Montreal, Quebec

Bell Centre
November 8, 2006

[Sholom Hoffman], [Nicholas von Maltzahn], [Dana Enciu],
[Keith Cooper], [Alexandre Fontaine Rousseau]

Review by Sholom Hoffman

This was my first Dylan concert even though i am a huge fan of his
music. I was excited to go because (a) Bob Dylan is performing and (b) Foo
Fighters are the opening band. The night started off with a terrific
performance by the Foo Fighters. They played an acoustic set which got the
crowd mad with excitement. The Foo Fighters are an extremely talented band
wiht a terrific drummer and guitarist. Then, after Foo Fighters finish
there is a long (longer than usual) delay. Finally Dylan takes the stage
with such swiftness like he was summoned by the loud shouts of the crowd.
Absolutely Sweet Marie was played excellently with better guitar solos.
During Senor, Bob's voice became truly lively as the song progressed. This
song is a sweet song which i find is way under-rated. Stuck Inside Of
Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again was played with such a new and vibrant
energy that got the crowd dancing. To my surprise, he played this song to
its fullest by playing the rhythm well passed the normal duration of the
song. The next couple of songs went by smoothly amdist the the ravenous
crowd( in a good way). Highway 61 was absolutely terrific with Bob's
cutting edge voice that sliced through the crowd. The words echoed through
the crowd like a group of prophets retelling a story. Thunder On The
Mountain was played very lively and got the crowd to actually sing along
with Bob (even though no one is 100% sure what Bob will say next). Like A
Rolling Stone was played with a new and exciting electric change to its
tune. Bob shouted the core words of the song which i found to be awesome.
All Along The Watchtower was stunning. Bob and the band played this song
wiht perfect tone and voice. After the concert, one cannot help but think
how Bob Dylan acquired this new voice which  seemed to captivate the crowd
at every moment. His voice has gotten richer and is cutting edge. BOB

Sholom Hoffman


Review by Nicholas von Maltzahn

Three days since I last saw Dylan (Ottawa).  Much has changed, again.  The 
mood and music were transformed, by turns inquisitive, stern, and exuberant 
as Bob sang his way through a brilliant set.  This was a happy dancing Bob, 
wonderfully alive in Montreal (why not?!), shimmying this way and that, out 
from behind the keyboard, back again, jacket open, lingering on notes, and 
often vocal too through some lasting lines of harp, even unto the final chord.  
His bemused “ca va?” at the end met with a roar of Oui piled upon Yes.  
From song to song the wealth spilled forth, poems of justice, love, fear, 
and pleasure.  Personal, political, personal, political, personal-political, 
political-personal: private and public began to meld and shift.   
Absolutely Sweet Marie opened beautiful and clear, lovely from the start and 
such a well-made song!  Then the ever-astonishing Senor, which for me 
completed some circle from my first Dylan concert at Nurnberg, almost thirty 
years ago.  The ochre lighting now offered the smoke and sun over the 
Lincoln Country Road;  the music too imagined apocalypse.  And what musical 
logic made the reinvented Mobile/Memphis follow so naturally?  We’d entered 
one of those Bob-worlds, here mainly mid-Western, whether on the Gulf, or 
twenty miles out of town, or north on the border-line.  Then a vehement 
Masters of War, cursing the warmongers, and surely animated tonight by the 
sight, at last, of Rumsfeld’s back.  Here for me Nurnberg again recalled, where 
Bob pointedly sang Masters in the Zeppelinfeld, sometime scene of fascist 
spectacle.  National crimes are not soon expiated.  But let that long work 
begin.  The anthemic Tangled Up in Blue reassured a lively stadium audience 
and paired tellingly with When the Deal Goes Down.  And there’s more!  From 
the long view of change (TUiB) to a promise of permanence (WtDGD) now to 
a what-the-hell sense of Loss yielding Possibility: I’m maybe not so worried 
after all, because Things Have Changed!  But that answered in turn by a 
sobering and very fine Simple Twist of Fate.  And in some worse aftermath, 
Cold Irons Bound—the felon’s confusion, but after what crime against love?  
Girl of the North Country was another kind of heart-ache, sung through 
something like fairground music!  Bob faltered in the lyrics here, but it’s easy 
to lose someone at a fair.  The show had been so compelling to this point that 
it hardly mattered now that the spell should be broken.  Highway 61 powered 
along (a few nights before in Ottawa, God had more relish in warning Abraham 
he’d “better ... RUN”).  Nettie Moore lovely but not again spell-binding with the 
crowd fizzing every which way.  Summer Days through Watchtower lively but 
perhaps an afterthought given where we had been before.  Perhaps Bob also 
had had too much fun: he genially tripped his way through Rolling Stone;  and 
even with Watchtower the wind wasn’t quite going to howl again. 

