Dresden, Germany

May 24, 2000

Freilichtbühne Junge Garde

[Sven Lewandowski], [Christian Zeiser], [Anneke & Hans], [Carsten Wohlfeld]

Review by Sven Lewandowski

Bob´s birthday party at Dresden
German sociologist Niklas Luhmann (1926-1997) not only developed one of
the most interesting modern theories of society, but also explained that
people do not only have expectationsŠ There are expectations on
expectations as well. People do not only expect things to happend but also
expect what other people expect them to do - and that they do relate to
this expectations. For sure Dylan was able to expect what people expected
him to do on his birthday´s show at DresdenŠ So he had two main
possibilities. One possibility was to ignore the audience and there
expecatations as well as the singing of ³Happy-Birthday to you´ and the
shouts by the audience. The other possibility was to do a special
performance (or, as I ironically said, to offer a kind of surprise to the
audience and to perform all the greatest hits that no one wants to hear
again). But in the end Dylan chose a kind of mixture of these possibiliesŠ
The first surprise was that the venue turned out to be a nice open-air
theatre and that the weather was fine (not too hot, not too cold and no
rain at all). Another surprise was Dylan´s outfit: not one of the usual
suits but a western shirt without any tie or jacket. As soon as Dylan
entered stage the audience started to sing ´Happy Birthday´ but Dylan
ignored it and started with a convincing version of ´Roving Gambler´ and I
tought that he would carry on with thge usual ´Times They Are A-Changin´´
but this time the times really had changend: Dylan started the next song
alone with his guitar and the band didn´t start until he finished the
first verse. It was real: Dylan sung ´Song To Woody´ for the first time on
this year´s European tour. What a nice surprise and at that point I was
sure that the show was going to be great. He went on with ´Masters of War´
but I don´t remember very much of it because I was so happy having heard
´Song To Woody´. ´Mama, You Been On My Mind´ was another rare choice and I
enjoyed very much the way Dylan treated it. His voice once again was low
and tender. ´Tangled Up In Blue´ was good, but there´s no need to coment
on this song anymore. The acoustic set ended with ´To Romona´, featuring
Larry Campell on mandolin. (It was funny ´cause not very long ago I said
to somebody that I missed the mandolin, which was often played by Bucky
Baxter in the old days, a little bit). Not only because of this
intrumental change ´To Romona´ sounded quite different from the other
songs. Dylan also sung very well. So the acoustic set featured three rare
songs and all of them (and the three others) were performed (nearly)
perfect and if it was not the best acoustic set I ever heard, it has at
least been the acoustic set I enjoyed most. The electric set started once
again with ´Country Pie´ and there´s really nothing to say on it. It was
rocking and short. Another good version of ´Can´t Wait´ follow. More
interesting to me was ´Stuck Inside of MobileŠ´ I know a lot of people
hate this song (´cause Dylan did it so often), but this is not true for
me. I may be a ´pervert´ but I like the song ! And I think this time even
the haters had no reason to complain. ´Stuck Inside of MobileŠ´ not only
featured more verses then I ever heard live before, but also was performed
perfectly. It really rocked and the audience was beoming more and more
enthusiastic. After nearly each song there was a lot of communication on
stage and it would be interesting what was on the cue sheet. Anyway - to
me it seemed that they discussed on every song. This was very obious
especially for the next song. They talked a lot and when David Kamper made
an attempt to start, Tony Garnier suddenly shook his had and waved his
hand to tell him ´not this one´. And so they started again with another
song I wanted to hear. It was ´Just Like Tom Tumb´s Blues´. It was GREAT,
altought it featured rather little text (as far as I remember). By now it
was quite obvious that Dylan had decided to offer a special show as a
prestent for his birthday ! So the band dropped into another raw version
of ´Drifter´s Escape´ and now there were no problems with the loudness of
the harmonica, so that we got the full blast. The band introduction
followed and David Kemper once again was declared as one of the best
drummers in the world - better than no drummer at all. By this time
audience started another ´Happy-Birthday-²attact² but didn´t succed. So
´Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat´ came on as the last song of the regular set.
When Dylan came back for the encores, ´Happy Birthday´ was sung again.
Tony seemed to be wanting to join in and exchanged a few words with Dylan
but Dylan didn´t seem to agree. But he must have recognized what was
happening - for he surely is no Mr.Jones - but this was exactly the song
he did instead of the usual ´Love Sick´ (that I heard on every concert
since I heard the debut performance at Bournemouth). ´Ballad of A Thin
Man´ not only sounded great but also seemed to be the right song for the
very moment. In fact something was happening here ! (But Dylan wasn´t here
all alone - and he also recognized that there was an audience !). ´Like A
Rolling Stone´ (which was weaker then the nights befrore) and ´It Ain´t
Me, Babe´ followed. Then he once again did ´Maggie´s Farm´ which turned
out to be this concert´s only weak performance. I didn´t really expect
that ´Forever Young´ would follow and I still think that it is quite
strange that Dylan performed this song on his birthday (a bit like singing
´Happy Birthday´ to oneself). As a real surprise Dylan left out ´Rainy Day
Women´ and did ´Highway 61´ instead (for the first time on this European
tour). That was not only a nice change - ´Highway´ really sounded great.
(By the way Dylan-concerts without ´Highway´ seem to feel a little bit
like being on ´cold turkey´). ´Blowin´ In The Wind´ finished the show but
another strange thing was still to happen. As the band left stage Dylan
turned back, walked to the mic and siad something to the audience. To me
it sounded like ³it was a night to remember², but I´m not quite sure about
the exact words he used (so we have to wait until the bootleg arrives) -
but the sense was clear. I can´t remember that Dylan did say something to
the audience after a show in recent years. Does anybody so ? So all in all
it was a great birthday party with an enthusiastic audience, a great band
and singer who´s been in a very good mood. It was so obvious that Dylan
enjoyed himself - so much that he felt urged to thank the audience. What
an evening ! Certainly a show to remember ! Sven 


