Toulouse, France

Le Zénith

June 20, 2008

[Marina], [Gerry Mc Cool], [Hugo Argenton], [Jacques Pinol],
[Paul Butler], [Jacques Graf], [Guillem Turon], [Jean-Marie Molinier]

Review by Marina

Happy and fulfilled with last night show in Grenoble, I heads to Toulouse with 
no particular expectations. The Zénith in a nicer place than Grenoble's Palais des 
Sports, and this time the first rows are filled with fans, who stand up as the show 
begins; there will be no problems with the security, the atmosphere will stay nicer 
and the public more upbeat that last night. First off is "Cat's In The Well", not 
one of my favourites, then a good and cheered "Lay Lady Lay". The first highlight 
comes with a wonderful "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues", newly rearranged and 
sung by Bob with some terrific phrasing. After "Rollin' And Tumblin'" comes 
"Simple Twist Of Fate", that Bob nails with a soft, almost spoken voice. A 
muscular "The Levee's Gonna Break" comes next, followed by a good "Spirit On 
The Water". "Things Have Changed", one song I really like, proves to be another 
incredible showstopper, Denny Freeman and Donnie Herron exchanging 
wonderful solos; Donnie finds out some incredible patterns on his violin that Bob 
clearly appreciates, and the public too: I still wonder what exactly a German (?) 
guy behind me kept screaming after the song was over, bringing everyone 
(including the band) to laughters. Now everyone on stage is really full on: the 
band keeps playing every number so tight and Bob keeps smiling, sometimes 
laughing, and acting very funny. "Desolation Row", "Honest With Me" (what a 
version! for I song I usually don't care much about) a reworked "Sugar Baby " 
and then a spectacular "It's Alright, Ma"; how can you even think to improve on 
a song like this? I'm still wondering. Things calm down a bit with "Nettie Moore", 
but quality doesn't: the stage is dark but for some big yellow lights, the feeling is 
almost club-like, and the song sounds great. Denny places a few classy solos on 
this one, when it's over I clap my hands towards him, and he is so kind to nods 
back with thanks. "Highway 61 Revisited" is a long, happy jam, and "All Along 
The Watchtower" better that last night. As for the encores we got "Thunder 
On The Mountain", which I like a lot, and "Like A Rolling Stone". What a night! 
Next to me was a taper and I spotted  another of the usual suspects a few rows 
back, so at least a couple of good recordings should surface soon. Check them 
out and see for yourself.



Review by Gerry Mc Cool

As Bob is not touring Britain or Ireland this summer I thought it would be worth 
a trip to the South of France to take in a Bob show.  A warm night in Toulouse - 
but after a seemingly complicated system of seating people - it must be a French 
thing -  when the lights went down the crowd charged down to the front of 
the stage while Bob opening with Cats in the Well looked a little bemused.  I 
have heard Bob opening with this song a few times and it is a song I never liked 
but the crowd liked it though and  they always like Lay Lady Lay, the second 
song although this song has always seemed a bit meaningless to me outside the 
context of Midnight Cowboy.  The show really got going for me with Tom 
Thumbs Blues which also included a pantomime moment when Bob Seemed to 
completely forget where he was in the song and he and Tony and the others 
practically fell about laughing and took about five minutes while Stu and the boys 
picked it up like one instrument at a time - a great song in any circumstances 
Best song for me of the night A Simple Twist of Fate - lovely arrangement, Bob
in very tender voice and from here to the end of the show looking as if he was 
really enjoying himself.  The more recent songs like Spirit, Nettie Moore, The 
Levee, Rollin and Tumblin were all good as ever but gettin a bit predictable.Then 
Things have Changed right in the middle - never heard this one live before - 
always love that - a new one! followed by a greatly orchestrated Sugar Baby and 
one of my favourite recent ones, Honest with Me. Then two of my alltime 
favourites which I first heard as a fourteen year old in Belfast in 1966, Desolation 
Row and Its Alright Ma.  The careful, sympathetic, treatment, given especially to 
Desolation Row made the hairs on my neck stand on end - not for the only time 
on the night.  The French crowd then cheered for Louis the King and the forty 
red white and blue shoe strings.  Then a quieter than of late All along the 
Watchtower to finish the main show and I think Bob must have tweaked 
something in his throat as his voice struggled a little in the encore, especially on 
Thunder on the Mountain.  Finished off with the greatest finishing song of all 
time and it was even tighter than usual - Like a Rolling Stone - great show - great 
night, Bob and all the band really enjoying themselves - now back in Belfast - 
loved Toulouse but hope the boys roll up somewhere a little closer to home 
next time on this Never Ending Tour.
Gerry Mc Cool


