June 2, 2010
Review by Trevor Townson
Choice, sometimes you can have too much and you would be far better off
with less, have you ever tried buying something as simple as a can of white
Not that it is possible to buy a can of white paint theses days in the
first place unless you know the colour of white needed plus all the other
technicalities of the mixture. No good seeking advise either as that guy
employed by the DIY store for his many years of experience will only advise you
that in the end it really comes down to personal Choice as all white paints are
pretty much the same.
Bob Dylan can also give some of us a lot of Choice, the Choice of which
concert to go to for instance. As with white paint you can seek advise but
nobody can really help as it comes down to you in the end to make your Choice
and wait and see the result once the job is done.
My previous Choice was Chicago during the last night of which I experienced
such a precious moment between a father and his young daughter standing in line
waiting for Bob. A moment when you just wished that these two people could not
only see Bob but meet him. Two people who were not going to take anything at all
from Bob but for who he could have given them so much from just two minutes or
less of his time.
OK so lots of minutes times thousands of people pretty soon adds up to
become totally impractical which is why I understand the need for Bob to vanish
quickly as we are all still left standing there in the dark clapping.
Anyway how much can one guy be expected to give and did Bob not once say
“just because they like my stuff does not mean that they own me” or
something like that.
Bob included almost totally new lyrics to the Chicago opener Gonna Change My
Way Of Thinking which is a good Choice in any guise. I never even noticed the
lyric changes at the time which shows why I tend to be living in the moment
during concert rather than gathering information for review. Slow Train as a
Choice is one of my favourite albums (and songs) and I never even noticed such a
radical change of lyrics to one of the songs from it at the time things were
Opener aside it was those two people attending the third night that are my most
cherished memory of Chicago, just two more of Bobs people from Chicago, people
who like me were just fans. Attending that concert with her dad that night was
a memory that would no doubt some day a long way down the line go to the grave
with her as it was so obviously a profound and cherished loving memory that you
did not need to be a mind reader to pick up on.
My next Choice after Chicago was seeing all those night on night GA dates and I
really wanted to go to Japan as it sure seemed the tour to do, Intercity bullet
train style with concerts at each stop. Turned out that the train tickets were
the only tickets that I could guarantee getting at face value so the costs
were soon looking far too prohibitive to making the trip. I was once asked what
I would do if Bob stopped touring, “Probably pay the mortgage off” I
replied! I think that I would have had to take out yet another loan on top
though in order to have made Japan.
Fortunately at the present time Bob Dylan concerts are not unduly rare and the
chances are that there will be another show in a town near you soon. Like buses
if you miss one there will soon be another one coming along so catch that one
With the Far East tour in full flow other dates where flooding in for just
about every Eastern European country that most of us had never thought about
ever going to. Even that some of the places existed let alone us knowing where
they all are. Bucharest, Sophia, Skopje, Belgrade, Zagreb, Bratislava etc, etc.
Can you decide? How do you make a Choice? For example, in which one of these
places are we most likely to get Romance In Durango or Tombstone Blues
reappearing on the set list again, see what I mean just far too much Choice.
“Even its fiercest advocate would readily admit that when taken at face value
Bucharest is Europe’s most unappealing capital” so said the guide book.
This however was inconclusive evidence for the particular purpose
Bucharest held for me so I remained undeterred for now, right or wrong, I was
sticking with my Choice. The guide book goes on “But let’s be honest, you
probably aren’t coming for the sights”, how does the writer of the guide
book know me so well I thought..
I was beginning to realise now just why it had proved so difficult in my
local shops to get a tour guide for Bucharest, impossible actually as mine was
eventually obtained via mail order! Bucharest and Romania were not probably on
many peoples Top Ten list of places to visit. With me not being a person who
would buy a white car at present because they too are now the popular Choice,
Bucharest Romania was becoming far more appealing and my Choice was really
starting to suit me now, however, “IF DOGS RUN FREE“.
This can be very troublesome to residents of Bucharest as it can also be to
visitors too. The biggest safety issue you are likely to deal with in
Bucharest is the 70,000 stray dog population as more than 50 people a day are
bitten by dogs. Visitors are told to prepare them selves for at least one
encounter with barking dogs. My hotel was at least 4km from the venue before
getting lost and I was planning on walking there. Anyway not since 2006 was the
last tourist killed in a dog attack and he was a Japanese businessman.
The additional advise was that if encountering dogs you must not run but if
bitten get to hospital immediately to have the wound cleaned and to get an
anti-rabies injection. In my case however the “immediately” bit would
need to be a little bit flexible on time scale dependant on whether I got
bitten going to or bitten coming away from the concert!
First day (evening) before concert day it rained, poured it down actually
flooding the city streets. The guide book had said “There is no getting away
from the fact that Bucharest is miserable when it rains”. If you want a
second opinion from this particular visitor “There is no getting away from
the fact that Bucharest is miserable when it rains”.
Second day and off I go to the second Choice of venue for Bucharest having
changed location from the Iolanda Balas Stadium to the Zone Arena although the
original marked tickets for the Stadium remained valid for the Arena.
Walking to the venue there was the odd stray dog around but most of them
looking like it would take all their might to just bark never mind bite so
perhaps the real savages were residing further out in the suburbs.
Around the city posters for the event are put upon any spare piece of wall or
board or even lamp post. This must be some kind of official fly posting as
other recent or up and coming events were side by side with Bob including
Metallica, AC/DC, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood, Elton John and most surprising
for me my sisters favourite band Rammstein (who?). My sister managed to wander
back stage at one of their gigs once and met up with them but my sister is like
that, she will talk to anyone.
Two support acts proceeded Bob on this night the first being Zan Bucium
followed by Nicu Alifantis who were both from and performed their songs in
Romanian I believe. Would have been better in English (actually due to the
styles of both bands Irish may have been better still) but no matter, if the
Romanians were not going to understand a word of Bob that followed it was only
fair that the small foreign contingent of travellers received similar treatment
Whilst most of us can live without any support act at all when going to see
Bob these two bands were not that bad and of the two I preferred the first Zan
Bucium and not just because it included the most gorgeous female violinist you
could ever wish to cast eyes on and she sounded to be a really good player too.
Most amazing was the fact that she had such a long high maintenance hair style
that I could not help wondering how someone could have time to both look after
hair like that and also have enough time left over to learn how to play the
violin as good as that.
Support acts over it was time to set up the stage for Bob during which some
spoken monologue was played at low volume through the speakers
interspersed with the odd Musical soundtrack. It was not possible to catch all
that was being said in the spoken monologue due to the noise of setting up the
stage, instrument tuning and the like but from what I did manage to hear I
think I got the gist of what it was about!
Still daylight, the stage is set up to the usual present arrangement and
out come the band followed closely behind by Bob to heightened cheers from the
audience as they break into the opening number as previous nights, Rainy Day
Women # 21 & 53 for which unusually Bob starts on keyboard but very soon steps
out to pick up and put on his guitar to continue the number (or is it #12 & 35,
apologies if I have got it the wrong way round as I know how important these
Overall during his performance tonight I thought Bob seemed far more
confident in general and his guitar playing was much more aimed at the audience
rather than at the toes of his shoes. Tonight you did not get the impression
that it was a keyboard show even compared to other shows where he has
included guitar and the centre stage harp “solo” . How can we know if Bob
stages things at all but I am sure that the predominantly Romanian audience
would have been expecting guitar and harmonica from Bob and feel they would h
ave been less satisfied if Bob had hidden slouched over his keyboard for the
full show so however things came about I believe that it worked well for the
home crowd and visitor too.
I read on BobDylan.com someone saying that the sound quality was not good but
this certainly was not the case from up front where I was standing.
Bob had found a way to perform Just Like A Woman to please both the
audience and himself with a kind of compromise phrasing by timing the chorus so
that everyone gets a turn to sing without Bob getting drowned out until third
time then both audience and Bob are almost singing in synch.
Tonight we had a whole new style of centre stage microphone performance
during Can’t Wait. This was not the “crooner” style seen previously
developing but this was Bob marching it in another direction, much more Rock &
Difficult to explain when there are no comparisons but who is there to
compare Bob against as any comparison would be totally unfair on Bob, him being
the unique performer that he is and always has been. Bob had taken the
microphone off the stand then moving himself free of the stand and holding
microphone in hand he does a series of crouches whilst singing boldly into the
microphone from a low down posture. The crowd seemed to love it from the cheers
that came in a wave from far back and as is usual in such cases Bob backs off
in fear of building things up too much.
After the show I bump into fellow Bob fan Steve Adams who had also really
enjoyed the show but whilst I am flying back home next day he is heading to the
airport after the show in the direction of the next one as he had made plans to
follow the tour for a few more follow on dates. We walk out of the Arena
chatting before we break away in different directions, Steve heading for the
public transport system and me for something to eat.
It was about midnight when I finally got back to mid way down Calea
Victoriei in the central part of Bucharest where I was staying. Night time in
Bucharest was a far different place and “DOWN THE STREETS THE DOGS ARE BARKIN
I was following a bunch of Romanians walking down the street and having got
to almost the last junction before my hotel I notice close to the
intersection a small pack of dogs milling around. They were barking
occasionally but at nothing in particular as two cars approach the intersection
and stop. The Romanians were not crossing the road and both cars had stopped. I
was not sure who had right of way and the Romanians made no move but they were
talking loudly as I think they had been out drinking.
As we all just stood there and the cars stationary I was mindful that it
was time for me to start running without actually running. We had all been in
this stalemate for what seemed like an eternity but was actually only a
fraction of time probably but long enough to start getting the dogs attention
and they start to wander in our direction. I think the cars had actually seen
the situation and had stopped to let us get across the road and keep slowly
moving along but the Romanians where not noticing anything that was going on as
they stood in the road talking loudly.
Suddenly one of the cars takes off at speed and the dog pack chases after it
and one of them even catches up with it growling and snarling at the car as it
drives along. I then clearly understood why the guide book had said do not run
as basically no chance was your odds. With the dogs now pre occupied with the
fleeing car I walk off to complete the final few hundred yards to my hotel as I
reflected on the fact that the guide book had narrowly missed needing a reprint
by changing Japanese to English, businessman to visitor and 2006 to 2010. The
fate of that poor Japanese businessman then took on a far more frightening
reality and the guide book had been right all along in stating to expect at
least one encounter with barking dogs.
Well I have already made my next Choice so that is all from me until Linz in
Austria, well all except what has happened to Tombstone Blues? Was it really
last played in 2006 and then only once as an opener. Looks like 2006 was not a
good year for one particular Japanese business man or that song. I hope that at
least the song can be brought back to life one day as a Choice, Brilliant!
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