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Review by Mike Willys
Well, folks, it don't get any stranger than last nights show. I have been
to 15 Bobshows in my life now and last nights is something I know I will
never see or hear again.
And the thing I couldn't get over was this: I felt one of Bobs people (or
Bob) reads our reviews.
Many reviews since Zurich have been dumping on Bob for hogging all the
guitar solos, and last night he let the boys play while he basically stood
at the back and watched.
And...he gives us 4 great rare songs that I would gladly sell my
Grandmother for (at a very cheap price) to hear. After all the complaints
about his doing the same "greatest hits" songs over and over.
Personally my feeling is: if Bob came out wearing a pink Tutu and played a
penny whistle for 2 hours while singing "Ballad in Plain D" 6 times, I
would be still happy to hand over my check and see him.
(Hmmm.perhaps without the pink tutu).
And happy I was last night.......I got "Every Grain of Sand" which even in
my wildest dreams I could not imagine hearing.
I arrived at the Koeln Arena at about 7:00 pm and got a pretty good ticket
on the sides, but near the front, row 6. A great view but I would have
preferred the middle. The lady said the middle was sold out.
8:10: lights go down, Bob comes out, Al speaks up.
On the drive up to Cologne, I predicted "I am the Man Thomas" as the
opener. But we got "Gambler" again, and it was OK but I picked up a vibe
that Bob wasn't too happy or feeling too well. He wasn't playing the
guitar much and he looked a little out of sorts. Actually it was a very
hot day and the arena was hot too, and Bob was wiping his brow and face
nearly all night., both with a towel and many times by his hand. So maybe
it was the heat?
Then came a great musical intro to "Times", really sweet playing, but Bob
had trouble with the first 2 verses. From verse 3 on it was fine, but the
feeling that Bob was sick stayed with me.
Bob started "Its alright Ma", he got through it without any problems and
he did all the verses without a fluff-up. Then a nice Tambourine Man,
though the pause he made before starting each line scared me that he was
forgetting what to sing. Then after Tambourine Man Bob disappeared! He
went out the back somewhere and I thought That's it! Bobs got the flu and
he's leaving.But after a few seconds, with the band looking to see where
he was, he reappeared (to a round of applause) and started Gates Of Eden.
He did it really well, but I still felt he was not enjoying it. Then after
verse 2 he pulled the guitar over his head and held it by the neck, with
the body pointing backwards. I was expecting a stage person to come and
take it, but no..he held it for the whole song. Did the stage guy get a
boot up the backside for it afterwards? The whole show just felt
bizarre.Bobs voice was great and the crowd loved Tambourine Man but I felt
strange...I don't enjoy seeing Bob being uncomfortable, or whatever it
But the Tangled I really enjoyed, it had the mandolin sound that I like
and which I think Larry way making. Bob slowly sounded like he was getting
into it finally. But is was a quick version and was over pretty fast.
Anyway Bob gleefully accepted the electric gee-tar, as did all the band. I
am sure they felt relieved Bob was through the acoustic set. It was not a
bad set, it was just a bit bizarre. The verse mixup in Times seemed to put
everyone on edge, certainly it did that to me.
The country pie we got served was OK but nothing special. Then came my
first thrill, Things have Changed. And Bob was now really becoming Bob.
Great to hear live; I bought the Wonder Boys CD as soon as it came out
here, and I love the song. The first performance in Europe!!! Nice one
Then came a song I definitely did not pick from the opening, but Down on
the Cove was great! Lyrics were sang a little un-melodiously (is that a
word??) but the playing was simply superb. It was my favourite song of the
night. Or so I thought until the next song.....
Again I did not pick the melody, but the opening words stunned me..its
Every grain of sand!!!!!
Bob what are you doing to us tonight??? I hope this doesn't sound too
insane, but I was totally and absolutely stoked! One of my favourite songs
in the world...and Bob sang it great! How does he do it? I will never ever
know..But my 100 marks ticket got validated at this point in the show..
