Reviews

Gothenburg, Sweden
Trädgårdsföreningen
June 29, 2001


[Bengt Larsson], [Jonas Valthersson], [Ed Nash], [Tobias Yamabe], [Tobias Levander], [Jan Pöhlmann], [Patrik Winquist]

Review by Bengt Larsson



I just got back from the Bob-fest in Gothenburg, Sweden. The venue is a 
beautiful park in the centre of town. It has been a warm and sunny evening 
and the band went on as scheduled 20.00. Everyone wore black suits except 
for Charlie (grey) and Tony (purple). They opened the show with Duncan and 
Brady and I could tell right away that tonight's Bob would be a happy and 
focused Bob.The band and Bob seemed to be in a really good spirit.

The sound was great, Bob's voice crisp and clear, and according to me the 
first 5 songs were performed extraordinary well. Ballad of Hollis Brown and 
Boots of spanish leather were absolutely perfect. In Gotta serve somebody 
the band worked up a good, rockin' groove. Larry and Charlie goofed around 
a bit, laughing at each other behind Bob's back. I'm not sure but I think 
Bob changed some of the lyrics for tonight. As we waited for the show to 
begin a young girl beside me told her friend that she really wanted to hear 
I Want You tonight. I thought to myself, well you might not get lucky 
tonight girl, Bob doesn't do that one too often. But what a fool I was, and 
how well it sounded. The girls went nuts.

At the end of Drifter's escape, before the band pauses for Bob's harp-playing, 
they did about 6 pauses in which Bob did some awesome guitar-picking. The 
crowd went crazy. During Leopard-skin pill-box hat, after "....if it's really 
the expensive kind" Bob laughed and added "I knooow it is". Tony laughed as 
well. Halfway through the song a guy from the U.S throwed his leopard-patterned 
hat onto the stage. No one but security seemed to care. In the end of the song 
Charlie, Larry, Tony and Bob all lined up close together stagefront and did 
some cool moves. Charlie was introduced first.

The Oscar (copy ?)shone on one of the speakers. Things have changed and Love 
minus zero/No limit were the only two songs that weren't treated as well as 
they deserves. In Loveminus zero/No limit Bob phrased "...People caaaarry 
roses, and make proooomises by the hour..."

The first encore, the standard songs done very well. Bob played a lot of solos 
tonight, some good and some "average". I love Charlie's hesitant start of All 
along the watchtower. Bob enjoyed himself with some nice dance moves. In 
Highway 61 revisited Charlie did his solo-bit while Bob watched him. Bob seemed 
eager to join in and so he did. Close together Charlie and Bob duelled on the 
guitars. Larry laughed so much he almost fell on the floor. After a while the 
joined solo ended and Bob continued wonderfully himself for a while before the 
last verse and ending."...Highway sixty-oooooooone".

As they started Blowin' in the wind the lights went out and a surprised Bob 
looked to the roof. The lights came back on quite fast though.

And we got a 2nd encore. As they took their bow Bob nodded in recognition 
towards a woman from the U.S in the front row. She had attended all of the 
three shows in Norway. (and she was a friend of the hat-thrower).

Before this show I've attended 8 Bob-fests since 1987. One good thing about 
Bob is that he always provides me with some "new songs". Duncan and Brady, 
Gotta serve somebody, I want you, Desolation row, It's alright Ma, (I'm only 
bleeding), Just like Tom Thumb's blues and If dogs run free were all new to 
me tonight.

During the soundcheck Seeing the real you at last, Dignity, I'll be your 
baby tonight, Blowin' in the wind, Man in a long black coat, Somebody 
touched me and Searching for a soldier's grave and a song I didn't 
recognized were played.

Am I glad I've got a ticket for Sunday night's show at Sofiero castle ? I'm 
just as happy about that as I'm sorry about missing out on the Borgholm show 
because of Mr Young in Stockholm. But I guess I have to give old Neil a 
chance as well...

Take care / Bengt

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Review by Jonas Valthersson



It´s all right ma, I´m only listening to Bob Dylan...

