Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Reviews - 07/05/98


July 5, 1998

Rome, Italy
La Scalinata

Thanks to Carsten Wohlfeld for the following review:

Okay, as you probably could've guessed after my last review, of course we  
did the insane trip to Rome after dropping off our friend Robert aka  
"Shelter" at the trainstation in Verona. A lot of the other "regulars"  
skipped this show and went straight on to Lucca, but when you pay and take  
the "autostrada" you can go at an average of 80 or even 80mph and reach  
Rome within four-and-half hours which isn't too bad I guess. The "Parking  
Meter" Rainer fortunately had told us that the show would be in the  
suburbs, in a part of Rome called E.U.R., so we managed to avoid the  
insane traffic in Rome City, dropped off our stuff at a nice camping site  
nearby - they had a real life ostrich running around there that actually  
slept next to our tent!!! - and reach E.U.R. at around 5pm. Unfortunately  
they didn't have any posters to lead our way and the people we asked for  
the venue could help us much either (we later learned that it took other  
people two hours to find the venue), cause the official tour poster as  
well as Bill Pagel's excellent site just mentioned "la scalinata", which  
just means "the steps" in italian and let me tell you, Rome has plenty of  
'em! So a nice old couple told us to go to the city center of Rome anyways  
to ask for the right way there. Too bad, that's exactly what we wanted to  
avoid, the traffic in Rome! Well, we were waiting at the streetlight in  
order to turn right when I nearly had a heart attack... Guess what I saw  
passing by? A golden nightliner! Now if you know anything about anything  
you will know that there's basically just one band touring in a golden  
bus... Bob Dylan and his band! So we just followed the bus which took us  
to a free (!) parking lot backstage, we parked right next to the bus, saw  
Bucky, Larry, Tony and David get off and start to soundcheck immediately!  
The stage was situated in the middle of the road, so the gigantic stairs  
that let up to a huge buliding could be used as an amphitheater kinda  
thing. It was quite a sight! All day we had discussed wich "Italian" songs  
Dylan might do tonight... "Joey" (complete with little Italy reference!)  
or even "Masterpiece" ("Streets of Rome...")? The soundcheck was pretty  
good and interesting too, and since we sat right behind the stage in a  
little park we had perfect sound and that's why I'll review the soundcheck  
as well, even though Bob wasn't there.

        > Love Sick

A full version was played without vocals, Bucky tried a few new things  
here and there... nice.  A short country instrumental followed and then  
they did another instrumental version, this time of:

        > It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry

Long version, again Bucky was in fine form taking the slide lead solo.  

        > When I Paint My Masterpiece

Gunter and I both had to laugh, cause when you talk about a song for 5  
hours and sing the "streets of Rome" line repeatedly in the car you don't  
expect the first words to be sung at the soundcheck "streets of Rome",  
too! I dunno who songs at the soundchecks (I know it used to be JJ, so my  
guess it that it's now Larry, right?), but this version was very, very  

        > Joey

Yes, they did that one too, several times even, once with vocals, the rest  
instrumentally. Didn't sound as perfect as "Masterpiece" but since our  
chances were slim that Bob would sing either song at the show it was still  
a very nice surprise to hear them both (and in full-length versions with  
vocals) at the soundcheck.

        > I'll Remember You

Was done twice, onec with vocals and once instrumentally, sounded pretty  
much like last night's version in Villafranca.

        > Gotta Serve Somebody

Instrumental, even though Bucky and Larry did their backing vocals "serve  
somebody" thing. I thought that was pretty interesting cause it obviously  
means that they really play their instrumental bit at the shows as well  
and not only follow Bob with whatever he's doing.

        > Boots Of Spanish Leather (acoustic)

As with "I'll Remember You", same version as the night before. What came  
next was a kind of surprise. A tape of either Paris or Dijon was played  
over the PA, and we got Bob singing and the band playing...

        > Mama You Been On My Mind (acoustic)

Afterwards the band rehearsed certain sequences from the song, apparently  
the ones they had messed up on the taped version. Did they do that before?  
Listening to tapes at soundchecks and then repeating the song?

Soon after that the soundcheck was over and we got a sandwich and got in  
line. At 8.20 they opened the gates and the people - 5,000 or so) started  
flooding in. At this point it still was very hot, 95 F / 35 C, but by the  
time the show started at 9.35pm it not only was almost completely dark,  
but much cooler as well. On to the main event!

