page by Bill Pagel
Review by Amund Børdahl
A heavy, lively, steady rolling rock show. Highlights depend on who you
are. It’s allright ma is excellent, so is H61, Honest with me and Cat’s in
the well, and many besides. In fact, there are no dead points if only you
are on good terms with the new sound, the new picture. It may take a while
for your eyes and ears to surpass the unsurpassable sexton years. Another
piece is being painted. Fewer colours, but strong, no choral singing, but
the sand-blasted silver trumpet (Sælendsminde) has unheard of harmonies to
offer in return. Remember charlie in modern times? This little man works
hard, too, and you can feel his enjoyment. Another highlight: It took a
while before the band entered for the encores. There was a new
guitarplayer center stage! Tall, light, conspicuously present. Larry
Campbell on the guitar. Fr Koella…George Receli playin the drums tonight.
On bass Tony Garnier. The new guy with us is msnrufnr (Mason Ruffner), he
plays on one of my records. Bang. (Cat’s in the well). And at the piano?
Not Elton John, not Glenn Gould. More like a combination, perhaps. Lucky
you for whom this show is not now a thing of the past. Enjoy!
Review by Peca Perszon
I have witnessed an interesting weekend with Bob and his band, somewhat
different from what we have been used to, in many ways. Almost four
identical setlists has opened this tour, with lots of energy and no purely
acoustic sets at all. I could feel the spirit of Muddy Waters, and Bob has
given the impression, or rather expression, that this time he really wants
to nail the songs, learn them well, before he starts singing. Let me
rephrase the last one: before he starts grunting, which means reciting the
alphabet. And now, most of the time, behind the piano, it is obvious he
can concentrate on the phrasing much more. But I must say someone should
tell Bob to start his European tour in England, occasionally (It is their
turn to cry awhile).
Saturdays concert in Globen, was a strange experience, because of the
jetlag he obviously suffered from. Slowly, unconsciously, stumbling around
like a ghost, getting angry, throwing the harmonica away, grinning and
several attempts to play guitar was abandoned. Still he managed a fairly
dignified performance, although mostly because of phrasing and less in
timing. They all looked puzzled, like you could feel major crises within
the band, no smiles at all. Freddie Koella went nuts doing some strange
but funny solos, while Campbell looked confused and irritated with the
look of I-am-leaving-town. And at the center of all is Bob, looking like a
man who just came in from outer space. Lots of discussions afterwards
whether the man was really sick, or just howling at the full moon. I
believe many of us, if only we knew, would have been honest to Bob and
acknowledged the jetlag dysfunction. On the whole this concert had a force
of electricity that showed us the potentials within the band.
The remarkable difference in appearance the following night in Karlstad
was amazing. From the first line of To Be Alone With You, until the last
strofe of All Along The Watchtower he showed no signs of delirium and
nailed a complete concert, with an immense portion of "perfection", that
I've never heard before. The whole band looked sharp and it didn't take
long before the smiles were on and all around, spreading in the atmosphere
of the audience. Highlight of the evening was an outstanding version of
Desolation Row. Never before have I heard it played with such mastery.
Behind the keyboard it seems Bob can release power resources that will
take him further into the role of the poet laureate. His phrasing is a
grammar lesson on its own. Good Lord! And watching Tony Garnier and George
Receli as a united rythm section, was part of the greatness. They looked
happy and also surprised, about how good the band was swinging tonight.
Unbelievable contrast! Some marveling duels between the guitars. Even Bob
showed up, picking the strings, on a thrilling Highway 61, where the
guitar bullets were flying across the stage, back and forth.
