November 3, 2011
Review by Klaus Malling Olsen
A joint tour presenting Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan at one gig on the paper looked like a brilliant idea,
but how does it work in practice? Somewhat injustable, Knopfler has gos a reputation as a
middle-of-the-road performer, nothing wrong with the quality of the playing, an unique guitarist, but
appealing to a large crowd of well-fed middle-ages expecting something well-known when they on
rare occasions move away from their well-furnished villas after enjoying rare wines with business friends.
Dylan? Oh yes, the man who wrote "Blowing in the wind", but isn´t he reported to be a little strange?
The 15.000 headed audience was very mixed however, a lot of youngsters mingled with all kind of
folks, including old hippies, businessman (who drank their wine in the VIP areas, hardly taking notice of
the music) and afficionados. The Malmö arena surprised in being very good acustically with good looks
even from the cheaper seats and the security folks were gentle - far from what we sometimes sees in
Denmark. Thumbs up for Sweden.
Mark Knopfler´s 8 man strong band performed very well, with the gravity laid on semi-acustic folk-rock
in most numbers. The interaction worked very well, and I came to remind the legendary performance
of The Band back in 1971 in Copenhagen - constant change of all kind of acoustic instruments.
Highlights were surprising many, especially when those folk instruments found way to climax with
Knopfler´s sublime guitarplaying. Knopfler himself wore a blue shirt and blue jeans - this have nothing
to do with the performance, but as almost any review here mentions what Dylan wears ....... The
audience politely clapped and none left the audience despite someone complaining over the lack of
"Sultans of Swing" and "Money for nothing" in the short break.
After a short intermission Dylan and his band went to stage, with the usual show-starter on this tour,
"Leopard-skin pill-box hat", Dylan on the organ, Knopfler adding energy and nuances to the very
well-prformed ensemble playing, with Sexton back adding extra energy. When I last saw Dylan it was
at Roskilde Festival in 2006. Then, he looked grey, tired and bored, murmuring his texts with a
downworn Donald duck-voice behind the keyboards. Wellplayed but average or less. This time he
looked 20 years younger, very well fit and extremely "on" during this concet which, among the 12
shows I previously have seen, ranges as the most homogenous well-played I can recall. Not a single
song was left without respect, all treated with intensity and blessed by tight playing. A short "Girl of
the North Country" , a totally re-arranged "Things have changed" lead up to the last of the songs with
Knopfler on assisting guitar, the wonderful, but on this tour less frequently played favorite "Tangled up
in blue", delivered faster tha heard before, almost hectic -as many of the other songs. Has the good
strong Swedish Gevalia-coffee had som effect here?:) Dylan almost danced front stage, smiling,
laughing and seemingly having fun - I have never ever seen him in a similar good shape - one hand on
the microphone, the other on the harp which regularly was played with full power, sounding as a full
horn orcestra. The line "Me I´m still on the road - heading for another joint" is always sung with a
special passion, here the last line was changed, but I did not catch the words.
For the rest of the concert, the band switched between oldies and newer songs. You know that you
will end up with Ballad of a thin man, Watchtower and LARS. What is played otherwise is like packing
up presents for Christmas. We all have our favories and dislikes, and adding a few personal favorites can
make a Dylan concert lift to Heaven. I was in Heaven that evening, but not only caused by personal
favories, also by the fact that Dylan was in such a great, playful shape, that the band played better
than I have heard them back some years ago and that the acustics of this sports-arena proved to be
very well fit for music. LARS is the usual show-stopper on this tour, with encores rarely given. Very
quick after LARS, the band delivered a beautiful well played "Blowing in the Wind" and i had the
feeling that they could have been playing hour after hour - there was a special energy this evening,
easy to spot on the faces of the actors on stage.
Unfortunately, not all in the audience felt that, and large parts of the Knopfler followers left the
stadium during the Dylan show - seing this well-dressed businessmen leaving the arena while the words
"something is happening here but you don´t know what is is? Do you Mister Jones?" were screamed
from the very well-motivated head-person was bizarre. I guess a large number of the audience have
expected Dylan to sound exactly as on their hifi´es at home. We fans know that it will never be so,
and thakn´s for that.
Enjoyed the show? A small group of Danes almost flew home in musical heaven with adrenaline cooking
and memories of an unforgettable, young man with his band, who enjoyed himself and us, a band
performing very well and some of the songs we have used again and again set in new light. Thanks to
Dylan for never stopping this touring.
After this I am not afraid to turn 70.