Review by Christian Zeiser

Of course: A Bob Dylan show on the man's birthday was bound to be 
something extraordinary. Yet, you couldn't really say which way the 
road would take - it could either be an event coming close to a 
celebration or it could be just another show, which would be 
something special in itself, Dylan completely ignoring the fact that it's
his birthday. Anything in between those two scenarios was also possible.

The Junge Garde in Dresden is a lovely outdoor venue, like half an 
amphitheatre, big enough for a crowd of maybe 6000 and yet intimate 
enough to provide a certain family gathering feel. Several bed sheets with
"Happy Birthday Bob" written on them could be seen above the crowd, lots
of people had abviously spent the day rehearsing Happy Birthday choirs,
and it was clear that every single soul in there knew what day it was.

As usual, Dylan and the boys started the show pretty much in time, 
launching into Roving Gambler. Dylan seemed very relaxed, often 
taking looks into the crowd, seemingly enjoying the fact that he 
could indeed see the whole audience for a change. After Roving 
Gambler, the first few people attempted to sing Happy Birthday for 
him - and failed. Dylan, with a typical distance to his own party, 
went straight into a lovely version of Song To Woody, way more full 
of feeling than the ones I've heard on recent March/April recordings. It
was like he had just written the number, every single word came out like a
statement on its own. Moving. Stellar. ... Find a few more
super-enthusiastic words and fill in the blank. Of all the shows I've seen
so far (I don't count, but for the record: something between 25 and 30),
this will hold a place among my own personal Top 10 song renditions. A
beautiful Mama You Been On My Mind followed a solid Masters Of War, and
right after a pretty common Tangled Up In Blue we got treated with a
rendition of To Ramona that should shut up the nastiest critic of this
song. I always liked the number itself, but grew a bit tired of the recent
arrangement. This one was a relief, Kemper resisting to give it the waltz

