page by Bill Pagel
Review by Daniel Bras
One might think only afterwards why this concert was different from
others. First of all, it was mostly an evening for the electric guitar.
Like it was Highway 61 revisited. And it was not a good night for solo's
on the acoustic guitar. The audience, at first very reserved, reacted
enthusiastic after Rainy day women, as if the house was indeed on fire.
Dylan, himself, gave the 'Thumbs down- sign' but he was wrong. It might
not have been the best, but it was a good night. Solid Rock, Blind
WillieMctell and the songs from Love and Theft were excelent. He messed up
Mr. Tambourine man, the Wicked Messenger and I personally didn't like
Blowin' in the wind that much. It was nice to see that Dylan had regular
contact with Jim Keltner. All in all, this restless man was enjoying the
evening and so did we. Although we all thought that after the second
encore (a tremendous Jime Hendrix version of Watchtower) he might come
back. But as said before about another singer: " He left the building".
The difference with two years ago, was the enjoyment of playing together
and the sound was more open this time.
Review by Joost Horsthuis
Ahoy' Rotterdam is the place where you'd rather see boxing events than
Dylan, a noisy hall without any atmosphere. Theatre of local average
artists or unimportant tennis tournaments. It's Lee Towers' Kingdom, a
place where the people on stage are actually allowed to think they are
Frank Sinatra. It is only once a year (or two) that it turns into a warm
auditorium which could as well be a small cozy club anywhere in the world,
but not in the middle of Rotterdam international port. 2nd of May it
The band hits the stage around 20.30, starting off with Wait for the light
to shine. Bob seems bored/uncomfortable, guitar interplay isn't really
working out. Bob's looking at the ground and his fingers. They do bring
the song to a good end though, with great backing vocals.
I threw it all away: Bob on harp, holding it with one hand, apparently not
knowing what to do with the other. He bends his voice up to a certain note
all the time, a thing he'll do in (I believe) all acoustic songs tonight.
I never heard him sing like this before. Almost tender, but still looking
like his dog died or something. From under his white hat he avoids
eye-contact with the band and the crowd.
The song is followed up by a very powerful It's alright ma, with Bob
singing very clear and loud, looking straight into the audience now. Jim
Keltner hitting the drums like he actually wants to be a thunderstorm,
with Bob's voice as electrifying as lightning.
With Love minus zero the band continues the acoustic set, Bob is
concentrated and seems less and less uncomfortable. His voice is strong,
every word is intelligible.
Bob picks up his strat, starting the electric part with an average Solid
rock. Not my favorite anyway. Well, it rocked. Then a fine version of
Watching the river flow, Bob playing the harp in sharp notes, bending over
to the crowd. Larry waxes the song with his smooth steel guitar playing
(and I personally think Larry is Zorro).
Sugar baby: fantastic. Bob is really on now. It's the first of four Love
and theft-songs and he sings it from low to high and back, while picking
the strat in a way which can only be described as Dylanesque. The crowd
cheers as he sings about these bootleggers, hiding things they want to
hide bad enough.
Then they burst into Lonesome day blues. The band looks like a bunch of
cowboys setting out with Bob, who must be the sheriff with his snow-white
hat. His voice, loud and clear, gets a bit muddy during the Samantha
Brown-part, don't know if there's a reason for that. Tony seems to have a
lot of fun, staring at Bob all the time. Bob hasn't smiled yet but is
obviously having a lot of fun, taking small steps left and right, looking
from under the hat at Charlie while jamming through the song.
The lights turn yellow and red, and Bob sings a thrilling (acoustic)
version of Masters of war. Definitely one of the highlights tonight. Such
a great voice, Jim Keltners drums make you wonder if there's dinosaurs
walking around the building. The typical grimace appears constantly on his
face as he pronounces the words gentle and bitter, at the top of his
voice. He resings the first verse.
Mr. Tambourine man, not that special, followed up in blue light by quite a
strong Tangled up in blue, with some additional lyrics here and there.
'Seen the arrow on the doorpost', he starts off. Is he playing Blind
Willie McTell? He fuckin' is! People recognizing it go wild. We are not in
Ahoy Rotterdam anymore, we're in that little club now somewhere in the
middle of nowhere, hypnotized and enchanted by this incredibly beautiful
song. We are on our knees, while Dylan sings 'I tell ya one thing, no one
can sing.. the blues like Blind Willie Mctell'.