In Oslo we were given another brilliant performance. Lacking the grandeur
of last evenings Desolation Row, it still gave us several precise
renditions. The funny thing about attending identical concerts, one after
the other (haven't happened since the Rolling Thunder Tours to my
knowledge) is that you have to forget the disappointment of less surprise
and you can start to concentrate on the details of the phrasing and timing
much more. It has left a strong impression on me, of integrity and
dedication in Bob's approach for the future, as a song and dance man. He
is really swinging. He definitely knows a place where summer's still going
on. Today It's alright Ma is as aggressive as Masters of War and Boots of
Spanish Leather doesn't sound like a sad ballad, but turns out to be a
nice little slow rocking-the-boat-hymn. He really knows how to make his
music come alive again and again. I actually have no words to describe it.
It lies in the in-betweens, in the eyes and ears of the beholder to
Review by Eyolf Østrem
About guitars and kissing.
Stockholm and Karlstad
I've spent some time thinking (and talking) badly about Larry lately.
Before the current tour, and especially after the Stockholm show. I heard
about this great version of Boots from Helsinki, and had some
expectations, which were all thrashed after hearing it in Stockholm.
Usually, I welcome a new arrangement, but this? A dull run of parallel
thirds and sixths, with some dubious part writing (yeah, well, music
analysis is what I do for a living, so what can you expect?), and my guess
is it comes from Larry - he's the one playing it, and it fits well in with
what I consider to be his style: very professional, very stylized, pretty,
pretty, but, hey, there's something missing in there, isn't there? He
probably has a bag of tricks and licks that is bigger than most guitar
players alive, and he is capable of piecing them together in a way that
both works musically in their own right and holds the back-bone of the
song. But still - his playing is a musical reflection of his clothes
style: impeccable, elegant, in style, but where is the deep involvement
with the world, with experience, blood, guts, love, dirt under finger
nails? Larry has no dirt under his finger nails. Cue to the other guy, the
scruffy little bum standing on the left, the slightly old, slightly bald
punk who looks like he slept in his suit. His playing is unpredictable.
Not that he doesn't repeat himself - he has his bag of tricks as well, and
it wouldn't surprise me if Dylan will get bored by them after a while: the
asymmetrical rhythms, the quick pull-off ornaments, the odd sustained
notes. But still, they are subversive rather than conservative. Here's a
transcript from the brainwave recorder placed on Koella's skull:
Wonder what happens if I put my finger somewhere around here on the
fretboard and strike the string now?
Hm. Interesting sound.
What if I just move the finger up and down a little? Yeah, I'll do that.
Wow! That was cool! I'll do it some more.
Hey, there's a thick string way up here on my guitar, wonder what kind of
sound that produces. Fascinating! It's really dark! Once more!
Etc. Something like that. Sometimes it doesn't work and falls flat. But
surprisingly often, one is left with a wide grin on one's face, and a
bewildered feeling of what on earth just happened? Cue back to the tall
guy with the fancy beard again. Transcript again:
" C Dm C C#o Dm G F G
: . . . : . . . : . . . : . . .
[Looks to the right:] Why is he moving his finger up and down like that?
Odd. Bob seems to like it, though. Well, it sounds just like Bob too -
jeez, I thought we would be spared that ploink ploink when he decided to
buy this toy piano (how long will we have to tour before he can afford a
music stand too? I want my steel guitar back), and then he brings in a
guitarist who plays in the same way ... OK, my turn again, I have to play
some notes. Don't I have just the perfect lick for this particular
situation? Let's see... key of A, going to Bm, square time, tempo 124 bpm
- OK, got it, lick A-214b-J897678-(1978)."
I cannot reveal my source for these brain transcripts, but they are
accurate. An important point is that they were made in Stockholm.
Karlstad was a completely different thing, for several reasons.
Strangely enough (given my assessment above), the show was superior to
Stockholm on all or most songs, but Koella could hardly be heard, owing to
a bad mix and him taking only a few solos. I can't judge quite how bad the
mix was, because I was standing up front, right in front of Larry - and
Larry's monitors, which was all I heard during the second half of the
show. This of course made the musical experience (as opposed to the
concert experience) slightly odd, but I must admit that it was fascinating
to hear exactly what Larry did all the time. Tweedly Dum, for example -
he's really at work throughout the whole song, and the way he keeps the
riff going, while at the same time playing solos ... impressive. It was
also interesting to hear how many different things he does during
Watchtower, not in his solos, but in his rhythm playing.