Review by Krister Törneke
Having enjoyed a beautiful set from Mark Knopfler and his band in the Malmö Arena, where he had treated
us with a number of our favorite songs, I was in the ideal mood for listening to Bob Dylan. We were on the
floor quite far from the stage, so I could make good use of my binoculars. To my joy, when the now classic
intro was completed and the lights came on, Knopfler was still on stage and was to join Dylan for the first
four songs. I would not have objected to him staying on stage for the whole set.
There has been much talk on this tour about Dylan’s voice. But again, there has always been. Being a son
of a voice therapist, I must admit Dylan’s voice is slowly deteriorating and has been so for the last 20 years
or so. Nevertheless, the way he makes use of it is so impressive. As a matter of fact, when Dylan started off
with “Leopard skin pillbox hat”, I thought the misty weather of Skåne might have done his voice some good.
It was clear and strong, and he was actually singing. That is not to say it stayed that way all night.
With Knopfler on the guitar the following three songs were beautiful. I especially enjoyed “Girl of the North
Country”, which was on the setlist for only the second time on this tour. “Things have changed” offered
some great cooperation between Knopfler’s guitar and Dylan’s harmonica. It seemed clear that Dylan
enjoyed his time and moved around the stage. When Knopfler left the stage after “Tangled up in blue”,
I was disappointed figuring there would be no “Blind Willie”, “Mississippi” nor “Long Black coat” on this set.
But I was to be proven partly wrong.
The following set included two “Love and theft” songs with “Hard rain” in between. In former days every
time Dylan pulled up the harmonica was considered a special treat to the audience. Now he is more generous
with the harmonica, and his way of playing is forceful. Maybe to the extent that I sometimes miss the guitar
solos. On the following slot this was particularly clear. We were all thrilled when we realized it was going to
be – “Blind Willie McTell”. This song has been on my wish list for all my Bob shows (except of course in 1981),
and this is the first time I got to hear it live. Even last night it was a great performance, but I would even
more have preferred the version with Knopfler on guitar as last week in Oberhausen.
On “Highway 61” and “Love sick” there was also some very good guitar playing from Charlie Sexton. “Thunder
on the mountain” we knew was the beginning of the end, that is no more surprises to expect. “Ballad of a
Thin man” was a very powerful performance from Dylan as well as the band, with the echo adding to the
sound. We laughed at the line “There ought to be a law against you coming around, next time you do,
please remember don’t forget to telephone”. Maybe he has been singling like that for a long time, but I had
not noticed it before.
After “All along the Watchtower” and “Like a Rolling Stone” we were not expecting anything more. After all,
the show would have ended with what is possibly the best three pieces of rock music ever created. So the
next surprise was – for this tour a very rare – encore: “Blowing in the wind”. Dylan and the band then lined
up to thank the audience before they left the stage and the audience lights immediately came on.
Funny thing about the eye logo, that did not seem to work last night. It came on very briefly twice, first time
probably by mistake during Knopfler’s set. Second time was just as briefly before the encore.
This was my tenth Dylan show, and I left quite satisfied. Like always I did not have all my wishes fulfilled.
“Long Black Coat” or “Nettie Moore” would have been nice. But it certainly did provide some highlights, like
“Girl of the North Country”, “Things have changed” and “Ballad of a thin man”. And I hope I will get more
opportunities to attend Dylan shows.
Review by Ulf Gyllenspetz
Heard Bob first time in 1965...on record. Borrowed the Highway 61 Lp from one of
my friends, from then I've been a Dylan follower. I cannot remember how many
shows I have been to. The first was in 1978. To see the almost 71 year old Dylan
"singing" and dancing in Malmö is unbelievable. Never seen him moving around on
stage like that, amazing. For me the SOUND at the Malmö Arena was the best
ever. Crystal clear at least from where I had my seat, rather high up. However,
the light setting were minimal, could be better, like Knopflers. The only song I
never heard live before was Blind Willie Mc Tell. Rockers like Honest with me,
Highway61, Thunder of the mountain, All along the watchtower were performed with
real energy. Ballad of a thin man with some echo effects. Knopflers set with
some for me unknown songs, was interesting. To hear how he tries develop his
music from pop to jazz. And even some folk tunes with fiddle player. Strange,
but to me Dylan and his band showed more energy but I might biased there. When
driving home north, I was wondering if Bob really has the power to repeat such a
show tomorrow in Stockholm. And to put it mildly, Globen arena is not the best
place for concerts. One thing is for sure, speaking for my self, I need two days
resting after the powerful Dylan-and his band performance. From the papers music
critics, as usual no fair reviews to expect: as they are not allowed to takes
photos the judgement will never be 5 stars, as it should be!!! It is really
brave not to allow photos, stay with that Bob, stay with your integrity! Hope to
see you soon again!!!
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