>       Gotta Serve Somebody

Bob was wearing the same outfit as last night and again looked remarkably  
like the unemployed people in my neighborhood when they meet at the bar as  
early as 11am to get wasted. Nevertheless Bob (and the cuties in the first  
few rows) were in fine form tonight and as soon as the came on stage Bob  
started dancing, flirting, smiling. This pretty much was "Leipzig part 2",  
only better. "Serve Somebody" was quite perfect, too, he seemed to recall  
all the words and his singing was very strong from the first line in.  
Bucky made the v-sign at the audience during his "serve somebody" call-and- 
response-bit, which I thought was hilarious.

>       Man In The Long Black Coat

"Senor" and "Tonight I'll Be Staying" were on the handwritten cuesheet for  
tonight, but Bob skipped both. "Coat" was okay, but not amazingly good. At  
least I've heard Bob sing this song better before, in Bielefeld in 1995  
for example.

>       Cold Irons Bound

Much better than the previous nights. If I wouldn't have known that there  
was no time inbetween, I would've said they rehearsed it. Bob's singing  
was getting stronger again, too. Maybe he was just too busy checking out  
the italian ladies in the audience during "Coat" to concentrate on the  

>       Born In Time

Very nice version, that completely made Gunter's night. I had a great time  
hearing it again as well, since it's one of my alltime favourite Dylan  
songs and I think the current live versions are all very strong (they only  
topped them in the spring of 1997 with the harmonica in between).

>       Can't Wait

While Bob was flirting with the female audience some more Larry and David  
finally got the intro right (third time lucky, you may say) and Bob's  
singing was very strong again as well. The crowd was having a great time  
too, cause we all had a very good view (actually the view was better from  
the middle of the stars where we were  sitting than from the front row  
cause the stage was more than 6ft high to allow more people "in the  
balcony" a better view.

>       Silvio

was recovering quickly as well. Yet again a better version than the night  
before. Obviously there was a number of "Silvios" in the audience who  
pretty much went nuts during this song. Interestingly, there was not one  
60s song in the first electric set. The oldest one was "Serve" from late  

>       Rank Strangers To Me  (acoustic)

A very nice surprise, the song made it's Euro '98 debut. Same arrangement  
as in London '97 and (presumably) in California in May, nicely done, with  
Larry and Bucky singing their gorgoeus backing vocals. I think Larry was a  
bit out of tune once, but it sounded quite funny and not all that bad.

>       Desolation Row  (acoustic)

He sings it every second show right now, but as long as he keeps singing  
it this strong you can't blame him. He was more animated during the song  
as well, I guess the lyrics to "Rank" took his whole concentration and now  
his mind wandered back to the girls in row 1. It was during this song that  
I thought: "Wow! You're really in Rome, Italy, 1,100 miles from your home,  
in the middle of the summer and non other than Bob Dylan himself sings one  
of his greatest songs for you." I couldn't believe that I was actually  

>       One Too Many Mornings  (acoustic)

Wow! Another very pleasant surprise and only the second song from the 60s  
in the whole main set! Given that "Desolation" and "Mornings" are not  
really radio-classics it's quite possibly that some people in the audience  
didn't know one single song until the encores which is quite funny I  
think. "Mornings" was amazing as ever. The highlight of the show (and the  
whole set was verrrry strong!).

>       Tangled Up In Blue  (acoustic)

Featured a harp solo, but the song didn't reach the heights of the  
Montreux performance. Still was a great song to dance and have fun too!

>       Make You Feel My Love

The first letdown setlist-wise all night! The performance wasn't as smooth  
and gentle as usual either, but hey, even Bob should be allowed to have  
one bad song in an otherwise quite perfect show. band intros followed and  
the main set was closed with:

>       'Til I Fell In Love With You

Which rocked as usual and gave Bob a chance to flirt with yet more girls.  
It's hard to believe that is song is almost as heavy rocking as "Highway"  
if you only listen to the recorded album versions, but live there's hardly  
a diference between the two.
>       (encore)
>       It Ain't Me, Babe  (acoustic)

Since he skipped this one two nights in a row, it wasn't much of a  
surprise, but it was nicely done, was longer than usual and gave Bob a lot  
of space to pull faces.

>       Love Sick

Was the other lowpoint. Either Bucky was way behind with his pedal steel  
riff or the speakers were fucked up, but there was some kind of echo that  
killed the whole song for me. Bob's vocal delivery was okay, but this song  
has seen better days before!

>       Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

Bob was goofying around some more having a great time as did everybody in  
the audience. Larry's solo was above average as well and I have to admit I  
kinda liked this song tonight. *blush*

>       Blowin' In The Wind  (acoustic)

After he had what was a very strong, very physical 100 minute show he was  
pretty much out of breath on this one. Larry messed up the a-capella  
ending but just carrying on with hisguitarplaying. Tony was shaking his  
head and looking at Larry like a teacher who goes "you should've learned  
this song by now, my son" afterwards.

