July 10, 2019
Review by Michael Werner
Loved it. Saw the best of my aproximately two dozen Bob Dylan concerts last
night in Stuttgart. At Jazz Open festival it was as if Bob was dancing blindfolded
in front of an invisible shelf from which he took apparently spontaneously so
many vocal registers and phrasings and rhythms and (above all) feelings as if
he felt this was his last night ever on stage. And they all fit perfectly into the
songs of the only man around who indeed seems to get younger every year.
On Stuttgart's so called "Schlossplatz" Bob Dylan, standing behind an impressive
grand piano at center stage (instead of using his electric piano which was
nowhere to be seen), changed the starting point of his song rituale for the
first time in months: "Ballad Of A Thin Man" instead of "Things Have Changed"
as a powerful start. In other words: Scolding the one who denies change
instead of describing change. Second an intense version of "It Ain't Me, Babe",
stripped like a deep prayer to be left alone. Third a hard desperado-style
"Highway 61 Revisited", leading to a magical "Simple Twist of Fate".
My personal highlights of the evening though revealed themselves at the
beginning of the last third of Bob's amazing show in Stuttgart: An almost
copletely undressed "Girl From The North Country" - first Donnie Herron's
steel guitar only, then Tony Garnier's creamy coated bass. Only soft cotton
candy from Charlie Sexton's guitar, a well deserved break for drummer
George Recile and finally the groping, almost childish piano tones from the
coolest 78-years old alive contrasting his - well - sweet voice.
The big surprise here: Bob's vocal melody sounds like a mature yet respectful
bow to the 1963's version, while he's blowing up almost all other songs
virtuoso to puzzle them together in an amazingly creative way.
Next was (as always): "Love Sick" with almost silly overemphasized shards
from the guitar. During this highlight Bob Dylan took off his black hat and
laughed "hahaha" at the end of one of the first lines, he almost fell into l
aughter - only to continue super seriously. He seems to take his work (even
"Blowing In The Wind" in the very end) more seriously than ever, while at
the same time he's enjoying himself immensely at the Jazz Open stage.
Maybe the free access to the sometimes rather experimental sounding
grand piano helps him there: Wow, the circus is in town when Bob is
upshifting from "Love Sick" to "Thunder On The Mountain" and then back
to a threatening dark version of "Soon After Midnight".
And another unusual speciality for Bob Dylan helps making his show even
greater: the big video screens. We see Bob performing Mick Jagger-like
sports with his lips in an intense and in parts almost piano-only sounding
version of "When I Paint My Masterpiece", we anticipate his contemptuous
smile in "Honest With Me", we see great face- and voice-drama in a standing
revolver-duel-in-the-desert sounding version of "Scarlet Town", and we enjoy
his grin when he rams a weird rhythm into once so harmoniously sounding
"Make You Feel My Love"
"The more I die, the more I live" was perhaps never so true like in Bob's
joyful gravedigger-version of "Pay In Blood" in Stuttgart. At the Jazz Open
festival his wisdom and his joy culminated in the riskyest and at the same
time most plausible version of "Like A Rolling Stone" since at least half a
In parts a magical disappointed minstrel straight out of a mediaval small town,
in other parts an unintentional DJ summoning the crowd to sway, Bob
Dylan's radical tempo changes in his iconic song stand out even on this
amazing evening in Stuttgart. And here the screens help again: We see a
man with unselfish pride, a man of dignity who arrived at the point where
one knows that no arrival will ever be possible.
Or probably only in another world: Bob's "Gotta Serve Somebody" sounds
so strong in Stuttgart, so convinced, that it touches the listener like the
first sight of great places of worship.
This man seems to know secrets. And he's ready to share them. But Bob
Dylan left the role of the missionary behind long time ago.
Now he's the (with one leg) dancing joker who leaves it to his audience how
seriously to take the shamanic singer with his lust for groove. In Stuttgart he
not only changed his opener for the first time in months. He also changed his
approach: The man who has seen everything still cares - and very much so.
From this perspective it's pretty logical that there is no more room for for a
first song that was telling us: "I used to care, but things have changed."
