Porto Alegre, Brazil

Pepsi On Stage

April 24, 2012

[Eduardo Bueno]

Review by Eduardo Bueno

Porto Alegre ("Happy Port", in portuguese) is the southern most capital of Brazil, 
with one million and a half inhabitants, lots of trees, a beautiful lake, and close 
enough to the border with Uruguay and Argentina, in the only region of Brazil 
were one can get a touch of the wintertime … And the wintertime is coming, 
baby, the windows are almost filled with frost… It´s also the capital of the
"gaucho country" and, some say, the most rock`n´roller city of Brazil. It was 
here that Bob finished the brazilian leg of his current tour, last night, with a 
tight, strong, uplifting show that sounded to several ones that went to all the
previous five - like Fernando Viotti, a faithful Bob Links collaborator - the best
so far.

My strong emotional connections to this particular gig blew away any possible 
trace of objectivity in "judgment" -- if I ever had one, when Bob is concerned. 
Porto Alegre is, after all, my hometown, and my three daughters 
(Belem, 30, three months pregnant now; Flora, 27, and Lízia, 15), 
plus two of my ex-wives and all my good fellas were there, all of them, of course, 
big Dylan fans. So, how can I have any critical distance or detachment under 
these particular circumstances?

Furthermore, my wife, her daughter and me, we just met Bob the night before, 
walking in the park, in the dark, in the chilly thin air, nearby my home. It was my 
Paula´s daughter birthday (Clara was turning 11 years old that same day and we 
were coming out of her party), and the little girl managed to gave him the note 
she secretly wrote in the evening - somehow, in a mysterious way, she just knew
she would find him in the streets. And she also talked to him, and he was 
extremely polite and gentle, read the note, kept it with him, and even pointed 
to the laces of her shoes and said: "Hey, tie up your shoes, you might stumble…", 
sounding like a Salvation Army grandpa!

Pepsi on Stage (I guess I`ll make a living suggesting new names for the brazilian 
venues) is a zinc tin roof kind of tough toolshed venue (an ex-factory, actually), 
that Bob and his cowboy band somehow were able to turn in a kind of barn - a 
"gaucho" barn, for sure, with echoes of old country & western songs, blues songs 
and even hillbilly music, that put a lot of people to dance. There were about 
3,000 people there, and I heard that some dumb fellows didn´t like it. Well, in 
my opinion they just acted  like some one that goes to a museum expecting to
see a voluptuous woman painted by Renoir and have to face the very same 
woman … painted by Picasso. Go home and don´t bother me, guys! Go away 
from my window and leave at MY own chosen speed: light speed! Out, out! NOW!

1)  Well, Bob, once again, choose "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" as the opening song. 
Viotti thought it was the best version since now, and surely it was hot one, but I 
keep on believing that, maybe in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, tomorrow 
night, Bob might change his way of thinking, and open with… well, you know 
which song I´d choose, if I had the power to do so…

2) Then, "It´s all over now, baby blue", with Bob at the center of stage, playing 
joyfully his guitar ("a Rick Kelly Eagle Head Strat, probably specially made for him",  
my pal Cassiano attested)  and he pronounced every word kind of softly and, 
surprisingly enough, was gentle with the poor baby blue girl, offering her a 
chance to really strike another match and start anew… Very nice version - the 
best this year, some say.

3) As usual, "Things Have Changed" followed - and it was as tough and somber
as it should. I really enjoy the irony that it conceals, since it sounds obvious to me 
that, by singing this in that way, Bob is kind enough to show us that, yes, he still 

4) "Tangled up in Blue" seemed to have reach it´s pick nowdays, and this current 
version fulfills all the strong emotional possibilities that the song suggests ever since
it appeared in the opening track of "Blood on the Tracks". Like the nights before, 
the song seems to have some painting, or movie, qualities within the lyrics, so 
deeply connected to the sound that it can instantly transport the more attentive 
listener right to the heart of the scenes the singer is so carefully describing with
so many painful details.

5) "Beyond here lies nothing", left nothing behind. Bob on guitar, focused and
persuasive as ever. He seems to enjoy this song quite a lot - and so do we.

6)  "Simple twist of fate". It´s a simple love history - happened to him, again... 
How can he revisit such a sharp pain so often, almost every night of the tour?

7)  Then, a surprise and, for sure, a prize: a kind of cowboy version of "John 
Brown", that left many fans - this one included - dazed and confused. I already 
confess, but I guess I need to confess again: I didn´t recognized the song. 
Anyhow, I felt so much under it´s spell that it did not leave me nervous, or 
angry, nor disturbed, although it´s a little bit shameful to have to admit that 
the name of the song all of a sudden just escaped from my mind…

8) "Summer Days" was nice enough, thou not particularly brilliant, although one 
have to admit that it sounds perfect for the gaucho barn-like style of the venue 
and just had to be played for this truly gaucho audience. We are all southern 
hemisphere cowboys, after all - and is an undeniable fact that the gauchos came 
into the historical scene at least 200 years before the north-american cowboys 
showed up there, man!

