page by Bill Pagel
Review by Sven Lewandowski
Bob Dylan at the Stadionsporthalle Hannover, April 13, 2002
It was a cold and rainy afternoon when I left my flat and went to the
Stadionsporthalle which is one of the worst venues I´ve ever been too.
None the less it was at this venue where Dylan performed Ring Them Bells
two years ago. Waiting outside the venue the soundcheck could easily be
heard - at least if you were not standing at the entrance but at the side
of the venue. There were glass doors, a hall way behind them and other
door. Between them there was a little gap. If you tried hard you were able
to to look through. Most of the time Larry could be seen, but after a
while a member of the security came through the door and I was able to see
the whole stage. And there he was: a little man in a black jacket and a
grey pulloer with a hood. And as you can bet - the hood covered his head.
But by the way the man moved and played harp you could tell that it was
Well, during the sound check they performed intrumental versions of the
follwing songs: Solid Rock, Watching The River Flow, Just Like Tom Thumb´s
Blues, Make You Feel My Love, The Wicked Messenger, Rainy Day Women,
Things Have Changed, All Along The Watchtower and some instrumental tune I
wasn´t able to recognize. Sounded to me like they were trying to get their
guitars in tuneÖ A while after they finished soundcheck and some more rain
had poured on me, the doors were opened and the crowd rushed in. I really
can´t understand why people in Germany always rush in and why most of them
don´t sit down on the floor to wait for the show to begin. So they had to
stand for about two hoursÖ The show began quite in time. Larry took his
cittern and I tried to remeber if there was any operner featuring the
cittern. Okay, now I know that there is oneÖ but, what the hell was it ?
At the very beginning it sounded a little bit like Fourth Time Around (but
maybe only because it was slow and featured the cittern). Fourth Time as
an opener ? But I was not sure. So I thought to myself - wait ´til Dylan
starts to sing. But as the song lingered on it became quite obvious that
he wasn´t going to sing at all and so we got the first instrumental song
performed since - I don´t know whenÖ It wasn´t Fourth Time nor any other
song I knew, but it seemed to be a song. It could be argued that the
insturmental wasn´t a really song but just an intro to The Times They Are
A-Changin´. But on the other hand, it was about two minutesİlong and
didn´t sound like Times at all. And I´m sure someone will find out was it
was. But whatever it´s called it seemed to be a song in it´s own right.
There was no break between the instrumental and Times which followed.
Everybody in the audience and maybe also on stage was wondering what has
happend. It was a surprise for sure. In contrast Times was no surprise at
all and it wasn´t a surprise either that Dylan wasn´t able to remember the
lyrics. But it was even worse than it used to be. He totally messed with
the lyrics. His singing wasn´t good either. Maybe they should have
continued to perform instrumentals ? It´s Alright, Ma followed and it was
a rather weak version. Dylan remembered the lyrics, but his vocal
performance was weak and he didn´t seem to be very concentrated. He also
didn´t sing to the microphone all the time. His old problem - once again.
And while he performed I wondered if it really is a good idea to travel to
the UK in May. For the last acoustic song of the first set Larry took the
mandolin and instantly I was fearing that Searching For A Soldier´s Grave
was to return, But we where lucky - it was only To Ramona. I don´t like To
Ramona either but I prefer it to Soldier´s Grave. The song was quite well
done - except by Dylan. His vocal performance still lacked concentration.
So except for the instrumenal surpirse right at the beginning, the
acoustic set turned out to be substandard and things could only get better
in the electric set. And they did ! They started with a hard rocking
version of Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum. I think it was better than the
versions I heard in California last October, but every time I listen to
this song it reminds me of my impressions when I heard it for the very
first time: With these lyrics, I thought, his chances of winning the nobel
prize for literature are really fading away. But anyway the performance
was good and much to my surprise Dylan´s voice returned. It was now
roaring and had the agressivness it used to lack. Just Like Tom Thumb´s
Blues followed. A nice and quite rare choice. And as it had been rehearsed
the performance was a real good one. Floater still is a song I can´t get
to terms with. It took me a long time to accept or even to like the album
version. Although yesterday´s version was much better than the version at
Hamburg, I still think there´s something missing. Maybe it´s the fiddleİ?
