November 10, 2015
Review by James Mahoney
Dusseldorf has great bakeries… and it was useful to see that the only
real change in Bob Dylan's shows are his clothes. No odd setlist shifts,
no re-writes on the fly, on stage… Not worth mentioning, since that's not
the point, anymore… whatever it is.
OK, so Bob's just released (by the end of November anyway), everything he
recorded in two years, from 1965 to late spring,1966, that "wild Mercury
sound," as he said, at the time. Does he repudiate his 25-year-old self?
No way. So what's up, past the $$, with this set of songs, beyond its
50-year gap in time? Why's it all Old Hits and Frankie re-covers these
days? Why isn't His Bobness writing - and presenting - New Material on
the road, as he did in 1966? Maybe he's locked-in tight, and outa range…?
If only he could be...
He's said, at times, that he feels he has a private contract with divinity
to do what he does, and we should take him at his word, seriously. But if
you folks think the Bob Dylan of 1966, with his various addictions, his
potentially wrecked marriage, his ragged conflict with his "fans," and
most of all, his uncontrollable, vast poetry is gone, and folded into the
Read into this Never-Ending Setlist whatever you can, but when Dylan's
onstage, he's fully aware of telegraphing a set of fossils, to an audience
whose adoration may feel far worse than any of those "Judas" shouts from
fifty years ago.
Comments by Axel Jost
To set things straight about the Düsseldorf show: This concert was a
blast. Bob Dylan and his band nailed absolutely every song from the very
start to the very end. Sitting in the middle of row three I - for the very
first time - even understood the new arrangement of "Blowin' In The Wind".
This wasn't any throwaway stuff, he was dead serious about it: The old
arrangement is gone, but the message is still there. Truly spellbinding.
Review by Werner Kehl
Towards the end of my last review (1st night Berlin, oct. 2013) I
mentioned that I was hoping to see Bob Dylan again in a couple of years
but perhaps in a much more cozy place than lousy Tempodrom. Well, fate
would have it that I didn`t need to return there for the time being as I
was away for most of october from the city that I´ve been calling home for
over 25 years. And to be real honest, after last years poor performance
by Bob and band in Zwickau and my disdain of the last album, I wan´t sure
whether I wanted to attend a show this time around anyway. But then an
informal family-reunion of sorts was set up a couple of weeks ago for
11.11. `15 in Düsseldorf (home of mine the first eight years of my life)
and I figured why not show up a day early and go pay my respects to the
man himself despite my misgivings…
The atmosphere in the old part of the city on the eve of St. Martin was
highly festive as several hundred young kids were parading thru the
streets accompanied by their parents and teachers, the infants clutching
self-made lanterns and singing songs to shopkeepers and restaurateurs in
exchange for sweets. After a few glasses and early dinner in the
vicinity, I arrived at Mitsubishi Electric Halle (formerly known as
Philipshalle) at 7.30 p.m. and bought a ticket from someone who for
reasons I did not ask had decided not to attend. Once inside I realized
that not only had the place gotten a new name but also a general, much
needed overhaul. A newly installed wall-of-fame lists all the acts that
have performed in da house since 1971 and this list proves that this venue
has earned a place in modern german music history. I myself was there 3
times before for Lou Reed (´92), Bob & his band (2007) and Plant/Krauss
My seat on the right hand side one third in, one third up was a good one
(as was the wine-buzz I might add). Lights went out at exactly 8 p.m. and
what the three-and-a-half thousand almost sell-out crowd and I experienced
over the next couple of hours bordered on the magical! First of all, it
was the best sound I´ve experienced in any venue in years!! And the great
sound was augmented by the greater ensemble on stage that played close to
perfection almost the entire evening!!! Every song came across in a
smoothe `n´ fluid fashion, no number was huried or felt forced. It was
one of those rare occasions where everything gelled from start to finish;
not a bum note was put forth all night, not a dud included in either set.
Bob Dylan and His Band were in the zone, all nite long!!!! Even the songs
from the most recent album had a warmth to them I (still) feel they lack
on record; but finely presented live, they finally resonated with me and
everything clicked into place wonderfully.
