Encamp, Andorra

Camp de Fútbol de Prada de Moles

June 22, 2008

[Guillem Turon], [Miquel Leonard], [James Scott]

Review by Guillem Turon

After being disappointed by the Toulouse show I wasn't expecting much, 
but I ended absloutely amazed by realizing he still can do it. He hasnt' lost 
his touch, it's simply you have to chose the right day. My best Dylan show 
in years. We all know his voice isn't the same than years ago, but yesterday 
he did sing, he did all he can do, he used well the voice he has. Now I only
hope someone has recorded it to have it and being able to hear it again 
(although it's not the same than being there). Unfortunately, my girlfriend, 
who came to the Toulouse show, didn't come to that one.
I heard the band soundchecking a few hours before the show from out 
there. They were insisting in All along the watchtower. Maybe it was 
because they knew they were going to start with it.  It was a great surprise 
this start, and I think that version was different from the Toulouse version. 
This was more rocking, harder, more similar to the version they did those 
years to end the shows.

By the way, the show started 19 minutes earlier to the announced time 
(21.30h.) Someone could be angry. Bob came to the stage walking strange, 
as if he was going to fall in any moment. He seemed in a good mood.

Don't think twice it's alright was fine, and I realized he was singing better 
than in Toulouse. This made my hopes up.  

Then came High water. Rocking.  Much better than the album version, 
as I heard in other live performances.

The first real gem of the night was Trying to get to heaven. I Adore Time 
Out Of Mind, but this is not one of the songs I like the best of it, but I liked 
very much the live version. Absolutely fantastic, and the singing too.

Rollin' and tumblin' was similar to the Toulouse show. There was one of the 
best moments, but yesterday was a great show and there were better 
moments tha that.  

It was a great moment when I heard the first notes of Visions of Johanna. 
It's difficult to sing it very nicely with the voice Bob has now, but he did it 
okay. It was not a wonderful moment but a good one.

The wonderful moment arrived with Million miles. I couldn't believe he played 
it. I like very much that song and dreamt of hearing it live but didn't hope it 
because I knew it was very unlikely. But he did. And it was an amazing 
performance. And I am not the only one to say that. 

Beyond the horizon was simple, but nice. I liked it better than the album 

Tangled up in blue is a song I¡ve heard too much times live, and I didn't 
want to hear it again. But that new version is fantastic. I liked it very much. 
One of the best moments too.

Then came, Highway 61, fantastic as always. What more could I say?

Sugar baby was one of the highest points in Toulouse. Yesterday, in a great 
show, it didn't seem so special. It's still a great version, really nice, but in a 
fantastic show his brightness is not so contrasting.

Something similar happened with Nettie Moore, but I could appreciate in 
Encamp he did it far better.

Then came my girlfriends' favourite: Summer days. But unfortunately yesterday 
she wasn't there. I teleponed it to her and he told me she heard it well. I 
think Bob was beginning to be tired and he messed up a little with the singing. 
It was rocking.

Ballad of a thin man was great, too. I liked very much the guitars in it. 
Great to hear.

Thunder in the mountain was fine, nothing new to me.

Luckily, he ended yesterday with Blowin' in the wind. My last 5 Dylan shows had 
ended with Like a rolling stone in the encore and it was time to change a little. 
I liked very much the new version. 
A good ending for a wonderful night. I wonder if I will be able to hear 
something like that again.


Review by Miquel Leonard

I was at the Dylan concert last night in Encamp, Andorra and can report on
it if you want, although I was not particularly impressed...