So onto the next song...it sounded like they were going to play "Whole
Lotta Love"..what is this? Then I picked a riff of Cold Irons Bound, but
it still sounded like Pink Floyd and Led Zep were competing in a Hoadley's
Battle of the Sounds competition. It was unreal..then Bob started singing
with just the drums going, David smashing the cymbals then grabbing them
by his hands to dampen the sound.and Tony starts playing the tambourine
with his right hand and playing the bass guitar with his left up near the
top fret. I tell you Ladies and Gentlemen, this dude was not quite sure
what was going on. It was a smashing arrangement, obviously meticulously
planned. With Can't Wait from Zurich and now this version of Cold Irons
Bound, it seems Bob has rearranged TOOM completely. Maybe that's the new
Fall album, TOOM 2000?
Anyway at this point in the show I was totally gob-smacked and I just
leaned back to see what would happen next. But normalcy returned with
Pillbox Hat, then the encores. Love Sick was really good, Rolling Stone
was also fine and I really like seeing the blond sheila on stage. She was
really tall and really blond, and was smiling away like crazy, which
brought a bit of lightness to the show. She was dressed like a dag
however, obviously she was no runaway from a fashion competition. I
expected Bob to thank her (and introduce her) at the end of the song, but
she just disappeared. Just like that..
Forever Young was next and Bob sang it beautifully. The boys on backup
were also good. The German audience loved this one, Bob's voice was smooth
as silk, and I was amazed how he can pull his 1973 voice out of the ether
whenever he wants to.
Then came a Not So Bad Not Fade Away...(I am not too keen on this anymore,
I think the novelty has worn off..I would like something else from the
same genre or era..maybe a Dion tune??, or maybe "Maybe Someday"???).
Don't Think Twice was next to last (just like Joey) and a great version
with a solo from Bob that had me smiling from rim to rim, and for which he
got a great round of applause for when he finished.
The band then started a real waltzy intro to RDW, it sounded just like Tom
Petty on the 30th Anniversary Bobfest special. Bob stood back and moved
his arms like he was conducting an orchestra while the boys played it.
Then he sang 2 verses, played a long solo and then left. He took some bows
and gave a thumbs up to the audience.
So all I could think, after being to Zurich on Saturday, was "Are you the
same person that was here before?" Both shows great, one smooth on the
rocks and the other one shaken but not stirred. Maybe Bob is really just a
big Martini? Both shows unmissable, I loved them both, and I know which
one I will be remembering in 30 years time.
Have fun on the rest of the tour, Bob! Enjoy the shows, guys and girls!
Review by Martin Burger
Michael and me arrive at the Kölnarena at 4 pm, nobody is around yet. The
Arena is a huge, very comercialized place. I am worrying, whether Bob
Dylan will come across at such a cool, new venue. They play Dylan songs in
front of the restaurant, which smoothens the atmosphere. Inside the hall
is still empty. People reach their seats. When the lights go out, a fast
rush upfront takes place. Dylan and his band start with Roving Gambler.
Here he is, the one and only little man, that questions so many other
people and helps our feelings to find a form. Second song "times" reminds
me of the Unplugged-version from 1994. Dylan sings slow and with a clear
voice. "Darkness at the break of noon, ..." - number three is "It's
allright, Ma", one of my favourite Dylan texts. He delivers it just as
sober and attentative as "times". Next is "Tambourine Man", one of the
highlights for my friend Ulrich, the most important thing for him with
this song is, that Dylan still tries to find a band version that gives the
song his own handwriting (and not just cover, for example, the
Byrds-version). Then follows "Gates of Eden", one of the few songs where I
still try to find out, what exactly it is all about and always have a hard
time following the lyrics. Dylan sings this one very engaged. He has taken
of his guitar, picks up the harp and plays it a little. This is one of the
concert highlights. A very concentrated performance of "gates of eden".