Bob Dylan acted more radical in Stuttgart than on his last tours. This can be
heard when he's supplying his redemption ballad "Tryin' To Get To Heaven"
with something moving that sounds like a stuttering motorbike engine.
Amazing! And this can be felt when he decides to pack up after an
unbeatable version of "Blowing In The Wind". His voice sounds incredibley
powerful while he's refueling disgust and sweetness, sadness and joy,
disappointment and hope from that magical invisible shelf filled with emotions,
showing his vocal scars with conviction, while only moments later he's making
us wonder if there ever were any.
Bob Dylan is still getting better and everybody is free to imagine where this
Review by Laurette Maillet
Stuttgart.An easy ride on the Flixbus. I don't understand why that bus
stoped 45 minutes, just 15 minutes away from the Stuttgart stop!I lock my
bag at the train station and go straight to the Jazzopen fest.It's taking
place on a huge open air area, right in the middle of the city.My good
friend Masato handed me his ticket through Isuko. (Thank you my friend and
so sorry you couldn't make it to Europe. See you in the States.)It is a
seat and trully I dont want to stand in the heat. The rail doesn't attract
me anymore.So...I wait out chatting with a Bobcat I unfriended some times
ago(things change all the time!), killing time during the opening act I
don't want to hear in order not to spoil the Bob Dylan atmosphere. By 7.30
pm I take may seat. I find myself next to a fan from Netherlands who knows
everything about Dylan. A collector. Cool! At least he knows what's going
on on stage.As he wants to tape I will be quiet; no clapping, no karaoke.
I focus on Bob's mouth.To my second big su
rprise on that tour... 2 big screens are on.Whoa! We can see Bob full
face, dripping sweat and spitting in the mic.The first song is also a
surprise "Ballad of a thin man".Two groups are packed in the front ;
the pit standing and behind the least lucky as it will be difficult to
see the stage. I am happy with my position. I see the Band as well as
Bob.The sound is perfect. Same as last show. Bob is really making an
effort to articulate. He seems to enjoy. At some point he has a laugh
with Tony. Hat off on 'Love sick'.To my opinion he should have keep his
hat on. The sweat didn't help his hair to stand straight and now his head
looks weird.He is litteraly spitting in the mic."Can't wait" and "Scarlet
town" are a must, center stage.We see on screen the wonderful fingers of
Charlie on guitar. He has a specific way of streaming.And George is
powerful.Tony and Donnie concentrated on the Master.A great show in a
great atmosphere. Better than Roskilde. Far smaller with a real Dylan
publi c.So...I enjoy the last of the European show very much.I start to
be nostalgic already.Flying to London...but it is...another story!
Review by Marcus Marsden
I had travelled over from Singapore to see this show and Hyde Park and it
did not disappoint. The setting and the weather was beautiful and I was
fortunate to get right to the front, in front of one of the massive
Bob (resplendent in black and white, complete with hat) startled everyone
by casually kicking off with a tight “Thin Man”. Took me a few seconds
to re-calibrate, as I was mentally half way through Things Have Changed!
Things settled down after that, but the newer addition of “Can’t
Wait” was very funky! It was my first time hearing it live and it is a
lovely addition. Bob sounded in great voice throughout the show and looked
to be having a thoroughly good time - very animated and into the
I loved the screens being on and also being so close to them. Of course,
if was good to get a close up of Bob himself, after decades of dark stages
and years of high pianos, but it was also wonderful to get a good sight of
the band going about their business. I am no musician and to clearly see
all the intricate guitar work, by Charlie in particular, was a real treat.
The only down side was people chattering away, especially during a tender
Girl From The North Country - but that’s hardly Bob’s fault! Only
Blowin In The Wind as a finisher tonight - I’d imagine that was due to a
strict 10am curfew. He finished Blowin’ at 9.55pm.
Overall, a wonderful show in a picturesque setting on a superb Summer’s
evening. Roll on Hyde Park!
Review by Bernhard Roth
I just came back home from some hours in Downtown Stuttgart.
Very nice weather, sunshine, but not too warm, which is important
for an outdoor show. Starting exactly at 8:15pm the band dived right into
"Ballad of a Thin Man". This already showed that Bob's performance
is much more intense than in the last couple of years.
