Been To You"). I hope you can guess which song this one is, Bill. You
or somebody else. Sorry about that, folks.
 The second acoustic song was "Don't Think Twice, It's Allright". Well, it
started as if the band were playng in a luncheon on the side of a dusty
backroad. At the beggining of the song, you could almost hear the flies
flying over half empty tables shared by just-splited lovers of this
imaginary out of place restaurant of the mind. It was alright, but, anyway,
there was something missing both in the way Bob was singing as in the way
the band was playing. But by the begining of the second half of the song,
thou,  everything was fixed, and the song just did justice to itself, in
inspite of the "a little too gay"country sound of this arrangment . Not the
best version ever, but a quite good one in the end.
 The third and last acoustic song of this part of the show was "Tangled Up
in Blue". I particullary didn't falled in love with this Porto Alegre
version. But something definitly happened with Bob since the moment he
started to play it. He looked as if he was feeling REALLLY GOOD. He looked
right into the eyes of several people during all the song. He was almost
smilling, he was daincing, he was obviously in love if his own song, THIS
particular song. I already heard many versions of this wonderful song
(among everybody's TEN BOB'S FAVOURITES, no?) that sounded much better TO
ME. But I never saw or heard (and than imagine how he was looking while
singing) I never heard or saw HIM enjoying this song as much as he did in
Porto Alegre. He sang it word by word (a very "straight" version of the
lyrics, no changes, the "regular"lyrircs from "Blood on the tracks",
nothing like the Bootleg Series version or "The Real Live" version). The
old fans and the (several) ones who realized which song it was, they went
out of theirs minds. It was a very nice moment. (I guess was I the only one
who tought it could be ...ok, ok, "a little" better. Anyway, I guess Paul
Willians would agree with me in this speciffic opinion, if he were here).
 Then, "Memphis Blues Again", a funny, light, fast version. You could see
that Bob was still under the spell that caugh him during "Tangled". He was
... young, and bright during the whole song. The crowd felt it and the
sheers didn't stoped while he was stucked inside Mobile...
 The tenth song was a marvelous version of "This Wheels of Fire", Not so
much for the singing in the beggining of if. Bob sounded a little off time
and  didn't did it really well, specially during the first refrain  - "this
wheels shall explode". The band and the music was wonderful since the very
beggining. But, amazeling enough, the band managed it to make it even
better each second. Then Bob "found"his time and started to s-p-e-ak de
words in THAT way that you know. And then, started to PLAY THE GUITAR, man,
but  REALLY  play. All of a sudden, there we are in Big Pink, it's the
summer of  67, and Opininao becames the old good basement. I kept on
wondering why he didnt sung it THAT SAME WAY in Woodstock/94, since the
song was born there.... "Wheels" lasted for more than 10 minutes ( almost
12, probably 11) and those wheels  REALLY burned down the road. Spinning
speed music. Greil Marcus should be there to listen to it, and so the late
John Baldie. Well, I did my best, thinking about them.
 And, since the wheels were really burning all that asphalt, there we drove
on a  SPETACULAR version of "Highway 61 that rocked the house and put
everybody to dance (you know, brasilians really DO DANCE, even rock crowds,
that hated samba). Bob really acted in a funny, enjoyable way, playing, and
bending his knees by half way, and bitting his tongue, and looking straith
to the audience, walking from the right side of the small stage (no more,
probably less than 35 feet wide) to the left side. The band went crazy with
him, they tried to look his fingers, but he kepping moving, Tony Garnier
pulsing his bass madly, and the drums making it sound like pure dinamite.
Wow, a trully great performance!
 Then, the band and the old guy left for I probably less than 5 minutes.
 They came back really soon and got into a acoustic, touching, torching
version of "It Aint' me, Baby". The lyrics were wrong, at least for this
time: It WAS HIM that WE WERE LOOKING FOR. And he showed up. He did'nt act
naughtly, as he does so many times. He gave what the crownd want and even
"allowed" the people to sing along with him the "no, no, no"part (which
sometimes he sings in such a way that you just can't follow him, as he did
in Woodstock/94).
 Then, the peak of the night, at least to me. "Love Sick" in a spooky,
dense, tense, deep, bluesy, smoked, version. Wow. It was, I swear, better
than the Grammy version (in spite of the fact of that one being SO good, as
e\we saw on TV). It was a long, sometimes slower other times vigourous and
faster, version of a new Dylan's masterpiece.
 Had enough? No? So take this full of swing and "young" happiness version
of "Rainny Day Women". Well, everybody must get stoned. Several of us were
- with or whitout it, since the music was enough to make us fly. 23 minutes
past 11, after 14 songs and 1h23min of showtime, the guy and the band just
left. In a few days from now, they will be in Rio de Janeiro and then in
Sao Paulo (800 milles north of Porto Alegre), playing with the Rolling
Stones -- again. But then, it will be in two giant stadiums, not in a small
nice place were you can SEE  the guy (and, much more important than this,
at least this nite, HE can see that the audience has a face and, sometimes,
all that he sees are not just dark eyes). So, everybody went home happy
after being stoned by blastering music and torch tough songs and nobody
gave a fuck about the fact that Porto Alegre - unlike Buenos Aires, Sao
Paulo and Rio - won't see Dylan with the Stones.

EDUARDO BUENO, Porto Alegre, Brasil 

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