Review by Tobias Freimüller
A very different show tonight! I had high hopes to see Bob with his
recovered Oberhausen-voice playing a more interesting setlist than last
night, but it was not to be. The wolfman – I hate to say it but it’s true
– was back. Not in full force surely as we remember it from the horrid
ramblings with the dead in 2003 but in that way we are used to in 2005.
The Arena was packed when the band came out (in grey suits, Bob with the
Zorro-hat once again) and started
a nice change! Nothing new about this version anyway, nicely played. The
usual harp-solo at the end was again rather flat. But of course the
question was: Would he slip out of the amazon-loop tonight? The young lady
who was with me at this show had said before that he should play “Senor”
with this new hat – and that was exactly what he did.
Nice choice, and a very nice version, too. No violin, no harp, but
concentrated singing by Bob. An early highlight! What would come next?
It’s Sunday, stupid! We could have known:
was solid. I never cared too much about this song, and while the kick-in
of the band is over it’s getting’ boring most of the time. Tonight was no
exception. Bob sang more more verses on this than I ever heard him do,
too. After this song Bob went to Tony, Tony went to George and informed
the two Denny/Donnys. I thought maybe we are in for a very pleasant
surprise, but… The only one on stage who had no clue what was coming was
Stu who stood there with an electric guitar when they started
THE TIMES THEY’RE A-CHANGIN’
Stu threw his guitar away, Tommy brought him an acoustic, plugged it in –
When Stu finally joined the song the second verse was nearly over. Solid
version again, but this was the first time I sadly noticed the wolfman
again. Another harp-solo, better than the first one.
CRY A WHILE
Nice choice again, and another highlight! The Banjo adds a fine nuance to
the song, like the stop-start-arrangement, too.
DON’ T THINK TWICE
hm, this one again, well… It was better than last night in terms of
upsinging, worse in terms of wolfman – and if only someone could take that
damn steelguitar away at least for a few songs! People around me were
talking and even laughing about these cheesy solos. I mean, are we
listening to an Oldie act during our local Bingo-evening or what?
HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED
was good – business as usual. Some nice traded licks and fills here,
was another very welcome surprise! Pretty much the same as it has always
been since two or three years. Bob lost the fight against the wolfman
here, making it an average version all in all. I think it was during this
song when the other Donny on electric guitar really drove me up the wall.
During basically every song he gets a nod from Bob and plays one of these
typical 30sec. arena-rock solos that are as predictable as you can imagine
– and he plays them not even competent for my ears, misses a note here and
there, comes in too late… He would fit into Bryan Adams band much better
than in Bob’s.
YOU AIN’T GOIN’ NOWHERE
was another nice selection, but was so distracted by Bob’s rough voice
that it turned out to be the lowpoint of the night for me.
JUST LIKE A WOMAN
was much better. Bob tried his best to give us a good vocal performance
and it works quite good – apart from a few upsinging-endings. Crowd loved
HONEST WITH ME
was next and to my surprise they have gone back to the original
arrangement with the rising steelguitar (?) fills Larry used to play 2001
and 2002. I liked the newer one with the descending guitar-figures better
A HARD RAIN’S A-GONNA FALL
finally brought the best performance of the night. Bob was in full control
of his voice, there was only one flubbed line, very little upsinging,
wolfman has taken a break backstage for this song, too. Very nice, apart
from the stakkato-rhythm they used to strap over this song nowadays. A
piano-intro followed and I first thought he would try Tambourine Man again
after the disaster in Oberhausen the day before, but it turned out to be
what is the very first song I heard Bob play live. Quite a difference to
that alcoholic rambling he did in that show in 1991… I like that new
arrangement, sadly Bob has not found a way to sing the chorus with his
limited vocal range yet and is only speaking the words “new …. morning”
instead of singing them. I was happy to hear this anyway!
closed the main-set and it was an ok-version with some nice tricks and
fills here and there.
LIKE A ROLLING STONE
came next as expected and was nothing more than solid. This song has lost
it’s monemtum somehow with the new band, but I can’t say what the problem
is. Is it the promenent country steel-guitar again that makes it sound
like any other midtempo country rock? The Donny/Denny on the electric
played yet another Schweinerock-Solo (as you would call it in german) here
that was painful to listen – for me anyway. Band intros followed. Bob said
when it comes to George: “I won’t tell you where he’s from”.
ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
What a difference to Rolling Stone! This song has reached new heights with
this arrangement. It’s a highlight every night – so it was today. People
left quite satisfied I think. For me it was a interesting show that left
me rather cold, there was no song that really grabbed me. Nice day in
Review by Werner Kehl
What a difference a week makes, weather-wise that is. The wretched
conditions under which the trip to and from Hamburg was made seemed a
thing of the past when I boarded a train in Berlin last saturday that took
me west towards Oberhausen and then the day after onto Wetzlar, the latest
stops for Dylan on his tour in Germany. Unseasonably high temperatures in
the low twenties (celsius that is) together with radiant sunshine
dominated throughout most of central Europe in the past few days and the
red, rust and golden-coloured foliage that remains on most trees continues
to show off a fall season still at full peak. You just know that this
leaves everybody involved with the tour in the best of spirits, not only
the fans but I'm sure protagonist #1 as well.
As if to confirm this fact, Bob came out beaming when he took to the stage
sunday night in Wetzlar (pronounced Vetzlar) at the Mittelhessen Arena, a
brand new venue designed to accomodate five thousand people for sporting
or entertainment purposes. Wetzlar itself is a tiny, yet quaint city
fully of interesting history. It was once a town of real significance
especially in the Middle Ages when it acted as an important hub where
statesmen and merchants convened as they crossed the continent. The old
part of town sits on top of a hill and in its center there is a splendidly
spectacular church, the Dom, that dominates the whole area. So, once
again Bob Dylan had decided to come play a place set in the middle of
nowhere (about 60 km from Frankfurt) but in a truly terrific setting; I
found it in feel to be somewhat reminscient of Worms (by the way also
pronounced with a V) where he played so magnificantly in the summer of
As I mentioned, Bob was all smiles the moment he appeared on stage; once
the music started, though, he immediately traded the smile for a serious,
determined look on his face, absolutely poised to remain fully
concentrated on the performance he was about to give. And what a
performance it was! The first 3 songs were all new to this fall tour and
they were played with an energy and a conviction as if he wanted to
dispell the foggy notion of those who were weary and critical of him
having settled into a routine of playing the same songs at the beginning
of each concert over and over again. It was as if he were saying: `I can
do other songs too, ya know; just you watch HOW I do it!!' For instance
"God Knows". This song was so fierce in its delivery - worth the trip
alone - with him hammering out the lyrics as if he were delivering a
thunderous sermon (which of course he was!). Though it was impossible for
the concert to go on at such a frenzied rate, Bob and the band were able
to retain a pretty high pace throughout. Further highlights were (as far
as I'm concerned): "Shooting Star" (my first) "Just Like A Woman" (yes,
again!) and "Hard Rain" which I had hoped for all along.
I know that I wasn't the only one thrilled about the show as the applause
in-between and at the end of the show was tremendous. Everyone that L.
(whom I saw after, just like at every other show I was at) and I spoke to
later said it may have been, perhaps the best show of the past week. I
missed Hannover and Rotterdam so I can't judge but it was right up there
with Berlin. L. recorded all shows he attended and as you can imagine I
can't wait to hear the results.
The only negative thing to report was the severe cough I brought back with
me to Berlin but that should be gone before I head out to Erfurt next
Bis dann mal wieder
Werner (also pronounced: V)
Review by Anne Ruprecht
Basically, I was surprised not to find any reviews after the brilliant Wetzlar show with the
fantastic and exciting setlist. Maybe everyone is still too gobsmacked to write.
Despite a reluctance of mine to communicate in this way, I've often enjoyed reading impressions
from other shows and feel the need to at least briefly mention how exhilarating the Wetzlar
show was. (I've been a fan for years, last night's was my 14th show and although I have
sometimes thought that the particular show I was at was the best ever and couldn't get better -
last night's I think really was and proved that it could)
Having been slightly disappointed at Oberhausen the previous evening, where the biggest surprise
in the setlist was probably that there were no surprises, this one provided excitement from the
word go after the 'Maggie's Farm'- sound-alike intro subtly turned into a wonderful 'Drifter's
Escape' as an opener. From the first line, Dylan's voice projected magic in the air and the whole
atmosphere was immediately totally different from the Oberhausen show.