Out come the electric guitars, and here they hit them. "Country Pie", hard
to recognize at first if you don't really listen to Nashville Skyline so
often. I like the version they play, even though my mind is still
wandering around with "gates of eden" and it is only my ears that are
trying to adjust to the Rock'n Roll-section. Next one, it takes me quite a
while to realize that "Things have changed", the new song. Very laid back,
very much like the rocky songs on "TOOM". Even farer out seems to be "Down
along the cove", this little song from John Wesley Harding that I enjoyed
so much at "Steve Gibbons Dylan Project", that hit Wuppertal in 1999 and
was a very intimate and deep-felt concert experience. By this time of the
concert (tonights Dylan appearance in Köln) I really enjoy just sitting
there and letting my thougts loose. The songs intensity, the light show
(especially with "Cold Irons Bound", or was it "Things have changed"), the
fun that comes across from stage, but also the seriousness seem to enable
my mind to just let things be as they are. And than it is shivers down the
spine: "In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest needs
...". When I believe, what I hear - Dylan IS playing "Every grain of
sand", I start thinking about my soccer-friend Clemens, who loves this
song just like me and who would have enjoyed hearing it, even in the "rare
tracks"-text version with "... of a perfect finished plan". For me this is
the highlight of the night. This most intimate song, sung with tenderness
and distance. The two regular set closers are "Cold Irons Bound" and
"Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat". Really hard/ tough is what comes across with
"cold irons", this is the moment where I see Dylan as the hobo for whom he
always had so much sympathy. Dylan is the one to lay emphasis on
loneliness as a fact. We are lonely beings, and it is only gods mercy that
helps you not to suffer from it too much. Loneliness - then - is not
necessarily bad for us, but rather gives us the possibility to become
creative. Who was that awful acquaintance of ours, that "forgot to close
the garage door". Blame it on him.
"Lovesick" shows Dylan as the man, father, grandfather he is; as the human
being, that walks around dead, empty streets, playing in huge Arenas,
trying to get rid of the pain that comes with true loves entrance. Lola,
the fan, sure was a surprise on acoustic guitar and she didn't look like
Wolfgang Niedecken at all, for whom I was longing and waiting for. No
Niedecken, who probably would have had a hard time to come across in this
very tight and concentrated Dylan-atmosphere. Instead it is "Forever
young", yet another one of my favourites that i get to hear tonight.
Thanks, Bob Dylan, thanks to his band. During the encores I see this stage
worker/ music technician always running around, ducked behind the
instruments: he has to bring and pick up guitars, for there is an
alternate change between electric and acoustic. Not Fade Away, the
Grateful Dead classic, is well appreciated by my friend Klaus, who sits
next to me. I like the song myself, and than I am actually a little tired
of all the intensive energy that comes across with the music tonight.
"Don't think twice", one of Dylans finest songs, I especially like the
verse "I once loved a women, a child I'm told/ I gave her my heart/ but
she wanted my soul", is next to last, another acoustic song. I just let it
rain on me, before it is closing time with an electric "Rainy Day Women #
12 & # 35". That's it for tonight. I could go on about Michaels bad news,
that they took away his mini-disque, or about us four men standing outside
the Arena talking about now and then, Dylan, predecessors and successors,
but that seems to be too much. Thanks for reading, best wishes Martin
Review by David Elek
Having seen quite a number of Dylan shows since my first at Earls Court
1978, last night was the best since then. Dylan in very fine voice,
focused and concentrated, great selection of songs - suberb versions of
Grain of Sand (I never thought I would get to see that one live!),
Tambourine Man, Things Have Changed (how many of his contemporaries, let
alone new artists, are still producing material this fresh and
relevant??), an exquisite Don´t Think Twice...
I was at Oberhausen two nights ago - that was also very good, but Koln
exceeded even that. If they carry on like this, this is going to be his
finest European tour for years and years. The venues are not great,
unfortunately (large sports halls - you have to get right down the front
to really have any atmosphere), and the tickets are expensive, but the
performance is absolutely top-class.