Review by Hugo Argenton

Tonight, Bob was in my city, Toulouse, France. Tonight, it was also my first Bob 
Dyaln gig. And this is my review.

No warm-up.

1 - Cat's In The Well. Good song, I didn't know it till tonight. The sound is not 
loud yet and it has some problem.

2 - Lay Lady Lay. Beautiful version of this song. I simply love it. The band is good 
and the sound is getting better

3 - Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues. Shame on me ! I didn't recognize it. But I have 
to tell you that it was hard. Very good version, sound is now perfect, and the 
song rocks.

4 - Rollin' And Tumblin'. Long version of a great song. Very good slide on this. 
When you hear it, you just don't want it to stop. One of the highlight.

5 - Simple Twist Of Fate. What is fantastic with Bob Dylan is that when you don't 
know the lyrics, you could listen to a song without knowing it is that song. To 
say it simply, I haven't notice it until Bob gets to the chorus. Great song though!

6 - The Levee's Gonna Break. Good song for his last album. But not a great song.

7 - Spirit On The Water. I like this song, but in live it seems it breaks up the 
mood of the show. Well played but not very good live.

8 - Things Have Changed. Er... don't remember it, maybe because I didn't know 
this song. If someone can tell me on which album it is ?

9 - Desolation Row. Great, great song... even if, one more time, I needed time 
to recognize it. Long song (around 10 - 15 minutes).

10 - Honest With Me. Didn't know the song, but this is a great one. Played very
loud, this is some kind of hard rock rearranged by Bob Dylan, guitars on fire, and 
fantastic bass. The band plays very well. One of the highlights.

11 - Sugar Baby. From Love And Theft. One more time, a ballad which breaks 
the rhythm and the crown too. Too much jazzy ballads for me in this show.

12 - It's Alright Ma I'm Only Bleeding. The absolute highlight of the show ! If you 
just know the acoustic version of the song, just forgot it. This is a huge rock 
with hard guitars and guitars solos. Absolutely fantastic !

13 - Nettie Moore. One more jazzy ballad. Become boring.

14 - Highway 61 Revisited. One more highlight. Without any slide but with very 
good guitars and great solo. Long version very different from the album version. 
Since Honest With Me, the sound has been turned up during rock songs and the 
bass is very high in the mix. Just one problem, the drums sounds to me more like 
a hard rock drum than a Bob Dylan's.

15 - All Along The Watchtower. Fantastic and surprising version with good solo. 
One more time, this is a absolute highlight.

16 - Thunder On The Mountain. The best song from Modern Times. After a long 
break, Bob comes back on the stage for two encores. This is played pretty similar 
to the album version. Good in live but it can't reached the "warhorses" played 

Band intros.

17 - Like A Rolling Stone. One more time pretty similar to habitual live versions. 
Good version but it seems now like Bob is not very concerned in what he does. 
Play on automatic mode.

The song ends, the lights turns down then up. The band is standing facing the 
crowd which seems to wait for some bow. No bow. The band leaves, the show 
is over.

Not a good crowd tonight but a numerous one (7000 - 8000). It seems like 
there are more people come for an "cultural event" than people come for an 
rock concert by Bob Dylan. A good show though, the band is playing great 
and Bob is on form.

