Reviews

Helsingborg, Sweden

Sofiero Castle and Park

July 14, 2014


[Lars Kjędegaard], [Ulf Gyllenspetz], [Erik Ringmar]

Review by Lars Kjędegaard



Dylan played a wonderful concert at Sofiero Castle in the south of Sweden.
He sang with great emotion and clarity and played the piano boldly - I
like the way the piano is way up in the mix, at times the band sounded
almost like an eerie incarnation of the Buena Vista Social Club band, with
Dylan's abrupt piano licks and Recile's subtle percussion which is a far
cry from orthodox rock drumming. At times the volume was pretty low so
that every word came out clearly. The set was varied, from the waltzy
'Waiting for You' to the incredible, re-worked version of 'Workingman's
Blues', a great 'Tangled up in Blue' and the majestic and sad closing
number 'Long and Wasted Years'. Dylan shuffled around the stage - not much
dancing tonight - and played crystal-clear harp solos. I noticed that he
had two extra vocal mics, and that, and the careful new arrangements of
certain songs and the deliberate well-sung delivery, made me hope that a
live album is in the works. That would be nice. 

It was the thirty-third concert this year - at 73, Dylan still doesn't
seem to want to do anything but shlep around the world and give his all.
How different everything would be without him. The mind boggles. 

Lars Kjędegaard

[TOP]

Review by Ulf Gyllenspetz



So this was the 38'th concert this year. After17concerts in Japan, 2 in
Hawaii, 2 in Ireland, 1 in Turkey, 2 in Greece, 1 in Rumania (!), 1 in
Slovakia, 2 in Austria, 1 in Czech Republic, 4 in Germany, 1 in Poland, 1
in Denmark and 2 in Norway, Bob and his band hit Sofiero Castle just
outside Helsingborg in Sweden. Beautifully placed just by Öresund, the
strait between Sweden and Denmark. Dylan made an an excellent concert no
doubt. Although the lady in the local paper claimed the band couldn't hit
a note right like they never had played the songs before, of course the
band played wonderful. Of 19 songs Bob and his band played 14 songs and
from the latest albums. Old classics were, She belongs to me, Tangled up
in blue, All along the watchtower, Simple twist of faith and Blowin' in
the wind. Maybe the new songs wasn't exactly crowdpleasing stuff. Probably
people expected the Rock'n Roll Bob version. The public started to loose
concentration and started to what it seemed small discussion groups with
no respect to those who really listened to the concert. But this of course
is what  to expect of an outdoor concert, people having just a lot of fun.
Not at all like the concerts in Waterfront Stockholm last fall with more
serious listening. As the evening went on, Dylan seemed to enjoy himself
in the green summer park. It was more like visiting a jazzclub than a
rockconcert. When he was whispering Forgetful heart, the park became dead
silence, even the the ones busy with their iphones and the young rock'n
rollers were listening. You could literally hear a needle fall. A magic
moment. OK, Bob is ending this part of the tour in Gothenburg and then on
to the jazzfestival in Pori, Finland. Then continuing to New Zealand with
3 concerts, Australia 15 concerts. Probably a tour in US in the autumn.
Impressing indeed! Couldn't be easy to be a Bob Cat.

[TOP]

Review by Erik Ringmar



We went to see Uncle Bob last night -- Bob Dylan was playing in
Helsingborg which is only one town over from Lund where we live. I see
Uncle Bob more often than most other members of my family, mainly since he
comes to visit more often. I saw him in Shanghai two years ago, and in
England a couple of times before that. The really crazy time was when he
played in Finsbury Park in London, literally in our own backyard. Since
Bob is stopping by we simply have to show up and say hi. We rented a car
and drove to Sofiero, a royal palace and garden, with Helsingor, of Hamlet
fame, on the other side of the water. The sky was dark and ominous-looking
but it wasn't cold and it only drizzled a bit in the end. A large crowd
had turned up. Well over 7,000 people.

The stage was simple, with none of the light-show of an indoor arena, and
suddenly Bob and the band were just standing there. No introduction, no
symphonic overture. We were standing a bit off to the side of the stage,
but really pretty close. Bob came on at 10 and by that time it was getting
dark and quite intimate despite the outdoor setting.

No, I'm not the kind of Dylan fan who always loves everything he does.
Some concerts -- like the one in Bournemouth in 2006 -- can be terrible,
and beforehand I'm always apprehensive about how the evening will turn
out. I so want it to be great, and it isn't always. The opening number,
"Things Have Changed," gave me a sinking feeling. That cowboy beat takes
all the power out of the song, and besides the band didn't sync it right.
Bob got the stresses wrong and it sounded off. Happily, things improved
after that and very rapidly too. "She Belongs to Me" worked well and with
"Beyond Here Lies Nothing" the band had definitely found its groove.

Very unexpectedly and slightly bizarrely, the evening turned into a jazz
club event of sorts. The sound level was actually turned down quite low
and the sound, from where we were standing, was crystal clear. You could
hear every instrument very distinctly, neatly separated. Bob played the
piano throughout, and it was very high in the mix. He sounded like a
lounge lizard crooning his songs, despite the fact that he plays the piano
mainly as a percussion instrument. And he sang really well. Better than in
decades. He's got to stop improving like this or he'll turn into Frank
Sinatra before long.

I got to hear "Workingman's Blues," and "Spirit on the Water" which both
were beautiful. But I must confess that I didn't recognize the waltzy
"Waiting for You." I realize that this identifies me as a normal Dylan
fan, not as a freak. I like his music, I like him, but I have a life.

I thought he botched "Love Sick" a bit. It sounded hurried. The song must
be hard to do at an outdoor concert when there are a lot of different
things going on. It must be difficult to build up the evocative atmosphere
required. Or perhaps the band just needed to have a pee -- it was the last
song before the intermission.

After the break we got four songs from *Tempest*, and two from other
recent albums, in excellent renditions. Bob may have lost the incredible
power and energy of his younger days, but he has found other things --
irony and tenderness and compassion. "Forgetful Heart," and "Long and
Wasted Years," both give a very jaded view of middle age. But man, has he
got things to tell us about ourselves? He sings the admittedly sometimes
rather inane lyrics as though they conveyed eternal truths, and we listen
attentively because we know he is right. He is right.

The audience around us seems mainly to have showed up to gawk at a
celebrity and to sing along with well-known tunes. When they had gawked
enough and the well-known tunes didn't come, they turned to their phones.
They should have stayed at home. The reviews in the local papers
complained: 1) that Bob doesn't sing well; 2) that he rearranges his tunes
so that we cannot recognize them; 3) that he doesn't do his greatest hits.
One of the local journalists even suggested he should wind up his Never
Ending Tour. Oh well, what else is new? "I don't believe you, you're a
liar!"

Fans complain about "Watchtower" as an encore, but I think it really,
really works. True enough, it too lacks energy, but at the same time it
seems Bob finally has reclaimed it from Jimi Hendrix. He is singing it
much more the way he did on the original recording. It's mysterious and
medieval. And here too there is compassion and tenderness.

After the concert I had this terrible the-circus-is-leaving-town feeling
that I always get after a Dylan concert. The next day we suppressed an
urge to drive the 250 kilometers to Gothenburg and see him once more.
Seeing more concerts provides no cure. Dylan comes into our lives, to
remind us of our better selves, of how creative and exceptional life can
be, and then he is gone again. The only consolation is that he'll be back
again next year. We'll be there too. Thanks Uncle Bob for stopping by. We
love you.

[TOP]

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