July 4, 2012
Review by Nelien
What a great concert was this one in Bonn. The first thing we noticed was
that Bob did not put his hat on and he was wearing clothe I had not seen
before. The intro is dropped, well he lives on, so it needed another stanza
anyway. There are some wonderful videos on youtube, please take some time to
watch them, especially Simple Twist of Fate stands out (I hope Tony Garnier
watches this one) , but they are all great.
Bob seems in a good mood. He had great fun when he sung the sentences from
'Spirit on the water' and 'Summer days' revering to masculine virility.
Of course there is the 'grand piano', a great advantage above the organ. It
would be nice if it takes over the place of the organ on stage, because he
it now stands too far back on the stage. Of course we hoped for a opening
of Thin Man on the piano, but it was not so, instead he put the hat on and
did a standard Ballad, which is nice anyway. When start singing Ballad of
Thin Man the mice, which he let go, bounced back at him. Which was a funny
Towards the end of the concerts the smiles became more like a grimace. It
was also clear for me that he did not sit comfortable on the stool behind
the piano, he changed position very often and stood up in midsong, had to
sit down again because of the microphone.
Simple Twist of fate, the only song he played the guitar was very tender.
Man in long black coat was the surprise of the evening, I think, which he
sung centre stage.
We had a wonderful evening.
Hope to catch up with him next year.
Review by André Wilbers
As the show was scheduled for 19.00 (but in fact started at 20.00) i left
home early also taking in account the nomaly heavy traffic in the German
Ruhr Gebiet. But the traffic was not heavy this time, so i arived in time
to hear the soundcheck outside the gate.
First the band without Bob rehearsed Visions of Johanna, Watching the River
Flow and Girl of the North Country . About 45 minutes later again music was
heard this time with piano and organ. They played Po' Boy, Cry Awhile and
Can't Wait (I heard the piano) and as last song with organ: Just like TT
Blues which appeared later the concert opening song.
It was a good concert. No voice problems at all for Bob , the Band played
tight and as a good working machine. It was a real SHOW with Bob acting as
muliti-instrumentalist and very present.
It is amazaing how he keeps changing all his songs and bringing new live in
them. This piano adds some swing and jazz influences and gives new
inspiration even in manyfold played songs like Highway 61 and Summer Days.
The weakest songs are for me Things Have Changed (i think this arangement
has been worn out) and Tangled Up in Blue (only little weak voice of this
Best songs Man in the Long Black Coat , High Water and to end with
Blowin'in the Wind. This encore was played very tender but ended very
strong and fierce with Bob playing harp Center Stage
Review by John Hurd
“I came, I saw, I conquered…” The words of Julius Caesar might easily have been coined
by Bob Dylan after Wednesdays show at Bonn Kunst!rasen. You might even be forgiven
for thinking that Caesar also first declared “The answer my friend is blowing in the wind” –
it certainly seems like those words have been around since the Roman Empire existed.
So how do you keep songs fresh that seem to have been literally written in stone? His
Bobness knew how, and the many listeners came away knowing that where legends are
concerned Bob Dylan is very much the living variety.
In Mary Wharton’s 2009 Bio ‘How Sweet the Sound’ Joan Baez recounts her frustrated
efforts to get Bob Dylan involved in Civil Rights Marches and the like, until she realised
his presence was always there in the Movements most potent weapon – his Songs. In
2012 it is still those Songs that matter most. There is never a word spoken to the
audience, there is not even the glimpse of a solo from anyone in Dylan’s excellent Band.
Each number has a groove into which Dylan pours his words; and like the grooves on
those old black vinyl discs, at the end there is just silence from Man and Band until the
It was certainly a perfect day weatherwise, and the sound at Kunst!Rasen is also
excellent (I had feared the River breezes would play havoc, but the trees literally form a
perfect ‘natural’ barrier). A women next to me had seen Dylan some 300 times she said.
He must still be doing something right, but on the evidence of opener ‘Just Like Tom
Thumb’s Blues’ I wouldn’t have made three visits to his shows, never mind 300. The
excellent sound system just accentuated the fact that even two syllable words seemed
to come out in three different keys from his mouth. I guess it was ‘The Masters’ way
of vocally tuning up though because come the second number ‘Man in the Long Black
Coat’ and he was spot on (or as gloriously ‘spot-off’ as only Dylan can be with that raspy
death-rattle voice of his). His smile hitting the beats of the chorus said “This evening will
be fun” and indeed it was. Song three ‘Things Have Changed’ and they had – the smile
was even bigger as he romped through a funky version of ‘Tangled up in Blue’. The
closest we got to real spontaneity came up next with the Muddy Waters classic ‘Rollin
and Tumblin’ which was a perfect description of Dylans joyous approach on piano – even
though he was a spot in the distance I could see the setting sun glinting off Bobs
smiling teeth on this one.
By now I think you have the pattern for the evening. Regular switches between piano
and harmonica. Maybe it would have made more sense to block the piano numbers
together, but in the event it gave the show an extra bustle, a man too excited by his
music to stay in one place for long. His theatrical gesturing coming in useful since the
absence of a video screen beside the stage (presumably a Dylan decision) made it difficult
to gage his mood at times. Yes I know, the songs are what matters – but if we just
wanted to hear them we could play the records at home. Note for future Dylan
Shows – bring binoculars.
The ‘Dylanites’ around me were all relishing the little things around the songs: “Is he
gonna play guitar on this one? YEAH! He is”. “I think he’ll put his hat on for this one?
Wow YEAH!” and of course when ‘Simple Twist of Fate’ rolled round you can imagine
the eruption of noise that greeted his picking up a Fender, even though Clapton has
nothing to worry about from what came from it.
Highlights for me were the staccato rendering of ‘Hard Rains a Gonna Fall’, The Western
tilt of ‘High Water’ with it’s banjo underpinning and most of all ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ with
it’s eery vocal echo. For Dylan, finding new ways to play old standards must be like
reinventing the wheel, but for the most part he manages it somehow. ‘Blowin in the
Wind’ with violin accompaniment was, for me, a moment that didn’t quite work. I
presume he would probably personally rather explode than have to play the song alone
with just an acoustic guitar as he did fifty years ago. But wouldn’t that have got the
In the event, Bob Dylan came, saw, conquered, and moved on to conquer again.
Rather like Julius Caesar in fact. All hail the mighty Dylan – long may he Reign!
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