For me it was the first time that there were video installations at a Bob show
where I could see much more details than just standing far from the stage.
Mostly the usual setlist.
My personal favourites tonight were "When I paint my masterpiece",
directly followed by "Scarlet Town" and "Love Sick".
The only disappointment was that the band left after "Blowing in the wind",
without a second encore.
But the strong show kinda compensated for that.
This was my 30th Bob show in 41 years and I hope it wasn't the last.
Review by Christof Graf
Bob Dylan -Live at the Jazz Open in Stuttgart 2019 - Bob Dylan's Stuttgart
concert wasbeautiful and "different"!by ChristofGraf Yes, also"Stuttgart"
was once again "different". The 3043th Concertof the much-cited
Neverending Tour by Bob Dylan was part of the 26th Jazz OpenFestival in
Stuttgart. Jazz Open Stuttgart is a jazz festival held annually
inStuttgart since 1994, in which all other genres of popular music
arerepresented. 2019 is the year of premieres. Bob Dylan joins among
others forthe first time at the jazz festival. To say it in advance, he
seemed to enjoythe jazz-like atmosphere in the Stuttgart Schlossgarten,
given his good playfulmood and obvious joy in the face. This prestigious
festival is expected toattract over 45,000 paying visitors on five stages
over 50 concerts. The"Open Stages" complete the program as entry-free
stages. Bob Dylan'sStuttgart concert was sold out, beautiful and
"different"! And whatwas "different"? "Stuttgart" was the last German
concert ofBob in the "Summer Europe Tour of 2019". And Bob was
justsensationally good in "Stuttgart". Good mood, playing well on thesmall
piano and good in voice. Not "different", was the eternal whineabout the
ban on photography. There were7000 visitors in the sold out Stuttgart
castle garden. About 3000 of them wereon the opposite platform tribune
space. 1000 stood in the demarcated"Front Of Stage" area and another 3000
were located in the standingbehind it area. The "Front Of Stager"
consistently followed thephotography ban. On the grandstand seats in the
last third of the concert, butthen every now and then a smartphone was
spotted. "Inthe age of selfie photography, not only what we see changes,
but also theexperience of events. If we could enjoy a concert directly, we
switch thesmartphone between the presented emotion and our perception.
Because we thinkwe have to store everything visually, we stay at a
distance. Some argue thatartists like Bob Dylan do not tolerate
photography. Others find that an artistshould tolerate it when his fans
want to document their expensive paid concertattendance, a psychologist
quotes in the daily Stuttgart newspaper. - But thediscussion is no longer
up to date. But what does a rock legend, who ignoredthe awarding of the
Nobel Prize for Literature for a long time, and for overtwo years, as in
Stuttgart, no word addressed to his live audience.InStuttgart, everything
was implemented fairly moderately and audiencefriendly; prohibiting
smart phones inprinciple will not be feasible.Maybe acompromise is the
solution. Those who want to have the chance to take a pictureor a short
film of the artist's most expensive performance, and then it shouldend.
Finally, there are enough artists who explicitly point out to take
photosof the concert and post it on social media. Well, Bob Dylan is not
one of them.Ok, on the one hand he is a "public figure", even a "figure
ofhistorical importance" and concerting is not privacy. On the other
hand,he is together with the organizer host of the location and can it
u.a. on thebasis of the "right to own picture" forbid that photos of it
aremade. The discussion of how to deal with media of any kind, especially
in thedigital age, will neither be ended nor regulated with prohibitions.
Oneapproach, with the medialization terms, would be e.g. that of the
band"King Crimson". They also do not like to use smartphones during
theirconcerts, but allow it at the encore and even make themselves
available for a"group picture" before they leave the stage. But enough,
with thesingle theme of photography, after all, the "Jazz Open" concert
inStuttgart was "different" in many (positive) ways.Admissionon July 10th
in the Stuttgart castle garden was at 17.30. As a special guestJulia Biel
opened at 18:45. Previously, the organizers informed what the mediahad
already announced: The second big act, "Sting" on the followingevening,
would unfortunately have to fail due to his illness.Jutta Bielplayed just
under an hour. The singer with South African roots took theaudience on a
musical journey with emotional songs full of intensity, soul anda lot of
funk, sometimes tender and quiet, sometimes groovy and loud. Theaudience
liked it and gouted it with concentrated listening and respectfulapplause.