After that a bit of a messy Summer days, with in the middle of it Charlie
and Bob firing great solo's at eachother. Then a spectacular and wild
Wicked messenger, with a fantastic solo on harp by Bob. Rainy day
women.mwah, not too good, a bit dull, lots of cheering while Bob
introduces the band in the middle of the song (only spoken word during the
The first encore, starting off with an unforgettable Man of constant
sorrow. In red light Bob bites off the words as he sings Aaaaih....am a
man..of constant sorraahw, etc with Charlie and Larry accompanying him
each final line of the verses. Lyrics and arrangement like the Soggy
Bottom Boys from O Brother (Bob must have been charmed by that version).
Bob is bending his chest from left to right, bending a little backwards,
Larry, Tony and Charlie coming closer to him each song. This band loves
Like a rolling stone pleases the elder public. If dogs run free: another
fine acoustic one, the stage is purple now, the whole audience is as quiet
as a mouse. Bob produces unpredictable jazzy licks and some harp-work.
Great, great, great.
A thunderous version of Honest with me is the last one of the Love and
theft-songs, I believe I heard him sing 'I'm hunting the bear' but I'm
still not sure whether it's bear or bare. He smiled!
I really regret he didn't play any songs from Time out of mind, but well I
ain't got reason to complain. The obligate Blowing in the wind makes the
40+ housewives happy, Bob leaves for a few minutes and comes back for the
grand finale, a smashing All along the watchtower, great guitar-work with
Bob, Charlie, Tony and Larry almost standing in line like the Stones
sometimes do, quite funny.
Then it's over, Bob takes off his hat and strat, puts his hat back on his
head and stands towards the crowd that cheers like hell. He stands there
for almost a minute, bending over just a little, lifting his hand with his
palm towards the audience. He might have smiled coolly, or he was just
tired, who knows. Then he walks off, the last thing we see is the
silhouette of hair and hat and nose.
We saw again an excellent show of an outstanding artist which we all love.
Remember: he's not doing this for the money or the fame, he has more than
enough of both. He does it because he likes it, it's his job. And we have
the opportunity of seeing the best of Bob these days. Lets hope he'll live
forever, or at least long enough to enjoy him for many years. Hail Bob!
(Or was that comet not named after him?)
Review by Carsten Wohlfeld
The show in Oberhausen last week was supposed to be the last concert of my
own little "Euro Bob 2002" tour. So it was sad to see for me, that I had
picked what probably was the weakest gig of the entire tour as my
"farewell show". So I couldn't help but catching the train to Rotterdam to
see yet another show - especially since the rave reviews from Brussels
(where Bob had played one of the few songs I was dying to hear - "When I
Paint My Masterpiece", plus tons of other rare gems) and Paris suggested
that the not-so-great Oberhausen show was indeed a one-off. Thank to Tim &
Regine, I was able to make the Rotterdam show as well. Isn't it great if
your friends are not only kind and generous, but also divide their time
between southern Germany and Holland and are willing and able to put you
up for the night at either of the two places? Or maybe I'm just lucky?!
So I got on the train, arrived in Rotterdam some three hours later, picked
up a cheap, but shitty ticket (the show was a near sell out despite the
huge Arena-sized venue and good tickets were very hard to come by) and
made my way to the stands. My seat was on the side of the stage, almost
behind the stage, so the only guy I could see perfectly was Keltner (that
would come in handy later on), although I managed to walk around for a bit
during the set and actually quite liked the experience of not getting
crushed in the front on the floor. The show was an all-seated affair,
although the stage rush happened the second the intro tape kicked it -
even before the lights went down. For all seven shows I'd seen on this
tour before, I'd hoped that they would open with "Wait For The Light To
Shine" - and they never did. Looking at the recent setlist it seemed that
only three songs were left in the #1 rotation and "Halleluljah I'm Ready
To Go" actually looked more than likely for tonight. Even more so in fact
when Larry came out on stage his mandolin in his hands. However, I was
very pleasantly surprised that they did:
Wait For The Light To Shine (acoustic)
It was actually a pretty good version, that was faster and seemed to have
a more driving rhythm than some renditions I'd heard on tape. Nice
backing vocals from Larry and Charlie as usual. By the way: In Oberhausen
they had worn matching olive-coloured suits (interestingly enough, Larry
didn't get his extra-long jacket) but tonight they apparently had -
temporarily - abondoned the idea of matching outfits. But enough of that,
because number two was a real treat. Bob started the song with a harp solo
and while I expected a surprise in this slot, I didn't even dare to think
it would be this - one of my all time favourite Dylan tunes - but it was.