This was my first Bob Dylan show. I think I'll remember it ! 


Review by Jacques Pinol

I pity the poor immigrant, who wishes he could have stayed home.
I was yesterday in Toulouse, about 30 years after seein dylan on stage 
for the first time. But I went to Toulouse in 1980, Marseille, Paris, 
Cannes and so on and so on.
When i arrive to a dylan concert, i m always afraid. Will he be a little 
drunk so the genius gets out of the bottle, or too much ? (the genius 
stays in the bottle) as soon as three notes are played, i feel assured. 
a clear, strong, audible voice. 50 microseconds after the beginning of 
desolation row, i know what it means. a tear comes to my eye, but i have 
to show no emotion (my daughter and her friends are watching me) and 
besides, at 59 years i can t afford to cry. The only regret is not to 
have harmonica on desolation row.
Well anyway this concert was too perfect, too clean, musicians were too 
good, the sound is perfect. After the show, i stayed silent for two 
hours, as usual, but i didn t feel that emptyness inside
maybe i m already old and dont know it?

excuse my poor english, i know only bob dylan sentences!!

Jacques Pinol

(Jacques' review in French)

J’étais hier à Toulouse, pratiquement 30 ans aprés avoir vu Dylan sur 
scène pour la première fois à Paris le 7 juillet 1978. Mais j’étais 
aussi au stade des minimes en 1980, 1993, etc etc
Ca fait toujours un peu peur d’arriver à un concert de dylan car on se 
demande toujours s’il aura suffisamment bu pour que son génie se lâche 
mais pas trop pour être dépassé par la boisson. Dés les premières notes, 
me voila rassuré. une voix forte, claire et audible. 50 millisecondes 
aprés le début de desolation row, je sais ce dont il s’agit. une larme 
me monte à l’oeil que j’écrase rapidement parce qu’à 59 ans, ça fait un 
peu midinette d’être ému par Bob Dylan. Un seul regret, mais de taille; 
pas d’harmonica sur désolation row! Les délires de solo d’harmonica de 
dylan me rendent fou c’est 2000 mélodies sur une seule, ou va t il 
chercher ça?
Le seul reproche que je pourrais faire, c’est que ce show est trop 
parfait, trop carré, trop policé. Les musiciens sont trop bons, le son 
trop parfait. J’ai respecté les deux heures de silence traditionnelles 
aprés le concert, mais j’ai moins ressenti ce vide à l’intèrieur de moi 
(felt that emptiness inside) que les autres fois.
Je me demande si je ne suis pas déjà vieux.


Review by Paul Butler

I've seen Bob quite a few times since that first memorable time in Paris
in 1984 (crowd of 64,000 as I remember). I saw him last year in Paris (my
home town). This was however a special occasion. I was bringing my wife of
2 years to her first Dylan concert. So, of course, I wanted Dylan to be
greater (or greater) as usual, the band to be good, the sound to be
perfect etc etc.

Well, I needn't have worried. The whole thing was perfect. Dylan was
stunning. His total engagement with his music, his songs, these incredible
songs, is beyond moving. This 67-year old man could give teenagers a
lesson in giving life all you've got. He's a miracle. We are so lucky to
have him around.

The highlights were 'It's alright Ma", "Sugar Baby", "JLTTB", "Lay Lady
lay"(first time to hear it live for me I think), "Things have changed" and
a mind-blowing "Desolation Row". The 3 Highway 61 songs were so powerful
and immediate. I mean, I've been listening to these since I was 15 and I
don't expect to be surprised as much anymore. But they were like new!

If you're on this site, I don't need to tell you anything about how
gifted, special, important (yes, even today) or monumental Bob Dylan is,
do I? But still, this was truly greatness on display. The man's not only a
lyrical genius but an impressive showman as well.

Come back to France soon Bob. Je t'aime.

ps. My wife absolutely loved the show and said she couldn't take her eyes
off The Man for the whole time. Just think, here's me, jealous of
Dylan..... Peace & Love to all.