After the brilliant opener, as I was speculating on whether 'Tell me that it isn't true' or
'Tonight I'll be staying here with you' would be next', I immediatley recognized - Senor! The
night really was going to be special.
I was enjoying myself too much to be able to do a song-by song analysis.
In any case, I couldn't find fault with any of them and would simply rave about how breathtaking
the performance was, how soft and tender (a spark tingles to my bones) his voice was on
'Shooting Star' and 'Don't think Twice', how rough and harsh (again the sparks) on 'Cry a While',
how good it was to hear him playing the harmonica (four times, if I remember well), how varied
the band's style and renderings. Absolutely wonderful.
The band was brilliant and the interaction with Bob fascinating and totally admirable.
The mixed audience (there seemed to be quite a few young people there), really seemed to
appreciate the merits of the performance and the atmosphere was great, despite the fairly
uninspiring new arena in Wetzlar. The highlights? I remember once reading on the 'how you know
if you are a Bob Dylan fan' page that you know you are if someone asks you what's your favourite
Dylan song and you get a migraine headache! It was a bit like that with last night's songs. I
think the highlight for me was 'New Morning' - or maybe 'Cry a while' or 'Drifter's Escape' or
'Shooting Star' or 'Hard Rain' or 'Senor' ... , then again maybe 'You Ain't going' Nowhere',
even 'God Knows, or, of course, 'Honest with Me' etc.
The company I was in was also great, the view from the second row phenomenal and it really was
a totally unforgettable evening.
Review by Markus Prieur
The town of Wetzlar is located about 40 miles down the highway from Siegen, the city where I
lived most of my life since I was eight, and from where my wife and I had moved to Ireland in
1999, and where we regularly visit relatives, especially if there are Bob Dylan concerts
within driving distance. So this review is written from Siegen, some days after the third of
the three shows we saw during that fine October weekend, but before our next weekend trip to
Erfurt, to see another Sunday show.
Coming from the Oberhausen area, we had visited my brother and his wife outside of Marburg,
before going down to Wetzlar to see the first Sunday concert of this mighty fine European
tour. Before the show I was joking to some local fans I knew that the first ten European shows
so far were just rehearsals for the first Sunday show, as I expected something special,
considering the Sunday set lists Bob had put together in the last year or so.
When we surprisingly found a spot on the floor directly at the rail (on the left side close to
Stu’s guitar rack), I knew we would have an unobstructed view. Later on we also realised that
thanks to a row of speakers sitting on the rim of the stage and facing the audience we also
had a flawless sound. So all that would help a lot already to enjoy even a standard weekday
set, let alone a Sunday concert like the one we had the pleasure to attend in Wetzlar. It was
my 50th Bob date since 1981.
Already the opener, “Drifter”, was very promising, concerning sound, view, and performance. It
ended with Bob’s first harp solo of the night. The second song, “Señor”, featured fine guitars
by both Denny and Stu, and was a welcome addition, as I always love to hear Bob sing this gem
(from Aschaffenburg 1995 to Manchester 2002 I had seen it already six times). For me it is
always special to hear Bob sing: “… let's disconnect these cables, overturn these tables, this
place don't make sense to me no more, can you tell me what we're waiting for Señor.”
The next song came like a small punch right after “Señor”, although I had expected to see “God
Knows”, which I last saw in Galway, on a Sunday in June 2004. But this Wetzlar performance of
this song was even more enjoyable, as I was so much closer to the stage. It was simply awesome
to see and hear Bob perform this gem with such a conviction, including even the last verse “God
knows there's a heaven, God knows it's out of sight, God knows we can get all the way from here
to there even if we've got to walk a million miles by candlelight.”
Starting the eleventh show of this European tour with three songs not having been played once
during the ten previous shows, that was something I had not expected. Three more new additions
would follow later on in the show, so six from the eleven song changes from the previous show
were new for the entire tour. The next song, “Times”, was one of those we did see the night
before, but this time it included a nice center stage harp solo. It also gave us some time to
breathe after the strong opening trio.
This time to breathe was much needed, as the next song was the new start stop arrangement of
“Cry A While”, which I somehow enjoyed even more than the eight versions I saw in 2002 and 2003.
