Bologna, Italy

September 27, 1997

Thanks to Christian Ter-Nedden for the following review:

First of all, I'm neither Catholic nor fluent in Italian, and the whole
festival seems somewhat exotic to me. I also don't know that much about
Italian pop stars.  While I'm writing this, Italian TV station RAI Uno is
broadcasting the Bologna Festival.

In atmosphere, it is similar to The Great Music Experience: there's
a gigantic stage and 400'000 mainly young people in the audience. The Pope
has an extra stage on the far right, sits on his throne surrounded by
white-clad youth and cardinals in black and looks both extremely tired
and grumpy.

The Harlem Gospel Singers with Queen Esther Marrow (she recorded with Dylan,
didn't she?) open the concert with O Happy Day.

Next, 'Italian Elvis' Adriano Celentano performs Stand By Me in Italian with
religious lyrics, backed by band and symphony orchestra, and two more songs.

The Pope waves sometimes, greets the performers from his chair but doesn't
smile. Some of them kiss his ring later. Celentano doesn't.
The Gospel Choir sings Amen before the ad break.

Next, singer Barbara Colla and a crooner named Gianni duet on John Lennon's
Imagine with both English and Italian lyrics. The Pope likes that better but
still doesn't smile.

Then, some of the white-clad youngsters on stage recite Forever Young,
translated into Italian, "sempre giovane." Now the Pope thumps his
armrests in applause.

Lucio Dalla, one of Italy's most famous singer-songwriters, sings a song.

Then Michel Petrucchiani, the jazz pianist, joins him to perform an
instrumental version of Carole King's You've Got a Friend and
another jazzy piece.

Next is blind tenor Andrea Bocelli who sings, after another aria, Puccini's
Nessun Dorma, a huge hit in Italy and elsewhere. The Pope looks as if he were
falling asleep any minute now but rises to greet Bocelli.

The youngsters close to the Pope now recite the questions of Blowin' in the
Wind "to convey the feelings of the young." John Paul II. is given a
microphone and a manuscript and thanks them for attending the concert and for
caring about the problems of the world. The rest of his speech about youth,
music and Jesus I don't understand but I do hear that he's alluding to the
wind as spirit (= new sensation: the Pope uses a Dylan song in a sermon).

After a sermon of about twenty minutes, Dylan and band suddenly appear on
stage and start with Knockin' on Heaven's Door. There are background singers,
probably the ones Celentano used. He wears a beige stetson hat, a black cravat
and a black suit with white piping. The band is in grey or black suits.
The performance is nothing special except for the lyric "I'm looking up to the
skies, feeling like I'm knockin' on heaven's door" which I hadn't heard before.
Without a word to the audience or as much as a smile, he launches into
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall.  Suddenly, what was at best a lacklustre
performance becomes very moving and beautiful. There's a longish instrumental
part in the middle.  It becomes even more like The Great Music Experience.
Dylan seems to have a slight cold, he's sniffing occasionally. 

The song ends. Dylan goes towards the Pope's stage, doesn't know what to do
with his hands and nearly trips over the steps while he takes his stetson off.
Then he kisses the Pope's ring and talks briefly with him. The Pope picks up
his sermon again and repeats the key ideas. Suddenly again, a hatless Dylan
and band are back onstage to perform a beautiful Forever Young. 
Very suitably since it was quoted before. He even boogies a bit. That
done, without even saying thank you, he bows briefly, picks up his hat
and leaves.

I thought that this was the end, but a singer called Manuela Villa sings
something about us all being leaves on a tree, in harmony, and together etc.
in English with a slight Italian accent. In the meantime, the Pope has left,
having said goodbye before Forever Young.

Following Villa are several Italian singer-songwriters and bands
I've never heard of.

Queen Esther and the choir sing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." 
After the list of sponsors is read out, Queen Esther Marrow closes the show
with Higher and Higher.

The broadcast has ended two minutes ago. I'm looking forward to reading a
report by somebody who was there!

Christian Ter-Nedden, Zurich, Switzerland


Thanks to Andrea Orlandi for the following review:

Just got back from Bologna. First impressions there, were of bitterness
and disappointment.

Not for Bob set itself (he was tight and passionate) but because of the
general atmosphere of the event itself. We got the fear it could have
been bad. Our fears, unfortunately, on our opinion,  came through.

Part of it, to tell the truth, comes from having attented a wonderful
show Bob play in a huge emptiness the night before (soundcheck)
and then waiting standing in the crowd for hours just to see
three songs.