Paul Butler


Review by Jacques Graf

As a french guy living in Paris, this show in Toulouse was the best
opportunity to catch Bob at home this year ( i couldn't be in Grenoble the
previous day ). So I went down to the south of France, driving on (
believe it or not ) highway 61 to reach the place [where the willow don't
bend] - and so I wore my  regular " Triumph Motorcycles " tee-shirt for
the event ! -

I arrived early and stood there, sitting on the grass, meeting people and
friends before the show. Seemed to me I was back in 78 at Pantin ...

You all know how it is ... as the lights come down you rush to the stage !
and I got my location, juste in front of the mic, first row. perfect view,
perfect sound. Regular show with a Bob in a good mood... there's really a
great complicity between him and Donnie ( you could see them trying chords
and patterns on " things have changed " ) George and Tony ( the final jam
on " H 61 " was quite a thing  ! ). The more the tour unrolls, the more
Deny and Stu are off the band ... Poor inspiration, poor sound ... Isn't
it time to change ? i guess so !

We had a magnificious " Tom Thumb " with what i thought was new diction on
the final stanza, just great how this song is, was and will ever be ! "
Simple twist " and " Sugar baby " - Bob singing back and forth from the
mic, leaving some words in the haze of incense- touched me !  sure they
did !
 " Desolation row ", " Don't think twice ", " Nettie Moore " ( some one
sayed " boring ? " ) ... what do you want me to ad ?

This music is totally alive, on the razor's edge, Dylan is not only a song
writer, he's a real musician, building night after night what is one of
the greatest and fascinating work you can listen to. The songs are sort of
patterns on which Dylan knits - if I may say so - his vocal and rhythmic
decorations ... this is pure magic, I tell you ! This particular night in
Toulouse (to lose,  lost lost ! ) was a piece in the game, another good

The only person on the scene missing was ... the oscar ! 


Review by Guillem Turon

A Bob Dylan show is always a Bob Dylan show, one of the greatest musical 
experience one can have. And this was so. Although, I was a little 
disappointed because it was not special at all. The best thing for me was 
the setlist, that I've they'd show me before the show I would have get 
very excited (Just like Tom Thumb's blues, Simple twist of fate, Things 
have changed & Desolation Row were songs I was hoping to hear), but 
the performance for me was only okay, far worse from last time I've seen 
him, in 2006, and similar to my worst Dylan experience, in 2004.
Cat's in the well: as someone said, the sound wasn't still good. Good rock 
starter for a show but nothing special.

Lay, lady, lay: a growling Bob begins to do strange things with his voice. 
That annoys me.

Just like Tom Thumb's blues: great version, but as I read from Gerry the 
thing didn't begin to work immediatelly. One of the best moments though.

Rollin' and tumblin': Rocking song that seemed to, with Just like Tom 
Thumb's blues, start up the show.

Simple twist of fate: Beatifully played, but for me ruined by the (no-)singing.

The leevee's gonna break: I don't like this song, that seems a repetition of 
Cat's in the well in the same show. So it wasn't very interesting for me.

Spirit in the water: I wanted to hear that but didn't like it at all. The 
(no-)singing again made me nervous.

Things have changed: One of my favourites (by the way, Hugo: that's not 
in any album, it's from the Wonder Boys sountrack and you can find it on 
The best of Bob Dylan vol. 2), but didn't like it in the show. The singing 
again and the version didn't seem to work well.

Desolation row: With Just like Tom Thumb's blues, one of the best 
moments of the night. The singing now was okay and the version was 
beautiful, as the song use to be.

Honest with me: Nothing new. Simply a rocking song for the show.

Sugar baby: Nice. I'm not particullary fond of this song in the album and 
I liked it very much. And he began to sang a little better at last.

It's alright ma: This song rocks these years. One of the best moments again.