Review by Sven Lewandowski
In the acoustic set Dylan seemed to have problems with his guitar monitor
or maybe he felt sick. so he missed some lines and several times he
couldn´t make up his mind if he sounld play the harp or not. The electric
set developed very fine with a rare choice of songs. So there was no
reason to be disapointed. Even Dylan´s mood got better and better as the
show went on and by the end he encouraged the audience to clap their hands
on Rainy Day Women. On Like A Rolling Stone a young blond girl with a
guitar appeared on stage. She seemd to be a friend of Tony, but she didn´t
play the guitar - the instrument wasn´t even plugged in. So she stood
there, waving around with her hands on the guitar. It was strange and
Dylan ignored her completly but she seemd to have fun. But for one reason
or another Like a Rolling Stone sounded much better than the days before
´cause Dylans voice was more aggressive. To me the reworked Cold Irons
Bound was the highlight of the show ! It´s a brilliant and very different,
partly hard-rocking version, but it´s hard to discribe if you haven´t
heard it. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to make more presice statements.
P.S.: Gruesse an Judith
Review by Carsten Wohlfeld
Tonight Bob and his gang played the biggest indoor arena in Europe, the
huge Kölnarena in, you’ve guessed it, Cologne and even though they only
sold about 7,000 tickets (the place holds more than 13,000 even if there
are seats on the floor like tonight), it turned out to be a fine show. It
didn’t looked like it would be at the beginning and it was a very, very
strange concert, but I’ll come to that later. The lights went down at
around 8.10 and Bob and his band took to the stage to open yet again with
Roving Gambler (acoustic)
The stage rush happened right at the start of the song and I got into a
little fight with one of the security gurads, so I can’t really comment on
the performance. It seemed to be not as good as previous ones though.
After that things got even more disappointing, because at the number 2
slot we got
The Times They Are A-Changin‘ (acoustic)
Yet again! And it was very, very badly done as well. Bob couldn’t
remember the words of the first verse and it all went downhill from there.
It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) (acoustic)
Bob’s guitarplaying was even worse than in Zürich, even though his
singing was quite strong. He actually paused before the last word of
(almost) every verse, which was a nice way of changing the phrasing.
Mr Tambourine Man (acoustic)
Now things got really bad. Not only did Bob sing the song badly, he also
stopped playing guitar again (Zürich revisited) and at the end picked up
the harp as if he wanted to tease the audience, but after standing there
for 30 seconds with the harmonica in his hand, he put it back on his amp
again without having played it and the song ended. Still the song got the
best crowdreaction all night, it got a huge cheer right at the start.
Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)
Was as unlistenable as the previous song and even though he actually did
play the harp at the end it didn’t help to improve things much. Up to this
point, this must’ve been the worst Bob show I’ve been to with the possible
exception of Essen ’91 and Hamburg ’98. Bob didn’t play the guitar at all
and treated it like a tambozrine, reminiscent of some of the horrid ’91
shows. That he looked completely stoned didn’t help much either. It was
the next song that saved the night.
Gates Of Eden (acoustic)
Bob didn’t play the guitar on this one either, he actually held it in his
right hand for the best part of the song, while he had his left hand on
the mic stand singing a gorgeous, slow version of this amazing song. But
not only that. After he had put the guitar down he picked up the harp and
gave us not one, but two full (and rather excellent) harmonica solo in the
space of just a couple of minutes. Wow! He really seemed to wake up during
this number – yay! Larry on bouzouki, Tony on electric bass.
Was pretty messed up, but still funny, because it was so bad it even made
the band laugh. It was very short too. If he would’ve played “Can’t Wait”
next like he did the nights before, “Gates” would’ve likely been the sole
highlight of the show, but actually he did follow it with
Things Have Changed!