Watching Dylan under a clear blue sky outdoors for over two hours, what
can be better? The man is in great shape and sounds better and better all
the time - relaxed. This was my 5th time watching him live in Sweden.
GREAT! I can´t take out a favourite song from the mixed setlist - they
were all GOLD. But "If dogs run free" was cool and his band is outstanding
professional. "Forever young" was performed with emotion and it felt like
he sang it directly to us in the crowd. I must tell you about the
leopard-skin pill-box hat that nearly flew up on stage under "Leopard-Skin
Pill-Box Hat" and Bob noticed it. He shouted "wow". Cool guy! Nice
audience also.

Jonas Valthersson

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Review by Ed Nash



A two-concert jaunt in Sweden with my good friend and fellow RMD'er Matt
began in Gothenburg, and what a way to start.

The trip was all going so well, considering our limited funds and the
rather haphazard way in which we'd formed this plan, that I couldn't help
feeling that it was going to be a good night.  (But then, I probably would
have enjoyed 20 instrumental versions of Like A Rolling Stone I was in
such a good mood).  We spent much of the afternoon watching the roadies
set up the stage - I guess when you find this stuff fasctinating you know
you're too far gone - before we were ushered out to the line.  The
just-audible soundcheck further heigthened my anticipation and excitement.
Instrumental versions of most of my list of Songs I Most Want To Hear
Live, and then some.  Seeing the Real You At Last sounded great with
Charlie (I guess) playing some cool, loud solos.  One song I didn't
recognise was later identified for me as I Threw It All Away, interesting
given its Helsinborg appearance.  Anyway, all of this build up seemed like
it might outdo the actual event.  Not a bit of it.

I suppose that a lot of fans who, like me, manage to see about 2-3 shows a
year, spend most of the buid-up hoping fervently that something will
appear tonight that will be talked about for eons to come.  I don't know
if Gothenburg quite managed that, but to hear Hollis Brown was a surprise
and a delight.  A great rendition of a great song that hadn't even entered
my mind as a possibility - amazing how often that happens with Dylan
setlists.

A gorgeous Boots of Spanish Leather (Bob's vocals, high in the mix and
crystal clear throughout the show, were in my opinion particularly
sparkling here) had the audience in quiet, reflective mood.  This is where
the 3 acoustic, 3 electric format comes into its own, and the show got an
extra kick-start from Gotta Serve Somebody, which featured a drawn out
chorus that really helped drive it into another gear.  A fast, playful I
Want You carried the energy on, as well as providing yet another setlist
highlight (I'm trying to distinguish here between the stuff that to me
sounded brilliant on the night, and the stuff that maybe people at home
were looking at on the setlist and smiling about).

I've heard people complain that these reviews can be too uncrticial, so
here I go with a bit of actual criticism - on Love Minus Zero, Bob did one
of those Bob type things that he does.  He picked up on a certain way of
phrasing a line and he carried it through a verse, then the next, and then
virtually the whole song.  Think of recent versions of Tambourine Man.
Well, here it removed a good deal of the prettiness and tenderness of the
melody.  But, to return to all out positive mode, he pulled out a
wonderful harp solo to make the song another great moment.

This was all getting a bit overwhelming for me by now, but it kept on
coming.  I can't say how good the first half of Tom Thumb's Blues was - I
was still getting over hearing the distinctive opening, chords.  The
second half sounded great though.  More cool pharsing from Bob.  He was
having a ball all night and the acoustics and mixing were picking up
everything perfectly.

I have to say that boring as it might seem looking at near-identical sets
of encores night after night, I couldn't have coped with any more
surprises that night.  I needed time to just enjoy being at a Dylan gig,
not thinking about what he might play next.  With that in mind I found
that I enjoyed these songs more than I expected.  Where I was, about eight
rows back, there were a lot of people, who had enjoyed the show up to
then, but really did go wild when Like A Rolling Stone started up.  It is
my opinion that this structure - surprises in the main set, standard
greatest hits in the encores - gives the best balance to the show. 
Forever Young bought many a casual fan to tears here, and it was lovely to
see.

Matt and I sat on the banks of the river for a long while afterwards
trying to absorb it all.  I still can't really believe I was there.  I
hope that this show is talked about for a long time to come.  It deserves
to be.