The electric set started off with a rollin' and loose Country Pie and
another attempt at Can't Wait, whose new arrangement I can't help to find
a bit short-lived. It was a surprise, it was cool in the beginning, but
after a while it gets a bit boring. Of course it still manages to
fascinate the usual people, the sane ones who only go to one or a few
shows, so I'll shut up right now. :-) After this a very special moment
arrived: The prove that songs that you write off as played too often, as
overused and having ceased to develop, can one day suddenly seem like a
completely new number played for the very first time. Stuck Inside Of
Mobile had me thunderstruck, Dyln putting a whole new level of power into
his singing on this one, and the band shone on this one. Up-beat, loose,
relaxed, Dylan giving it forceful and flowing vocals. Wow. Just Like Tom
Thumb´s Blues was sung pretty low-key, a surprise on its own, a soft and
careful treatment on this horror scenario. Oh yes, and then the Drifter
was back, blowing everyone away. The new arrangement is forceful enough on
its own, and Dylan barks out the lyrics, proving that after all he is one
of the best blues shouters around. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat closed an
electric set that consisted, except for Can't Wait, of up-tempo numbers
only, a fact that underlined the party atmosphere of the whole event.
Still, Dylan had given us no chance to congratulate him so far, but this
changed when they came back out for the encores. The break was long enough
for a happy Birthday choir to form and be delivered, and Dylan even
rewarded this with a bow and a "thank you". A guy who had tried to hand
Dylan a present before had been less lucky. You couldn't even tell where
the bodyguard that grabbed and dragged him away had come from, that is how
quick the guy was. Dylan himself paid no attention to that scene. The guy
could have known. It is naive enough to think that you can actually get
through to him and hand him, as we later found out, three bottles of wine.
Still, several things flew on stage during the show, including a few
bunches of flowers, a leopard-skin hat, and a toy moose. :-) Ballad Of A
Thin Man opened the encores, and although I love the usually played Love
Sick, I found this to be a refreshing change. Like A Rolling Stone was
next, rocking and pleasing the crowd, before It Ain't Me, Babe, just like
Stuck Inside Of Mobile, proved that the old war horses can still surprise.
Dylan gave it a very soft treatment, speaking the words in a low-key tone,
taking away the what-do-you-expect-sarcasm of the song and giving it more
of a regretful touch. Marvvellous. Maggie's Farm rocked, Forever Young was
kind of ragged as he failed to remember a few lines (still, it was loved
by the crowd who obviously found it very fitting to the occasion), and
after a reliably rocking Highway 61 Revisited it was time for the last
number, Blowing In The Wind. Once more it was clear that this song has a
special meaning in eastern Germany, as the "how many years can some people
exist before they're allowed to be free" line got several cheers of
excitement from the crowd. Dylan looked a bit surprised here. Did he know
in which part of the country he was at all?

The show was over, the crowd going wild, obviously completely 
satisfied with what they've just experienced, and finally Dylan, 
already on his way out, returned to the mike once more and spoke the
sentence that everybody had already learned not to expect: "Thank you! I
will remember this birthday for a while!". Those were the words. We'll be
sure to do that, too.


Review by Anneke & Hans

We're back from Germany again and I must say that we saw some
extraordinary shows. Here's a small review of the last three German gigs.
In my opinion the Berlin venues are always the worst you can imagine. This
time the show took place in some abandoned former East Berlin bus depot.
The only thing I can think of is that Bob gets inspired by these horrible
looking places because again, like the years before, the Berlin show was
one of the highlights during these seven Germany gigs. He started off with
Touched By The Hand Of The Lord (Somebody Touched Me) which was a great
opener after all the Roving Gamblers....first time I heard Bob doing this
live so it couldn't be better. On this 3 shows tour it struck me that he's
forgetting the words to his own songs more and more. He even made a mess
of Times and Forever Young. On the other hand he added a new phrase when
he asks in Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat "Is It Really The Expensive Kind" he
gives the answer "I'm Sure It Is"... and another nice thing is that he
sung "You think he loves you for MY money..." either he messed up or it
was his intention but I liked it. The Dresden Birthday Gig was one of the
best shows I've been to (out of the 56 I've seen so far). Not because of
the setlist but only because of the fact that it was Bob's birthday and we
all were in a good mood, the weather was great and it was the first (and
only) open air venue. There was an atmosphere you find on those special
birthday parties. I liked Song To Woody and Tom Thumb's Blues for a change
and during Country Pie I waltzed with I guess his name was Allessandro, an
Italian guy, just to show Bob that this was a party. Some people told me
that he looked a bit surprised by seeing this but while watching us
waltzing he opened up in a big smile. If there's anyone who can get me the
video of this event I'd gladly like to buy it. During the changing of the
instruments the audience started to sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY and there were a
lot of women throwing flowers and there was this guy jumping on stage with
a gift box with bottles of wine in it. He didn't get the chance to
approach Bob because one of Bob's security guys catched him almost
immediately. After the last encore Bob returned, more or less encouraged
by Tony, saying "I won't forget this birthday for a while". As usual in
the former Eastern part of Germany there was this hughe crowd outside the
venue that listened to the show in the surrounding park, picknicking the
night away while listening to the show. Since we managed to get to the
front row all six preceding shows we decided to NOT be in the front row in
Regensburg. We wanted to do a little sight-seeing in the beautiful city of
Regensburg and above that we were somewhat exhausted from all this
traveling. The show was great indeed but looking at Bob from a distance
sure feels different than seeing him perform right in front of you.
Somehow I don't feel connected, too much distraction by the crowd and by
everything that's normally happening behind my back. On the other hand
it's quite interesting to see that Tommy (Dylan's guitar care taker) is
picking up very young, blond girls out of the audience and bring them to
seats at the side of the stage and that Jeff Rosen and the guy who's
always announcing Dylan "good evening ladies and gentlemen....." are bored
to death during the performance and throw things at eachother like they
were playing baseball. Anyway, the highlight in Regensburg was Delia and
because most people didn't know what he was singing the audience became
quiet and there was a silence I never heard before during one of Bob's
shows. And now back to the rhythm of every day life and wait for the boots
to be released. Thanks for reading all this stuff. Hope you enjoyed it and
for you who are seeing Bob within a few months. ENJOY!!!!!