Yesssssss! Great version too, pretty rocking due to David using sticks and
not brushes and Bob’s vocal delivery was quite excellent, too. Larry
played slide guitar and you could see that all four guys actually played
on the studio version too. It sounded pretty perfect, save for Bob’s two
note guitar solo.
Down Along The Cove
Followed.... wow, now things got really started! Very fast version too,
with Larry playing the pedal-steel like riff from the original on a
regular guitar. Long Bob solo (and a good one, too), lots of smiles
(Lampchop was front row center) and kneebends, great fun!
Every Grain Of Sand
Now he really wanted to make up for the disasterous acoustic set. He
mumbled a few lines, but apart from that is was a very nice version
complete with a long intro and a great pedal steel solo courtesy of Larry.
I (and I assume, most others) have been quite happy at this point already,
but what followed was one of the strangest performances I’ve ever heard at
a Bob show, with the possible exception of the early ’98 “John Brown” and
the “Watctower” at the Miami Beach show in the same year.
Cold Irons Bound
Looks probably boring on the setlist, but it was a very weird (and rather
splendid) version, or maybe work in progress that made Bob smile all the
way through. It started just with the guitars and David’s drums dropping
in and out, Tony playing not the bass, but a tambourine (I’m not kidding,
folks!), and only for the chorus he kicked in with the bass and there was
a mighty crescendo. Actually, it’s very hard to describe it, just get a
tape and be astonished!
Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat
Followed the band intros, featured Bob’s best solo of the night. Good
version, but not something you’d sell your grandma for.
Was really good tonight. After the really, um, slow start of the show Bob
was in full effect now and his singing (and guitarplaying got better and
better with every number). After the song, a tall shorthaired blond woman
came on stage, apparently invited by Tony Granier, and she played an
acoustic guitar on the next song without actually plugging it in... Very
strange. Since Bob didn’t introduce her, her identity might forever remain
a mystery, My guess (and it‘s not more than that) is that she’s part of
the crew and it was her birthday or something.
Like A Rolling Stone
Was the song he payed on and it was yet another pretty solid version with
Bob, Charlie and Larry sahring the solos.
Forever Young (acoustic)
Featured Larry and Charlie (half-heartedly) on backing vocals and was a
reular version, which is to say that it was apretty nice performance.
Not Fade Away
Better than most night, probably due to the fact that Bob really enjoyed
himself and gave us some of his gest Chuck Berry moves. Even in the gym
his love is bigger than a cadillac, it seems.
Don’t Think Twice (acoustic)
Featured the third harp solo of the night and was definitely the biggest
crowdpleaser apart from “Tambourine”.
Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 & 35
Bob was goofyinga round more than on any other number tonight and it
seemed as if he wanted to say something to Lampchop in the front row... At
least it seemed to me as if he was playing the song directly to him. After
two hours, a disasterous acoutsic set (bar “Gates”) and a very weird, but
good electric set the show ended with Bob giving the audience a “thumb’s
up”. He was right. It really was a fun show. And one thing‘s for sure: he
won’t repeat this setlist again in Hannover tomorrow! Thanks for your time
and keeping up with any mistakes I made, it’s getting late and it’s been a
long day yet again. Good night!
"ich glaube, dass du pseudo bist / weil du glaubst, dass du durchblickst,
wenn du bekifft bist/ du glaubst, dass du drauf bist, wenn du daneben bist
Review by Johannes Heilen
The sound was excellent from the very first note. Dylan played harp
on Tangled up in blue and held the broken guitar in his hand
during the most part of Gates of eden. Having given the guitar
away, izt seemed that he didn't know what todo with his hands,
so he played harp again. The electric set was fantastic, featuring
some rare and great performances. Nearly at the end of the show, he gave
the audience the victory sign and invited us to clap along during Rainy
day woman. There was a blonde woman onstage playing acoustic guitar during
Like a rolling stone. But I don't know who it was and Dylan seamed not to
care much. Dylan plays on a high level for some years now, but the sound
has never been better than this year. Often I ask myself, why Dylan climbs
on stage night after night. I do not know the answer, but I love him for
Review by Jak Egnetzki
How does it feel to be on stage with Bob?