But the sense of disappointment comes mainly from the way Bob was used
to convey the message they wanted to convey, besides the too much
preconceivedes "tributes" to him from youngs standing close to the Pope
lecturing his songs (Forever Young and Blowin in the wind) in italian
before his set.

Our feeling is that they wanted him just to draw all the media
attentions to this meeting which featured a big turn on Vatican attitude

towards the so called rock  music young culture (if this means anything
to anybody)
Not at all to draw people (everywhere the Pope goes, millions show up)
that actually was almost unaware of who Bob Dylan really is, and that
for the most part of them was not relevant and by any means a reason to
be there, but only to get the BIG MEDIA attention.

They did not wanted anybody to call it a show or a concert. It was a
"Veglia" (wakefulness (?))

Call it a "veglia", call it a show, call it anything you like: many
times it resembled to a  convention of the kind that only big corporate
companies can organize to fidelize their employees and to attract more

The wind as the breath of the Spirit, as the Pope called it, in that
was blowin far away in distant shores.
At least, listening to my heart not only to my brain.

The site was few kilometers outside Bologna in a huge agriculture
market area in the country. Two stages: on the left the music stage, on
the right the Pope stage for the sunday Service, with a huge white
lighted iron cross behind it.
Pope podium was  between the two stages: three wood chairs.
Dylan set was supposed to last half an hour with five songs, scheduled
at 10.07 pm.
The Pope had to arrive at 9 and at 9.30 he had to give a speech,
commenting some Bob  lyric, after a set of five people playing two songs

It ended that this people went on a little too much. Then at 10.10 pm
they wanted to introduce Bob set with Blowing the wind and Forever Young

lecturing, asking to the Pope where the answer is. And the Pope did
answer it:  there is only one answer and this is Jesus Christ.
In the meantime Bob was standing at the side of the stage in the shadow
since 10.07 pm ready to begin his set. Cowboy hat on, dark brown suit
with silver stripes, he was dancing on his foot, shaking his head, never

standing still, apparently getting nervous as the minutes went by.

The Pope answer to the youngs who has asked him rethorically which and
were the answer is, goes like this:

"On the road of music this evening Jesus meet you.
Music help us to pray.Just before, a representative of yours said on
behalf that the answer is blowing in the wind. Yes . IT IS TRUE. But not

on the wind that everything scatter in a whirlwind of nothing,but on the

wind , yes, on the  wind that is voice and breath of the Spirit, voice
that calls and says : come.
You asked me: how many roads must a man walk down before you can call
him a man. I answer you. Just ONE. One only.It is the road of a man. And

this is Jesus Christ, who said "I am the road". He is the road of life
the way for life.
So I tell you. At the crossroads of your days, enquires yourself to the
values of truth of every choice you make, that the decision be difficult

and hard, and that temptation of giving up be persistent. It already
happened to Jesus disceples, because world is full of easy and
attractive roads that are in the shadow of the valley where the horizon
narrows and chokes.
Jesus is the answer!..." and much more then

" To you the choice : be let you slip down the valley of a flat
conformism or
to take the hard road to climb the cliffs where you can breath pure air
of truth and
goodness of love.
Master where do you live?
Come and see.
And so I say to you come and see where the Master lives.
He lives in eucharisty.
My hope is that you too with Simon Pietro and the other dispceples, to
meet Christ
to say: Master, you have words of eternal life.
Yes Jesus has words of eternal life.
With Him is possible to sing a new singing in this Veglia.
In few minutes when night will be deep, music will leave space to the
silent adoration
of eucharisty, to the music will follow the prayer.
Let Jesus talks to your hearts. Is Him the real answer to life, the one
you are searching for.
Him stay here with us. Find Him without to be tired. Wellcome Him
without reservations
love Him with no pauses, today tomorrow and forever.
I thought about all these richness that are on the man, the voices , the

answers, and other
many talents. It requires a big gratitude for all these talents. And
this gratitude means
Thanking for all these talents and richness, we are more disposable to
live all these
talents, and moltiplicate all these talents, how has been able to do
that good servant,
"Il Vangelo".
Praise the Lord"

Finally at 10.41 pm Bob came in with Heaven's door which
had a very warm welcome. Hard rain was done electric and slow, closer to

the "Hard rain" (the tv show I mean , in 76) version of Rolling thunder
days than to the mystical Nara version.
Only then I found out that on tv they put subtitles in italian just for
the first song and not for Hard rain.
When the song was over, Garnier whispered something to Bob ears. Bob
off the guitar and went walking towards the Pope podium on his left. On
his way he had a ladder of 10/15 steps : he stumbled on his foot in the
middle of his climbing, managed not to fall on the floor, fastened then
his walk, and remembered to take off his hat just before reaching the
Pope and shaking hands with him. Actually the Pope took Bob hand between

his, and it seemed that Bob spoke to him more than the Pope did. But the

Pope did
hug him on the shoulder.

