Paris, France
Grand Rex

October 13, 2022

[Serge Bonnery], [Laurette Maillet], [Nick Cowie]

Review by Serge Bonnery


(translated from French)

A long meditation on time

Bob Dylan has every reason to feel good in Paris. He loves
Charles Aznavour and the children of the sixties, the
public to which he addresses this last evening, an "I love you" filled 
with shivers and then, when he came to the Olympia in 1966 with his 
electric guitar, nobody here called him a Judas.  That creates
bonds. And these bonds were reinforced during the last of the three
concerts at the Grand Rex, a starry-sky venue where
Bob is at home. Besides, he quickly takes off his jacket and
plays in a burgundy colored shirt.
The complicity is immediate with the musicians as well as 
with the audience and here we are carried away in the
tranquil river of a long meditation on time. All the Rough
and Rowdy Ways tour is indeed built on the idea of time which,
from The times they are a-changin' to Modern times through 
Time out of mind and even Most of the time, runs through the 
work of Bob Dylan. 
From Watching the river flow, time flows in the
hourglass of incandescent poetry, up to Key West (the place to
be if you're looking for immortality), both wonderful and
relentless, wonderful because every song is beautiful and
relentless because at 10:15 p.m. and a few dusty notes,
we all know that he will leave the scene to rush into a van
with a new direction home, Brussels in this case. 
OK, the concert was wonderful, full of a lot of emotion. 
Everyone is aware that this evening is a
moment stolen from the troubled times that overwhelm us. 
We swim in the happiness of a communion where each grain of 
sand counts as much as an armful of universes. Bob greets Paris 
with a last harmonica solo on Every grain of sand which we were 
right to believe in until the end. "It ain't quite the end, I'll just 
bid farewell till we meet again." 
Just Restless Farewell, Mister Bob Dylan ! 


Review by Laurette Maillet


Paris III. October 13th.

Third and last show.I wake up early as always on
the road, even with a good bed. I do my laundry and join a group of fans
in a restaurant in Paris intra muros.Today I want to know what kind of
trick will find "security Bob" to sneak Bob inside the venue without Bob
meeting the Fans (or even being seen)."Security Bob" (who is now retired)
had been hired specifically for those three shows in Paris because Le
Grand Rex has only one back stage entrance opening directly in the street.
Last time it had been already a challenge to contain the crowd.This time,
twice, Bob had been dropped by the corner of the next street up and walked
down behind the Fans back. Bob getting out after the shows is less
sophisticated.- First night he had no mask (but a hoodie) and waved goodbye
with his hand. Anyone telling you he shook hands and gave "fives" is...
hallucinating!- Second night he was fully masked (thanks to his security to
be aware of the COVID ! More than the flash from the cameras :( ) and he
walked rapidly to his car surrounded by Suzie, Erik", "security Bob".A
black car with a German licence plate ???Today there will be another trick
for his entrance. By 6 pm. "Security Bob" is out and direct four or five
big guys around the back stage door. A number of fans piles up on both
side of a supposedly security corridor.For 40 minutes anxiety
increases. When a guy cries "he's behind". Bob sneaked inside a side door (
probably an emergency exit of the cinema next door) hooded and holding an
umbrella.  I should have known; Erik was not around and at some point
I saw Jerry walking around. Two guys who are personal security
people. The idea was to drop Bob inside his bus and surreptitiously
walk him on the side door.The fans are disappointed.That was a smart trick.

