page by Bill Pagel
Review by Matt
The sun hung lazily in the tainted red of the evening sky. Hoardes of
Parisians shuffled noisily toward the multiple entrances of Le Zénith, a
massive zeppelin of a theatre, its futuristic platinum facade blending
appropriately into the bizarre, post modern landscape. Indeed, this was
far from Highway 61.
After a booming voice introduced the "Columbia Recording Artist, " Bob
Dylan hit the stage with " Humming Bird, " a rollicking country flavored
tune. He followed it up with a slow, gentle rendition of " She Belongs To
Me, " tenderly crooning the verses, while Tony Gagnier punctuated the song
with superb upright bass playing. The acoustic set continued with a razor
sharp " It's Alright Ma " and a spectacular rearrangement of " It's Alright
Now Baby Blue. " Larry Campbell's delicate pedal steel laid a solid base,
as Dylan launched into the bitter lyrics. His voice strong and clear,
annunciating each syllable, Zimmy sang one line particularly appropriate
in light of the current French political situation : " Strike another match,
go start anew. "
The tempo roared upwards as Dylan and the band kicked into a sinister
rendition of " Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum , " a three guitar electric blues
feast, featuring outstanding interplay between Charlie Sexton and Dylan. At
several points Sexton burst into fiery leads, cradling his guitar and making
eye contact with the band leader. Dylan nodded his head in approval,
fiercely plucking away at his Fender Stratocaster. After a quick conference,
Dylan and the boys continued with a sublime " Moonlight, " perhaps the
highlight of the evening. Gagnier's soft upright bass lines and the 3
acoustic guitars provided a rhythmically perfect foundation. Like so many
songs on " Love and Theft, " " Moonlight " is a throwback to a bygone area;
infused with the band's technical prowess and Dylan's impeccable phrasing,
its old time waltzy shuffle and rather whimsical, romantic lyrics become
more genuine in a live context. The " Love and Theft " triad concluded
with a ferocious " Cry a While, " before giving way to an inspired "
Subterranean Homesick Blues, " which drew the most enthusiastic audience
reaction thus far. This classic from " Bringing It All Back Home " has
made a surprise return to Dylan's rotation on the Europe 2002 tour. Prior
to this spring, it had been absent from Dylan's repertoire since the early
Lighting faded from blue to red for a second acoustic set, featuring a fine
" Don't Think Twice , " and a beautiful " Hard Rain, " before a return to bleu
yielded an average " Tangled Up In Blue " Several moments of tuning then
erupted into a riotous "Summer Days, " complete with a swinging mid song jam,
in which Dylan took several adventurous leads, and Sexton played his most
searing solos of the evening. After a heartfelt " Make You Feel My Love, "
and an ear splitting " Cold Irons Bound, " they closed the show with a
strong " Rainy Day Women, " another guitar lover's delight, putting to shame
the uninspired versions that turned up in many a show back in the mid 90's.
What perhaps distinguished this performance from other Dylan concerts was the
strength of the encores. Usually the " hits, " the encores sometimes provide
an anticlimactic conclusion to an otherwise excellent show. Such was not the
case this evening. A stark, brooding " Love Sick " started things off,
perhaps Dylan's stongest vocal performance of the night. The opening notes
of " Like a Rolling Stone " really brought the audience to life,before a warm
" Forever Young " temporarily calmed the situation. Larry Campbell's slide
guitar tore furious streaks through a positively rocking " Honest With Me,"
and a well received " Blowin' In the Wind " appeared to conclude the evening.
The audience roared with anticipation, yearning for more, succeeding in
rousing Dylan and the band for one last number, a sterling rendition of
" All Along the Watchtower. " Dylan flogged this gem from " John Wesley
Harding " to death in the mid 90's, always playing it third in each concert
for nearly two years. It became predictable. He has experimented with the
song's arrangement and placing in the set for the past 4 years, but never has
it worked better than as the final encore. The new, 3 electric guitar
arrangement, punctuated by intermittent, funky leads and thundrous drumming,
brought the entire crowd to a frenzied climax, before Dylan surprised everyone
by resinging the first verse, ending the song with " Businessmen drink my wine,
plowmen dig my earth, None of the along the lines know what any of it is worth."
A new interpretation of a classic. Bob Dylan has succeeded in reinventing
himself again. The evening's performance clocked in at just over 140 minutes,
making it, along with several other shows on this tour, the longest Dylan
concerts since the early 90's. Vive Dylan.
Review by Christophe Veyrat
i had last seen bob in la spezia last summer and it was a great concert.
from my experience of the french public and the relatively few dates he
has in france on each tour, i was under the impression he does not like
performing in france that much. i remember concerts here where the
audience was quite passive and bob obviously bored. however, the reviews
of last year's concert in paris and most of the reviews of this european
tour, i had the feeling i should not miss this one. so i got on a tgv and
left the warm and sunny shores of the mediterranean for cold and windy
paris. but i was right.
it was sort of an anniversary to me, it was my tenth dylan concert siince
i had first seen him in 1981, another lifetime ago. and the celebration
was beyond by expectations.