Review by Carsten Wohlfeld

I really don’t like East Germany. Sorry. Just to many ruins of houses that
were left behind after the wall came down, beautiful houses even people in
the western part of the country would kill to live in. The center of town
in Dresden is beautiful of course, but when we were driving to our hotel
at the outskirts of town we had to drive so some streets that gave Dresden
the feel of a Ghost Town. Very creepy. 

Anyways, we weren’t here for the sightseeing, but to celebrate Bob‘s
birthday, the first since Paris 1966 he wanted to celebarte on stage. The
Junge Garde pretty  outdoor venue, an amphitheatre that fits about 6 000
to 7 000 people. There were a number of banners with “happy birthday Bob”
but I doubt that the suppsodly short-sighted Dylan could’ve seen them...
The souncheck included “... Train To Cry” with Sexton on vocals, plus
instrumental renditions of “Trying To Get To Heaven” and a million tries
at “Gotta Serve Somebody” amongst some other songs. Since I wanted to see
the Opera House and stuff I only arrived at 7.50, but still managed to get
a spot in the pit. At about 8.10 Bob and crew took to the stage, the sun
was still shining, the air was very warm – in other words: perfect weather
for a great show / birthday party.

   1.Roving Gambler (acoustic) 

was a bit of a letdown after we got to hear “Hallelujah...” and “Somebody
Touched Me” at the previous shows. They did it alright, but it wasn’t
exactly special. The first treat of the night came in the #2 slot, where
“Times” was replaced by the best of all alternatives:

   2.Song To Woody (acoustic) 

Wow... it was the first time that I got to hear this longtime favorite of
mine and it was better than I‘d expected in my wildest dreams. That he’d
play a song for Woody Guthrie on his own birthday was a very nice move and
it was a beautiful, touching version as well. You probably have heard of
the Billy Bragg/Wilco collaboration “Mermaid Avenue” (Volume 2 is due out
this month) and Billy told me recently that he considered the release of
“TOOM” as one of the key factors behind the success of the record and the
Guthrie “comeback” in recent years. And maybe the success of the
Bragg/Wilco album in turn inspired Bob to revive this song again... who

   3.Masters Of War (acoustic) 

An above average rendition with some new drum parts. 

   4.Mama, You Been On My Mind (acoustic) 

There‘s not much to say about this one, it was solid and featured a nice
solo. Bob seemed to put a lot into his guitar playing tonight, maybe that
was a present for himself – not to fuck up any of the songs too bad

   5.Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)

Thankfully it’s getting better again after the rotten version in Horsens.
I guess Bob and abnd decided that they either had to put more into it or
drop the song. It seems that thye opted for the former.

   6.To Ramona (acoustic) 

Larry on mandolin. “Gates Of Eden” was on the cuesheet instead, but 
Bob opted for one of my least fvorite Dylan songs of all time instead. It
was as badly done as always and only the harp solo at the end kinda saved

  7.Country Pie 

Larry’s and Charlie’s solos seemed to be better than usual, part from that
it was the usual short  fun-packed start of the electric proceedings.

   8.Can't Wait

“Blind Willie McTell” was on the cuesheet instead as I was told later and
I have to say that I’d much rather heard that one as “Can’t Wait” was just
another rendition of the new deadly slow arrangement that didn’t do
anything for anybody.