It had been thrilling—listening to the national news this morning I had the 
sense that some real news had gone overlooked.  A marvel too to experience 
the so many different shapes of Dylan song, in words and music alike.  (And 
what attention to song-endings also.)  Does the now simpler play between 
singer and lead guitarist, whatever’s lost, give Bob an easier freedom after all?  
And to see him so vital in his element! and shrewd enough not to be suspicious 
all the time—he’s plainly not above seeing some good in this American election.  
Just a memorable night.  Heartfelt thanks to David and Morgan for their gifts of 
company, driving, and hospitality on the way to and in Montreal;  also to Whit 
whose first Dylan concert this was and who, about this and so much else,
really gets the point. 


Review by Dana Enciu

This was my 4th concert and it was the best of all.
Last time I saw Bob Dylan in Montreal in 2002 at the
same Bell Center and I wasn’t very excited then,
except for the fact that I got to see him…

Last night’s concert was absolutely amazing.  The Bell
Center was packed, Dylan appeared on stage late,
around 9:15 PM (almost an hour after the end of the
opening act) in the cheers of the crowd that was
growing more and more restless  (in a good way…) with
anticipation. I could see a little in the dark that
only when he got on the stage he put on his black
jacket (while the announcer introduced him). He didn’t
wear a hat until the middle of the concert. If you
plan to see him in the remaining of the tour, try to
get tickets on the left as you’re facing the stage,
because he’s facing the left side as he plays the

Senor was a real treat, I didn’t hear this before,
live. When the Deal Goes Down  brought tears to my
eyes, it is such a beautiful, sad song, and soothing
in the same time, almost like a lullaby and Dylan’s
voice was better than ever.  Things Have Changed was
another great surprise, since it doesn’t seem he
played it too often during the tour. I adored Simple
Twist of Fate, and Tangled Up in Blue with the
“modern” sound and rhythm.  
Cold Irons Bound was another favourite, and Highway 61
 has electrified the audience, you could feel and see
the sparkles in the air.  I melted down when he
started to play Girl of the North Country (hey, I’m in
Canada after all, up-north),  how can you resist when
you hear : 

Well, if you go when the snowflakes storm,
When the rivers freeze and summer ends,
Please see if she's wearing a coat so warm,
To keep her from the howlin' winds.

I'm a-wonderin' if she remembers me at all.
Many times I've often prayed
In the darkness of my night,
In the brightness of my day.

 Summer Days ended the concert, on a powerful and
joyful note, and why not ironic:  
“Yes, I'm leaving in the morning just as soon as the
dark clouds lift
Gonna break the roof in - set fire to the place as a
parting gift”

The crowd cheered when Bob Dylan played the harmonica
and I really enjoyed Dylan on the keyboards,  I think
the sound is so much better for huge venues (such as
the Bell Center),  wonderful, rich, full and round.

We all cheered and applauded like crazy waiting for
the encore and we were rewarded with Thunder on the
Mountain that really blew me away, and the superb gems
Like a Rolling Stone & All Along the Watchtower.