It's not every day that as big a name as Bob Dylan visits Andorra, and
that combined with the  "Pont de Sant Juan" holiday assured a good crowd
of locals and Spanish visitors from nearby Barcelona, and they were an
enthusiastic audience to what was a pretty bland performance. Not the best
of the tour judging from previous reviews. Perhaps the location was
uninspiring, the local football pitch, with a standing crowd which I
estimate at some 5000 people, although nobody could have asked for better
weather in a place where thunderstorms might well have disrupted things.
It got underway with a couple of reworked favourites (see set list) and
continued in the same style with very little variation apart from changes
in tempo, for the rest of the evening. The only instrument changes were
made by a hesitant Donnie Herron, whose banjo and fiddle were all but
inaudible. From where I stood the balance wasn't quite right so that it
was sometimes difficult to understand the lyrics, which for some songs are
the only thing that makes them worthwhile. There was no rapport at all
between the musicians and the crowd. They, including Bob, were like
automatons, humourlessly churning out near perfect, studio quality tunes,
one after another, without a hint of any improvisation, clocking in and
out of their daily shift, offering nothing more than they were being paid
for. They ended and walked off without even saying goodnight, hope you
enjoyed the show. Did they care? To be fair they came back for an encore
of "Thunder on the Mountain" and an abridged "Blowin' in the Wind" when
Bob introduced the members of the band to an audience which he did not
appear to noticed until then, before making a final exit. Am I glad I
went? Yes. It was good to hear excellent musicians at work, but I won't be
in a rush to buy a ticket if they pull into town again next year. At $75 a
throw I think we could have been entitled to a bit more enthusiasm.

Miquel Leonard


Review by James Scott

Every once in a while someone posts here and claims that they met TonyG in
McDonalds or that they saw a roadie walking Bob’s mutt along the grass,
but I’m the first who’s been able to claim that he got the gig for
Bob! Well not quite. But almost!!   Dispassionate readers of my last
posting, for the concert of 7th July 2006 in Valencia, Spain, will have to
concede it cannot be mere coincidence that Bob should have made a bee-line
today for the mountain stronghold of Andorra, which I highlighted at some
length in 2006. So Bob trumps a “first” of playing St Petersburg in
Russia, arguably the largest country in Europe with a another “first”
of playing Encamp in Andorra, surely the smallest independent country he
has sung in. (Vatican City State, even smaller than Andorra, doesn’t get
a mention in that book, since his Papal-concert was in Bologna, Italy!)  
The weather in Italy last week was very wet it seems, but Bob hit the
Pyrenees just as summer broke. The weekend temperatures had hit 38C
(100.4F) the previous day in parts of nearby Spain and the forecast for
Sunday was more of the same. Rumours were that the ticket sales in Andorra
were “més aviat tirant a fluix”; a Catalan-language circumlocution
for “nothing to write home about.”   In the event, Sunday
temperatures peaked below 30C (85F). Local media reported that Bob’s
caravan crossed over from Toulouse at about 3am on Saturday morning, but,
as always, nobody knew which campsite he had gone to, nor whether he would
come down to shake the mayor’s hand before the show. That’s what
passes for news in Andorra on a Sunday morning.   As Bob’s only
connection with the continents he visits seems to come via reports on the
net, I can inform him that he would have felt at home had he done the
rounds of Andorra. In St Julia, he missed a folk-fair from the Balearic
Islands. He could have bought a hand made Spanish guitar for 5 000€ or
were he in a Scotch/Catalan mood he could have purchased a simple rhythm
instrument for the boys in that section of the band for a mere 5€.  
Was it a good omen (if one can use that word in the context) that the
Sunday mass readings today were Matthew 10:26-33, including “Però a
vosaltres, Déu té comptats cada un dels cabells.” Now where have we
heard that since?   Andorra looks increasingly like
Milwaukee-by-the-Alps. Glorious, breath-taking  scenery disfigured by the
hand of man. Many Asian faces at mass, a tractor in a field of tobacco
plants with instructions stencilled in Polish on the cabin, a new
Hungarian restaurant in Encamp all combine to highlight that with
globalisation, the new imperialism did someone say, “Things have
changed” even in these previously remote valleys.   The stage was set
up on the simplest of football pitches; think late 50´s Glenhead Park,
Duntocher but without the sophisticated infrastructure which Crerand and
Kennedy loved so much there. The pitch is about 30 feet below the main
road through town and anyone who wanted could hear the concert from
beginning to end today by the simple expedient of stopping on the pavement
and listening. Not that many did. Half a dozen at the start and thirty or
so at the end. Bob can perhaps console himself that there was a major
soccer match live on TV during his set when he reflects on this, safely
back on the boat. The high street level vantage point did allow one or two
enterprising photographers to get excellent shots of the show. The front
cover of the local Periodic d´Andorra, really a local supplement to a
Barcelona paper, had an excellent cover photo next day and Andorran TV had
some clear shots from the same spot.   Most of the cars parked for the
show had local Andorran plates but there was a major influx of
Catalan-Spanish cars too. A sprinkling of French cars added a little spice
and I spotted one single German number plate (“Mos”) in the line.  
We strolled into the park about 8:45 pm and the opening act was just
finishing. A figure of 3 000 seems about right for the audience size.
Though some people claim the official show time was 9:30pm, Bob and the
band shuffled on stage about 9:10pm. We had made our way with a minimum of
fuss to a point left of centre about 3 rows from the front. It was that
sort of stress free bucolic Pyrenean atmosphere all night. (Except for one
“bloke” in the Bobcat caravan, from Belfást, who was done over by the
security for using too sophisticated a lens too close to his hero!)  
Think Thora Hird balanced uncertainly on Cuban heels, wearing a dark
flashy jacket which would not have disgraced a doorman at the LaScala
cinema, had the budget run to such fripperies, and you get the picture. Oh
plus a very round wide brimmed lightish coloured hat with a small feather;
by Mexico out of Feria de Abril as it were. The skin is still of a pallor
which would have Peter Lorrie´s wife rushing to the pharmacy.   Thank
God that after all the build up, Bob was on excellent form. His voice had
a strength I have not heard in the last 2 decades. It was much, much, much
stronger than in Valencia in 2006, and he sang like a man possessed. By?

