Villalba, Spain

Campo de Futbol Municipal
July 8, 2006

[Carlos Reviriego]

Review by Carlos Reviriego

Don’t mind about the hopelessly ignorant. They don’t have ears to hear. At
the end of the concert, you will always hear frustrated wishes and madman
attacks to what they didn’t get (even if they paid only 20 euros/25
dollars for the gig), just because they were expecting something else.
Nothing that should be expected, anyway… Not on this tour. Some people
even were demanding a giant screen to see Bob Dylan. Some kind of big
show, a spectacle which probably they could stick to because the songs
didn’t satisfied them at all. At least the way he played and sang them.
But “How could anyone expect to hear the same performing… even the same
song the way he record it forty years ago?”. Don’t they know that times
have changed, that Dylan also changes, and that the songs he’s been
singing for all those years, also have to change? He reminded it, once
again, in Villalba. Second theme, a rapid like fire The Times They Are
A-Changin’, just after a highly intense, electrifying, slightly furious
Maggie’s Farm, the opening of the concert as usual. By the way he let off
the verses “It’s a shame the way he makes me srcub the floor”, I yelled to
anyone around who could hear me: “He’s got a great voice tonight! It’s
gonna be great!”. Yes. It was

Anyway, if you want to see Bob Dylan, you got to get close to him.
That’s the whole point of this. Getting to Dylan as closer as you can.
It’s not that hard to open your way across the multitude (the Villalba
football stadium was absolutely full, all tickets sold). Once you’re
there, 20-40 metres from him, close enough to get the glimpse of a smile
in his face just as fleeting as a shooting star, in the middle of it,
feeling the energy, the hunger and thirst of secrets to be told,
everything just has to go fine. Nothing can go wrong. Under his spell,
everything is all right. You will here the music better, also. If you’re
lucky enough and willing to open your senses, maybe some magic will come
along. And you won’t need a fucking screen to get a glimpse of him! Leave
that to the Rolling Stones and Maddona. We know Dylan cares about the
looks (all suited in black, cowboy hat… the rest of the band, except
drummer, in clear brown jackets) but not about the paraphernalia. The good
thing is, and that is a lot to say in this “modern times” (a pity he
didn’t play any new song of his upcoming new album), he cares more about
the music. 

He stands behind the organ, a twisted figure just showing the right side
of his face, now in the center of the stage, surrounded by his musicians
(two years ago he played at the far left side of the scene, isolated,
unwilling to make a clear statement of who was the band’s leader), half
sit-half stand up. Smaller in height than anyone close to him, he really
seemed taller. I found him also much younger than two years ago, when he
came to Alcalá de Henares, also Madrid. Yes, he was older then, younger
than that know. He enjoys the ride, he sings aware of anything but the
next verse, he plays the organ like inventing music, sometimes like a
little kid with his toy. Maybe because he knows that at the moment he
stops, everything vanishes. Above the scene, he finds light. Outside of
it, back in the bus which will lead him to another town, probably
everything is darkness. A big deal of the songs he played last night in
Villalba (Madrid) has been growing for decades. I repeat: How could anyone
expect to hear the same songs? One the greatest things about Dylan’s art,
at least in this point of his career, is that it’s alive, still growing.
Is no flesh of museums, where infinity goes up on trial. Time is still
part of Dylan’s work, not that Dylan’s work isn’t part of time. 

Concert began at day-light just fifteen minutes after the time
announced, 21 hours. Apparently unaware of people, very conscious anyway
of the effect he produces on audiences, with his naked feelings always on
the edge of saying everything or nothing at all, last night, Dylan said
everything. He really did. And I was there to witness it.

After Maggie’s Farm and The Times…(great start, giving the basis of what
we were going to hear the rest of the night… Back into classics, still
believing what he said and says proudly)… Down Along the Cove. This was a
big surprise for me. First I couldn’t get it. Probably because is an
alternate version of the lyrics form the John Wesley Harding album. But
the sound had so much to do with the R&B style he’s been exploring in Love
& Theft, that made me think of how logic is to pick this 1967 theme from
his repertoire at this moment. A close up into the way music know sounds
inside his mind. The band was great, together, floating and flying over
the karma-kind lyrics. Freely. Cheerfully.

To Ramona was touching. The organ serves an atmospheric quality to it. His
voice sounded emotional, still in some nostalgic kind of pain. “But soon
my words will turn into a meaningless ring…” Not this time, Bob. I felt
the cold in the spine hearing you sing the final verses “Just do what you
think you should do / And someday maybe / Who knows, baby / I’ll come and
be cryin’ to you”. Who ever she was, you almost did. Didn’t you?

