page by Bill Pagel
Review by Carsten Klemann
There was a very strong cock crowing this night in a desolate organised
conzert. “I`ve never seen such a big crowd before³, said an englishman in
the cold before the club. He was in Kopenhagen before and saw did I
unterstand him right? - more than 1000 Dylan-shows. When D. began, many
people just waited for entrance. Inside it was very, very full. The best
Dylan show in my live, and the most rocky too (my first was, only a
street away, 84 in St. Pauli Stadion with Baez and Santana). Powerfull
beginning with maggie´s farm, D.Hands crash over the piano and he looks
much happier, playing this instrument as playing the guitar. For me, an
intelligent and very temperamentfull play and I had´nt to think at Jerry
Lee Lewis like some people in other gigs. If somebody did never see Dylan
before, tonight he could get an excellent extract. Dylan “played³ many
songs really like some actors on the stage, with different voices and
attitudes. Everybody loved Boots of sp. L. it was more like an nice kind
of joke. No song was boring: Old stuff, ever and ever heard in concerts
and sometimes “played as usual³, had thrill in every line. Dylan worked
hard and the show was much better than hamburg 2002. There, in my feeling,
he tried to sing really nice and deep. It seemed like music from cd, but
without life. Now we had an drama from beginning to the end and with a
modern Rock-Band. Not that rock-phrases, wich sometimes seemed like an
alibi. A beautifull, hot loudness, wich I never heard from Dylan before.
The set was a mixture of hamburg 1 and the songs before. Highlights:
Maggie, Tom Thumbs, It´s allright ma (i hoped, that he would´nt play this
song once more and in fact it was another song), baby blue, highway 61...
Review by Stefan Flach
As I said to a friend before the show: If he only played "Man in the Long
Black Coat" a second time, I´d be glad and he could do anything he likes
apart from this. So I really wasn´t looking for another "improvement" of
the setlist by the addition of other not so often heard songs - I was
thankful for what we´ve got on friday and - apart from the usual
excitement - took saturday mainly as a supplement.
Shortly after 7 pm the guys came on stage - even in the darkness one could
see that three of them were wearing hats: Tony, Bob (who took his off) and
Freddie. When the lights went on I was amazed: Freddie was wearing an
oldfashioned Borsalino hat (matching with his grey suit), which looked
unbelievably cool ... The sad-eyed man from France didn´t only display
self-confidence through his magically rough guitar playing this time, but
only through his wardrobe - gorgeous.
Everyone who was hoping for a different opening song than last night, was
disappointed by yet another
Not as strong as the days before, mainly because they didn´t jam at the
end. Everything was well done, nothing bad in here, but it was mainly a
warm-up song for the whole band.
As soon as Larry took his seat at the pedal-steel, I thought: ok, even if
it´s the song I would throw out of Dylan´s repertoire first (at least in
this arrangement and at least if Bob´s stubbornly continues to practice
his up-singing here), but anyway, let´s have another
"It´s All Over Now, Baby Blue"
Sung by Bob rather much as I expected (going up with his voice at the end
of almost every line), embellished by wailing worn-out riffs by Larry on
pedal-steel, but brought to at least one higher level by Freddie, smiling
somewhat knowingly and satisfied and playing some fantastic (simple and
extremely effective) licks throughout most of the song that saved the
performance for me.
"Cry a While"
was next again and very much as great as the night before. Bob apparently
caught fire on this song - one could see him smiling and pulling faces
while he tasted the words in his mouth and deciding wether to spit, belt
or howl them out. The song rocked as hard as anything one could hope for
and Bob - who reminds me lately of a mixture of a mad preacher, a shaman
and John Wayne anyway - ruled over everything with "that inimitable
authority" (C. Heylin).
"Just Like Tom Thumb´s Blues"
was some kind of final prove that we wouldn´t get another "special" show
as yesterday again, but one that resembles more those from the days
before. A solid, but not in no way remarkable version to my ears, which
only gained something by the way the band (including Dylan on piano) used
the famous intro as well as "outro", playing it really hard and really
loud - making it some statement on its own.
"It´s Alright, Ma"
was - I can´t really believe it myself - even better than last night.