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Review by Tobias Yamabe


The weather was nice in Göteborg (Gothenburg) and Dylan and the band came
on five minutes past eight, starting with what seems to have become the
regular opener "Duncan and Brady”. Dylan was in a very good form and mood
tonight; smiling, laughing and adding some new lyrics. It was three very
nice acoustic songs he started with, after "Duncan", "Hollis Brown" and
"Boots of Spanish Leather". Dylan from start took most of the guitar solos
and was very slick.

The first electric song was "Serve Sombody" which was great and his guitar
playing came through even better here. Next was a surprise, a wonderful "I
Want You" - first of four songs from "Blonde on Blonde". Dylan's singing
was also very good tonight, all words sung very clearly and no mumbling.
On with "Desolation Row", "Love Minus Zero" and "It's Alright, Ma" - very
nice and Dylan in a great mood. It was really great to see all the
expressions in his face tonight - he was really on tonight. Next was
another surprise (to me at least), "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" and his
frasing was sooo good. I loved this one.

On "Drifter's Escape" he again did some awsome  guitar and harp solos and
he started with this "piling" of words (I think it was here it started,
but then my memory isn't too good...;) - singing a whole line or two
without any break to catch his breath, in a great speed - but still the
words came out clear.

"Leopard-Skin" was kind of a highlight tonight, he was really enjoying
this one. When he sang "if it's really that expensive kind", he added "I
know it is" and laughed. And some guy threw up a leopard pattern hat and
Dylan quietly went "yeah” and nodded in the direction from which the hat
came. In the last verse he sang "You know, I never seen him before" with a
voice and face expression of someone being really offended - priceless!
Then the four guitarr players lined up playing and Dylan bent over
laughing. When he introduced the band, he started with "Thank you ladies
and genltemen", which ment he talked quite a lot tonight!

The second set started with "Things Have Changed" and it was great to see
that when he sang "...trying to get as far away from myself as I can", he
streched out his left hand as far as he could on the guitar. "Like A
Rolling Stone" was in a very tender and emotional way - a bit slower from
what I've heard before. "If Dogs Run Free" was nice and "All Along The
Watchtower" is always great. Lovely harmonies on "Forever Young".

On "Highway 61" he did some more of this "word piling" and played some
great guitar. On the last verse (I think) on the second last line he
pointed at the crowed and broke out in a big smile. After "Blowin'", the
band bowed and ones Dylan put his left hand on his chest bowing. He looked
like he embraced the crowd.

On "Rainy Day Woman" he san:
"They stone you and drive away in a car
They stone you but they wont get far"
and broke out in a smile again. They finished off with some more great
guitar playing and when I went back to the hotel I was quite taken.

Last year Ialso saw the show in Göteborg and then too it was fantastic. I
don't know if if Dylan likes the city or if it's just a coinsidence, but
to me Göteborg means "DYLAN" and not mad riots! Göteborg is a nice city
and although I'm from Stockholm, I have to say: "älska, älska, älska
Göteborg!".