Then appeared on the next to the stages installed video screens"Coming
Next: 20:15 Bob Dylan". No one believed that Bob Dylan'sconcert would be
projected onto the screens. But as I said,"Stuttgart" was (pleasant)
"different".Right ontime at 8:15 pm the current Dylan`s intro by
Stravinsky and Dylan's musicianscame on stage. Tony Garnier changed the
bass guitar, Charlie Sexton his leadguitar. George Recile sat down on his
drums and Donnie Herron took the placebehind Dylan's piano on the steels`
place. On the right outside was a copy ofDylan's "Oscar" for the best
movie song of the year 2000. A song,which he did not played that night. In
addition, a "Bust of Poetry"is probably based on the Nobel Prize. Since
2014, the stage looks like aHollywood film set with the big stage lights
and work lamps. The master brieflylooked into the audience and smiled. The
location of Stuttgart`s castlecourtyard seemed to please him. To the
surprise of the audience, the stageaction was projected onto the screens.
For me, this was the first time sinceDylan's "Rock am Ring" appearance in
1998, that you could see Dylan -even saw "close ups" - at a concert in
Germany on a moving-picturescreen. In 1998 there was only a still
projection of his concert. The Master'ssmile was thus visible except for
the farthest grandstand seats. Only thebarely 2000 "horny fence guests",
who had made themselves comfortableoutside on the castle meadow outside
the location, could not see the master,but listen for nothing.Those
whocould hear and see him experienced Bob Dylan from the beginning of his
concertin good spirits. The STUTTGARTER NACHRICHTEN wrote during the
day"Stuttgart puts a smile on the master's face" and the
SÜDWESTRUNDFUNKheadlined his concert critique with the words: "Impressive
Bob Dylan atthe Jazz Open in Stuttgart". The STUTTGARTER ZEITUNG concluded
in theirpreliminary review "Bob Dylan at the Jazz Open - Man, he's in a
good mood!- They were all right. As I said, "Stuttgart"
was"different".Dylanopened contrary to his previous Germany concerts not
with "Things HaveChanged", but with "Ballad Of A Thin Man". With this, he
offeredan idiosyncratic song arrangement and a powerful voice at the
beginning of thesold out concert.Dylan wearshis hat, stands at the
beginning of the songs first and then sits at the smallpiano wing, before
he gets up at the end of the song again. Already with thesecond song "It
Is not Me, Babe" he falls back into the routine ofhis previous setlists
and lets follow a very fast played "Highway 61Revisited" and a slower
played "Simple Twist Of Fate". On thescreen one can see more clearly than
usual how mime-rich the master of the wordculture in popular music
breathes his songs well accentuated into the micro,whispering or
screaming. He pulls out words, emphasizes text lines differentlythan ever
before. He once more realizes how different the partly decades oldone and
the same songs can sound new and "different".WheneverDylan feels at ease
in the concert, he walks to the middle of the stage. InStuttgart he does
that with "Can`t Wait" already on the fifth song.He sings noticeably
clean, focused and strives to follow the melody andintonation of the
original. Dylan wears black in Stuttgart. Black pants withwhite stripes,
white belt, black shoes, black blazer. Underneath he wears a blackpolka
dot shirt with a black cloth and a black wide-brimmed hat over it.
Dylanwants to be relaxed, mimes the entertainer, holds the microphone
stand with hisright hand and braces his left hip. Dylan uses one of four
available vocalmicrophones. Another he uses as a dance or walking aid, two
more are for therest of the evening just as a decoration. The fewer
smartphones Dylan candiscover in the still daylight-bright castle garden,
the more he seems to goout and post again "elvis-a-like". The canvases
reveal what otherwiseonly the front rows see: Bob Dylan's smile and
obvious satisfaction over thecourse of the evening.With songslike "When I
Paint My Masterpiece", "Honest With Me" and"Tryin 'To Get To Heaven",
sitting Dylan back on the piano and standingbetween times, he falls into
the continuity of his routine, without it to leaveroom for interpretation.