I Threw It All Away (acoustic)
Played approx. 10 times since 1978, and the first time ever acoustic - if
my memory serves me well. In any case, it was GRRRRREAT! Bob's harp solo
at the beginning was of the "one size fits all" variety, but his singing
and phrasing was surprsingly good considering it was still very early in
the show and Larry's perfect pedal steel guitar took the song to a whole
new level. The acoustic arrangement actually worked very well, it was in
fact closer to the "Nashville Skyline" original (minus the organ) than
recent electric outings. The fact that the band played quiter also meant
that Bob could concentrate on the beautiful lyrics and didn't have to
worry about being louder than the instruments which seemed to have been
the case on earlier electric renditions. This song alone was worth my time
& money! Wow! (by the way: If you haven't heard it, check out Yo LaTengo's
great version of this tune as well!)
It's Alright, Ma (acoustic)
Bob delivered a killer first verse: Fast, clean and sharp. The rest of it
wasn't too bad either, but you couldn't help but noticing that the show
featured several songs that were just "too long" and while Bob was great
on the first verses, trying out new phrasings etc., he went back to the
"regular" (not to say boring) phrasings for the last part of the song(s).
If the songs would've been over by halftime, they actually would've been a
lot better or definitely more interesting at least. More of that later.
Love Minus Zero (acoustic)
Again starting with a harp solo, this song featured the best singing of
the night. Sweet and gentle, the song reached the same high level that
"Boots" has reached in Nürnberg or "Every Grain Of Sand" in Stuttgart.
Larry provided what was probably the nicest pedal steel solo that I heard
him play ever since he took over from Bucky. Bob was visibly impressed as
well, and actually refrained from adding his own two-note-solo on top of
Larry's. A wise choice! Got the biggest cheer of the night so far. Next:
my second big moment of the night, after "I Threw It All Away".
I guess I first got the "Saved" album about ten years ago and the
stand-out track for me always has been "Solid Rock" - mostly because of
the drumming, which I think is unlike anything else on any other Dylan
record (bar maybe "Series Of Dreams"). When they finally started playing
the song again in Stockholm last month, my first reaction was: "I wonder
if Receli can do the drum part justice". Okay, by now we know he kinda
could, but still: The second the hit the first chord, my shitty seat on
the side of the stage made sense all of a sudden: Because I could quite
perfectly see THE ORIGINAL DRUMMER play the song: Jim Keltner! It was
stunning to see him play all the little things that make the drum part so
interesting, so I didn't care that Bob's singing definitely has been
stronger on other renditions of the song before. I was over the moon
already. Now even "River Flow" wouldn't have managed to ge in the way of
my staggeringly good mood.
Watching The River Flow
Hey Bob! You know as well as I, that I wasn't entirely serious when I said
that!!! But there it was: One of my least favourite tracks in the Dylan
catalog, AGAIN Bob added a harp solo and Larry (on lap steel guitar) and
Charlie on 6-strng played some pretty cool solos, so and in the end it
wasn 't the worst version I've ever heard, but still. If this meant that I
would leave the tour with "High Water", I could've done without it!
Nice choice, as well done as in Strasbourg. My buddy Tim wanted to hear
this song, so I was happy that Bob played it "for him".
Lonesome Day Blues
The usual bluesy, but rocking arrangement, got a -somewhat surprisingly -
good response from the crowd.
Masters Of War (acoustic)
I had put on the "Masterpieces" album a few days prior to the show and I
was completely stunned when I heard the original of this song for the
first time in ages. What a great performance. So I listened with extra
care when this came on, and it was kinda disappointing. He almost sang the
song in an almost sympathetic voice and it just didn't work. Keltner (who
did a decent job on most of the songs), didn't really seem to know what he
was supposed to do on this track either and his quiet drumming seemed
kinda un-inspired and not fitting the song.
Mr. Tamborine Man (acoustic)
With harp. It was an odd version, with Bob singing a different "ascending"
melody and he also streched the last word of every line, at least in the
first half (cf. "It's Alright Ma"). Weird.
Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)
Again, Bob seemingly invented a whole new melody line on the spot and that
made the song acutally quite enjoyable until he returned to the regular
arrangement/phrasing for the last few verses. The usual soloing made sure
that the crowd went completely mad! Next up: "Summer Days" - or so I
thought, but it took them longer than usual to start the song and when I
heard Larry play a chord on the cittern, I knew something was different!
And what a great version it was! Stunningly well sung, played quite
perfectly by the band with the added bonus of two extended laid back
Charlie Sexton solos that fitted the mood of the song very well. Don't
think I've heard a better live version yet!
Was missing some of the fun and excitement of previous versions,
especially when compared to the very first renditions on this tour. The
triple solo at the end included some bad noodleing and Keltner's drumming
isn't half as good as Recelis's on this track. Charlie put in an awesome
solo in themiddle, that unfortunately was way too short!