 Bob went back to his place (he did not kiss his hand and did not bend
on his knees, just kindly bowed and had his head down) just to be there
waiting standing that the Pope finished his second and final speech that

lasted another 5 minutes .
Bob was kindly listening standing and watching in Pope direction, guitar

Pope said again which was the meaning of eucharisty and greeted the
"I told you it takes eucharisty because it takes gratitude and
for all these talents, but this thanksgiving has to be done with the
of the cross through the violent death of Christ.
But if not for death it would be not even resurrection, not Easter
Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando, dux vitae mortuus regnat vivus.
(Looking at death and life dwelling, the conductor of life after death ,

reign alive)

You all know well latin. But somebody of more well known priests will
translste you.
This is what I wanted to tell you. This is what eucharisty means.
Thank you for this meeting."

Then Bob, Pope gone, took off his hat and was allowed to sing Forever
Young, not forgetting, before, to applaude the Pope way out along with
Tony Garnier
and the crowd.
Just before the final song, Kramer went to talk with Bob, and my guess
is he said to him that he had to do only one more song.
There were a story on the press of today that on the set list there was
God on our side, and that this was cut because of a request from the
responsible of the event, after having read the lyrics.
My guess is that this is not true. Possibly the song was cut because was

late for the Pope and for the tv broadcasting.
Is beyond my understanding how they could thought of inviting Bob as the

main act, and then let that the show went so far that the Pope ( who is
old and not healthy) was so tired that he had to leave in middle of Bob
show. Attending there live,  this was like a cold shower.

I have to admit that seeing then on tv I got a slight different
But the doubt that this is was not very polite to Bob, it  remains.
After all he just crossed the ocean to be a this show ( i don't want to
enter the area of money involved that nobody knows).
It was like cutting his wings when he was ready to fly. And he was very
into it. Committed.
He just addressed the song to the Pope, it seem from the tv broadcast,
looking on his direction, to follow his departure.
Very beautiful. And Bob was lovely on this song.

When it was over, he just went out with no thanks from the plastic
"Barbie" lady who conducted the tv programme, that soon drove the
attention of the crowd to another song sang by a group of young people
on the stage, mellow and awful.
As this song was goin on, we made our fast escape from  the front rows
as faster as we could.
I don't want to be blasphemous, but I tell you positively that I deeply
feel that the soft breath of the wind of the Spirit of God was blowing
more in any small theatre that Bob has played in recent years, than at
this big rally.

The song which could sum up everything about this evening is "It's all
rigth ma"

No, i ain't gonna go back to this farm no more and unfortunately or
luckily neither Bob, I guess.

Andrea Orlandi


Thanks to Vittorio Colombo for the following review:

First of all, the real concert in Bologna was the soundcheck, that
was more a real performance than anything else. On Saturday night
Bob was on the stage with the band from the beginning of the Pope
long speech. This was really interesteing to see: Bob did a lot
of gym in those 20 minutes. His was rolling from left to right,
his legs moving as if he was very impatiently waiting to start the
show. He took of his hat twice and straightened his hair; and the 
black tie he wore. Then his harmonica fell from his hands. Some
say that the harminica was a present for the Pope but if he ever gave it
to him I missed the moment.
He had no background vocals. Bucky and Campbell did the job during
the three songs he played. The TV broadcast of the show doesn't pay
tribute to the real sound we heard. Bob's guitar seems to be missing
from the mixing of sounds. He just smiles once but I am not sure if
on purpose... He didn't say a word to crowd:good! And was a little
bit disappointed when he realized that he had to wait for the Pope
exit after one more speech to start again. Tony explained to him
what was happening. He half bowed at the end of Forever Young and
left with his hat in his hands.
Voices here in Bologna say that he left out "With God on our side"
at the last minute to please the Pope. The filler in being "Heaven's"
and I don't believe that was a good choice.
Unfortunately the most funny moments of the show(before the beginning)
and before "Forever Young" were not includedin the TV broadcast.
That's all from Bologna.

Vittorio Colombo

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