It was a mannered performance. Perforce. A very, very, very mannered
performance, indeed. RAZ has been doing his Bob Dylan impersonations for
so long now (remember when he first donned the mask one Halloween?) that
he has it off to a t! Why he does it so well that for a moment you can
actually convince yourself that it really is the one and only Bob Dylan up
there on stage tonight in Encamp, Andorra.   Every little gesture.   No
bows. No smiles, well not many. And not for us. For the band. Especially
for Donnie tonight. Lots of movement. As soon as the song finished he’s
off. Like a rabbit out of it’s burrow. Darting back to the harmonica or
round to share a joke with the band. (Apparently they don’t ever meet
each other off stage.) Maybe if he stays still for too long we’ll loose
interest. Maybe we’ll look at the band instead of at him. Or at the
moonlight on the mountainsides? Or start reminiscing about Donovan?  
“All along the watchtower” was a workmanlike though surprising opener.
A shortened version, I thought. “Don’t think twice” was delightfully
syncopated and I seem to remember he played the “harmonica”.
Beautifully, as Leonard Cohen might say. No need to go through them all.
Others have done so already.    Low point? “Rolling and tumbling”,
the new “John Brown” at least as far as I am concerned. Oh and
“Trying to get to heaven” where he somehow managed to fillet the whole
tune from this gorgeous song. Unbelievable. (Maybe he should listen to the
Bob Dylan version if he wants to hear how this one should sound?)
Highlight? All right, highlights? “Visions…” if I must pick just
one. I’m of the vintage who remember the original acoustic version. 
And/or "Thin man." Same period.   No! How could I be so crassly mistaken?
It was the last song, really. It has to be the last song on the set list.
He nailed it. Every word. Every syllable. Every gesture. On the nose. Just
like back in….   If anyone ever again dares repeat to you the old
canard that “Dylan used to care, but things have changed,” then you
are quite entitled, on the basis of tonight’s performance of the final
song alone, to shoot back “You’re a liar!”   Roll on Zaragoza.  
“Hey guys, does anyone have Albert’s cell phone number so that I can
bill him for getting Bob the gig?”  


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