i got there at 6.30, waited for a short while in the cold, then waited for
a longer while with the other sardines in front of the stage. bob was
half an hour late, and the zenith hall was packed. started with the usual
cover, humming bird, quite good, good back up vocals and bob loooking as
bored as he usually does at the beginning. then came she belongs to me,
and what struck me then was how good his voice sounded. every word
weighed, drifting from low to high, but always powerful. this impression
confirmed by it's alright ma, with every line right, a grand version, with
the audience even remembering before the flood and cheering occasionally.
bob was obviously in a good mood, enjoying himself, no smiles yet but that
was a man loving his job up there. it's all over now baby blue and again
a great voice, a delight. i was looking forward to the electric part and
it started with a powerful tweedle dee, charlie doing the guitar licks,
nice soli too by bob, charlie and larry. a stronger version than the
album's. moonlight was sung in the most vicious way, stressing the
ambiguity of this nice little story and giving it a dark side which in
fact left little ambiguity. great job by charlie for making that organ
sound with his guitar. Cry awhile proved if necessary that his voice
tonight was first class. ha those intonations. the spite in that song.
and the arrangement was also i think more elaborate than on the album
version, with great breaks and rhythm changes. i was hoping for
subterranean and it came. a more rocking version, and even if he did mess
up the words here and there, it was very good and had the audience
cheering like hell. back to accoustic and although the three next songs i
have heard many times, each one had something to pelase even the most
blasé ears. don't think twice was the first. bob played an intro on the
harp ( the harp was to me the low note of the night, i have never found
his intros that good tonight, a disappointment, they were short, lacked
amplitude and diversity, and at times you thought he didn't know what to
play) but the highlight then was larry's incredible picking. i didn't
even listen to the harmonica anymore nor watched bob. but then he sang
and what better song to sing when his voice sounds like this? one of the
best vesrions i've heard. all the bitterness, pain, resentment there,
100%. i didn't really welcome hard rain, not a favorite of mine in
concerts, but as the lyrics were sung, it became more and more haunting,
and the last lines of the last verse gave me chills, dylan sounding as
determined as ever, you' feel he could move mountains. it was
magnificent. the packed hall was silent, you'd though they were at mass.
the dylan magic at its best, 8,000 people, most of them french,
by that short 60 year old american and a long repetitive accoustic song.
a great moment. tangled up in blue, for the hundredth time, but again
with this voice, and this band, every one of them words rang true. Summer
days was ok, i am not a great fan of the song, but the band is so good.
make you feel my love was as not as good as last summer though, but still
quite good. oh but cold iron bounds. first just the guitars, then the
drums and at the end of the first stanza that bass line. such power, such
force, and larry's guitar. why go see a heavy metal band? rainy day
women closed the first set. bob was occasionally smiling, having lits of
fun with charlie, he enjoyed it as much as we did. no wonder he tours all
the time, the man loves it. at least tonight he did, as much as any
teenager playing in his garage.
he introduced the musicians, laughed at tony's solo, and then stood there,
still, for a short while before leaving. not a thank you, not a sign,
just enjoying the devotion of the crowd.
came back for an unforgettable love sick. the band, and above all the
voice again."i'm sick of love", oh yes, you could feel it then. can it be
better than this? like a rolling stone was good, the audience, bob, larry
obviously enjoying each other. a moving forever young, with great back up
vocals, a good honest with me and the inevitable blowin' in the wind
closed the set. but tonight even blowin' in the wind was great. no
matter how often you've heard it, tongiht you remembered what a gerat song
i was dreaming of hearing all along the watchtower, and i got it. hendrix
revisited, but with bob's singing, and as much power as ac dc. i was on
my knees, and so was the crowd. yes thank you bob for such a ghreat show.
if you have the chance don't miss it, man, i should have stayed in paris
one day too long.
Review by Pádraig
The Zenith is an indoor venue with a capacity of 8000.
It's located in the north of the city in Parc de
Villette. The show seemed to be sold out and it
started around 8.30. Acoustics were first-class and
the light show worked well.
The acoustic set began with an upbeat Humming Bird.
This was followed by a lovely She Belongs To Me,
comlpete with gentle harp intro. The crowd came fully
to life once It's Alright Ma began pounding. It was a
solid version and was followed by an atmospheric It's
All Over Now, Baby Blue. Three songs from Bringing It
All Back Home in the opening acoustic set.
The first electric set kicked off with an energetic
Tweedle Dum And Tweedle Dee. Moonlight didn't seem to
translate very well live, but Cry A While was
fantastic. (Again, three songs from the one album.)
The crowd then went wild for a brilliant Subterranean
Don't Think Twice, complete with harp intro, kept the
energy levels high. Hard Rain was a steady version,
nothing special. Tangled Up In Blue was also
workmanlike, though the crowd loved it.
The second electric set began with a swaggering Summer
Days, with excellent guitar solos. To Make You Feel My
Love had a nice harp solo, but didn't really take off.
Cold Irons Bound provided a good noisy contrast. Band
intros came during a predictable Rainy Day Women.
Love Sick, the third Time Out Of Mind song, was
brooded effectively. Like A Rolling Stone brought the
crowd to its feet. Forever Young worked well and
Honest With Me rocked. Blowing In The Wind was
stately. The last encore, All Along The Watchtower,
was amazing; in the past, it has often descended into
a tired old warhorse but tonight it roared with
abandoned. A fantastic closer.
page by Bill Pagel
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