He didn't say much, but in the end he asked "Montreal,
ça va?" The audience was obviously pleased and
cheered some more. He seemed in a very good mood, he
moved more than usual when playing the keyboards. 

At the end of the show, during the standing ovations
he just stood on the stage, straight, sort of not
knowing what to do with himself, like a kid who has
finished his part in the school play, almost 
intimidated by the applauses…

I read some of the articles published in local
newspapers from Montreal and Toronto.
Don’t listen to what the critics have to say, don’t
follow the newspaper articles about his tour…Go to see
him. He’s amazing and you won’t be sorry. It will be
the greatest experience of your life, it is something
that you will never forget.

A final note about the seats: they were not great
after all, they were not on the floor as I thought,
although I bought the most expensive ones in the
presale offered by I – Tunes back in August. I won’t
deal with I-Tunes again, I will wait for the pre-sale
offer on Bob Dylan’s website. 

Dana Enciu (AKA  « aikizum »)
Montreal, Canada


Review by Keith Cooper

Highway 401 revisited.

All night driving landed us in Montreal at 6 am. We looked for Bob's tour
bus but they must have had their cloak of invisibility on. My friend
greeted us at the door - just awakened - and as we made a breakfast of
Irish Whiskey she joined us with a carafe of red wine - ah, Montreal.
After crashing, we made our way to the Bell Centre.

To hell with "plus ca change plus ce la meme chose", this may have only
been a night later in yet another arena, but it was most definitely no
where near the same as the night before. Fewer people, more noise. Less
attitude, more passion.

When Bob began with Absolutely Sweet Marie I turned to my friend and
ventured that usually when Dylan starts with this song we're in for a few
treats. When he pounded out a breath taking version of Senor I knew -
hell, everyone in the building (except for the critic for the Montreal
Gazette) knew - that this was going to be a special night.

Stuck Inside of Memphis saw Bob seesawing at his keyboards as he showed
far more life than the previous night. But it was the ominous, almost
military, drums of Masters of War that again set the crowd alight. The
day's politics? Rumsfeld, Bush, et al? Yes. But that merely reinforced its
timeliness as a song of truth, of conviction, of disgust. It was
unquestionably more urgent and more powerful than the previous night's

As was the next tune, Tangled up in Blue. Bob bounced along and the whole
band - not to mention the sound - seemed far tighter and sharper than 24
hours prior. Likewise for When the Deal Goes Down as the whole ensemble
captured this song at its melancholy finest.

Things Have Changed - a personal favourite - sent the crowd into
overdrive. Having again yanked the crowd one way, Bob doubles back and
delivers a soulful version of Simple Twist of Fate that sets the multitude

With the audience fully engaged Bob mines the Montreal heavy metal 
sub-culture with an blistering version of Cold Irons Bound, which my
Montreal buddy labels the real deal. Denny wails while Tony, George and
Stu throw up a wall of sound. 20 miles out of town indeed!

Girl of the North Country was a nice surprise and, again, exceptionally
well done.

Highway 61 Revisited - another repeat from english Canada - was over the
top. Channelling Little Richard, Bob led a truly smokin' version of the
classic that put the previous night's effort to shame. As my friend
opined: "This is truly a magical Montreal night."

A haunting Nettie Moore set the stage for the inevitable finish, but
unlike Toronto - or New York for that matter - Bob burned. Summer Days was
amped up more than usual as was Thunder on the Mountain. By the time he
strolled into Like a Rolling Stone I think Bob, like the rest of us, was
winding down on what had indeed been a special evening. Certainly one that
will not soon be forgotten.

Oh, and you can dance, sing, smoke and have as much fun as good taste and
common sense allow in Montreal. Anytime you have a chance to see a gig
there - grab it. As for Toronto - we've decided to organize a boycott of
the ACC with our friends and Bob - if you're listening - there are better
venues for you in Toronto.