Tobias Yamabe

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Review by Tobias Levander



I was pretty tired when I finally came to Gothenburg late in the
afternoon of June 29, only a few hours before the concert was scheduled to
begin. The first thing I did in Gothenburg was to locate the venue and,
together with my friend Fredrik, listen to the soundcheck. The band played
polished instrumental versions of "I Threw It All Away" and "I'll Be Your
Baby Tonight".  We couldn't stay there for very long, because we had
promised to meet our friend Peter at a nearby pub. We went there, had a
couple of beers, speculated about the setlist and talked about the kind of
things that only Bobcats and Dylandogs can understand. We were having a
great time, but we soon had to leave for the concert. Tradgardsforeningen
is a beautiful park in central Gothenburg, kind of the Central Park of
Gothenburg. A great place to have an outdoors concert, at least if the
weather is fine.  And the weather was fine. We saw hundreds of people who
had picnics outside the park, who were going to listen to the concert
without having to pay for a ticket. Inside the park, there was a lot of
anticipation in the air, but most people seemed to be calm and friendly,
and the kind of rude drunkeness that often characterizes Friday night
crowds was almost totally absent. We had no no problem finding good spots
just in front of the stage. Anyway, we watched how the roadies made
everything ready. A few minutes before 8 o'clock, the cue sheets were
handed out and some loud classical music (Dvorak?) was coming out of the
speakers. Just after 8, the familiar faces of the members in Bob's band
could be seen on the stage and in a few seconds Bob himself appeared.
After the usual introduction and some familiar guitar strums, Bob
approached the microphone and sang the opening line "twinkle, twinkle
little star". Yes, my favorite opening number, "Duncan And Brady"! I was
kind of hoping for "Humming Bird" (that he played in Langesund the night
before), but since "Duncan..." is so good, I was more than happy. I saw
him perform it twice in London last October, and it was just as good this
time.  Bob seemed to be in a good mood. I knew right away that this was
going to be a great concert. After "Duncan...", Tony started playing
stand-up bass with a bow, and the band played an introduction that
convinced me that I was finally going to witness a performance of "John
Brown", but it was not to be. Instead Bob started singing about John's
relative Hollis, and the version Bob and his band performed was quite
intense. "Ballad Of Hollis Brown" was the first real surprise of the
evening and a highlight. "Boots Of Spanish Leather" followed, and it was a
nice version. As expected, an electric set followed, and it started with
one of best post-81 versions of "Gotta Serve Somebody" I have heard. Bob
seemed to be making up new lyrics on the spot, and the version rocked
hard. A country-fied "I Want You" followed, with Larry playing some nice
pedal steel, and I enjoyed it very much, but I'm not convinced it was a
great version (the tapes will tell). When I saw that Larry took up an
acoustic guitar, I knew that we were going to hear "Stuck Inside Of
Mobile". I was right, and it was a passable version, though Bob seems to
be unable to really do this song justice in concert. For the first time in
the concert I noticed that Bob's voice seemed a little weaker than it was
last fall.  His vocal range is even more limited now, but he is often able
to compensate brilliantly, at least when he's singing ballads. On the
hard-rock numbers, his voice sounds weak and strained. Another acoustic
set followed, and an excellent performance of "Desolation Row". This
version was an exercise in phrasing. Larry played lap steel on "Love Minus
Zero" and Bob played some harp. Nothing remarkable about this performance,
but it was nice. "It's Alright Ma" was its usual self, and that's a good
thing. "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" didn't really work IMO. "Drifter's
Escape" rocked hard, but I'm not too fond of the this arrangement. Bob
played harp. "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" needs a rest now. Bob introduced
the band during this song, and I think it was the first and only time he
said something during the entire concert. Bob lets his songs (and his
idiosyncratic body language) do all the talking. BTW, Bob shouted "I know
it is!" after "I just wanna see if it's really the expensive kind".

I feel reluctant to call the songs that followed encores. It's more like
the second part of the concert. It started with a very good version of
"Things Have Changed", followed by a dull, uninspired version of "Like A
Rolling Stone", one of Dylan's best songs. It almost hurts to hear such an
indifferent performance of this great song. It's always nice to hear "If
Dogs Run Free", with the lounge jazz sound and the nonsensical lyrics.
Both Bob and his band performs this one well, even if they play it more or
less on routine. The version of "Watchtower" they played reminded me of
the '98 arrangement (played only a handful of times), that was almost a
complete deconconstruction of the song. During this performance, Bob faced
Charlie, and traded solos. Charlie's solos were, not surprisingly, far
more successful than Bob's. Bob's electric guitar playing is sometimes
dodgy beyond words, which is a shame, since he has occasionally proved
that he can play quite remarkable solos if he wants to. Tony, who for most
of the concert had been standing behind Bob, now started moving around the
stage, grinning and dancing. "Forever Young" was really good. Bob sang it
with great care, and the harmonies with Larry and Charlie were quite
successful. "Highway 61" rocked, but I think it needs a rest. Once again,
Bob faced Charlie for most of the song, and Charlie played some great
solos. "Blowin' In The Wind" was a crowd-pleaser, and a
better-than-average version. Bob looked out in the clear blue sky for most
of the song, looking as if he had just rediscovered the meaning of the
words. The formation, and then a perfunctory "Rainy Day Women" with some
new lyrics ("they stone ya when they're ridin' in a car/ they stone ya,
but they won't get far" or something like that). The show was over. We
walked around, had a beer, and talked to a lot of people. Most people we
talked to seemed to be happy with the concert, veterans and new fans
alike. Someone who had been to the concerts in Norway said that this was
the best show on the tour so far. I don't think I have ever seen this much
expressive body language from Bob, at least not since Malmo 1998. We had a
post-show party in an apartment in central Gothenburg, listening to the
Osaka (March 7) 2001 recording and a few other old and new field
recordings. In the morning we read the newspaper reviews of the Gothenburg
concert, and most of them were very unfavorable, with remarks such as
"Dylan is now a thing of the past" and "he sounds like a dirty old man
who's trying to tempt small girls with candy when he's croaking out "I
Want You"" and that kind of comments. This is quite strange, since Dylan
usually get good reviews when he's in Sweden. On June 30, the day after
the Gothenburg concert, Bob was going to play Roskilde, but for me, Peter
and Fredrik, it meant a day off before the Helsingborg concert. To be
continued...