MONSTER VERSION! It´s as if everything the song has to say (which is quite
a lot as we know) somehow was enabled to step into the light - so that all
souls could see it. The power that pushed it all forward was again the
magical aggressiveness which Dylan and everyone in the band approached the
... I´d like to call it the "message" of the song after all ... To go
around with wide open eyes in a world where people are crazy and times are
strange in 2003 as much as in 1964 ... They NAILED it completely. A
breathtaking (or better: breathgiving) reading.
Then Dylan took the Strat again and went center stage. When Larry grabbed
his Bouzouki I was hoping for "Desolation Row" or "Blind Willie McTell"
(or for another mixture of both as in Columbus last summer!), but it was
"only" (what a word here!)
An interesting version that didn´t quite work for some reasons. Dylan´s
vocals weren´t too focused to my ears (as opposed to what other people
said after the show: some liked it much) and Freddie played some licks on
his acoustic guitar that were either fine (in a rather funny way) or
pretty weird. I liked them again (hey, who am I supposed to see here, Bob
or the french guy?), and Dylan´s own licks on his Strat - though a bit
hesitant - I found delicious as well. Our man didn´t seem to be too happy
with the performance (grim face and everything).
"Things Have Changed"
was next and since I like the song very much and didn´t hear it the night
before, I was glad they played it (ditch - who already saw more shows on
this tour - on the other hand made a gesture that said: Oh, well - what
can you do about it?). A mighty fine version it was, I think. Sung
surprisingly subdued for the first two verses with some very exciting
phrasings (for instance on the first chorus he almost spoke "I´m locked in
tight" with a soft and sad feeling about it and then went mad on "I´m outa
RAAAAAAnge"). Focused and tight.
then brought the house down in the usual wonderful way. A very appreciated
kick-ass version it was (including again the "hmm, come over here girl and
step into the light" verse) ...
Again I didn´t recognize the next song (with Dylan on piano again)
immediatly, maybe because the terrific arrangement is still new to my
ears. Only after the words "I´m sailing away, my own true love" it was
clear to me that we´d get another
"Boots of Spanish Leather"
Again I hardly can´t believe myself that it was maybe EVEN BETTER than
friday. Dylan again risked as much as possible here, inventing vocal
harmonies on the spot = while singing them. A call - response pattern was
established that changed all the time according to whatever he finds on
his way through the song. Splendid and exciting, to say the least, and the
greatest performance of the evening for me again.
"Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum"
I hadn´t heard before in concert, so I was a bit curious when I heard the
now famous riff opening the song, but this didn´t last long. Dylan sang
much on auto-pilot and the whole performance was rather boring.
This time it took me only some seconds to think to myself: Yessss! He does
"Man in the Long Black Coat"
And it was apparent that the song got "rehearsed" already the night
before. Dylan seemed even more confident of the song and put much care
into his vocals again. The "embellishment" between verses worked great -
Dylan hit the notes on his keyboard really hard and moved like a
gunfighter whenever the little figure (F - C - G - Am when played in Am)
appeared. This time the "lyric change" on the bridge was done in favor of
the second last line (as opposed to the last the day before): "We went on
a river and I just missed the boat, she went with the man in the long
black coat." And again there was "blood on the moon" in the last verse
after which Dylan grabbed a harmonica and played a beautiful solo. All the
time there was this special tight atmosphere in the air which belongs so
much to this darkest of Dylan´s songs. At the end he played the keyboard
Then it was time for my beloved
"Honest with Me"
again. And again it rocked my world in a most appreciated way. Quite
similar to friday´s version, which means it was outstanding.
"Don´t Think Twice"
showed the band (and this time also Larry) being in better touch with the
song (and what´s possible with it) than Dylan, who re-introduced his
up-singing here and seemed to be somewhat bored with his vocals. For the
last verse Larry and Freddie played some very hot and original licks on
the acoustic guitar that made up for the whole sung part of the song.
ended the main set again in the best possible way. At each show where I
heard this song so far, I was sure I just heard the best version ever -
and tonight was no exception to this ... As overwhelmingly brilliant and
hard swing-rockin´ as it gets. On the so beautifully extended instrumental
verses Freddie played again some unbelievable stuff. Even though I hardly
had space to move my arms on the show, I couldn´t help but "dance" around
during the song. There´s nothing more affirmative in Dylan´s repertoire
than "Summer Days" - one could see it again in the eyes of the folks
attending this show. (Of course this was the very best version I ever
And off they went. When their silhouettes appeared again in the darkness
on stage, I decided to shout for a song I´d really like to get: "All the
Tired Horses", but for unknown reasons Dylan didn´t respond to it, but
chose a different animal song:
"Cat´s in the Well"
Done as fine as the night before (centering again around the new arranged
bridge), even though I missed Dylan´s going around and searching for the
right harmonica today (he immediatly put his vocals to the first played
"Like a Rolling Stone"
proved to be another major performance. Dylan playing an harp intro and
another solo that melted with flesh and bone after the instrumental verse.
