Reviews

Montauban, France
Montauban Festival de Jazz
Jardin des Plantes
July 6, 2004


[Paul Butler], [Filip Smet]

Review by Paul Butler



At last, Dylan was back in my neck of the woods. I had begun to despair. I
was there tonight with my 18-year-old son (named, oddly enough, Dylan).
Though the rain fell for the first half of the concert, we didn't give a
damn. Bob Dylan was brilliant. The band is just fantastic and that Kimball
guy is a rollercoaster on the guitar. Dylan sang wonderfully, especiallly
on Desolation Row, Highway 61, It ain't me, babe (in that wonderful
arrangement). Everything was just excellent. I was so happy to hear
Wheel's on Fire. It was like a special treat. The Love and Theft songs
were the knock-you-down rockers from that album. Cold Irons Bound is
incredible in the Masked and Anonymous arrangement. I love the Tony
Garnier pounding bass at the end of each verse and they used echo over
Bob's voice to great effect. His Holiness Himself was in great form and
actually laughed during a couple of songs. I've seen him quite a few times
here in France and elsewhere but I've never seen him as warm as tonight.
We were actually treated to a vertiable speech before Watchtower. He even
said...."Merci Beaucoup" before dedicating the show to a famous local
artist and then saying he'd forgotten his name. He laughed and asked Tony
Garnier who obviously didn't know what His Bobness was talking about.
Dylan laughed again and promised to remember his name (he never did). The
drummer was introduced as the greatest drummer on the stage (Bob sure
knows how to flatter). A magic night. There's a rumour this might be his
last trip to Europe. God, I hope that's not true. The man is like good,
French wine. He only gets better...

Longue vie ŗ Dylan

Paul Butler
Toulouse, France

[TOP]

Review by Filip Smet



Iím telling myself Iím still alive

The day started of early for me and my dad, we took the plane from
Brussels to Toulouse at 9.30 AM, meaning a 6.30 AM wake up call was in
order.  But I didnít mind that though as the prospect of seeing my second
Dylan show (I also saw him in November 03 in Brussels) was just too good
to let anything affect my mood. Funnily enough, Iím the big Bob fan (21
years old) while my dad (I wonít mention his age) is a music fan but has
never been a huge Bob fan.  In fact, I was stunned to hear that this was
going to be my dadís very first live concert of anyone!  Lucky him though,
being able to see Dylan on your first trip to a concertÖ

After some airports and cars we arrived in Montauban at about 1PM.  We
drove by the Jardin des Plantes and we could see Bobís two big black
touring buses already parked outside the premises, so things were looking
promising.  After checking in our Hotel (Mercure) we decided to have a
stroll through the town and have some diner and drinks to get in the mood.

Montauban is typical southern French city, with a few nice historic
sights, but nothing too spectacular.   There were Jazz bands playing in
the streets so we immediately knew why the festival was named ĎJazz
Montaubaní.

When we arrived back at the venue (18.45), the cue was already more than
two hundred men strong.  The gates opened a bit late at 19.15 and after a
lot of waiting (this really wasnít a well organised concert if youíre
asking me) we finally got in front of the stage about an hour later (after
the gates there were three (!) more unexplained cues)!  You donít want to
know how badly I was irritated with the fact that we had two wait for so
long to be able to get to the stage. We got ourselves a good spot though
(left side of the stage, almost straight across Larry) on the fourth row. 
The irritation was quickly replaced with expectation.

The weather was looking threatening (we had a thunderstorm at 4PM) and
when it started raining I feared the worst, luckily enough it never really
poured down so we werenít soaked at all, in fact it was a rather pleasant
drizzle, if such a thing exists.

On to the most important thing now (sorry for all the filibustering before
it was just such a nice overall experience I couldnít let it all go
unwritten), the Dylan show!

Bob hit the stage at about 21.45.  The introduction wasnít entirely
audible as has been the case a few more times before.

To be alone with you
The band came out rocking with this nice opener.  The thing that impressed
me the most though, Bob seemed to be in great voice.  The lyrics were very
clear and understandable.  It was amazing compared to the Brussels show in
November as it took him three songs there to get really warmed up. I had
warned my dad before that it would be tough to understand Bob at times
these days but he immediately said to me that we was very impressed too
and that he could clearly understand them too (and he doesnít know them by
heart at all)

Itís all over now Baby Blue
The standard Ďnewí 04 arrangement.  Still great singing and good band work

Lonesome day blues
First of three L&T songs on the night solid work by all involved.  Bobís
voice was still very impressive! Nice little lyric variation too: ĎSetting
my dial on the radio / Iím telling myself Iím still aliveí

Desolation Row
Simply amazing, Larry on the acoustic guitar, Stu providing the electric
accents.  Bobís singing was really outstanding during this one.  He was
really into the song as far as I could see.  I like the new sound of it
too, with the Ďsilentí start and than the guitars picking it up once Bob
gets to Ďdesolation rowí. Solid harp work too By now I was convinced we
were witnessing a great show, and there were only 4 songs gone.

Itís allright Ma
Standard Ď04 performance and arrangement, but the singing was still 
fantastic!  No surprise that the Ďpresident of the United statesí-line got
a few cheers from the French audience.

Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
Iím not a huge fan of this song but it was given a very good performance,
and for once Bobís keyboards were very audible at stages during the song. 
In fact, he plays them pretty decent I think (Iím not music or keyboard
specialist though so I could be technically wrong)

Under the red sky
This was a lesser one as far as Bobís singing and phrasing was concerned I
thought.  Solid performance by the band though and especially Lary with
the nice Pedal steel work.

Highway 61 Revisited
Very solid performance rocking by the Band and Bob was back to his best
form.  Another stunning vocal delivery.

It Ainít me Babe
Another real highlight for me.  This new arrangement is great and when
Bobís singing is on like it was last nightÖ  amazing.  I always new that
there was a big sense of regret and loss somewhere in this song (the
lyrics just ooze it), but I never really hear that in the performances
Iíve heard this far.  Yesterday though, Bob really brought that sense of
regret of that song in the spotlight, a great performance helped by this
very good re-arrangement, more dramatic than previous ones.  Also, the
sound was simply great, the band and Bobís keyboard (yes, it was very
audible in the mix during this song) worked together splendidly,
especially during the chorus.

Cold Irons Bound
M&A arrangement, good guitar work by the boys.  Solid singing by Bob once
more, but personally I donít really like the echo on this one.  Once more
I heard the keyboards pop up a bit louder in the mix at time.

This wheelís no fire
A personal favourite, but I didnít recognise it until the first line was
sung.  Larry played a spooky into and the band really were great on this
one.  And Bob was right up there with them and delivered an equally
haunting lyric.

Honest with me
Another very good performance by the band, especially Stu and Larry with
the entertaining guitar work.

Masters of War
The most interesting thing here was the attitude of the guys here.  Bob
and the band stood there on stage as if they were saying that they didnít
want to be singing and playing this song anymore, but that it still hasnít
lost one single bit of itís relevance and meaning.

Summer Days
Wow!  I know many Bob fans are getting a bit tired of this song, but
yesterday it was quit simply amazing.  Bob and the band were really having
fun while playing this, they all had big smiles on their faces.  Stu and
especially Larry provided the classic guitar interchanges, but it was Bob
with his harp who stole the show.  You could also clearly see how Bob was
constantly directing the other guys when to do what. My dad said
afterwards he had goose bumps during this song, as heís a big fan of this
bluesy guitar work.

After the first part of the set, Bob and the boys came to the centre of
the stage and stood (Bob was still moving around a bit though to the
rhythm of the last song Ė the ĎBob Stance) there to hear the applause and
you could see they really liked it.  They all had that look on their faces
like little kids who have a secret to hide, I think they ware all pleased
by their performance as well.


Donít think twice Itís allright
After the big applause Bob and the boys walked back on stage, Larry taking
up the acoustic guitar and starting of this song, to the delight of the
crowd (the biggest Ďrecognitioní applause of the night along with
Desolation Row). Great performance and still Bob was singing very well.

Like a rolling stone
There was no pause between this one and the previous song, George just
started drumming LARS and Stu started playing the chords.  Larry than
quickly had to put his acoustic guitar aside and than went to work with
the pedal steel.  Speaking of wich, the pedal steel adds a nice accent to
LARS.

After this one, Bob started walking to the Microphone on the centre left
of the stage.  As you can expect there were huge cheers for him, he than
said (I think) ĎmerÁi beaucoupí and started his little speech.  I canít
remember the exact words but he said heíd never played this town
[Montauban] before and that there was a famous painter (artist?) that
lived here [I assume he was hinting at Ingres, there was an exhibition
going on about Ingres and Van Gogh, with posters everywhere so maybe Bob
spotted on of those?] but that he couldnít remember his name (bug laughs
from the crowd and the band of course, Bob himself clearly was in a great
mood too).  But anyway, they wanted to dedicate the show to him.  Bob than
walked up to Tony (who had the Ďwhatís he up to this time?í smile on his
face) and they exchanged a few words and laughs. During the band
introductions, Bob was forgetful for the second time, seemingly unable to
remember Tonyís name the first time.

All along the Watchtower
After the humorous intermezzo, the band kicked into another hard rocking
AATW version, with great work by both Stu and Larry once more.

After that one they all came to the centre of the stage once more to
receive the generous applause and cheers of the crowd.  I think everyone
(performers and crowd) really enjoyed the show.  The band was great
throughout, interestingly enough with Larry taking a lot of lead guitar
work (a great evolution if youíre asking me) and Bobís singing was the
among the very best Iíve heard from 04 (Iíve heard about 10 shows Ė I
havenít heard Galway though, that oneís a work in progress as we speak).
The setlist was very solid too (Desolation Row! This Wheelís on fire, Ö)
even though it didnít really have any real obscurities wich was maybe the
only let of of the evening, but I don't think that's anything worth
complaining about, Bob clearly had great fun playing and the audience had
a great time listening, that's what it all comes down to ultimately. The
highlights for me were Desolation Row, This Wheelís on fire, It ainít me
babe and Summer days (!)

I hope all the others who endured the rain left as happy as I did.
Thanks a lot to Bob and the band for this great evening (and my dad and
the other Bob fans for the great company)

Filip

[TOP]

page by Bill Pagel
billp61@execpc.com

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