That said...By 7 pm I prepare to get in. Thanks to good 
hearted people, I do have a ticket. Thanks Hans , again. Some
fans are remarkable of kindness and generosity!By 8 pm I 
am inside to be happily surprised: the man next to me
is a follower from Oslo. I know he knows the setlist by heart and probably
all the lyrics:)Bob starts maybe 2 minutes late :(He will do a long intro
on piano before standing up and starts "Watching the river flow".The mike
is not adjusted. Bob makes a sign towards the sound guy.For me (and this
is my opinion only.) Bob's voice is weak. Not as clear as yesterday.Until
"Crossing the Rubicon" I don't feel "in" the show. Might be due to the sad
experience outside previously???After Rubicon I enjoy the show.Bob takes
his jacket off, walks center stage. He's wearing a red/burgundy puffy
shirt.His hair seems to be dyed even darker :)He will again add "I'll be
your baby CE SOIR"With a laugh and reaction from the audience.For me
it's... déjà vu. That's the disadvantage of going to many shows ; you
know what is spontaneous and what is show is good and I dance
on my seat but nothing like the previous night or even the first.Bob makes
a slight mistake on "Every grain of sand". But he adds a fantastic
harp solo. Breathing his lungs out!He will be center stage maybe three
times and introduce the Band at minima.I see him sited at the piano more
than the twoprevious shows.The Band had a strong back up support.
Audience being less enthusiastic.( opinion). I was
less.(enthusiastic:))I don't go out before the end.I know they will rush
him in his car. Hooded and masked :(.   I don't want to fight.
At least not today!I step out.And some fans immediately come to me.I have
few paintings left for sale.A group of people start chatting and offers me
a ticket for the second show in Amsterdam.I feel sorry I don't have real
painting to exchange, just copies.Another Frenchie also wants to buy.And
two women are "fighting" to buy my left over of prints.Ok.So, here is the
deal;When the tour is over, after Dublin, contact me on my e-mail and I'd
be more than happy to do any REAL ORIGINAL painting. Yes, I can paint
anyone. Sure I can paint Patti Smith :)I suddenly feel the touch of
"glory" and popularity :) I spend some time saying goodbye
or "adios" to Bobcats around. I don't feel like socialising too
much.I prefer keeping my personal impressions and putting them down on a
writing review.No way to argue about which show was the best or worst's always subjective.I was happy to be in Paris.I had a great
time. Thank you all good people.But.... I'm also glad to move to a
quieter atmosphere.Brussels should be more....intimate.But ....who
knows?It's another adventure :) 


Review by Nick Cowie


The show crashed into life with a protracted warm up, sans voix , of
Watching The River Flow : rowdy, syncopated and in the dark. As Bobby
started singing, the lights beneath the industrial / clinical glass floor
were switched on setting the pattern for the show: darkened interludes and
uplighting for songs. This set design has a wholly different purpose and
aesthetic to the pre-pandemic film set lights and drapes : old tech, hard
surfaced and arresting.

With the band now coherent and the full house crowd all seated, Most
Likely You Go Your Way concluded the energetic introduction to the show.
Thereafter the sequence from a riveting and emotional I Contain Multitudes
through False Prophet, When I Paint My Masterpiece and Black Rider was
mesmeric and brilliant, culminating in a show highlight in My Own Version
of You. The Rex audience, a mixture of Parisians, visitors, old, older and
young, with only a sprinkling of Bobheads, knew the new songs and gave
them their warmest applause and shout-outs at key lyrics.

By the time he sang a lascivious I'll Be Your Baby Ce Soir and To Be Alone
With You it was clear that Bobby was having a ball and enjoying the
wonderful theatre and adoring crowd. On his forays out centre stage to
take a stance, in lieu of a bow, the love of the crowd for Bobby was

Mid-show, Crossing The Rubicon delivered on vindication and jeopardy but,
to my mind, and that of my partner, the excision of the melody from Key
West rendered it dull and listless : an interval of ennui and
disappointment whereas the recording on disc sustains the place and
time-specific poem throughout its beguiling duration. 

The show burst back into life with Gotta Serve Somebody, retooled since
last performed here three and a half years ago, and then hit another show
peak with I've Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You. That Old Black Magic
served as filler, and the was the one number to which the percussion dd
not contribute sufficiently. Having Bobby sat behind his Joanna rather
than crooning on his feet rather suggested that the Johnny Mercer number,
that one brought broad grins to the face, is now superfluous.

Mother of Muses and Goodbye Jimmy Reed both demonstrated triumphantly
Bobby’s offer of the new and the vital and decisive rejection of the
unlived meaningless life. The audience is not here for a greatest hits
jukebox and would be disappointed if one was offered.

I’m not sure that Bobby introduced his drummer but, throughout, the
drumming and percussion was notable, beautifully moderated, wide-ranging
in its tone, impact and sound. The dialogue between the duelling
guitarists with their knowing stylings took us on a journey back through
the decades and, critically, locked in Bobby’s piano, played like a
third lead guitar, to the instrumental breaks. 

At the conclusion of Every Grain of Sand Bobby played out with a
protracted, yearning harp coda : his signature and the sound of his
breath, about a personal as it gets, in a show marked by its intimacy and
the tight connection afforded to an artist letting down his guard. The
rationale of a phones-free show was obvious.

Bobby was last at Le Grand Rex in April 2019 performing a glowing,
intimate set a few days before Notre-Dame burnt. The world has changed
since and so has Bob Dylan, as evidenced by Rough and Rowdy Ways, and this
show. Earlier in the day we had visited the two shows currently at the
Musee Picasso where you can see how great artists, when blessed with a
long life, reinvent themselves, again and again, in response to their
times and experience. Bob Dylan is such an artist.

Nick Cowie


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