   9.Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again 

was an unlikely highlight as Bob and band put a lot of ebergy into the
performance that is usually missing. Bob’s phrasing was both playful and
inventive as well and it was really surprising who good his over- played
song can sound of a good night like tonight. Bob gave Charlie the chance
to play a long solo, that didn’t sound too impressive to my ears. Maybe it
was just the bad mix, or Charlie was too surprised that he’d have to play
a solo usually reserved for Bob. Weird. After that Larry went over to the
lap steel, Charlie grabbed his red Stratocaster and it was time for “River
Flow” (the only song played with his kinda setup). David started to count
in the song when Bob suddenly shook his head and Tony waved at David
shouting “No! No!”. Thankfully they decided to do another song and I got
my first-ever rendition of:

  10.Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues 

which came very much unexpected and made me very happy indeed. 
Obviously it was just the spur of the moment that made Bob change his mind
and I guess he probably regretted that he did very soon after. The band
played a solid version of the song, but Bob couldn’t remember most of the
words and he even sand one word of – I think – the last verse, then
stepped back, payeda nother solo and then gave it another – halfhearted
try. Still loved it though. 

  11.Drifter's Escape

Again a cross between Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic” (as far as the
power is concerned) and Jimi’s own version of “Drifter‘s Escape” with
Larry playing the bass riff from Jimi’s version on guitar. Same cool stop
and start arrangement with anotehr cool Dylan harp solo at the end. Band
intros included the same joke about David’s playing we heard in Berlin
(even though Bob messed it up) and he also advised us to look out for
Charlie’s solo records... 

  12.Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat 

closed the show in the same rocking way as usual. Tony asked Bob if he
wanted to do “Highway”, but he obviously wasn’t ready to do it just yet.
Then they left, but as soon as they returned the crowd started singing
“Happy Birthday” for Bob (in a thick east german accent, which I thought
was hilarious),  with the help of Tony “The Conductor” garnier, who joined
in with his bass for the last line, as did David on drums. They didn’t do
a veyr good job, but then again, they’ve proved before (in Paris, two
years ago), that they have no clue who to play “Happy Birthday”. Bob was
visibly moved and a shy “thank you” was followed not by “Love Sick”, but

  13.Ballad Of A Thin Man 

Yet another masteful version, a lot better than yet another tired
rendition of “Love Sick”.  I still prefer the more rocking mid-90s
versions, but then again the slower version gives Bob more room to
concentrate on his singing. And it shows. Larry on pedal steel.

  14.Like A Rolling Stone 

“How does it feel to be 59 years old, with no direction home?” Not the
best version as Larry played a solo that was simply too long and thus he
messed up the next change... Charlie’s solo on the other hand was

  15.It Ain't Me, Babe (acoustic) 

Complete with harp solo it was a solid version.

  16.Maggie's Farm 

It wasn’T “Not Fade Away” which became the very last song to get 
dropped from the set this year. There is now no song that has been 
performed at every show in 2000. That was the biggest news about this
version of Maggie’s already. 

  17.Forever Young (acoustic)

One of the birthday banners read “Happy Birthday Bob – Forever 
Young” and maybe it was because of that why we got to hear this. Bob
forgot a couple of lines and it was still good, but not exactly special.

  18.Highway 61 Revisited 

Larry expected them to do “Not Fade Away” again as he still had his 
guitar plugged in before he moved to lap steel. First time that this song
was performed in Europe 2000 but it wasn’t different from any of the
gazillion 1999 versions at all.

  19.Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic)

Actually a very nice version, it seemed as if Bob wanted to close the show
with a good song/rendition and it worked out quite well. Despite the
not-so-exciting setlist this was a very, very enjoyable show, the band
seemed to have more fun than usual and everybody from the roadies to the
musicians seemed to be less serious than usual. Halfway through the show
somebody had tried to jump on stage with a present in his hands, but the
security knocked him down to the ground quickly. I guess there was a
strict “no presents” rule tonight, even though lots of flowers were thrown
on stage....

The show was a few minutes shorter than the others and when it was all
over, David kinda pushed Bob back on stage. I’d hoped for another song,
but Bob just said: "I will remember this birthday for a while" and then
left again. Nice to know that he seemed to appreciate the party the people
of Dresden had thrown for him. 

Thanks for reading, my apologies for any mistakes or typos, but it was
very late as I wrote this. See ya in Regensburg! Good night!

Carsten Wohlfeld
"if you see me with another girl / seeming like i'm having fun / 
although she may be cute / she's just a substitute / 
because you're the permanent one " (smokey robinson)


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