Reviews

Brussels, Belgium

Forest National

April 22, 2009


[Grzegorz Gras], [Roric McCorristin], [Jim Nolan], [Jacques Graf], [MichaŽl Moors, [Martin Manuzi],

Review by Grzegorz Gras



It is now 2 in the morning and I have just come back home after a 40
km drive from Brussels to Saint-Lievens-Houtem. What a long night it's
been! Out of the few Bob shows I'd attended in my life, this one was the
best. Or let's put it other way - it was the best night, not only because
of Bob's music. After a short sightseeing in Brussels, we've got to the
Forest National venue a little after 3 pm. There was just a few people
outside the door, among them an Italian friend of mine, Michele. Having
been introduced to some Bobcats, we hung out for a while. As it was still
very early we went to one of those tons of cafes around the venue and had
a nice long conversation there. The times they are a-changin', Bob Dylan
is aging, things have changed (and will be changing), but there's one
thing that's eternal - and it's this peace and love that flows from the
Bobcats community. You can just spend hours and hours talking about life,
music, Bob and whatever else. After all, it's all about Bob, what he's
been giving us and how did he affect out lives. We came back to the line
before 6 pm and the gates opened a little past 7. And here came a surprise
- almost no security check. They would just let us in, tear our tickets
and wouldn't even bother checking us. I saw people with big cameras in
front rows and the security guys paying so little attention to it.
WOnderful - THANK YOU guys for that, as I managed to take 150 pictures,
some of them REALLY nice!! The show started a little past 8:30 and the
opener was The Wicked Messenger. After hearing that one in Berlin already,
I was counting for something else but... it was good, too... A strong
version of It's All Over Now, Baby Blue in this new arrangement (which I
personally really like a lot - much better to me than e.g. the 2004
version which didn't sound like anything from my point of view) was a
highlight for me. It was good to hear Blind Willie McTell live - there is
something about that song that is almost mystical and unreal. I was
counting for Desolation Row and I got it!!! My girlfriend (a second show
for her... and she's just starting getting into Dylan) wanted so much to
hear Ballad of a Thin Man as it's her favourite song - and she got it,
too!! The rest was typical, so no point to go song by song. I think Bob
was in quite a good mood (although my friend's observation was that he'd
been exhausted and struggling) and was enjoying the show. Just before the
encore when they came back, he'd even do a little "dance" in front of the
audience. Whatever it was, it was nice that he'd recognized us and goof
around a little bit. The encore is just now all the same all the time,
which is pretty boring, but at least you hear the "classic" Blowin' in the
Wind, which might be very important for the firsttimers and occasional Bob
fans. After the show ended, we waited for the crowd to thin out and slowly
headed for the exit. There was a lot of merchandise outside the door, I
got myself some new posters (a very nice 1975 plus a few more) and two
buttons. We got together with Michele and Frederica (who's always there -
that's a girl who's been on the road after Bob for 11 years now and it's
probably the person who's seen the more shows than anybody else ...
probably around a 1000.) We went to some restaurant to have dinner, had
another hour long chat, after that we gave them a lift downtown (thank you
Michele for this t-shirt!!!) and drove back to our place... and it is now
2:30 in the morning and I guess it's high time to crash out to bed. It was
a really enjoyably night...

Grzegorz Gras
grzegorz.gras@gmail.com

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Comments by Roric McCorristin



Bob Dylan and his band were simply fantastic in Brussels tonight. They
were in perfect form from start to finish and Bob was all smiles, all
night. We witnessed something truly extraordinary and the crowd knew it.
It was a thrill and a whopping good time!

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Review by Jim Nolan



First of all let me say I should not have being here at all but for the
intervention of an an Angel by the name of Caterine.Several weeks ago when
looking at Bobs Euro dates I checked out Brussels flights an accom. just
to see was it doable and it was.So I booked a cheap one way flight with
the airline everyone likes to moan about.And then booked a return flight
with the one whom I regard as our national airline.Anyway I knew it was
sold out but then heard through the grapevine that even local Bob fans
were looking for and having trouble getting  tickets .My mate Ken emailed
Catherine to ask her to keep an eye and an ear out for a possible spare .I
did see some site selling tickets for Ä195! each but that was way too
much.So I just wrote off the non refundable flights and accom knowing that
I have the two Londons ,two Scottish and the two Dublins to come.

