Helsinki, Finland

Hartwall Areena

June 1, 2008

[Delta Dave], [Heikki Hyytiäinen], [Jan Semneby], [Anders Tidström]

Review by Delta Dave

Helsinki Show was a steady, professional Bob show. Bob was in sharp
voice and focused from the very beginning of the first number,
"Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat". "Lay Lady Lay" went in a dark groove this
time, due to Bob's way to drop his voice an octave or so at the end of
each line. Great performance.

"Rollin' And Thumblin'" rocked on with maybe a bit too busy phrasing, but
"Visions Of Johanna" was the second highlight of the evening besides
"Lay". Mood  was quite similar to the recorded version what comes to the
band's playing, and vocals were very focused too. I think everyone loved
the song choice.

Next to come was "Things Have Changed", and there's nothing special to say
about that. I think it was the only low point of the night. Not to say
that Bob didn't nail it pretty ok, but Mr. Freeman's "long delay
echo"-guitar soloing was simply silly sounding. Doing stuff like that he
would make a pretty good career in a Finnish boat band playing Slavic
evergreens 6 hours a night to drunken tourists who don't give a damn
what's happening on stage.

But then things really changed; "The Levee's Gonna Break" rocked on
like nothing before. Really great beat on that one. A bit faster than on
the album and jumpier too. Even the buddy beside me woke up alive from the
first bars of the song.

Then a new shuffle arrangement of "Tangled Up In Blue". Well, it was a
fresh surprise, but maybe the tempo was a bit too fast to get long lines
sung without rushing them too much. The song got better toward the end.

"Watching The River Flow" was an Ok standard performance, but "Every
Grain Of Sand" was a one more highlight. Arrangement was light, fresh and
melodic with Bob taking maj7-chords on his circus organ making it sound a
bit like the Biograph version. Better than the last time back in 2003.

Then, "It's Alright Ma". Gone is the bluesy shuffle arrangement.
Rolling straight tempo made a 70's Outlaw Country feel to it. Very
sharp performance from the beginning to the wailing last line "It's
life and life onlyyyyyy-y!" ...Waylon Jennings never did that one.
Maybe he should have... Love Waylon any ol' way.  ..Anybody heard that
Waylon recorded Things Have Changed as one of his last recordings? I
recall I red the news shortly after Waylon died 2004 that he had recorded
a version of "Things". That was the first and the the last time I heard
about that. I wonder if it's released or not... (?) Maybe the record is
layin' in the vaults waiting for a better day or something, who knows.

Back to the business. After the great "It's Alright, Ma" one could've
thought that nothing can top that, but one was wrong; "Nettie Moore" was a
perfect choice for the next tune. Arrangement was pretty similar to the
record, but Donnie Herrron's violin added more Irish breezes to it this
time. Bob's vocal melody on the chorus was almost same as on the record,
which I think is worth to mention.

The rest of the main set was as brilliant as it could be. Plus that
"Thin Man" was a bit above that & "Spirit On The Water" was better
than on the record due to lighter playing by the band. I think the
guitar riff on the record dominates this great song a little too much.
Well, but that's how it goes...

It felt like the encores would never come. Maybe Mr. Bob smoked two
cigarettes instead of one for a good performance during the applause. Then
they were back with the usual "Thunder On The Mountain". Very uptempo as
it seems it's used to be.  Nothing wrong with that, but I'm gonna give an
advice as humble as I can be: "Thunder" could be a great show opener
instead of the first encore song. As played to the original tempo with no
shuffle. When I first heard "Modern Times" I thought "Well, now he's got a
great new electric opening song  for his shows to replace  numerous
arrangements of "Maggie's Farm", "Tombstone Blues", "To Be Alone With
You", "Rainy Day Women" etc...

Then came The Bob Talk Moment. "It's been a while since Kimball's got that
much screaming". And when he next introduced the drummer George, applauses
were the same. "Oh no, not again.." ..Plus some more I didn't hear well
enough due to my position in the hall & Bob mumbling.

