July 5, 2019
Review by Laurette Maillet
Hamburg. Though I booked a Youth Hostel in Hamburg J. proposed to share
his hotel room closer to the venue. OK. In the morning we take a boat tour
on the river Elbe together before splitting. Most likely you go your way and
I'll go mine. I decide to go to the venue early afternoon. After all I'm on
the road for Bob Dylan. Not the Bobcats. I realize I've been here before.
Huge venue again but nothing like the Roskilde fest. I don't see a hair of
Bobby's head. Recluse more than ever those days. I have a chat with a Fan
who likes to read my stories on Boblinks. I seem to be quite popular! :) We
spot Charlie, George, Donnie getting ready and the "Ninja warrior" is all
in black!:) By 7 pm I look for a ticket that I easily get and a good one on
the floor section. I spot many Bobcats around. Mainly the German crew.I
take my seat on time. The audiance is polite and easy.Right away I feel
that will be a good show. The sound is great and Bobby's voice is Crystal
clear."Can't wait" is a must."Love sick" beautifull. At the moment it gets
straight to my bones. " I'm love sick and I'm sick of love". Feel like crying."
Scarlet town " is again center stage. So was " Can't wait". "My masterpiece"
is a sweet one. So will be "Girl from the north country" . The public will
appreciate. But LARS doesn't bring the reaction expected. Neither
"Thunder". No rhythm applause from the audiance. Just a big clap at the
end. Great public but polite. I can't do much Karaoke as I am squizzed
between 2 respectful people. Only my feet are moving.The encore will
be standing and maybe a stage rush. All the songs are respectfully good.
A great standard show. Thank you Bobby. I heard from a secure source
that Bob had a blast in Roskilde. What do I know? Still learning from
Review by Amund Børdahl
THE MEI LANFANG OF AMERICAN ROCK
This is the best concert I have ever seen. Period. There have been others,
but let's talk about this one. But oh, words fail me; I'm reeling from the
blow! (And thus immediately fall into the desperate style of writing where
you sprinkle your prose with bits and tags from Dylan's lyrics to win
friends and influence your uncle). Let me put it this way: Tonight's "Like
A Rolling Stone" was not a highlight. And the reason was as simple as it
was satisfying: Tonight each and every song was a highlight! I know, I
know, this holds true for the other concerts too, I don't know how to
express this... Well, how many Bob Dylan concerts has one attended where
each syllable is articulated with crystal clarity, offering your ears
riches of time to ponder the nuances of every mind enhancing word? As with
all great art (I know about these things), the experience of Dylan's music
deepens and widens with repetition. As to the setlist of this tour, it
grows on you (as the saying goes); the oftener you're exposed to it the
better it gets. This will certainly hold true for individual songs and
whole concerts as well; Hamburg 2019 will no doubt enter the ranks of
repeated listenings. O would that an excellent recording of this show will
manifest soon. How big are the odds for that? Rarely have I witnessed such
strict security procedures at a Dylan concert as at the Barclaycard Arena.
The guards had literally set up a security control system like the ones
you find in airports: I was body searched while my bagfull of books was
X-rayed, including a newly acquired Reclam edition of Bob Dylan's Lyrics
Herausgegeben von Heinrich Detering; luckily, they let me keep it,
including a line Bob stole from Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' play
"A Streetcar Named Desire" and put to good use in the second verse of the
Golden Award opener: "Don't get up, gentlemen, I'm only passing through."
"Things Have Changed" was even more striking than on earlier nights, and
during "It Ain't Me" tears started to flow, as they tend to do these days.
Not since "Nettie More" in Frankfurter Jahhunderthalle in April 2007 (do
you remember... sigh) do I recall Dylan's live renditions having this kind
of direct physical impact on me. If the tears on my cheeks are from
laughter during the more hilarious numbers - ain't that stop-and-go
version of "I Can't Wait" just endlessly entertaining!! to cite just one
an example - I admit to being deeply moved by the way Dylan performs his
slower songs now. And the way he slows down the "Love Sick"-song, and has
the band weave a tapestry of flowing, misty urban landscape sounds around
the vocals, particularly on the concluding verse, as if the singer himself
was from "Scarlet Town" - as he is in that song, also excellently sung
tonight, Bob center stage. (Some of the nuances created in indoor versions
like this one in Hamburg and also that in Karlstad a few days ago were not
as prominent in the straighter versions played at Roskilde; oh no, he
didn't' play "Scarlet Town" there). (- Imagine a dead, white male Danish
music journalist complaining about Bob Dylan not playing "Scarlet Town" at
Roskilde instead of complaining about girls forty years below his age
leaving the area where he stood; that would have been a sign of some
competence for the job). (But now he and his colleagues have lost their
chances of getting an education, hanged, drown and quartered as they were
by a mob of bobcats before managing to escape the Orange Scene area,
defending themselves as bravely as they were capable of though with their
brand new smart phones full of yellowed Justin Bieber audience pics).
("Imagine goofy smile here").