Keltner completely butchered the song. They had played it before and it
worked fine, but tonight Jim's drumming was mostly unconnected to the
song. He missed all of his cues, and messed things up so badly that Larry
had to go back a few bars twice and restart his guitar part to make the
song halfway recognizable. Even Bob turned around once as if he wanted to
help Keltner to get back into the arrangement. A mess. Bob put some extra
energy into the closing harp solo, but it didn't help much. The light show
(the guys as giant shadows on the curtain) looked terrific - even better
from the stands, actually.
Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 & 35
One of the highlights of the night, for the same reasons the extended
"Cat's In The Well" from Munich was so good. The soloing was acutally
enjoyable and not at all of the "let's get out of here" variety. In fact
Bob and Charlie seemed to have played a completely different tune
altogether for most of the time. Or was it just a really cool and
inventive twin solo they made up on the spot?! Great stuff! Band intros,
the by now common short solos from each band member, formation, the end.
Man Of Constant Sorrow
Well, the encores were a bit of a let down. Not that they were bad, but
after the excellent main set (probably the best and most enjoayble I've
seen this year), the encores were just Bob-by-numbers for the best part.
This song worked as well as before musically, but Bob's vocal delivery
sounded a bit tired.
Like A Rolling Stone
Again, the energy from the mainset was gone, Keltner messed up the ending
and underlined that this was a sub-standard version.
If Dogs Run Free (acoustic)
With an odd harp solo at the start. They only used pink lights on stage
for this song (is that new or did I just miss it before?) and that looked
quite specatular in a loungy kind of way. Bob's singing was bettert han I
would have expected and they had a fade out ending that actually was an
accident (judging from the smiles on the band member's faces), but it
worked quite well.
Honest With Me
One of my favorites from "Love And Theft", but live (and especially in
this non changing slot in the encores) I find it a bit tiring, despite the
fact that it rocked like no other song tonight.
Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic)
Same as it ever was. Unlike at previous shows, they didn't even leave the
stage after this song. They only went back behind the backline, waited for
about 15 seconds and then returned for:
All Along The Watchtower
Is there a better way to end "my" tour? I guess not! Well, actually, they
could have rocked a lot more! With Keltner's laid back drumming (only
using hi-hat and bass drum during the verses), this weird un-rock version
was kinda reminiscent of the spring 1998 version, but not quite as good.
Without wanting to sound like a broken record: I am not complaining!
It was, after all, a fine end for my personal "Euro 2002" tour. I don't
think I ever got to hear more different songs in just eight shows (a solid
66, I think) and when you see as many shows as I usually attend, that's
all you could possibly hope for. Thanks for joining me on my little trip,
again also to all my riends helping me out along the way and please
my bad english once again. See y'all next year!?
Review by Jeroen Bol
With great expectations I went to my first Dylan concert. I was not
dissappointed. What a great performance it was! I enjoyed the whole lot:
seeing Bob alive and well right in front of me, the outstanding musicians
he's touring with, the setlist of the evening and the great sound in the
Ahoy hall. We had good in the seats on the stand and the binoculars were
very helpful. The show opened at 20.10 p.m. with Wait for the light to
shine. I enjoyed Larry playing the mandolin. It was a nice performance as
a start. Great how you can clearly understand every word that is sung in a
Dylan concert! Number two was one of my favourites: I threw it all away.
Bob sang the song in a quiet modest way. He would play quite a lot of
harp this evening and this was the first. Then on to It's allright Ma (I'm
only bleeding). Again one of my favourites. Great song and a good
performance. From now on the band seemed to be getting up steam. Then Love
minus zero/no limit. Bob on harp again and Larry was playing on steel
guitar. I enjoyed it but it did not really sparkle. But the sparkling
appeared to be just around the corner. Solid rock! I had hoped for this
song since it is back in Bob's repertoire for some weeks now after 20
years of absence. Great to here him sing he's is still hanging on to a
Solid Rock... Solid it was and rock it did! But this would turn out to be
only the beginning of more very energetic strong stuff to come. Number six
found Bob on harp for he third time with Watching the river flow. It was a
powerfull performance. On to Sugar baby. A very beautifull version, much
better than on Love and Theft. Bob singing with much feeling. Great! Tony
playing the standup bass and smiling a lot. He would do so throughout the
concert. After Sugar baby another Love and Theft song: Lonesome day blues.