Skip forward to tuesday evening as I was sat waiting for the Liverpool V
Arsenal game to start.My Mobile phone rings and a voice says to me ' I
have got you a ticket for tomorrow'.I could not believe it! Thanks
Catherine  So with three hours sleep off I went at cockcrow the following 
morning.

I have never been to Brussels before (main reason I wanted to catch this
one) but I arrived in Botanique without getting lost! Brussels is alot
bigger than I had thought.After freshening up and a walkabout I got the
metro  to the station Gare Du Midi to make my way to the venue.A short
train trip later I arrived at Forest National and once again I was chuffed
i didnt get lost.

Plenty of people outside waiting to get in when I arrived and lots of
people looking for tickets.I rang Catherine and she spotted me waiting
beside a burger stall.After thanking her over and over for the ticket I
got a beer to celebrate and chilled out in the glorious sunshine.

My mate Cardiff Dave had told me he was not impressed with the venue so I
did not know what to expect when I got in.I was impressed though,and I got
a spot about twelve people from the front just left of centre.Floor slopes
back with flat standing at front.The Sloped floor slighty further back is
great for people who are not tall ie. they can see clearly.
I wont mention every tune but here are my highlights:

WICKED MESSENGER : This is totally reworked.Much slower with a pounding
riff.Bob sounded great and I could not have hoped for a better opener.

ITS ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE : Once again this sounded even different  to
the reworked ' 08 version.

MAN IN THE LONG BLACK COAT : Now this was a definate show high
light.Reworked into a swingiing blues with Bob on guitar centre stage.He
played two solos,one midsong and one at the end where he gave a thumb up
signal.I think because he had nailed it !

BLIND WILLIE MCTELL : Just like the version we got at Berns Stockholm this
was a fabulous rendition.Just great.

DESOLATION ROW : Great harp intro and vocal.

HONEST WITH ME :  This rocked! Also as in Berns a great Stu solo mid
song.

SUGAR BABY : Again reworked.This time into a Robert Johnson-esque slow
blues.Excellent.

BALLAD OF A THIN MAN : I have always loved to hear  this song live.Its one
of my favourites since forever and this was a fine version tonight.I would
be happy to hear it in the set every night.

I DONT BELIEVE YOU :  Again great vocal and Harp midsong.

AINT TALKIN : Surprised to hear this after Des. Row earlier in the set.An
excellent rendition.

Last five songs were the usual wind up songs of late but "Thunder" rocked
and had  lots of people jigging about.Also alot of people smoking joints
around me.Like the old Point Depot in Dublin back in the day or the MSG NY
in ' 01 !

And as this was my first ' 09 arena show I noticed some interesting
lighting effects.From low orange lighting to the whole stage being bathed
in a blanket of polkadot like spots.Not unlike 60's P.Floyd or the
G.Dead.Very Cool indeed.

So I did not get One More Cup of Coffee..Paint My masterpiece or Po' Boy
but there was still a lot to savour tonight. 
So thanks Bob and Band for bringing me to a new Country and City  and
playing a great and rewarding show.

Thanks again Catherine ! and I will  hopefully see you at the Dublin
shows for a preshow Pint of Guinness ! 

Jim Nolan                                                

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Review by Jacques Graf



one of the very best shows i've ever been to...

is that enought ?
not to give details of the set list i 'd just like to say that Bob is
improving his singing, night after night !

oh ... the return of the old astmatical frog as my beloved son Louis
would say?

all i can say is that Dylan gives new senses, new light on almost every
song he sings :

Not only for us who know them perfecly ... poeple that have no idea of
what they're going to see  - some of them, they imagine an old tambourine man
performing - they discover something quite fascinating : the birth of
real live music.

Even LARS - which is not usually my favorite one on stage - was a
totally new story last night : i even heard glimpses to the original singing,
some kind of " nobody sings Dylan like Dylan"  sung by Dylan imitating Dylan
... " you got no secret to ..../ blank/.......... conceale " ( this with a
smile in the voice )

the fact is that Dylan cuts off the rythm of the verses and leaves blank
or gives speed in the stanzas - even does not sing the first " sugar baby "
- so creating what is a new song.

i don't even evoke " desolation row " incomplete but never so very well
new sung ( trunk, jaleous monk ... )( spoonfeeding Casanova ... )( knog
broke, kind of joke )

isn't it why we're here ? witnessing every new intention, new way the
song is going to take ?