Keith Cooper


Review by Alexandre Fontaine Rousseau

Certains s'y rendaient par révérende admiration. D'autres étaient motivés par 
une curiosité morbide. Indifférents au passage du temps, Bob Dylan et son 
band étaient en ville hier soir dans le cadre d'une tournée sans fin qu'ils 
poursuivent contre vents et marées depuis des années. Malgré la consécration 
définitive de son mythe il y a de cela des lunes, l'indomptable vieillard refuse 
de s'asseoir sur ses lauriers. La foule, pour sa part, était extatique à l'idée 
d'entendre cette légende entonner certaines des chansons les plus iconiques 
de l'histoire du rock. Heureusement pour nous, Dylan se refuse à devenir un 
vulgaire artefact de musée.

Malgré la consécration populaire, Dylan demeure une étrange créature, 
vaguement anachronique mais surtout formidablement dichotomique, dont 
la vision s'impose à mi-chemin entre classicisme et iconoclasme : entouré de 
vrais professionnels de la musique traditionnelle, Dylan réinvente radicalement 
certaines de ses compositions les plus célèbres et évite avec un malin plaisir 
certains de ses morceaux les plus connus. Bref, il fait tout pour irriter ceux qui 
vont le voir dans l'espoir d'avoir droit à un beau petit spectacle nostalgique et 
bien convenu à saveur de «greatest hits» édulcoré.

En terme de premières parties, l'année 2006 aura été plutôt généreuse pour 
cette tournée: le vieux cow-boy hors-la-loi Willie Nelson s'est chargé d'ouvrir 
pour le vieux Bob durant quelques mois, les Raconteurs de Jack White se 
chargeant de clore l'année sur une note plus rock. Nelson montait même 
parfois sur scène pour accompagner Dylan, rencontre au sommet entre deux 
vieux routards à laquelle on aurait bien voulu assister. Malheureusement, 
le public montréalais a dû se farcir le tout dernier concert des Foo Fighters en 
format acoustique.

Que ceux qui tentent désespérément de me faire avaler que le travail de Dave 
Grohl avec les Foo Fighters est l'égal de celui de Nirvana se taisent à tout jamais. 
Je réfute tous leurs arguments, preuves incontestables à l'appuis: si Nirvana 
enregistre un concert acoustique, c'est un événement musical marquant et 
toute une génération consacre son adolescence à l'écouter religieusement 
pour mieux déprimer collectivement. Les Foo Fighters en format acoustique, 
pour leur part, sont tout juste bons à servir d'amuse-gueule avarié lors du 
concert d'un autre. 

Dépouillé de sa distorsion, le vieux classique alternatif Everlong s'avère 
franchement banal. C'était malgré tout le sommet d'une prestation pénible 
au cours de laquelle le groupe nous a rappelé que Next Year singe vraiment 
bêtement Hello Goodbye des Beatles et que le country-rock de radio FM 
des années 70 est un mauvais souvenir à oublier. Sans contredit, la décision 
prise par les Foo Fighters de privilégier les morceaux acoustiques de leur plus 
récent album In Your Honor était une erreur: où étaient les Big Me, This Is 
A Call et autres Alone + Easy Target de l'album éponyme? Alors, de grâce, 
retournez vite Dave Grohl derrière sa batterie où il brille réellement.

Vers 21h15, Dylan a finalement pris d'assaut la scène. Absolutely Sweet Marie, 
tirée de Blonde On Blonde, a lancé le bal de manière élégante. C'est toutefois 
avec une interprétation valeureuse de la méconnue Señor (Tales of Yankee 
Power), meilleur morceau de l'inégal Street Legal de 1978, que la soirée a 
réellement débutée. Animé par une énergie claire presque autoritaire, Dylan 
outrepassait aisément les limitations audibles d'une voix éraillée par les années 
d'exploitation. Il injectait une urgence palpable, une intensité vive, à une 
chanson politique d'une autre époque toujours pertinente: « This place 
don't make sense to me no more. Can you tell me what we're waiting 
for, senor?»

