Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 07/03/98


July 3, 1998

Montreux, Switzerland
32nd Montreux Jazz Festival
Stravinski Auditorium

Thanks to Carsten Wohlfeld for the following review:

After the pretty good show in Dijon we spend the off-day in sunny  
Lausanne, right next to the staggeringly beautiful Lac Leman. Montreux is  
only 20 miles away from Lausanne, so it made much more sense to stay in a  
budget hotel there rather than paying the ridiculously expensive Festival  
prices in Montreux. Montreux is an amazing city though. The main street is  
right next to the lake, and is was sunny throughout the day, except for a  
short and heavy rainfall in the afternoon. It was my first time there and  
it was pretty amazing, cause you don't expect a city in the south of  
Switzerland to look a lot like Miami Beach, with all the palms and the  
chrystal clear water... The Congress Centre is a huge building that not  
only includes the Montreux Jazz Festival offices, but also the two venues,  
the Miles Davis Hall and the Stravinski Auditorium, where Bob was going to  
open the 32nd annual Montreux Jazz Festival and where he had played before  
in 1994. We got our official T-Shirts for $18 (designed by Phil Collins,  
but very nice looking nevertheless) and then started getting in line,  
while enjoying the free internet services in the lobby and watching Italy  
lose against France in the soccer worldcup.

The venue itself is a rather small theatre-like place, with standing room  
on the floor and plush seats in the balcony. Very similar to the Alte Oper  
in Frankfurt, where Bob played in 1996. It holds around 2,000 people and  
it was the smallest venue of the whole tour. Boogie-Woogie-pianoman-weirdo  
Al Copley opened and played for 45 minutes. Didn't like it at al, although  
I have to say that his pianoplaying was impressive. After his set the TV  
cameras were turned off and we were allowed to get up right to the very  
low stage... some of us almost could've reached Bob's microphone. The band  
didn't use their own PA-system and the stage-set (also designed by Phil  
Collins) looked very different to the usual black curtain. Very nice. Bob  
came out at 9.35 to open with:

        Gotta Serve Somebody

At last! Obviously we all wanted to hear this song since we didn't had the  
chance to hear Bob play it in England and even though his vocals were  
hardly audible in the bad mix, we all very much enjoyed it and laughed at  
the "female" backing vocals courtesy of Bucky and Larry... "seeeerve  

        The Man In Me

was next as expected. It had been on the cuesheet quite a few times  
before, so it was just a matter of time till he'd play it. Solid  
performance, nothing THAT special, but nice to hear nevertheless.

        Cold Irons Bound

Bob and Tony had a long discussion before this song, no idea what they  
were talking aout, maybe Bob wanted to remind Tony that the band better  
get it right thistime since the last couple of versions weren't too  
convincing? Solid version.

        I'll Be Your Baby Tonight

Gunter is right, I guess. This is the perfect evidence for the fact that  
Bob doesn't care where he plays. I don't think that there's a song less  
fitting for a Jazz Festival than this country-jangle that - to top it al -  
was very badly performed as well. Around this song Bob mumbled something  
like "Montreux jazz Festival..proud to be here", even though it might have  
been ironic, since that's exactly what the somewaht overexcited support  
act Al Copley had said an hour earlier. "I Believe In You" was on the  
cuesheet, but wasn't played unfortunately.

        Can't Wait

The intro was messed up, but apart from that it was probably the strongest  
song of the set so far, definitely Bob's best vocal performance so far.  
The heat was almost unbearable by now, but Bob's bodygurad and the  
security did a very good job, making sure nobody got crushed in the front  
rows and handing out water. Nice.


rocked as usual and had a completely messed up ending, where Larry and  
David totally lost it.

        Mr. Tambourine Man (acoustic)

I hate to say it, but this was another highlight. Bob really seems to like  
the song lately, he's always putting a lot of energy into it. Sounded very  
smooth nevertheless.

        The Times They Are A-Changin' (acoustic)

For people who like greatest hits this was the perfect choice of course,  
for me it was just another - exceptionally flat - rendtion of a song I  
don't have to hear again.

        Desolation Row (acoustic)

Known from now on as "the goofy song". It is beyond me how you can smile  
and dance and play around as much as Bob did on a song like this, but he  
was obviiusly amused by a guy who fainted right in front of him and then  
was carried out by the security. "Desolation" was given the usual nice  
treatment and I think this time he got all the world right, even though I  
don't think he sang more than six verses. After the song he said something  
like: "it's so hot... so hot". And then, best joke all night we heard him  
say: "Carry out more people". Larry almost dropped his guitar cause he was  
laughing so hard!

        Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)

Okay, you probably will skip this one since he's doing it every night, but  
you better read on. This was AMAZING! In 1196 we got the very slow  
versions with harp that lasted around 11 minutes. When Bob started his  
Euro tour "Tangled" was around 7 minutes and without harp. Tonight it was  
veeeeeeeery slow again but featured some of the best and longest guitar  
slos I've ever heard Bob play! And as if that wasn't enough he reached for  
the harp at the end. Now Josh is right when he says that his harmonica  
playing has been just a show effect lately, just 1 minute-and-out for the  
audience (the solos haven't ben very loud either lately) but tonight  
everything was gonna be different: This was by far the best harp solo I  
ever heard Bob play in person and it took at least three minutes, but  
probably four. I didn't check my watch but I wouldn't be surprised if this  
song lasted well over 12 or 13 minutes. Bob was drenched in sweat  
afterwards (despite the heat he was wearing his usual suit - the gray  
"Grammy" one tonight - and his bow-tie) and looked as if he would've loved  
to leave the stage right away. But he stayed of course, introduced the  
band and launched into:

        'Til I Fell In Love With You

Understandibly it was the greatest version, but better than the cuesheets  
alternate of "River Flow" and "Highway" without a doubt. We all thought  
that the strange set 6 electric-4 acoustic-1 electric was due to the heat,  
but there were actually no more than 11 song-slots on the cuesheet for the  

        Love Sick

The cuesheet had "Ain't Me Baby" before this one and the roadies had put  
up the acoustic instruments as well, but - probably due to the heat - Bob  
skipped it and gave us a tired sounding version of "Love Sick" while  
flirting with the girls in the first few rows.

        Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 & 35

Equally tired and of the "glad we're outta here soon" variety.

        Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic)

Crowdpleaser, a little bit out of place at a Jazz Festival, too, I think.  
Bob wasn't as animated as he'd been at previous shows, even though he  
obviously liked the low stage and the contact with the audience.

Robert wanted to catch the train to Verona right after the show and Gunter  
and I wanted to get in the car to drive home. Somehow we just felt it  
wouldn't be right to leave after a show like this, that was very good, 95  
minutes song (despite the fact that it only had 14 songs) and somehow was  
promising a lot more for the shows to come. So we decided to get gas  
instead of a train ticket for Robert and went south instead of north. We  
hit Italy at around 2.00 am, passed Milano at 4.00am and reached Verona at  
8.00am. Found a very nice and reasonably cheap hotel and took a nap. More  
from the show in Villafranca di Verona soon. Thanks for reading.

Carsten Wohlfeld
"if you don't stop to smell the roses now they might end up on you"
(hüsker dü)

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