But whatever it is - there has to be some change. Larry for sure provided
good guitar work but neither he nor one of the others is able to replace
what´s missing. Floater may be a song to which some keyboard should be
added. But never mind - at least Dylan was now concentrating on his vocal
performance. Solid Rock closed the first electric set. The music was great
but I still was a little bit disappointed because I wasn´t able to hear
Dylan´s voice very cleary during most of the song. At least where I was
standing the sound mix was rather poor (but only on this song). But as the
music was impressive I´m sure I will be able to catch a good version of
the song somewhere during my UK tour. All in all the first electic set was
much better than the acoustic set, featuring a rare choice and a lot of
good music and even Dylan´s voice was fine by now. So we where ready to
stand another acousitic set (personally I´d prefer more electric songs).
Dylan opend the second acouctic with a harp intro to Mr. Tambourine Man
and as soon I recognised the song I felt a let down. It has been about one
and a half year since I heard the song the last time and there are songs I
heard many times more, butÖ T-Man is for sure one the man´s masterpieces.
But why must he perform it when I´m at his shows ? Okay, enough of
weeping. The version we got was a quite good one and that fact made it
much easier for me to stand it. Another classic followed: Masters Of War.
The performance was really good and even I enjoyed it. The song still ends
with the repetition of the first verse and the line: I want you to know I
can see through your maskÖ Sometimes it´s really strange: Dylan picks out
a song that is one of those songs you definitely don´t want to hear any
more, but than it somehow turnes out to be a highlight. You look at him
and you ask yourself - how does he do it ? How is he able to create such
magic moments with such an old song ? I really don´t know how - but he
added a lot of magic to It Ain´t Me, Babeİ!İİİ The song was performed as
soft and tender as this song can be performed. Dylan´s voice was not only
concentrated but also very tender, whispering, singing, showing all of it
brilliance. The way he used his voice created a strong feeling of lost and
regret and not the ´I knew it better´-emotions that are laying in the
song. You could really feel the pain of rejection and infidelitly. It was
really thrilling. The tenderness was only destroyed with the very last
ìbabeî that sounded rather like Dylan belched. But it was defintely the
best I Ain´t Me, Babe I ever heared. And it was him to perform it.
Unbelievableİ!! Dylan seemed to feel the same way and as he tried to keep
the moment the song featured quite a long instruemtal part at the end.
Summer Days followed and this time Dylan was really on. The aggressivness
that I missed so much on his Hamburg performance of this song was back in
his voice. He leaned in the endings of the lines, his voice was roaring
and showed all it´s brilliance. Summer Days, summer nights are gone, but I
know a place where there´s still something gooiiin´ oooonnnnnnnnnnn ! You
got to hear Summer Days on one of his good days. No need to add that the
music was fantasticÖ Another choice I´m not happy with follow: Make You
Feel My Love. It was great at Leipzig back in 98, but not now. In contrast
to It Ain´t Me Dylan wasn´t able to add magic and so it was a
lala-performance, not bad, not good. Drifter´s Escape was very good but
the harp playing at the end was rather short. A good Leopard-Skin Pill Box
Hat followed and included the band introduction as well as some nice solo
by Charlie. The encores began with Not Fade Away. No my favourite choice,
but enjoyable. A good performance, but they should reconsider the ending.