"You do not understand it, my feelin 'foryou", he sings in "Honest With
Me" and smiles at lines of textlike "Some things are too terrible to true"
and "I care so muchfor you, did not think I could / I can not tell my
heart that you're nogood" many times.The ninthsong "Scarlet Town" draws
"His Bobness" back to themicrophone stand in the middle of the stage.
Dylan makes the "Song AndDance Man". Standing stomping through the rhythm
of the 2012 “Tempest”song, full of symbols and metaphor, telling the
story of a city near the end ofthe world. The castle garden is quiet as
for devotion in the church. Thedisciples of the Rock Messiah listen like
the sound of a sermon. Dylan likesthat and he smiles again. The song lasts
about six minutes and enhances thegood mood of the concert evening without
any atmospheric disturbances. Donnieaccompanies him with the banjo and
Tony also communicates with an expressivesmile on the stand up bass. Tony
Garnier, the veteran of Dylan's NeverendingTour band and for 30 years with
him on concert tours feels Dylan's enthusiasmabout the interaction with
his musicians and the attention of his Stuttgartaudience. Dylan is in a
good mood.After"Make You Feel My Love", in which the king of the Singer /
Songwriterguild also endeavors the harmonica, he plays after a short
announcement for theband "Pay In Blood". He sings "The more I take the
more I give/The more I die the more I live” in it, making Stuttgart a
haven of rock-poeticphilosophy. Then there is another musical boost: "Like
A RollingStone". And no, thank God, the audience does not sing
karaoke-esque with.It listens reverently, as Dylan deconstructs his song,
rapturehaft dissectedand masterfully reassembled.Dylan knowshow to
interpret "Early Roman Kings" and "Girl From The NorthCountry" in a highly
concentrated manner, as if he wanted to give theStuttgart people something
he does not always like to reveal: the inner part ofthe song, the other
great rock poet "Leonard Cohen" once referred tothe rise in the "Tower Of
Song"."LoveSick" is another surprise: Bob Dylan takes off his black hat
and laughsloudly at the end of one of the first lines: "You destroyed me
with asmile / While I'm sleeping / I'm sick of love / That I ' m in the
thick of it /This child of love. "Those whodid not get into the songs of
the majesty and are more interested in thebobsleigh classics might not be
well served with the following songs"Thunder On The Mountain", "Soon After
Midnight" and"Gotta Serve Somebody". Last song is from Dylan's religious
phase.The song brings the quintessence of all his word art to the point.
"Wellit may be the Devil / Or it may be the Lord / But you're gonna have
to servesomebody". With this realization, Dylan makes the Stuttgart
Schlossgartena temple of wisdom. A wisdom that has not been so aptly
formulated by any otherrepresentative of popular music. The yearning for
analogous proximity toartists like Bob Dylan becomes stronger the closer
they get to the time ofwalking.As if youhad not already had enough of
Dylan that evening, you could not experienceenough of Dylan's facial
expressions and gestures, facial features and vocalnuances, so now you've
also witnessed a realization that you actually onlyaccept from a Bob
Dylan. In Stuttgart at that moment there was also acontentious issue,
which is otherwise disputed, when one thinks about theobjective fact of
the realization. Is it about the process of knowing or thestate of having
recognized? But that's how it always is with Bob Dylan."The Answer is
blowin`in the wind" and musically (unfortunately only)becomes a single
encore. On April 16, 1962 Bob Dylan premiered "Blowin 'InThe Wind" for the
first time in New York. 57 years later he did so for thefirst time as part
of an amazingly beautiful concert at the Stuttgarter JazzOpen 2019.That
sameevening, Dylan left Stuttgart and flew to London, where he will play
the HydePark Festival together with Neil Young two days later. So why he
onlyplayed "unusual" and "different" than usual, just one encore,only the
wind really knows.ChristofGrafP.S.: Themore memories I get of the
wonderful Stuttgart Jazz Open experience with BobDylan, the more I note in
my in my blog and sort the pictures.:
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