Review

Stockholm, Sweden
Globe Arena
October 17, 2005


[Bo Bengtsson]

Review by Bo Bengtsson



For the opening of the European tour, Bob Dylan with band returned to
Sweden and Stockholmís Globe Arena almost to the day two years after his
last visit. That concert hardly stood out as one of the better of that
tour, and as the band broke into To Be Alone With You, sideway glances
expressing something less than enthusiasm were exchanged in the audience,
as it was the very same opener used last time around. However, a lively
performance where especially Donnie Herron pulled a good weight made an
impression. Followed by a fine version of If You See Her, Say Hello, the
evening was off with a promising start. Both highs and lows were to
follow, though.

Some surprises turned up during the evening, as well as several 
non-surprises. *Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum* made an early, mandatory 
appearance in a performance not pulling entirely in the same direction and
slowing things down a bit. Under The Red Sky was wrapped up with a good
harmonica solo by Dylan, followed by a solid if unspectacular Itís
Alright, Ma. An acoustic To Ramona got a good response from the audience.
After the none too remarkable Catís In The Well, the audience were treated
to the inspired choice of The Man In Me, even if the arrangement left it
somewhat hard to decipher. This was followed one of the eveningís
highlights in form of* **Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues
Again. Dylan may not have been completely on top of the lyrics and even
repeated the verse about the railroad men, but no one seemed to mind
prolonging this song a bit.** *

Dylan himself remained poised at his electric piano throughout the show,
save for a few excursions midstage, swaying along to his harmonica.
Dapperly dressed in black, he played his role as understated bandleader
top the hilt, glaring and occasionally giving stern nods to his musicians.
His contributions on the piano were sparse, and his voice was what we have
learned to expect in later years. For most part of the show, he did appear
to be a fair bit more interested in the goings-on than he did during his
last visit.

Considering the good amount of criticism directed at the backing 
musicians of this year, my expectations were not too high. Suffice to say,
though, I was pleasantly surprised. While none of them made any attempt to
really leave their mark on the evening, I must say I found this bandís
performance a good deal more dynamic than the one spearheaded by Freddie
Koalla and, yes, Larry Campbell from yesteryear. Songs like Highway 61
Revisited and Summer Days sounded far less dusty than you might expect,
due to some minor but well-chosen touches of ebb and flow in the
arrangements. One problem of this ensemble spirit though, is the bandís
reluctance to cut any song shorter than at least five minutes. This means
a good deal of solo padding, which this evening at least turned out a bit
monotonous in the end.

After Highway 61 and a pleasant if not totally focused Bye and Bye, the
end drew nigh. During the homestretch of Honest With Me, Every Grain of
Sand and Summer Days, Dylanís attention did seem to wander leading to a
good deal of unintelligible singing, some lines barely on-mike. Whether he
just got bored, or perhaps someone translated a heckler loudly and
repeatedly suggesting in Swedish that he should ďDo something good!Ē, itís
not up to me to say. The whole band seemed too be struggling, though they
did pull together in a notable Summer Days, ending the main set. In the
encore, the evening ended with an unfortunately listless run-through of
Like A Rolling Stone and All Along The Watchtower.

All in all, ten of the songs were repeats from Dylanís last concert at the
same venue, making the evening somewhat predictable for returning
audience. Thatís not to say the show wasnít without merits. If You See
Her, Say Hello and Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again may
have stood out as the highlights, but some spirited performances of the
modern-day standards made them far more engaging than expected. Highway 61
may not be the song you would think would get the audience to their feet,
but this evening this was just what it did. If Dylan is planning on using
his autumn 2003 tour as a blueprint, I think we may have something to look
forward to come London in late November.

Finally, as has been reported, the audience were not too responsive and
hardly did bother do stand up until the two final songs. Not too inspiring
for the band, it could be argued. On the other hand, it might also be a
case of getting what you are asking for. As far as I am concerned, one
might be excused for not standing up to show oneís appreciation for a band
barely passing a glance in your direction.

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