A powerful compelling blues on cd and even more so in concert. Larry did a
good job as always, this time on slide guitar, Bob kind of growling the
words into the mike like he does often nowadays. Bruce Springsteen once
said: he's the toughest voice in the world. Amazing to see and hear Bob
still is. What a creative power breaking loose time and time again, even
with a voice that is clearly damaged after forty years on the road. Then
we're treated with a sublime acoustic version of Masters of war. Charlie
plays beautifully on the dobro. Wath a treat to listen to such top
musucians! Bob is still standing over their grave till he's sure that
they're dead but he lefts out the phrase that 'even Jesus would never
forgive what you do'. Would he see more possibilities now than in the
sixties for forgiving even masters of war? Then he surprises us with a
real classic: Mister tambourine man. Acoustic and Bob on the harp again!
Completely different than the original sixties version. After Tambourine
man the stage is set in blue light and a great great version of Tangled up
in blue follows. I never understood why many people like this song so
much. I do now! Heartfelt singing and great jamming, giving the impression
that we're all gonna fly right through the roof. Then follows the greatest
surprise of the concert: Blind Willie McTell. An absolute favourite of
many but rarely performed by Dylan. Wat a setlist this evening! This is
like a dream coming true. It is a spendid version with Larry doing very
well on the cittern. The quiet McTell is followed by a very swinging
Summer days. We're almost flying away through the roof again... Great
solo's throughout the song. Then a powerful Wicked messenger. Jim Keltner
playing the drums very very well. Rainy day women is a powerful version
with a lot of fantastic jamming again. Man of constant sorrow in the first
encore was done well. Like a rolling stone was truly monumental.
Forcefully sung as the real classic which it is. I never really liked this
song but this version stole my heart. When dogs run free was a quiet pause
before a very rhytmic Honest with me. And then of course Blowin in the
wind with the great harmony singing of Bob, Charly and Larry. I love this
version! The second encore brought us All along the watchtower. It was a
great great show never to forget. Thank you boys!
Review by Peter Koene
I'm a Dylan fan since 1966 and from his first concert in the Netherlands
in 1978 I attended several performances through the years. In september
2000 I decided not to go to Rotterdam. What a mistake! I'm realizing that,
every time I listen to the bootleg "Don't waste your words". So: very high
expectations this year. And, of course, a little disappointment yesterday
night. Sure: Dylan has a perfect band, and they were playing tight. But
the soundmix left very little space to hear all the beautiful guitar work
of Larry and Charlie. Dylan's four note improvisations became boring after
10 songs, and so was his voice, bending to a high note at the end of every
phrase, making many songs sound the same. I missed all the nuances I like
so much in the september 2000 recording (Tomorrow is a long time; Not dark
yet, Things have changed etc). Didn't I enjoy myself? Oh, yes! The group
produced some very good music and Dylan was really co-operating with the
other guys. Nice drumming by Jim Kletner. A few surprises like Solid
Rock, Blind Willie McTell and even four songs from his last album, with
very nice playing bij Charlie in "Summer Days". But not one song swept
me - emotionally - off of my feet. And that is what I expect Dylan to do….
Peter Koene, De Bilt, The Netherlands
Review by Huib Krijgsman
It's the day after and not a single review, how's that, everybody still
knocked out ? It was a great show with Bob and the boys rockin and playin
in a sold out Ahoy, which means for an approx. 8,000 audience. The show
was meant to be all seated (chairs on the exhibition/sports floor) but all
the time it was clear that this would not work. The Dutch don't like to be
told what not to do which makes us an often annoying bunch - for
Ahoy-security certainly, as soon as the houselights dimmed the whole crowd
that was carefully dismissed to their chairs ran for the stage again and
it was standing and dancing as usual for the rest of the show. Only now
they were dancing on the chairs !!! The show started 8.15 and went on till
10.45 before the now well-known mixed audience - litterally all ages, from
little children on their pä's (or grandpa's ?) shoulders to pensioners
with rollators who started out on Bob and will carry him with them till
the (unavoidable as we know from the tourbook) end. And everyone of them
they really freaked out during the whole show, big rounds of cheers after
every 'blue' from TUIB, after 'stand naked', 'broken wing' and sure that
you're dead', at every song recognition, singing along BITW, I have the
feeling that the atmosphere was better than I've witnessed on 'my' odd 40
Bob-shows. My personal highlights were the guitarsoloing from Summer Days
(those who awed this before had every right to !!!), the reworked Constant
Sorrow, the 'extra' Watchtower (OK, not so extra anymore) and of course
Willie McTell, wow what a great song this is - I would say one of Bob's
best. I would not have minded Mississippi but I would not be surprised to
this song being included as a standard in future setlists. So let's all
hope for a soon Bob-return to Europe, it's a reassuring thought that he
really doesn't think of retiring - another US tour already being in the
page by Bill Pagel
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