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Review by Jan Pöhlmann



The concert started fine – Dylan was bright and very focused. His voice
was rough but very clear and controlled – the sound was perfect. The stage
was set for a perfect concert. Boots Of Spanish Leather was exquisite. 
And the first electric songs too - Gotta Serve Somebody and I Want You. It
was so good to hear I Want You in an upbeat version again. But what
happened? It seemed like Dylan lost his powers or his spirits half-way
through Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again. After that
one a couple of songs sounded like they were run down unconscious and
automatically. I can’t help it. This was the first time ever in twenty
years and twenty concerts Dylan bored me. It seemed to me that all the
energy that went into e.g. Desolation Row was only pretentious
fake-energy, a displaying of his techniques in sounding “alive”. Drifter’s
Escape and especially Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues were nice surprises
indeed and the performances of those two songs were quite enjoyable. But
after that short intermission of inspiration, Dylan fell into the trap of
routine again – even the worse so as he did not manage or want to get out
of it for the rest of the evening. I know a big part of the audience was
on his side during the standards-set in the end. But Dylan can always
surrender any audience anywhere by playing some of his greatest hits.
That’s o. k. but it’s nothing special.

Towards the end of the concert my wife had to leave for the toilet and she
noticed many people walking towards the exit of the park – I can’t blame
them, because nothing really special happened. But then again – so what?
It is always good to see Bob Dylan and after all this was a good average
concert, and we’re all having our weaker days when we’ve been on the job
too long (or is it me being in the audiece too long?).

If you wish to discuss this concert or other Dylan-matters with me, please
write to me: jan@snoghoj.dk

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Review by Patrik Winquist




Before the show there was wild speculations on what song he would open
with, and of course Duncan and Brady was one possibility so when he
started with it we weren't surprised but pleased. I love this opener. Then
Tony picked up his bow and I was hoping for John Brown but was equally
thrilled when he sang Hollis Brown this was the first surprise and it was
just great. No soloing on this one. Then came Boots which was magnificent
and bob played an all right solo. The first electric song was Serve
somebody and now Bob was really on fire. His eyes shone bright.  He sang 
"..Lord but You gotta  You  You gotta serve somebody" . He also played THE
best solo of the evening (his career). I could hardly believe my ears.
Then came an uptempo arrangement of I want you which had the crowd
stomping their feet. Stuck inside of Mobile was good and the singing to
but nothing special. Then back to acoustic and a fabulous Desolation with
nice solos from both Bob and Larry. During the acoustic songs I could
hardly hear Charlie's guitar and was standing in front of the middle of
the stage. I hope they turn him up in Helsingborg. At first I was
disappointed when I recognised Love Minus Zero but the way he sang it aand
the harp mad this speciall and a highlight. Its all right Ma was a song
that I wanted to hear so loved every second of this. Tom Thumb was also
great and bob was really enjoying himself. Drifters was one of the better
drifters that I've heard with fantastic frasing. I didn't think it was
possible but he made LSPH one of the better songs of the evening and even
made a comment." ...the expensive kind ....I know it is ..That brand
new....".  the encore were predictable but exellent. I hope he's as good
in helsingborg. can hardly wait.

Patrik

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