Now you may think that perhaps I had had a glass too many (just enough, i
felt) but my small-talk with strangers at intermission and after, and the
snippets of conversation I overheard (e.g. „boahheh, das war ja sooo
gut!“) confirmed what had been witnessed by all accounts (not to mention
the glowing reviews in the local papers of which the piece by Philipp
Holstein in Rheinische Post stands out). On my way back to my hotel I
tried to rank this show; now I´ve been attending Dylan concerts for almost
thirty years and can´t be too specific on the exact amount (do appearances
like Guitar Legends ´91, Bobfest ´92, or Great Music Experience in ´94
count? yes/no, maybe so…). What I can claim: of the 21 shows in the past
10 years this was one of the best, if not the best!!!!
So I feel extremely blessed and I would like to thank my family for having
set up this reunion on the date that they did and that luckily „uncle Bob“
happened to be in town around the same time, had either not been the case
I definetly would have missed out on something which really would have
been something of a pity!
And so finally of course also: Thank You, Bob Dylan, for a very, very
Review by Michaël Moors
-Writings on the tour between the show in Saarbrücken on 10/17 and the
show in Düsseldorf on 11/10-
There he is again, standing in the sparse light. Dressed in a black suit with
intriguing, colorful motives of crossed sabres, flowers, some kind of cross.
The low stage lighting makes Dylan look far away, not within reach. Not
even when you're in the front.
A worried man with a worried mind…Things Have Changed has become a
statement these days. Having been the opener for more than two years,
the song has gained significance with each performance. Dylan sounds great.
His reborn voice is clear and the singing powerful. The band is extremely
well oiled. Even after all these years they still get better and better.
Although very well performed, She Belongs to Me is less majestic than
before. Dylan shifts to piano for a gorgeous Beyond Here Lies Nothin'. It's
great seeing him improvise in the instrumental breaks, endlessly creating
new things, night after night. The band is very tight, like a single
instrument, wrapped around Dylan's piano ventures.
From here onward Dylan alternates the veteran songs from previous tours
with covers (or uncovers, as he names them) from his latest album. We
get a genuine "other side of". The pure Dylan, doing the unexpected,
exploring something entirely new, something no one could have imagined.
Seeing the greatest songwriter of all time interpreting other artists' songs,
in this fase of his career, in such a heartfelt way and throughout an entire
show is something very inspiring. Oh, that crooner voice, isn't that an
uncovering too? Dylan sings these songs with the greatest care, dedicated
as if they were his own beloved creations. And the band follows the master
in an impressive way, turning every single note into a treasure. The
instrumental ending of I'm a Fool to Want You is packed with emotion.
The first set closes with a beautiful Tangled Up in Blue. A classic rendition,
while sounding fresh and new.
The same incredible standard is kept up in the second set. The ending of
Early Roman Kings is a treat by itself, to name just something. Long and
Wasted Years has lost some of it's breathtaking, theatrical magic of two
years ago, when it was the ultimate show closer. Now a magnificent
Autumn Leaves closes the main set. George Receli's final drumbeat
conjures up all the emotions and feelings of the song and maybe of this
whole, unforgettable night.
Bob and band come back for a standard Blowin' in the Wind and a blazing
Love Sick, a song that has reached the status of a later day classic. It
seems to want to start the show all over again.
Review by Terry McGovern
The atmosphere of the show was muted, restrained, controlled, but
nevertheless beautiful. Thousands of closely placed folding chairs on the
floor demanded that the audience sit, focus, and listen. I couldn’t see
his drumsticks but it sounded like George only used mallets and multi-rod
sticks which produced never more than a soft underwater-sounding rhythm.
Tony played acoustic bass with a bow or fingers and this reinforced the
soft backdrop. Only guitars, harmonica, and Dylan's voice were permitted
to pierce through. The stage was black and beige with soft whites and few
lights. Sight, sound, and motion were all mellow and coordinated.
But inside this atmosphere a restrained power was constantly hinted at and
teased us. Pay In Blood felt like a monster in a cage, kept locked down
throughout but threatening constantly to burst out and wreck us all. A new
approach to Early Roman Kings, never my favorite before, brought me joy
with an arrangement filled with surprises.
It is less a concert than a piece of theater. The show is certainly
scripted to the last detail. Yet it is considerably different from the
shows of recent years.
Imagine Dylan on a future tour singing Tangled Up In Blue and She Belongs
to Me with the clear, warm, shockingly gorgeous voice he used on Autumn
Leaves and What'll I Do. At that moment this adoring fan will fall off
his folding chair.
As a middle-aged guy who has spent time on drums on stage and who attends
all Dylan shows within range, I still felt a childlike wonder at this
legend and this fantastic band. I felt a childlike experience of learning
what is possible in performance onstage. This fan's adoration feels
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