"Rolling Stone" closed the show perfectly. "Thin Man" closed the main set,
so another minor song (obvious "Watchtower") could've not filled the place
as well. But one thing was there to make a great moment a bit flat; Mr.
Freeman -who's been most obviously sailing too much on a boat from
Helsinki to Stockholm or Tallin- took his solo place with a solo like
never heard in a (rebellious) rock song before. It's righteous to mention
that Mr. Freeman is a brilliant player what comes to bluesy and jazzy
things he's played on numerous records , but it looks like he really don't
know what to do when he should play a solo in a major (or minor) rock
song. First of all, he should forget that Strato, or at least not to plug
it into a long delay effect with a clean sound.

Or of course there can be another change: The circus organist -who
doesn't seem to put his hand on a guitar these times- knows something
nobody knows that he knows or anybody knows that nobody knows. The same
theory is possible what comes Mr. Freeman's predecessor Freddy Koella, who
played different kind of strange things too.

Delta Dave


Review by Heikki Hyytiäinen

Bob Dylan performed in Helsinki last Sunday and did probably his best show
in Finland.7500 spectators witnessed a very energetic and focused
performance.He was present throughout the show.The Leopard Skin Pill Box
Hat was the opener.His pronunciation was very clear.Even this “evil” song
made its point as did  the set closer Ballad of a thin Man.Two nasty songs
and between them near perfect interpretations best in my opinion being
Visions of Johanna,Nettie Moore,Every Grain of Sand.Especially I want to
mention Its all right Mama,I`m only bleeding.This new arrangement had a
lot of his old mastery in his singing.His phrasing made me think that I
had witnessed something special.

Among spectators there were a lot of young people and of course middle
aged,as myself,too.I have seen all his shows in Finland and I think people
have never left the arena more happy and satishfied.Dylan seemed to be
happy about his show himself.One newspaper wrote that he spoke now more
than in his all shows during the years.During the band presentation he
told that Stuart Kimball has a lady fan in Helsinki from the last show a
few years back.All this to public`s and the band`s big amusement.The band
was great all evening.All in all,a very good show.

Heikki Hyytiäinen


Review by Jan Semneby

Dylan skipped Sweden this time around but Helsinki is only a 45 minute
flight away. The concert is the only one I´m able to see on this tour and
I´m very glad that it turned out to be such a fine night. It was obvious
from the beginning that Bob was very on this night. Great singing and
phrasing all the way. It was great to her him sing out in Ballad of a thin
man which was the highlight for me this night. Nice versions of Visions of
Johanna and Every grain of sand made up the most interesting setlist so
far on this european tour. Highway 61 revisited was nicely shortened down
to a perfect length and And even Like a rolling stone sounded fresh, very
suitable as a show closer. Thanks Bob. But don´t forget Sweden next time.

Jan Semneby


Review by Anders Tidström

Bob is Bob. You never know in advance and for sure how the show will turn 
out. You just know it´s going to be good, great or excellent . I then refer 
to a nice bunch of concerts since I first saw Bob (Stockholm 1966). And … 
Helsinki was great … sometimes even excellent.  My favorite opener, Leopard 
Skin Pill Box Hat, was a take off into the promising night. Could anybody resist 
a smile when the story about that damn hat rocks again. Lay, Lady, Lay - wow! 
And Visions of Johanna after a while - "I´m only sighing" of good feelings. The 
Levee´s Gonna Break, later on, speeded and breathtaking as you never heard 
it. Surprising but really more surprising if things suddenly were set, paved and 
fixed on a Dylan show. Watching The River Flow, Every Grain Of Sand and It´s 
Alright, Ma (I´m Only Bleeding) is poetry which could melt hearts of steel. 
Summer Days then, the swinging piece swinging like it never was played 
before  - crowd pleaser of high altitude.

Could you ask for more when Thunder On The Mountain and Like A Rolling 
Stone finally marks the landing of the trip. Yes, I would actually be pleased if 
Bob sometimes had left his keyboard residence just to grab his guitar now 
and then. And on the coin I dropped in the wishing well is clearly printed: 
Bob to Sweden next time - certainly welcome to Örebro where I live. Now 
it was hell of a trip by car and ferry to the concert arena (round trip more 
than 48 hours). We were two ol´ pals  travelling, so it was alright after all. 
Bob is Bob.

Anders Tidström


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