L'absurde débit de Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again était 
complètement transformé question d'accommoder la voix usée de Dylan, 
incapable d'en reproduire les étranges inflexions mélodiques. Scandé, parlé, 
découpé, le nouveau phrasé de Dylan altère de manière drastique la dynamique 
des vieux classiques; ce faisant, il connote différemment et souligne autrement 
ces textes imagés dont la valeur poétique n'est plus à prouver. 

Deux morceaux du classique folk de 1963 The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan révélaient 
tout particulièrement la richesse de cette ré-interprétation. Autrefois une 
sombre complainte folk, la violente Masters of War - sans contredit l'uns des 
grands moments de la soirée - est aujourd'hui une marche percutante dont 
le rythme soutenu souligne la hargne viscérale. La mélancolique Girl From The 
North Country, ballade romantique empreinte de nostalgie, était la plus douce 
des pièces de ce soir; sur ce nouvel arrangement à la fois forain et folklorique, 
Dylan pousse un rire en se demandant: « I wonder if she remembers at all?»

Du Blood On The Tracks de 1975, deux chansons sont retenues: Tangled Up 
In Blue et Simple Twist of Fate. Ces pièces intimes, proche de la confession, 
semblaient étrange dans un tel contexte: avec ses bières à neuf dollars, ses 
hot-dogs d'un pied de long et son acoustique distante, le centre sportif 
demeure l'ennemi naturel de la musique. N'empêche que Dylan en a profité 
pour livrer quelques solos d'harmonica absolument éblouissants, l'instrument 
demeurant une extension naturelle de son vocabulaire. La foule aurait pu se 
satisfaire de deux heures de cette voix: chacun de ses retours était accueilli 
par une chaude main d'applaudissement.

Par ailleurs, ce sont les compositions des dix dernières années dont l'impact 
était décuplé. Tant par leur pertinence que par l'aplomb avec lequel Dylan 
les livraient, ces chansons écrites en fonction de son actuel filet de voix se 
détachaient avantageusement du lot. Times Have Changed confirmait ce 
soir son statut de classique consacré du répertoire de l'artiste. Cold Irons 
Bound, de Time Out of Mind, devient en concert un monstre rock dont 
le sauvage refrain frôle le métal; When The Deal Goes Down et la très belle 
Nettie Moore, toutes deux tirées de l'excellent Modern Times, semblaient 
fragiles et nuancées; Summer Days, morceau rock n' roll survolté se 
trouvant sur le Love & Theft de 2001, affichait pour sa part un swing 

C'est d'ailleurs sur une note plus entraînante que le groupe a achevé la soirée. 
L'incontournable Highway 61 Revisited était carrément endiablée, évoquant 
encore quarante après sa naissance l'esprit des road trip débauchés de Jack 
Kerouac. Le rappel, commun à tous les concerts des deux derniers mois, avait 
quant à lui tout pour plaire. Ayant une bonne fois pour toute testé notre 
ferveur, l'incorrigible tête de cochon comblait la foule une bonne fois pour 
toute en lui faisant don de livraisons empreintes de mythe - et d'une 
étonnante absence de désintérêt - des immortelles Like A Rolling Stone et 
All Along The Watchtower. C'est pour ce genre d'enchaînement qu'ont été 
inventés des termes tels qu'épique et monumental.

Quittant la scène sous un tonnerre d'applaudissements suite à une prestation 
de presque deux heures, Dylan pouvait aller dormir en paix. La légende était 
saine et sauve. L'immuable spectre, transcendant les époques, réaffirmait non 
seulement la pertinence de son répertoire mais semblait ce soir déjà éternel, 
s'attachant à la vie avec une férocité fièrement têtue. Ceux qui s'attendaient 
à découvrir un vieillard croulant sous le poids des ans ont dû être abasourdis 
par le spectacle auquel ils venaient d'assister. Contre monts et marées, 
en voilà un qui n'en fera toujours qu'à sa tête... 
Alexandre Fontaine Rousseau


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