Anyways, even though the encores could've been a little better performance- 
wise, I think this was by far and away the strongest out of the 18 I've  
seen over the last four weeks in Europe. The main set's choice of songs  
was excellent throughout and clearly split the purists from the tourists.  
Nice! I for one was very happy that we travelled the extra 600 miles and  
saw an excellent show. Stay tuned for the last of my reviews from  
Europe... Lucca! Thanks for your time!

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


Thanks to Dino Caroppo for the following review:

This is my personal review of Dylan's show in Rome, July 5. A show that could
be titled "A 57-year-old boy on the road". A general consideration: pretty 
good performance, solid. May be I would have liked a little more 
improvisation, even if it would have led to some esitations. But, at the end
of the story, as usual, one can consider himself lucky to have attended it.

The show starts at 9.37 pm, it was scheduled at 9.30 and as usual Bob is rather
precise. I expected him in black clothes, but, while the members of the band 
have black as prevalent colour, he's dressed completely in white: white pants 
with black thin stripe along, white casing opened on his chest, white jacket
with black thin stripe along the sleeves, opened and with zip - or at least, 
so it seems to me. The shoes are white too, or may be boots, low heels. 
Bob wears no hat, Tony and Bucky one with short stiff.

Me and my girlfriend Gina have been standing in line since 5.45, they opened 
the doors at 8.15, what a long waiting, but it's been worthy, as we're in the 
5-th row or so, few meters from the stage, nearly center, we can see alright.
So I also see that Bob's not so short - he's not a giant, sure, but it seems 
to me around 170 cms.
During the show, Bob moves a lot, laughs to and winks at the audience, seems in
a very good mood. The band grants him all the space he wants, Larry Campbell is
in fact the rhythm guitar, with some riff and few solos, Bob unquestionably 
is THE guitar of the band, fills the spaces between lines with beautiful, 
though technically not so hard, riffs, not to talk about the frequent solos.
He seems to me a very good guitarist, even electric.

It seems that Tony, after him, is the leader of the band, it is to him that Bob
suggests the songs to be started, and Tony gives the rhythm to the drummer, 
before starting playing himself.

Bob moves in his usual way, a bit clumsy, with his feet often bent within, 
but it is Bob's way and we like it. He leads the band with confidence and 
effectiveness, signalling to the other members what the last turn is, then the
song has to be ended, and it is always his guitar to close.

The songs are all well-played, the sound very effective, the understanding 
among the members good; neverthless, the show doesn't have that magic of other 
performances which I attended, Rome '91 and Milan '93. The latter, above all.
May be because there was not the first time emotion for me?

But at the beginning of the acoustic set the magic comes, and how! 
An extraordinary "Rank Strangers", on the rhythm of Dylan-waltz, so peculiar. 
Now his guitar is shrill, crystal-clear, and yet so bluesy in the riffs, still
more evident in "Desolation", played in A instead of the more usual D. Bob 
sings on grave tones, preferably, solos and riffs excellent, nearly all that 
happens on the stage is his works, Larry accompanies with attention and 
precision, Bucky, discreet, serious and calm, gives the base and fills the 

The audience is enthusiast, and at "Tangled" we're into raptures, great 
execution of a great song. Bob takes the harp now, I think it is in D and not 
in A as the song, so Bob's playing in 2nd position, the audience claps and
screams, Bob plays a solo on three notes, we expected a little bit more;
but may be Bob doesn't feel like playing harp in this period. And anyway, he's
the only one who can afford to play such a solo, a simple repeated riff that 
fits the whole verse.

Then they start the electric set again, stupend "Make You Feel", similar to
the original version but very well played, as for all the songs from "Time 
Out". May be, within two years, they will be completely twisted.

The encores are some gems: an "It Ain't Me" that in the last verse in 
particular turns in bluesy tone, although the chords remain the same along 
the whole song, like only Bob can do, a dramatic "Love Sick" and an explosive
"Rainy Day" that always find place among the encores in the recent past, and
finally a surprise, an acoustic "Blowin'" thrown there with discretion, 
with no self-celebration - "Are-You-Aware-Of-The-Great-Song-I-Wrote?"- no 
homesick nor rhetoric.

And we the audience have appreciated all the songs, no one I heard complained
the choice of songs, no one asked for this or that song, and that's the way
it goes, Bob does what he feels like and it is alright. And although the set 
list of the other dates caused me to think of what a pity that in Rome he 
didn't this and that one, then I wondered what song among the ones he did in 
Rome I would have eliminated in favour of them, and I answered to myself - 
NONE. So, if something I have to regret, it is not the choice of the show, but 
rather not to have been to more than one.

Dino Caroppo 

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