OK. So Larry was the star of the Karlstad show, guitarwise (even though
the greatness of the show did not lie in the guitar playing). Oslo was
something else again. Significantly enough, the three string-players wore
identical suits, and it's hard to tell which of the two guitarists who
"won". Not that that was an issue. The word 'concert' has often been
mistranslated as a concourse, a competition, while the real meaning is
more in the direction of concord, playing togehter, and that's what they
did in Oslo. (I sadly had to skip Gothenburg, but according to reports,
the interplay between Freddie and Larry was the special thing about that
show.) The special occasion in Oslo was that during the darkness before
the encore, somehow a third guitar player had materialized on stage - a
long, blond, slightly nervous-looking character, who turned out to be
Mason Ruffner who plays on some tracks on Oh Mercy. I wouldn't say that
his playing made whole lot of a difference, but his presence did. Whether
it was, as has been suggested, that Koella's ego made him step forth just
a little bit more frequently (and just happened to be stopping right in
front of Ruffner, not taking the extra step towards centre stage that he
usually does), or that the presence of another music maker on stage
sharpened everyone's attention and concentration, or simply that the extra
sound source called for a different approach (I personally like the idea
that the reason Tony changed from upright to electric bass during Summer
Days, was musical - because the way the music developed called for a more
forceful bass sound - and not something as trivial as a broken string). Be
that as it may, it was the best encore set I've witnessed, for these
I should perhaps say something about tonight's show too. I must admit it
is slightly difficult, since I've been having Desolation Row from Karlstad
on auto-repeat, so that my face occasionally contracts into what feels
like what I used to do when I was four and ran barefoot through grass that
was greener (and warmer - this was in the summertime) than anything I've
seen ever since; or my stomach feels like a stone that reminds me of a cat
that has curled up like a stone, just as weightless and deprieved
(liberated) of meaning as a stone. That kind of a stone. Copenhagen, as I
was about to say, was for me the best show so far. Thereby, I intend to
say that there was not a single low point, all the way through it was
wonderful, in the same way as in Beethoven's first string quartet (I'm
sorry, I don't have anything better to compare with, and this is a
compliment both to Dylan and Mr. Beety), where the tension that is
generated from the first motif, keeps one floating/airborne right through
the half (or two) hour(s) the quartet (or the show) lasts.
I don't know how the rest of you feel, but me myself, I have to confess to
often thinking, when the intro to forever Young or LARS is intoned, that,
shit, I could do without this - if I exchange the $5 that these minutes
have cost me, I might afford one of those fast-forward buttons. Not
tonight. Every minute mattered. Even during LARS (or, as a matter of fact,
especially during LARS, which was treated by Koella just like a
40-years-old antique should be treated: hard and lovingly), I had no other
thought than that this could go on forever. And yet, lo and behold, never
have I welcom'd more the cut of one encore. (neat shakespearian internal
rhyme, eh?) than when I heard the Highlander-intro to AATW, where Forever
Young would have ruined everything, but where Watchtower was perfect as a
Beethovenian final theme. Sometimes it's right to descend into the quiet
compound right before the end - sometimes it's not. Tonight it was not,
and Dylan did the right thing. So it goes. I haven't mentioned any
highlights yet. I could do that, of course. HWY61. AATW. Love-0 was
wonderfully slow. Summer Days was as good as I ever heard it. Even Memphis
Blues, which I otherwise can hardly stand, was extremely enjoyable, almost
incredibly good. I could go on, but that would just ruin my point (which
I've already indicated): that it was a brilliant CONCERT. Fair enough, we
didn't get any D-Row, and I can't really point to places where Dylan
proved himself to be the demi-god, the descendant of Orpheus and
Terpsichore, of Jubal and Erato, of Zeus and some cow in Gallup, New
Mexico that he certainly is, and, by way of a phrase or a plonk from his
divine piano, turned it into an unforgettable evening; that it still
turned out that way was a happy coincidence involving a highly human icon
(who had one too many harmonicas to keep track of), two guitar players who
just keep on exciting with their differences; a rhythm section who somehow
uphold both tact and tone; a magnificent sound on the 56th row; and great
My conclusion, whether it conforms with what I've written or not, is
that I enjoy Koella tremendously - in Stockholm he was the only thing I
really enjoyed - and the moral of this story is that there's got to be
some spit in a kiss, in order for the beauty of it to work.