The introduction of the harp (I would be surprised if he wouldn´t go on
using it on the next shows) adds something beautifully exciting to the
song ... Band intros followed.
And finally it was time to sum everything up with
"All Along the Watchtower"
with Dylan playing another terrific harp intro over the "Exodus" intro and
then going into "mad preacher" mode, delivering yet another very tight,
concentrated and overwhelming version full of wonders (thanks for Freddie
Review by Sascha Krieger
It was my first Bob Dylan show of 2003 and a good start of my personal
tour of Germany. Following up an excellent European tour of last year,
Dylan (dressed in black and fidgeting around nervously whenver his fingers
weren't occupied) showed himself in very fine shape. playing piano for
most of the show, constantly moving along behind his mike and giving us a
few smiles and even some laughs (at the end of Don't Think Twice) plus a
few aprreciating nods and a little thumbs up in the end.
It was his second night at the docks, a rather small though somewhat cold
club in the heart of Hamburg's famous redlight district. It was quite a
struggle to get through the narrow doors but when the show started right
on time at 7 pm I was tugged in nicely right in the middle of it all.
The show kicked off with a strong and rocking Maggie's farm. Bob's voice
came outh strongly right away, he would put a lot of vocal power into all
his songs. He continued with a nicely flowing, full Baby Blue, a routinely
strong Cry Awhile and a very fine Tom Thumb that showed the band at full
strength. On came one of the show's highlight: a strong blues rock version
of It's Alright, Ma, accentuated by George Receli's pointed drumming and
Larry Campbells excellent cittern play.
Next on the list was a very pleasant surprise: a fine, tender, beautifully
sung Ramona, with Bob on guitar. What kept the song from shining, however,
was the only really weak point about the show: Freddy Koella. Yes, it's
impossible to replace Charlie Sexton but what this guy was doing at times
only he knows. Especially during Ramona it seemed he tried to imitate
Bob's trade mark one note solos but screwed up more than badly, hammering
on those strings as if he had to beat the into submission. He would do the
same during Don't Think Twice. He seemed to feel only comfortable when he
could trade solos with Larry which didn't happen to often. Another
annoying thing about Freddie: his habit of moving front and center
whenever he attempted a solo. If he had something to show off with, well,
but in his case, he might do better staying in the background.
OK, back to the show. Things have Changed was a real treat, much stronger
and more rocking even than during last year's fall tour, ending in an
almost orgiastic guitar frenzy. The same goes for Highway 61 which really
shone and even got those cool Northern Germans moving.
Then Bob went back to the piano. On word about his piano play: Much
stronger (and louder in the mix!) than last fall, he has grown into a
solid boogie player, driving the songs along with very nice and strong
rhythms. Next up was the revamped electric Boots, a slight disappointment.
Bob forces his vocals into rhythmic patterns instead of just going along
with the flow as he usually does. It doesn't do the song too good which
loses some of its dreamlike, melancholy atmosphere in this treatment.
Tweedle Dee was as strong as ever and Man in the Long Black Coat easily
the highlight of the night. Bob's vocal were at his sharpest, his harp
solo at his best. (He played harp on, if I remember correctly, Baby Blue,
Boots, Dont Think Twice - mostly rather unispired) Receli did a fine job
accentuating the ragged rhythm - this song shone like no other, easily the
most inspired and freshest version of the night.
Honest with Me was next and I got the impression Bob is becoming bored
with it, a routine version at best. Dont Think Twice went along nicely in
a full bodied country sound (again with Larry on cittern), which was again
alittle disturbed by Koella's failed attempts at tuning his guitar. Then
off into a roof raising Summer Days which has lost nothing of its power
since last year, if anything it's grown even stronger especially with its
nice rhythm and speed changes.
