June 20, 2015
Review by Steven Jackson
Mainz Eyes Have Seen The Glory
The Never-Ending Tour? If only. The Never-Changing set-list? Not anymore.
More or less the exact same set-list for the last 2 years? I don't think so… On a
midsummer's Saturday in June, as a gentle breeze blew in from the Rhine,
Bob Dylan blew us all away with a wonderful performance of a terrific set that
was bursting with surprises. Launching the European leg of the 2015 tour,
Dylan was simply magnificent in Mainz.
It all started predictably and routinely enough with Things Have Changed, the
staple opener of the last 2 years. Little did we know that it was a statement
of intent. From the off, Bob was clearly in the mood as he swaggered and
winked through the evening's first song. Next, the exquisite harp bursts in She
Belongs to Me were met by whoops of delight from his German faithful. The
gypsy groove of Beyond Here Lies Nothin' would soon give way to the
Tempest tracks and so far so typical. Workingman's Blues #2 was perfectly
prefaced by Charlie Sexton's delicate and delectable guitar riff as per usual of
late. The band were as tight as ever but Bob seemed to have a real focus as
he prowled the stage like a caged tiger. The new extended opening of
Duquesne Whistle went down a storm and then our first surprise: the live
debut of Full Moon and Empty Arms, which Bob crooned exquisitely backed by
Tony Garnier's gentle bass hooks, George Recile's sweetly caressed brushed
beats and Donnie Heron's sumptuous steel.
And then, another surprise, a truly lovely cover of Willie Nelson's Sad Songs
and Waltzes, which Bob sang with consummate care. It was already abundantly
clear that Bob was enjoying himself. And you know if Bob is enjoying himself we
are in for a very good time. Next was Tangled Up in Blood with more inspired
harp-playing and the gorgeous piano coda that has delighted audiences for the
last couple years. Then, as Bob seized ownership of centre stage we were
treated to another surprise, a very funky version of 'Til I Fell In Love With You.
And we all did as we rolled and shimmied to Sexton's spiky guitar licks and Bob's
snarling and soaring vocals. Yes, soaring! This gave way to To Ramona, which he
hasn't played for a year. At this point the old gunslinger proceeded to spit out
Pay in Blood and boy did that rock.
Then Stu Kimball had the maracas shaking as a very bluesy Early Roman Kings
graced the good night sky. It was at the end of this track that somehow the
Never-Changing set-list really became the Ever-Changing set-list…
And then another surprise as following some secret cue from Dylan, security
inexplicably let anyone and everyone stroll to the front! The stage was duly
rushed and the stage was duly set for a fabulously exciting finale. No one could
quite believe what was happening.
Bob now wore a big Cheshire Cat smile which intimated that the old set-list
was about to be torn to shreds as he and his accomplices embarked upon a
mischievously slow acoustic version of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, which
tickled and tantalised. How did that happen? Next, a young girl gave him a
rainbow and he was singing Hard Rain. And then? Ballad of a Thin Man! And by
this point the crowd were eating out of his hand. Something was happening
and we definitely knew what it was: Bob was back in all his weird-and-wonderful-
and-once-again-utterly-unpredictable ways! Then it was a stirring and driving yet
jazzy (?!) All Along The Watchtower and every fan was guaranteed to go home
happy. As the band posed to soak up the delirious applause Dylan, hand on hip,
wore the delicious smirk of a man who had seen and conquered. All of a sudden
he was Huckleberry Finn again, the imp who had stolen our hearts. Were we
next to the Rhine or the Mississippi? Welcome back to Europe, Bob: oooh-eeee
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere! Two never-played-live-before songs, eight (eight!)
changes to the last American live date last month, no interval and a stage rush.
I think the Germans in Mainz are still purring.
See you at the Albert Hall…
Comments by Mark Haendel
Just a few words to follow up on prior review. My friend Chris back in
Santa Monica called it the Bob, Beer, and Bratwurst show after hearing my
A great and wonderfully surprising show. After so many shows in the last
50 years, I have lost count. Last shows at the Dolby in LA last October
when Shadows was introduced
The move from stand up keyboard to sit down grand piano has allowed Bob to
just relax and let loose both vocally and with piano riffs. Also, his
decision to elevate his voice in the mix over the last few years makes all
his vocals very clear.
And again new in Mainz . The show started in daylight which was wonderful,
and then another big surprise change.....he has turned the lights back on
so that we can now see a great artist as well as hear him.
Review by Joachim Richter
The show took place in a former industrial area at the Rhine river,
completely different from the park nearby where Dylan did play four years
ago. I would have loved to climb the stage to enjoy the view from there:
the cities of Mainz and Wiesbaden, the chimneys of the old shoe polish
factory, the container harbor, the cement plant and the river...
I do not like to be too enthusiastic but my 27th Dylan concert was a gem.
So what was the difference to the other shows of the last ten years?
Well... Dylan did SING. Completely unbelievable to me that on that day he
still had (nearly) the same voice as back in the year of the wild thin
mercury sound. Did it have to do with the fact that this was the debut
show of the 2015 summer tour? Don't know...