Dylan’s vocals were great on this one, Donny’s mandolin was a nice addition, and those breaks in
the middle of each verse were most effective and well done. “Don’t Think Twice” featured some
more nice stuff from Denny and Donny, and another harp solo by Bob. “H61” was maybe not as
joyful and exuberant as in Oberhausen, at least in my memory, but still quite strong.
More fine guitar by Denny and another harp solo by Bob was part of the first “Shooting Star” for
this tour, which followed next. It was the third time I had the pleasure to see this great song
(after Wiesbaden 1993 and Dortmund 1995), and Bob’s vocal performance was again a pleasure to
behold and to hear, especially the deep voice with which he delivered the word “praying” during
both times he sang the bridge in Wetzlar: “Listen to the engine, listen to the bell, as the last
fire truck from hell goes rolling by, all good people are praying, it's the last temptation, the
last account, the last time you might hear the sermon on the mount, the last radio is playing.”
Still I was stunned about the song selection of this 11th concert of the tour, four new songs,
another one for the second time, and another for the third time. I remember saying to my wife by
then: “And he is only halfway through the show.” The next thing Bob did impressed me even further,
as he performed a song I had never seen live, which is always a treat (and I had seen already
three of those on the two previous nights). This time it was a wonderful rendition of “You Ain’t
Going Nowhere”, the third for this tour, and it conveyed pure joy and exuberance. “Whoo-ee!”
Great great stuff.
My 12th “Just Like A Woman” followed, also the third for this tour, with a fine guitar solo by
Denny. After that Bob pulled out a very strong and focused “Honest With Me”, only the second time
on this tour, and with the new band it sounded a little different than the fifteen others I had
seen in previous years; I would say the song was more enjoyable not being a regular each night.
Talking about regulars, three of those ended the show (“Summer Days”, “Rolling Stone” and
“Watchtower”), and they were quite enjoyable from my perfect vantage point; but before these were
delivered, there were two more gems to take in, which added immensely to the greatness of this
fine Sunday concert.
Both were new songs for this European tour. The first one was “Hard Rain”, my 7th to behold, but
my first since May 2002. Nice guitar by Denny again, and quite a focused vocal delivery by the
man with the black Spanish hat: “I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it, and
reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it, then I'll stand on the ocean until I start
sinkin', but I'll know my song well before I start singin'.” A very fitting addition to this
brilliant set list.
The eighth new song for this tour I had seen before, as I had witnessed one of the 17 European
performances in of it in 1991, but the appearance of “New Morning” in Wetzlar was the first one
in Europe since then, and it was a totally different experience. I had heard and liked recordings
of earlier 2005 shows, so I recognized the slow long intro of this fine new arrangement. Again a
very focused vocal performance by Bob, I would not mind at all hearing this one again.
For songs like these and as long as Dylan keeps on creating performing art as great as this
Sunday show it is definitely worth “comin’ down the road for a country mile or two”. My 50th Bob
Dylan concert, Wetzlar 2005, will always have a very special place in my book as one of the most
enjoyable concerts I ever had the pleasure to be a part of the audience. Three more shows to go
to for me on this tour, Erfurt, Dublin and Dublin; and two of them are Sunday shows. Whoo-ee!
Review by Lee McMillan
I read the web page concert reviews with excitement before my first Dylan
experience in Germany. I'm originally from Australia and was lucky enough
to grab tickets for Bob's Wetzlar show. Whilst it’s always good to see him
and I've followed him since a very young age, I'm afraid I don’t have the
same memories as those of the reviewers on your web site. I'm actually not
sure if they were even at the same concert. Are they sure they are talking
about Wetzlar in Hessen..... in Germany........
My memory is of an old man who still has that aura and the amazing songs
but he's unfortunately a long way past the time when the aura was created.
His voice is sadly illegible - even for native English speakers like me -
and his so called 'upsinging' occurs more often than not. Everybody is
always excited about the possibility that this show will some how be the
event when he sings clearly - like he can and did so 'recently' on 'things
have changed' but these are invariably pipe dreams.
As for the reviewers, it’s fine to love and respect the genius of the guy
and his longevity but I don’t see this as an excuse to write fairy tales.
It only builds readers expectations that usually end in disappointment.
It’s a sad indication of a show when the highlight of a reviewer's
comments focuses on the songs played and not how they were performed.
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