9) "Desolation Row" was wonderful, tender, gentle, and Bob sounded full of
sympathy with everyone who knows less then he does, he also sounded 
merciful with every single soul in that wild bunch of doomed characters that 
somehow he was able to assort  in that desolate alley of his mind;

10) Then "Blind Willie McTell", and, friends, believe it or not, it sounded even 
better than in Brasilia, a week ago, or than in Hollywood, two months ago. 
It´s a blessing for all Dylan fans that this song is back to life. So now, there´s 
no reason anymore to keep on complaining that he dared to leave it out of
"Infidels", in favor of… which song? "Neighborhood  Bully", maybe ? Oh, God 
have mercy…

11) "Highway 61" was sung with racing Daytona Speedway fastness, and with 
gusto. The way he pronounced "ooone", after "sixty" was mind blowing…

12)  Then, "Love Sick", oh, gosh, it came out so dense, so foggy, so intense
that it was as if we all could hear the ticking of the clocks, feel wet under the 
weeping clouds, and walk through streets that are dead, seeing lovers in the
meadow and silhouettes in the window (if not in the curtains behind Bob and
his band, cause the lightning, since the very beginning of the show, gave it a 
shadow-theater quality). And there was no silence, but it surely thunder! For 
me, together with "Blind Willie" and "Desolation Row" it was one of the truly 
highlights of the night.

13) "Thunder on the Mountain" at the beginning sounded as if it was out of 
focus, but this kind of sloppy start (at least in my opinion) was like a 
safe-conduct, an unofficial permit, to Bob himself to improvise a lot in that 
keyboard of his, running away from the band and from the tune itself, but 
soon allowing them both - the band and the tune - to find him back in the 
next corner; than hide himself again behind the wall of sound. The music 
itself wasn´t brilliant, I think, but this seek and hide playful action was very 
funny indeed, and poor Tony didn't felt, or looked, too worry or too busy, 
when it was time for him to conduct "his" band thru the labyrinth created by 
the boss. Funny moment, really nice to enjoy it in this gaucho barn, with Bob 
playing the cat under (and over) that hot tin roof… He´s a cool cat, indeed.

14) "Ballad of Thin Man": I guess no one disagrees that this song is the key to 
the perceive and understand this eighth, or ninth, reincarnation of Dylan, the 
one that is now prêt-a-porter in front of us all, in this new century. There´s 
not much more to be said.

15) "Like a Rolling Stone" was different from all the other nights in Brazil, and 
I dare to say that it came out in a little untied version, but still funny, and nice, 
and for sure lighter than so many times before - and Bob, again, like in Belo 
Horizonte, refrained to sing the refrain just to allow the people do it for him. 
We did it, but not half as high and enthusiastic as the "mineiros".

Somehow, it was a pity cause Porto Alegre is the hometown of the great 
Lupicínio Rodrigues (1914-1974), a brilliant singer-songwriter bohemian that, 
back in 1951, the very same year in which Muddy Waters (in a way, his 
north-american equivalent) wrote "Rollin Stone",  was able to came out with 
a splendid song called "Vingança"  ("Revenge") , a "samba-canção", with lyrics 
much closer from Bob´s spirit than Muddy´s, since it just plainfully and painfully 
says to the woman it was written for: "You shall roll like the stones that roll 
by the side of the road/ Without ever finding a place to call your own". 
Oh, God! This guy truly deserves a whole Theme Time Radio Hour in his 
honour, since, in his program, Bob once did an homage to singer Elis Regina,
also born in Porto Alegre and one amazing interpreter of Lupi´s songs.

Then, while presenting the band, a wonderful brief and never to be hear again
moment: Bob played some chords of "Hey Jude" in the keyboard, and made all 
the guys open big smiles - Paul McCartney is in Brazil and tonight he will be 
playing only 200 miles away from here, in Florianópolis. Was Bob thinking of the 
Yesterday´s man?

16) Then "All Along the Watchtower" burst out, powerful as ever, but, in a 
way, shorter as never.

17) Then they left, they came back and there that violin version of "Blowin in 
the Wind" was delivered, in such a touching, affecting way, dreamful enough 
to make us believe that, yes, we can… build a brave new world, cause too
many people have already died in this old one. Some guys in the audience 
swear that he said "The answer my friends, is …etc" Friends? Did he 
meant… us? I`m not sure he really said it in the plural, but it certainly 
sounded like it…

Then, back to hotel, back to the airport, back to the plane and, tomorrow,
back to the stage, this time in the real gaucho country: Macho Man Land 
Argentina, nowdays under the rule of a pathetic version of Evita Peron… 
Will Bob cry for Argentina? Will they cry for him? The answer, my friends is…


Click Here
to return to the
Main Page

page by Bill Pagel

Tour Guide
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location