I think that after To Ramona came the point in the concert where lots of
people decided to get into it or elsewhere give up from Dylan. I saw some
people from the front, where I surely was, making their way back to the
end of the camp, visibly not content. The next song was It’s Alright Ma
(I’m Only Bleeding), with tension punctuated all the way through the song,
spiting every word, pausing within the lines with mastery, allied to
silence and music. Perfectly recognizable though it was a rocking approach
to the song. When finished, he walked into darkness end of the stage to
drink from a glass of water. People applauded for a little while. Back in
the organ, he gave the first chords of a beautiful, gently, minimalist Mr.
Tambourine Man, just with the specific turns and twist you need to make
the song come back to live the way we love it. Not as shiny as people
refer to it. Nice harmonica tune holding the instrument with his left hand
as he plays keyboards with right hand.

Just after Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum that has by now the dimension of an
old tune, almost classic piece, so refreshing, another big surprise for
me, one of my favourites: The Lonesome Death of Hattie Caroll. His voice
really rules this song. And some lonely voices tried to sing the chorus,
but Dylan wouldn’t let them the way his sings, almost speaks it now. “But
you who philosophize disgrace / And criticize all fears / Take the rag
away from your face / Now ain't the time for your tears”. Lots of people
would feel alluded. Won’t they? During the first pair of compasses of
Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan made some slight body movements pretending to
boogie, the expression on his face showing some fun, and that was all the
amusement that he was going to give to the people who were hoping for
something more than music. Striking guitars and touch of happy groove to
the song. People enjoyed this one. Some girls right in front of me
couldn’t stop their bodies from moving all the way through it. 

And then, a moment to remember forever. Desolation Row. That was, for me,
last night’s miracle. It was the 10th song of the night. After a brief
acoustic guitar intro chords gently and clearly played by Dennis Freeman
(or was it Stuart Kimaball?… not sure of it), the postcards of the hanging
was the perfect image that opened the door to the magic, emotion, bizarre
universe of the Einstein disguised as Robin Hood. Hypnotic. I couldn’t
help my tears from falling as I observed Dylan’s gestures and movements
each second of the whole song. A precious, nostalgic aura accompanying the
lines. There was this thin old man who has gone through so much, leaning
over a keyboard, confident still in what he has to say, and saying it with
honestly believe. Always containing the song, building walls over the
phrases so they wouldn’t go anywhere else, just up or down or from the
other side of whatever it was that you expected. But sill so clearly sang
as it had to be sung. So perfectly driven from surreal to beauty, to
nostalgia, to fear, to sadness and to hype, recovering a wild range of
emotions. I could imagine him in his loneliness travelling from one place
to another, singing his thing, giving his non-message art, hitting the
road once again, a genuine troubadour, a misfit, an outcast, in a
desolated row of days and days left behind. Moving. The night was falling
from the sky. Day light turned into darkness. I knew this was coming to an
end, and maybe the certain of it mixed with what he did with that
memorable song in that precise moment was what gave me the chills.

A correct Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine), that rescued me
from an inconsolable state of mind, brought the audience back to rock. And
after everything was now in order for me, and I really understood what was
this all about, Dylan and his band tailed an aggressive, sharping,
every-word-in-fire version of Masters of War. The organ playing the basis
chords just in glimpses of sound, punctuated pauses, intertwined with a
high volume drum. “All the money you made / Will never buy back your
soul”, he still says to those who makes a living out of war, who fasten
the triggers for others to fire, who hide in their mansions as young
people’s blood is buried in the mud. After the memorable end of the song,
“til I’m sure that you’re dead”, he added another strophe to the song. I
think he repeated the first one. 

Summer Days, Summer Nights (are gone) was the last song before the
encore. He and the band left the scene at 22.38 and came back for the
presumably Like A Rolling Stone and All Along the Watchtower encore seven
minutes later. People had fun with these two last ones. They sang and
bounced. It all went by so fast, that I tried to hold eternity in that
hour and a half of concert. Just before hitting the road for the north of
the country, Dylan said goodbye to the audience with two roses on his left
hand and the harmonica in his right hand. That’s what I call classy.

Just after he and his band left the sage, some firecrackers illuminated
the sky in colors. It wasn’t a special goodbye from the Bob Dylan Tour, it
was the way Villalba Cith Hall celebrated the last night of their local
fiesta and the end of ViaJazz Festival. A “Jazz” Festival that, two nights
before Dylan, had BB King on stage. Finally, I guess that even those with
no ears to hear, finally had their spectacle.

Carlos Reviriego


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