They tried to fade the song out by repeating ìnot fade awayî many times
but it didn´t really work. On Like A Rolling Stone there´s nothing to be
said, except for: Drop it !! (Althrough the version we got was not that
bad). If Dogs Run Free was a little disappointment for - I´d pefer any
other song at that slot. Honest With Me was good as always but nothing
special. The latter is also true for Blowin´ In The Wind. The band then
left the stage but returned once again for a last encore. As you can see,
I usually don´t comment much on the encores but this time I have to make
an exception: The last encore was All Along The Watchtower and it was
fantastic. The song featured not only a new intro, great guitar picking by
Charlie, but also rocked the house down. Dylan once again proofed that his
voice can be brilliant. So all in all it was a show with a surprising
opener, a poor acoustic set at the beginning, highlights in the middle, a
fantastic It Ain´t Me, Babe (I have to mention it once again !) and a
great last encore - and much else beside. So I´m really looking forward to
the UK tour.
comments are welcome: Sven.Lewandowski@stud.uni-hannover.de
Review by Jerry Schafer
There aren't many good reasons to travel to Hanover, Bob Dylan concerts
being the major exception. The May 2000 show was fantastic, and the 2002
show was nearly as good. Considered that it was the third show in three
days, Dylan was engaged and energetic, apart from a somewhat slow start.
As for the much talked about first 'song', I'd rather think of it as an
intro to TIMES. The defining instrument was Campbell's bouzouki-type
thing, the melody and the sound was quite oriental, and the key was in
minor, I believe. I am tempted to interpret it as a comment on what has
recently happened in the oriental world, from Afghanistan to
Israel/Palestine -- signs and catalysts of the changing times. But that's
just me, and everyone's free to get a recording and make up their mind
TIMES wasn't great, Dylan's mind still being in the dressing room or
IT'S ALL RIGHT. Same problem. Also I miss Kemper's drumming on this one,
which really made the song. Receli clearly wants to distinguish himself
and develop his own style, but hasn't had the right idea yet on what to
TO RAMONA closed the first acoustic set. It started with a rubbish
harmonica solo, and remained pretty mediocre throughout.
TWEEDLE DEE. Dylan started to wake up, and parts of the audience
started to go to sleep . It wasn't as noisy as I'd expected, but the
feeling was there -- think Elvis' Mystery Train. Lots of dark feeling
TOM THUMB. A very good performance. Rather uneventful at the
beginning, it became special when Dylan's determination suddenly seemed to
pop up after the third verse. From this moment, he had the concentration
and the stage presence which make him a great performer. The band
delivered an energetic, captivating performance, with a strong build-up
towards the end.
FLOATER. It's difficult to understand why most people didn't seem to
appreciate much this lovely performance. Sexton playing the fiddle theme
on the electric guitar is fine with me, as long as they capture the
essence of the song as well as they did here.
SOLID ROCK. The first song on which they played really loud, especially
Receli. The vocals were difficult to make out it the noise. No big
response from the crowd though -- people didn't seem to know it.
TABOURINE MAN was average, with much routine and little inspiration.
MASTERS OF WAR. As long as it's played as well as it was in Hanover, I'll
rejoice in hearing it, even if it's the 932nd time.
IT AIN'T ME. Excellent performance from everybody except Receli. Great
harp solo, great guitar work, great singing, but to me, Receli just didn't
seem to get it. His drumming were over-complicated and out of place. No
interaction with the rest of the band.
SUMMER DAYS was the song where he began to make good for it. A very
loud and energetic performance that got the first noisy response from the
crowd. And it's well known that a attentive and enthusiastic audience
often helps to lift Dylan's performance to a higher level.
MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE was a point in case, although not everybody seemed
to appreciate it. Call me a sentimental fool, but this is one of my
favourites anyway, and last night's harp solo was the icing on the cake of
a strong performance.
DRIFTER. Well done, as usual.
LEOPARD-SKIN. Not what you'd an original choice -- but I guess I'd miss
it if he stopped playing it. Receli is the man for this kind of song.
NOT FADE AWAY was first in the encores, and I had a lot of fun with this
ROLLING STONE. See my comments on Masters and Leopard-Skin Pill-Box
DOGS RUN FREE. How come such a gem didn't get the response it
deserves?!? Great harp, great guitar work, deadpan performance from
HONEST WITH ME was not bad, a bit lengthy maybe.
BLOWING IN THE WIND was way above average. I've never before enjoyed this
song as much as I did last night. A very focused performance without the
crap guitar solo that usually ruins it.