Then the encores: a solid, nicely barked Cats in the Well, a full,
rollicking, well sung LARS and a raw, towering, magnificent Watchtower,
beatifully and hauntingly introduced by some lonely notes on the harp.
Thundering applause and it was all over.
It was a fine show with room for improvement. Some versions worked
brilliantly others not so well. Bob himself, as I said,was in fine shape,
vocally as well as on piano and guitar, and so was the rest of the band
except Koella. Receli was nothing short of outstanding in accentuating the
songs and preventing them from falling into routine patterns. If a drummer
can keep a song alife, receli is the man. I'll say nothing about Larry and
Tony - as quietly perfect as ever. If Koella can be brought in line a
little batter, this band has a good future. Let's hope for the rest of the
Review by Sven Lewandowski
Every two night residence at one venue confronts us with the question what
an artist is able to offer at his second show if the first one was
exceptional. We (and he) faced this problem in Bournmouth in 1997 as well
as in Portsmouth in 2000 (not so much in London last year). The first show
at Docks was surely an exceptional one, so what was to be expected this
evening ? Well, in contrast to the second show in Bournemouth and the
second show in Portsmouth, both shows at the Docks were on a high level
(but I have to mention that the level on Oct 1st, 1997 was higher). So we
got another good show, although I liked the first show much more. Bob
opened with Maggie’s Farm - just like the day before, but this time the
song sounded even better. Thus I thought that I was going to witness
another outstanding show, but disappointment was to follow quite soon…
While the night before Bob tried his best to avoid the standard set list,
this time around the first few songs made it obvious that he wasn’t
willing to leave his stepping stones behind and, well, It’s All Over Now,
Baby Blues followed and it didn’t like it too much. Cry A While was just
like the day before, but as Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues followed - which
sounded quite good - it was clear that Bob was back on his standard
program. And that meant to me that the rest of the show was predictable
and thus rather boring. So the first show at Docks was just an exception
and not - like I had hoped - the turning point of the tour. And the
following songs seemed to show that I was right. Most of them were all
performed on a high level, but they were so predictable... It’s Alright,
Ma was like the day before, but without Bob stumbling over the lines and
without off-mike-singing. After the fifth song he once again picked up his
guita , but he did To Ramona. The performance was not bad, but it still
was To Ramona… poor choice I used to care about Things Have Changed, but
things have really changed. He didn’t seem to care either and so we got a
less than average performance of this song. As Highway 61 Revisited
followed, I thought to myself that I shouldn’t expect too much for the
rest of the show, but I have to admit, that Highway - to my surprise -
thrilled me somehow. A good hard rocking performance. For Boots of Spanish
Leather Bob went back behind the piano and while the intro was played I
thought it was going to be “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” - but I
was wrong (just like the night before). Boots was the same mixture of
staccato and open mouth (and open hearted) singing. Still I didn’t like
the new arrangement and still I admire Dylan for his new voice. As one of
the poorest possible choices Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum occupied the next
slot. Not a totally bad performance, but I have heard much better live
version of this song (in fall 2001). Man In The Long Black Coat was surely
a better choice that Tweedle Dee, but I was still disappointed, because he
did it the night before. On the other hand we got another great
performance of a good song. Honest With Me was the same like the day
before, while Don’t Think Twice was another more or less predictable
choice, which was done in a more or less good way. Summer Days was again
unimpressive and there’s not much to say about the encores either. First
of all they were the usual ones. This time the band didn’t have to play
too many intros to Cat’s. Like A Rolling Stone was Like A Rolling Stone
and All Along The Watchtower lacked the King Lear/fool-harp solo from last
night… Freddy - this time wearing a hat - didn’t convince me although he
played a little bit better than the night before (not very hard to do so,
because they have played most of the songs quite often). On the other hand
he played some very stupid “pling-plong-pling”-solos, which were just
annoying. But,all in all it was a good show, but the difference between
the first show at Docks and the second one is just like the difference
between my review on the first show and this one -
P.S.:After the first show I thought that I should go to some more shows,
but after the second show, I thought that it isn’t necessary (unless Bob
abandons his standard set list)…
comments are welcome: Sven.Lewandowski@stud.uni-hannover.de
page by Bill Pagel
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