"Things have changed" was the opener, as cool as usual. The next six
songs, all unchanged versus the previous set list, were not my favourites.
But what happened then... "Full Moon and Empty Arms" was sung with at
least as as much passion as on the studio recording. As a second highlight
"To Ramona" followed later in a completely new arrangement. Was it Tango?
Rumba? No idea... The climbing of the hill was continued with "Sad Songs
and Waltzes" and followed by the peak "Til I Fell In Love With You" which
could not be topped. Obviously Bob then decided to return to the old set
list habits, closing the show with some of the old favourites. I would
have loved to hear some more from "Shadows in the Night"... hope to be
lucky in October.
Review by Joerg Wittorf
Oh dear oh dear! First of all, Dignity never been photographed.
That has been my ca. sixtieth gig from Bob, I am a never Ending Follower.
Still so sad I missed him last year, but Things have Changed.
To the point and my very personal impressions:
After all, I have been a lit disappointed regarding no of songs and time played,
as I found out later Bob played 20 instead of only 17, to my mind that makes
a plus of round about 15-20 minutes.
After realizing that, couple of days ago after the gig in Nordmohle Mainz, I
found out how great Bob really has performed that day.
I would like to point out his voice, in each and every song, so very clear I have
never heard before.
Since 1989 I am following that Band, never Ending, meanwhile I gave up Bob
to perform that “Dusty old fairgrounds”, but I will never forget that very special
ight in Mainz, because I was all right, ‘till I felt in love with you oh yeah I was all
right … yeah.. in love with ..you!.
And do not forget Tangled up in Blue and Hard Rain…. Oh yeah, it was a superb
evening, Bob tangled up in black, harmonica (C-dur I guess?), almost present.
Some clouds came up, but Bob gave us all Shelter from the Storm.
Thank you Bob, see you next year
Comments by Frank Reinel
Whilst reading above reviews I felt the urge to put my thoughts on paper.
1) Remark on Mark's review:
The light show has not changed at all!! Still as dark as blind man's funeral. The
same two security guys are searching for people taking photographs at each
concert of Bob. The light show still obscures the view on the man. It was even
worse in Bamberg.
2) The location:
Not really enjoyable. Next to rhine river, wind was blowing while being forced
to stay in one's seat. The seats were placed on concrete floor with very little
space available to put one's feet. No chance to warm up through the show
because you couldn't swing a cat. Actually, security shortly before the show,
asked lots of concert goers to take their seats. Don't get me started on concert
security. They just take the dumbest people available and give them a button
and a small section they can rule over. Awful.
3) Merchandising: A new tour program is availaible including a reprint of a roSto
article mentioning Dylan's arthritis. Posters of the individual cities are not sold
anymore (these posters were sold at merchandising stands in the last 4 - 5 years)
4) The SET.
Just great and full of surprises. Almost no oldies (I rather like that) and two live
debuts (see setlist). Very enjoyable!
Review by Gabriele Hessler-Richter
I only can share the impressions in the reviews of Steven Jackson and Joachim
Richter of the Mainz concert. It was a very special and moving experience that
night. The surreal atmosphere of the old industrial area, the "tempest" like
weather - wind blowing down the river Rhine, wonderful cloud compositions at
the sky - and hardly unbelievable - Bob and his outstanding band on stage that
night. A great concert with many surprises for us in the second half of the
concert. A warm and overwhelming "Full moon and empty arms", a newly
arranged "To Ramona"in a Rumba version and a tender "Sad songs and waltzes".
A great jazzy "Til I fell in love with you" and a very forceful and tight "Ballad of a
This concert really was a gift for all of us fans this night.
May I tell you about my adventure in the afternoon before the concert. My
daughter and I were walking from our hotel to the Zollhafen area just to find
out the way to the venue. When we arrived there were already some guys
waiting with camera and binoculars at the site fence - probably waiting for the
soundcheck to come. (We got some videos later on you tube channel.). We
went further down where the stage was built up close to the river Rhine and
then moved slowly back to the street where we came from. Strolling along
there suddenly was a black Limousine approaching us in "walking speed". I had
to step aside and for a second I thought Bob might be in there. The car passed
and I caught sight of two guys coming straight towards us. My heart stood still
for a second and I was kind of hypnotised looking at them. First I recognized
the bodyguard and then Bob. 3 m away from us - quite unreal. They had been
walking all across the industrial area which was fenced in and they had to turn
into the road where we were walking. Bob was wearing his hood and a black
leather jacket. He was looking down to the ground when he walked by. Then
Bob was directed gently into the car. I was so excited. I love his music since
I had been an exchange student in the US in 1965 and have been to various
concerts, two of them I could stand watching in the front row in Bonn 2012
and in Düsseldorf 2013 which both were great concerts. It was such a fine
experience to see him on stage so closely. But I never expected to meet him
right in the middle of a street!
I deeply hope to see him perform healthy and strong and with the joy of
playing for all of us still many more years to come. Thank you Bob Dylan.
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