WATCHTOWER wasn't just better than expected -- it was pure energy.
Dylan the Performer. I don't think anybody walked home disappointed.
Some general remarks ... a very varied crowd, with a significant number
of teenagers among them. It seemed to take about ten songs until people
really got in the mood. The stuff from the greatest hits albums got the
biggest response. I'm a bit sorry that the rare and sophisticated stuff
didn't get as much recognition as it deserved -- but who am I to tell
people what to like? Some of the sixteen-year-olds in front of me cleared
loved the music, and that is good news, as far as I'm concerned.
See you down the road
Review by Michael Baumgart
The last time I saw Dylan during his 2001 europe summer tour in
Braunschweig. It was a great concert in a small intimate sold out
townhall. Compared to this, the Stadionsporthalle in Hannover is a ugly
sportsarena with a lack of atmosphere. The day was cold and rainy. My
friends and I arrived early, so we could get a good place in front of the
stage. The venue was packed and nearly sold out. For Martina it was her
first Dylan concert. She know the maestro only from her old dusty records.
The strong smell of Bobs smokesticks anounced the start of a show with a
lot of ups and downs. Dylan was wearing his usual black suit and a white
cowboy hat. He began the concert with a instrumental. Larry played a fine
bouzouki solo. They slipped without a break into THE TIMES THEY ARE A
CHANGIN. To me it was a bad version with uninspired soloing and bad
phrasing. An early highlight of the show was a strong heartfelt version of
ITS ALRIGHT MA with a amazing vocal performance by Bob. The naked
President sounds nearly like a current political statement and was sung
with real anger in the voice and recived enthusiastic audience response.
The following TO RAMONA lacked the same problem like most of the classic
songs on this evening: long uninspired jamming and sloppy sung vocals. The
vocals of the tonights classics like Tambourine Man or Rolling Stone were
bizarre. He starts singing on a very low key and ends each line an octave
higher. First it sounds funny, but after a while boring and ruins the
melody of the songs. The first electric set was much better than this. One
of the highlights was a marvellous version of SOLID ROCK. Dylans voice was
strong and controlled. The Band sounds sharp with fast driving guitar
solos. MR.TAMBOURINE MAN suffers also from Dylans low to high singing.
MASTERS OF WAR communicates with ITS ALRIGT MA and was a great version. It
sounds again like a current political statement. DRIFTERS ESCAPE and a
powerful version of LEOPARD-SKIN brought the first set to an furious end.
The audience was melting, waving hands and wanted more. The show moved
foreward both in volume and enthusiasm with the first encore. They start
with NO FADE AWAY. Fine version with breathtaking vocals by Bob Larry and
Charlie. Why does he play ROLLING STONE again and again? The song needs a
rest. Played without feeling and weak vocals. IF DOGS RUN FREE comes as a
relaxed jazzy tune. The following HONEST WITH ME was the highlight of this
first encore. The Band still rocking with a faboulous Larry on slide
guitar. The crowd were in a enthusiastic mood. The following BLOWING IN
THE WIND comes again with Bobs bizarre vocal performance. Nevertheless the
audience went crazy and shouted for more. After a few minutes Dylan and
band came back for a breathtaking version of ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
which absolutely blew the place away. The people in the Stadionsporthalle
hoped for more and shouted their minds out, but the houselights went on .
During the show Bob didn't say a single word to the audience. But during
the final bows in front of the stage, suprisingly he fell suddenly on his
knees and looked serious over the enthusiastic crowd. Within our little
group opinions were split. Most of us loved the electric songs with Bobs
powerful vocals. The classic songs were a disappointment. For Martina, who
wasn't committed to Dylans live shows, it was hard to become a fan during
the ups and downs of the show. To me it was a fest to hear the great R&B
feeling of the band (great solos from Larry and Charlie). The sound was
clear and well balanced. Hey, and all those wonderful guitars! Especially
the small Gibson hollowbody that Larry used for his fine slidesolo in
HONEST WITH ME.
page by Bill Pagel
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