It reminded me of the way german singer Fisher Diskeau reveales the
meaning of Schubert's lieder just by illumitating the words he sings, giving
them sense.  Dylan he acts the same way : very involved.
i'm quite sure he still cares ( even of course he'd sing he doesn't ! )

( it would have been easier for me in french, hope i'm clear ! )

may you guys all have great britain shows !

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Review by MichaŽl Moors



Another great passage of Bob and his band it was! After having attended
the three Amsterdam concerts this was the final evening for me on this
tour. Dylan in good voice most of the time, a band that is getting better
and better over the years (not to forget Bobs prominent organ playing), a
tremendous variation in the setlist...again these are concerts to
remember. I think of so many highlights; a fantastic rocking Highway 61
every night (take care, don't forget your earplugs!), It's Alright Ma,
Million Miles and a steaming Gotta Serve Somebody in Amsterdam, Blind
Willie Mc Tell in Brussels, to name but a few, but maybe above all of the
fast reditions of Man In The Long Black Coat, with Dylan delivering a
beautiful harmonicasolo in Amsterdam and his characteristic freewheelin'
guitar playing in Brussels. Two equally brilliant performances. And even
Like A Rolling Stone and All Along The Watchtower sounded fresh and young.
The concerts are over, a new Dylan album is released. Are we the luckiest
fans in the world?
†
MichaŽl Moors
moorsmcnj@yahoo.com

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Review by Martin Manuzi



Here are a few words on the magnificent Brussels show - and on a couple
that went before (Malmo and Copenhagen). But first Brussels. The show
kicked in with a superb harmonica solo at the end of Baby Blue and it just
never dipped thereafter. (It may be that I am being ungenerous to The
Wicked Messenger but then again for those of us lucky enough to experience
Gotta Serve Somebody in Copenhagen a couple of weeks back....)

In terms of vocal delivery, musicianship and choice of set list, I think
that the Brussels show must rank among the best I have experienced. (I
have seen a few over the last 20 years or so).  Sugar Baby and Aint Talkin
were simply outstanding but the supply of suitable adjectives runs out
when you try to describe the delivery of Blind Wille McTell. The voice was
thunderous. Throughout, the vocal improvisations, development of melody,
use of range within the voice were truly inspiring. Also, the musical
orchestration is complex, multi-layered and intriguing. It does seem that
the keyboards play such a central part in the sound, and a very positive
one at that. Of course, it has been a quite fun journey - i.e. hit and
miss - to get here: a couple of tours back the organ sound was pretty
demented, and before then the piano..  But that is the really compelling
aspect of this whole experience- the artist is still in evolution, still
highly creative. All of this is not immediately evident from afar -
looking at the setlists I certainly did first wonder whether it would
still be worthwhile to take in some shows given that no "new material" was
on offer. Close-up though, these shows are really an individual artistic
experience each time. 

As regards Brussels, the older numbers were also magnificent. Certainly
not going through the motions (and many of us have experienced that). Of
all these songs, perhaps also for the relative rarity value, Ballad of a
Thin Man, was the most memorable. It was simply captivating. Blowin in the
Wind had a more stripped down version than in the earlier shows, with the
violin coming through more delicately, and it seemed to make the song more
haunting. The crowd were extremely appreciative - a few years ago I
remember thinking that the best place to catch a show was in the UK, but
now I am not too sure.

Over the three shows, there have been some wonderful artistic moments. The
Man in Me, Hollis Brown, Masterpiece, Simple Twist of Fate. Perhaps the
most memorable of all was I Believe in You in Copenhagen, where, singing
centre-stage, fingers pointing in the air, the song closed with a
reaffirmation of "I believe in you". After having had Gotta Serve Somebody
as an opener, it was unbelievable. For those of us who have been on this
journey for a while, it is surely more than could ever be hoped for that
the artistic desire for expression and musicianship would still be there
in 2009. It certainly is and, on this basis, it would seem unlikely that
Together through life is the end of the road. 

[TOP]

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