Nettie Moore: Similar to the album version. Simply well done.

Highway 61 revisited: My mother had begun to be afraid he wouldn't play 
her favourite this time, but as always she went to see him, he seems to 
know and respects her tastes. Good and rocking as always.

All along the watchtower: This version sounded really new to me, with 
very different solos and, maybe, more similar to the John Wesley Harding 

Thunder on the mountain: More upbeat than the album version. 
Nothing special to me.

Like a rolling stone: In that last part, the singing became a little better 
and Like a rolling stone was well done.


Review by Jean-Marie Molinier

J'étais au départ assis sur les gradins - à une soixantaine de mètres de l'Homme .
Difficile de saisir la dimension d'un artiste dans ces conditions especially Bob Dylan 
qui délivre dans l'ensemble un show plutôt figé et on peut comprendre la 
déception d'une partie de spectateurs- ceux qui viennent découvrir ce Bob 
Dylan qui passe dans leur région - certains découvrent qu'il est encore vivant! -  
et qui ne sont pas prévenus par rapport à ce qu'ils vont voir c'est à dire 
la démarche de cet artiste.

Comme il semble l'avoir dit, c'est sa musique qui est au centre du concert, pas 
sa personne .. et il le prouve bien , comme dans ces moments entre les 
morceaux où il se retourne avec une certaine indifférence.
S'il ne soigne pas son image (sa tenue par contre est toujours aussi class.) 
et ne cherche pas à séduire le public , pour autant la qualité musicale est là,
la voix apparaît grave, souvent puissante  et il est sur le qui vive jusqu'à 
l'accord final et le dernier coup de baguette de Georges.
Mais alors, quand on a la possibilité de le voir de plus près disons une vingtaine 
de mètres, on peut capter des aspects fort intéressants de lui , des expressions 
du visage , cette communication et connivence avec certains de ses musiciens - 
ce soir c'était Donnie - assorties de sourires gamins qu'il n'offre et c'est ça qui 
est particulier qu' à ces personnes proches.

Surtout on est là pour assister à des moments rares, précieux mais fugaces dans 
ce concert,  où ,sur un soudain tressaillement il va s'allumer en donnant un 
formidable coup d'accélérateur à la chanson présente  ; le public - proche-  
le sait bien, il n'attend que ça, il est là pour ça.
Assister à la fantaisie, l'originalité, la créativité, la sensibilité l'émotion.
On sent que le morceau bascule ( le concert aussi ? )  ce sera le cas pour 
Things Have Changed dont on pouvait penser en intro qu'il s'agissait de Seven Days 
grâce  au nouveau fidèle Donnie Herron ( au fiddle) , en embuscade avec son violon, 
en connivence avec un Dylan enfin réjoui et éclatant . Toute la mythologie du 
bonhomme apparaît soudain , celui qu'on attendait, qu'on espérait déboule tout 
à coup . On sent que les musiciens aussi apprécient de sortir du déroulement
linéaire du concert et se payent à ce moment une petite récréation .... qui sera 
de courte durée car le Maître va siffler la fin ,  les choses sérieuses vont reprendre;
à moins qu'il ait des raisons de se méfier de ce public qui lui a tant donné mais aussi 
sans doute beaucoup pris. Il reprend un masque plus austère.

Au fait , que dire dès le début du concert de ces bras tendus, non pour applaudir 
mais pour brandir de petites  lumières bleues - il me semblait presque être dans un 
film de SF-
he times they are...
Pourtant j'apprécie les bootlegs mais l'instant présent est tout aussi important . 
Dylan à ce sujet s'était fendu d'un commentaire ( à la Dylan )  en fin du concert 
de New York 2007  évoquant la personne en devant de scène qui s'était occupée 
toute la soirée de son cell phone et qui n'avait rien vu et rien entendu !

En écrivant cette review, je pense à Nicolas Acin qui a écrit de vibrantes 
chroniques autour de Dylan.

Jean-Marie Molinier 


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