--- Perhaps I am particularly lucky with my seats? Second row this time,
perfect angle: Aphrodite looking directly at me (the statue placed at the
right of the piano), Piano-Bob in Egyptian profile and, particularly when
I used the binoculars I had bought as a belated birthday gift for my
brother in Königstein and remembered to bring with me: the hands of
Charlie Sexton right above Bob's piano-hands; to watch all these hands at
work close up is a sight I will late forget. The sound was exquisite from
where I sat. Tony Garnier's bass guitar perhaps got a tad too high in the
mix as the concert evolved, but I took away from it a sharper remembrance
of his bass figures - not least on the final "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It
Takes a Train to Cry," which was more enjoyable than ever; this song in
particular (besides "Things Have Changed"!) was the one that stuck in my
brain as I took the train back to Frankfurt (from where I came earlier
that day, with my bag of books and heart full of ever higher
expectations), including a couple of hours at the Hannover Hauptbahnhof in
the company of all kinds of ruly and unruly people including "Ernst
August, Koenig von Hannover, Dem Landvater sein treues Volk," as the
inscription on the famous equestrian statue outside the station says.
Earlier that night, right after the concert was over, I had the pleasure
of sharing a portion of Goulasch and some well-prepared beers at A.E.
Nagel's Bierstube (eine der traditionsreichsten Gaststätten Hamburgs seit
1848) close to Hamburg Hpf with three truly dedicated i.e. absolutely
insane Norwegian bobcats: Kim Larsen (yes, him; 237 concerts), his wife
Lena (200 concerts, "with him," as she somewhat superfluously explained to
me, pointing to her husband), and the one and only Magne Karlstad,
Scandinavian record holder with his 350 plus concerts - whom I asked
whether he thought there was done any taping of tonight's show? with all
the security stuff? to which he reassuringly replied "oh yes, several
recordings were made tonight;" so now it is just a question of time before
each stone can be turned again in this masterpiece mosaic of notes and
syllables. As for these cats, they were more lukewarm than I was about the
concert itself (except I wasn't lukewarm), complaining about the passive
audience and things. Now listen, unless you feel excused by your
constantly touring when Bob is on tour, you need to concentrate on what's
going on upstage. You cannot allow yourself to let your mind wander, still
less begin wondering about the "politeness" of the big audience or things
like that. Me too my feet wanted to dance so bad at times it felt like
torture to have to sit on them. Only one thing to do, grab your binoculars
and concentrate: You cannot allow yourself to miss out on a single moment
of Dylan and His Band's workings up there; it would be like missing out on
anything Hamlet says in passing in a conversation with Ophelia (or
anybody) during his play. He is THAT GOOD; Bob, that is. (Am I making
myself clear enough? As I said, words fail me). From where I stood (sat),
the audience wasn't at all "polite" in a bad sense, they were
concentrating. Right beside me was sweet, sweet Liane, who had not been to
a Dylan concert before (if I understood her well), but hoped he would play
"Girl from the North Country" - should have seen her shoulders when he did
and the yessss on her face - and, as it turned out, she was well into the
lyrics of his 'Love and Theft', Modern Times and Tempest songs as well
(shame on your schemes if you aren't, how DO you spend your summer days
and nights) and clearly enjoyed every turn these songs took. And the big
audience? All were on their feet after "Gotta Serve Somebody" and remained
standing during the two encores: the most animated version of "Blowin' in
the Wind" so far on this (my) tour first, and then a great, great version
of the "Train to Cry"-song. It takes a lot to laugh in our stupid times
with its bad, bad musical tastes and resultant political decisionmakings,
but in this room, the Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg, the world was shut out
for a lasting moment.
"You want to know how good the blues can get? Well, this is it." Keith
Richards on Robert Johnson. (Eric Clapton: "When I was twenty five, if you
didn't know who Robert Johnson was I wouldn't talk to you.") And Mei
Lanfang? He was the inimitable, never-to-be-surpassed superstar of Peking
Opera during the first half of the twentieth century. Peking (i.e.
Bejjing) Opera is, as Wikipedia describes it, an art form "which combines
music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics." Sounds familiar?
Mime, dance and acrobatics is part of a Dylan concert too - and if his art
may seem a far cry from Chinese opera, he has this in common with Mei
Lanfang that each of them is the Robert Johnson of their genre. Need I say
more? Don't you dare miss it.
Review by Michael Brenner
Last friday night I went to the Hamburg Arena and listened to Bob Dylan. Once
again. For me it must have been show no. 50 oder 60. Don't know. Going to
Bob these days is about history, about aging, about beauty, about identity.
About being human. About art. The art of Bob Dylan is a part of my life for a
long time, beginning in the days long gone by when I went to demonstrations
and was part of the street fighting against the bloody war in Vietnam. My age
was 17 at that time.
Last week was a intensive Bob Dylan week: the friday night before I attended
his show in Gothenborg Sweden with a friend. On monday night I had invited
some friends to my place for a few bottles of wine and we watched The Rolling
Thunder Revue by Martin Scorsese.
Me I am 67 now, Bobby is 78 years old. Last night in Hamburg I was deeply
touched by Girl from a North Country, the song about youth and lost love.
Who is not carrying memories for a girl from the north country? I was listening
tot he great words: Please, see for me if her hair hangs long, that's the way I
remember her best, I'm a-wonderin' if she remembers me at all, many times
I've often prayed. Hamburg was a good show.
Thank you Bob, thank you Klaus-Viktor for the ticket and the invitation.
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