The Cologne-gig at Kölnarena has been very funny. In the beginning he did
"The Roving Gambler", The Times" and "It's alright Ma" very well. During
"Mr Tambourine Man" Bob took at first the Harmonica, but he didn't play.
Something is happening, but you don't know, what it is. The right moment
passed, and that's it. "Tangled up in blue" wasn't as well as in
Oberhausen, but the "Gates of Eden" was a highlight of the show, very
moderate. Bob took away his guitar and played harmonica again. At this
time he was not very concentrated. The electric part of the show was very
nice. "Things have changed", "Every Grain of Sand" and "Cold Iron Bounds"
- very well done. Bob & his Band have been very relaxed during this part
of the show. At the end of "Love Sick" Daggi came on stage with a guitar.
Everyone asked himself and each other - who is this blond girl with jeans
and a grey shirt? At the beginning of the show she has been asked by a
PR-woman, if she would like to sit beside on stage. They got little bit
of red wine, and she was asked to play the guitar. The man, who gives Bob
everytime his guitar, brought her on stage. She "played" the acoustic
guitar, but nobody could hear it. Maybe it was better... Tony said to her
"Yeah", and she answered "Yeah". That's it. Bob played "Like A Rolling
Stone " very well, he didn't say anything about Daggi. Wolfgang Niedecken,
who played with his band BAP some songs of Dylan a few years ago, sat
also at one side of the stage. I'm sure, that he would have loved to play
the guitar, but Daggi was the one.. At the end Bob played "Forever Young"
and "Don't think twice" - lovely!!! After the show the man, who gives Bob
everytime his guitar, invited a young lady to come to Hannover. She
couldn't believe it, but she wants to go there. He said, that she should
be at the gates. Her name is Lola. She has long red hair. Maybe she is on
stage tomorrow. How does it feel? The show at Oberhausen was very fine,
but this one very funny.
Review by René Voncken
Well, last night's set was cooking!!!
Mighty fine song, good set opener.
Times they are a-changing:
I agree with Carsten on this, we really don't need to hear this one over and
It's alright Ma (I'm only bleeding):
Instead of Masters of war (which my brother wanted to hear) this was a
great choice! Song with vigour, passion, anger!!
Mr. Tambourine Man:
Same comment as on Times.
Tangled up in blue:
What the hell was Dylan doing with his guitar???? He completely messed things
up!! Vocal rendition and harp were very good though.
Gates of Eden:
Well, need I say more.... Dylan didn't play his guitar, but the song.....simply
awesome! Great harp as well.
Play this one more often Bob!! Please!!!
Things have changed:
Never heard that one (live)!!! Good!! Few people seemed to recognize it and
Dylan clearly enjoyed singing it. To tell you the truth, I think Dylan really
enjoyed the whole concert! He looked very very vital, his voice was crispy
clear and he even encouraged the audience to give applause, something
I've never seen him do. Waving his arms in the air....
Down along the cove:
Another song few people seemed to know..... For me, I think it's the best
song I ever heard him play. Words just can't say enough.
The guitars........ An artist born again!!
Every grain of sand:
What a great choice to play!!! After Down along the cove, this was more than
I could ask for!!!
Cold irons bound:
Oh, what a version!!!! I just can't wait for the boot to come out!!!! It was
damn good!!!!! Guitar play...waww......
Leopard skin pillbox-hat:
Dylan really started to get in his groove, rocking all the way to the States
and back!!! Good for him he got over his mess on TUIB!! I mean, I've seen
Dylan quite a few times but usually, if he messes things up, the rest of the
concert is shitty, but tonight, just see the songs above!!!!!
The encores were good, especially Forever young was a great version,
great harp on Don't think twice as well.....
Well, see all of you next time!!!!!
rvoncken@cistron (for comment and other mail)
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