Postscript: This is probably not a concert review; I haven't listed all
the song and the solos and the lyric variations, or the instruments (heck,
there were instruments there that I don't even know the name of; there was
a huge pile of things that looked like kettles and pots, with a guy with a
funny hat beating on them like they were a beast, CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!?
- and another huge wooden construction with some kind of metal cords
attached to it, which this other strange guy kept PLUCKING in a strange
way; - hey, it was a genuine wax cabinet, man) - so it can't be a concert
review. Take it for what it is, whatever that is.
Review by Steinar Daler
My expectations were high after Karlstad - and the Oslo show turned out to
be at the same high level. Dylan is singing better than I have heard in a
real long time and Freddie Koella is getting better and better. I still
miss the softer points from the Sexton-band period, harmonysinging and
more, and I have to say that maybe it`s too much of a rock-show theese
days. I also have to say that I wish Bob would`nt use his harmonica so
often. It`s not "splendid" all the time. But all in all a good concert
(though not as good as last years outstanding concert in Oslo). Here`s a
song by song review:
To be alone with you: Bob and the band is on from the first second. A good
opener. Baby blue: Better than the previous nights, but far from my
favourite versions of this song. Nice lap-steel playing from Charlie. Cry
awhile: No special comments. Good. Tom Thumb`s blues: A really good
version (except for Bob`s harmonicaplaying). It`s allright ma: Solid -
Distinct and very good singing from Bob. Charlies cittern-playing is
outstanding. Boots of Spanish leather: Can`t decide if I like this
arrangement or not - but anyway not up too earlier versions of this song.
It`s missed the sweet softness. Things have changed: Bob on electric
guitar. As usual - I`m not too exited. Highway 61: For me the first real
highlight of the night. I have heard this song maybe too often during the
years, but tonight it was so tight and it rocked hard as it should do.
Perfect. Shooting star: Nice version of a great song. Beautiful
guitarpicking by Freddie, good singing (and not as good harmonica) from
Bob. Could have been perfect if Bob had put the harmonica away. TD&TD: As
usual. Every grain of sand: Another highlight. Much better than the two
previous concerts. Extraordinairy singing - specially on the last half of
the song. The harmonicaintro was good as well. In the middle of the song
It was like Bob was singing in sync with the bass-drum - strange but good
- and then later on, soft and just soooooo nice. Honest with me: A solid
version, but I`m a bit tired of "Honest" now. I wish he played Lonesome
day blues instead. Don`t think twice: I guess this was one of the
higlights for most of the audience, and for me as well. Even Bob`s
harmonica playing was perfect. I guess most of the audience would have
liked one or two more accustic songs (Hard rain and My back pages?) at
this point. But Bob`s a rocker this time around and Summerime: works fine
as allways. The best version I have heard since last autumn (including the
once I have heard from CDR`s from concerts I hav`nt attended.) The 4
ancores; Cat`s, LARS, Forever Young (a new higlight) and AATWT works fine.
And as often before when Bob brings a guest on to the stage - this time
Mason Ruffner, who played with Bob on Under the red sky, and who lives in
Oslo for the time - he sharpens his senses and does his best.
On to Gothenburgh the city where I saw Bob for the first time 25 years
ago. I hope it will be something really special. My wish for my jubilee is
"Cross the green mountain".
Steinar Daler ("sunset")
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists