Review by Marco Zoppas
Of the two Italian concerts, Bologna was really good, Milano was magic. In
Bologna the nice surprise was Never Gonna Be The Same Again, who could
have expected that and what an interpreter he was. There was also a great
interpretation of Sugar Baby. When he sang the lines "these bootleggers
make pretty good stuff" he received a big cheer from the crowd: many
people were probably bootlegging the event. In Milano he was in a good
mood. This became evident when he burst out laughing while singing Stuck
Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again. Suddenly, his "ag-ain-ain"
lasted a long time because he wouldn't stop laughing. The crowd responded
warmly to it. Or was it just my imagination running away with me? No, it
wasn't. Dylan was in a special mood and the confirmation came with Just
Like A Woman. He invited us to sing along. He would just say "she takes"
or "she fakes" or "she makes love" and let us sing "just like a woman"
instead of him or together with him. I've never seen something like this
happen before in the approximately 10-15 shows I've attended so far. Great
fun, totally spontaneous. I could go on describing magnificent versions of
Hollis Brown, Down Along The Cove and Highway 61, but it would be boring
to do so. At the end of the show I was looking at the drape behind the
stage displaying, as always, that Dylanesque symbol of an eye with a crown
on top of it. What does it mean? Outside the venue they were selling
T-shirts with the Never Ending Tour symbol and the following words written
underneath: "Immortals Luceo Porro" (or something like that). Anybody's
got any clue? I'm really getting curious now.
Review by Paolo Vites
Is clear that since dylan switched on piano he wanted to show that he is
only ‘one of the band’, but this time, with stu kimball on his right and
him inside the circle of the musicians, this is even more clear: this band
have no centre, this band have no leader. The impression, given also the
setlist of mostly greatest hits, is that Dylan is no longer exploring any
new territory, no new ideas or new arrangements. Just a safe trip to be
back home soon as possibile. While in this same venue back in 2003 he
surprised everyone with an explosive, wild, passionale show, tonight
everything seems like ‘take no risks at all’. The voice is very high in
the mixer, while the other instruments are very low in the mixer while he
sing and they turn the instruments high when he is not singing: the reason
why? You can immagine…
1. Maggie's Farm
This is a very good, solid opener. The riff and the arrangement is the
same as ever in the last years, but Dylan is singing very well, very
strong and delivering with gusto every words. He dont miss a beat here.
The solos from the band players are short but effective. Just a good time
rock’n’roll song where the original meaning of the song is clearly
completely lost. It could be singing about having sex.
2. Lay Lady Lay
Again, with surprise, a good moment: the band is playing the original
Nashville Skyline arrangement (is Bob Dylan and his band exploring new
territory here? Not at all) but again Dylan voice is strong and into the
song. No upsinging at all, with surprise a very good performance.
3. Watching The River Flow
Back in 1993 (a year about everyone think is one of Dylan worst year ever)
this song was a driving force, a very good stomping 50s rock’n’roll song,
almost rockablly. Now Dylan is back to the original 1971 boring
arrangement (new territory? No, back to the safe studio ideas), a very
common rock-blues like you can hear million of times everywhere in the
world. The harmonica solo Dylan take in the end is quite hilarious: is not
a solo, just a whistle in the instrument with no force and no idea at all.
4. Cold Irons Bound
Again, back to the safe studio arrangement, this song used to have a new
strong arrangement some time ago during the larry campbell-charlie sexton
era, but now is lost. Seems is better for this band to use the original
studio ideas, to take too many risks with this band can be dangerous,
thats what Dylan seems to imply. The result is a very boring performance,
Dylan appears lost many times during the song and the band cant find him
5. Mr Tambourine Man
The same slow piano arrangement Dylan is using from years now, you can
call this song the festival of upsinging. His vocal performance is awful
beyond words, he appear bored all through the song and the band dont know
what to do to help him. They have no ideas, and they cant be heplful.
6. Highway 61 Revisited
The only new territory here is the piano break in the middle of the
song, could be nice but Dylan is playing the piano like he used to do with
his guitar solos: same two notes repetead endlessy, again the band around
him seems lost. The vocal performance is quite strong, tho, and this is
again another very common rock-blues performance. Nice instrumental
crescendo in the end.
7. Boots of Spanish Leather
Same slow piano arrangements of the last years (no new territory
indeed), and again Dylan appears like he cant find the tune he probably he
have in his mind; the band around him is lost all the way through the
song. We have the appearance of a violin here, but the solo all through
the song is about 20 seconds long and absolutely useless. It could have
been a great idea to have a violin, but you have to let the man play for
real, not just stand up with a violin for no reason at all. Upsinging all
through the song.
8. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
Same arrangements of the last years even if the feeling is more like a
country tune now than the old rock and amphetamine song. Dylan is singing
quite good, with surprise, but this is a tired horse. At a certain point,
during the end, bob dylan start to laugh with gusto when he sing a wrong
lyric, like: ‘hey i’m bob dylan and i cant do something wrong myself!”.
His “Ha ha!” strong and clear is the best moment of the performance.
9. Ballad of Hollis Brown
Same slow piano arrangement of the last years and like Tambourine Man a
useless one. We have a banjo here, but you cant almost here it: whats the
use to have a banjo player if you dont let him be in the first spot?
Festival of the upsinging again.
10. Down Along The Cove
Same arrangement of the freddy koella tour but when with koella this song
was an explosion of good humour and good rock’n’roll, this band cant work
on it, they appear lost many times and the song is a bore.
11. Just Like A Woman
The best moment of the night. The arrangement, with the long pedal
steel intro à la bucky baxter is always very nice and Dylan is finally
singing with passion, no upsinging at all. During the chorus he stop: “she
take…” and let the crowd singing “just like a woman”; is not that the
crowd is singing louder than him, he is stopping just to let the crowd
singing, like it happened in Glasgow last year. Is a great moment and
Dylan is clearly happy with it, on the second chorus he let a “Ooh ooh” of
joy when the crowd is singing. Very nice, but very poor harmonica solo
12. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
Dont need any comment.
13. Forever Young
It might be dedicated to Neil Young today birthday, who knows it. Same
arrangement as ever, quite good singing from Dylan, lovely pedal steel all
through the song.
14. Summer Days
Same arrangement as ever. Again, while with freddy koella this was a
volcano erupting joy and great musical moments, the band here just cant
follow the leader. Stu Kimball seems better than when i saw him in 2004
and i like how during this song after his solo he point his finger to call
the other guy on the right with his hand, like saying ‘is time for your
solo now’. Of course the other guy play always the same notes, he is a
country guitarist and dont know how to swing.
15. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Same slow piano arrangement as in the last years, horrible upsinging all
the time but finally the pedal steel guy can have his spot (with the lap
steel). He play two wonderful solos in a style that remind the great pedal
steel players of the 40s and the 50s, à la robert randolph too. Bob keep
looking at him wtih pleasure and is clear he loves his solos, so why dont
you let him more space then during the show?
16. All Along The Watchtower
Basically the same hendrix arrangement as ever, as dylan have used
always during the NET. While stu can finally have some good solos, the guy
on the right cant just play rock music.
Best musician in the band must be george receli: i was impressed how many
different tricks he use in every song, he is the only one who let the
music flow freely.
In the end bob was sending tender kisses to the audience with his
hands, very lovely.
Review by Marina
It was the fourth date for me of the current tour and it has been definitely the best, in
spite of the fact that the Filaforum (like the Palamalaguti in Bologna) is an horrible place
for music. The band came on stage a few minutes after 9 and started with a good
rendition of Maggie's Farm. Then came Lay Lady Lay, a lot of pedal steel and not much
upsinging, better than the average version we got recently and quite close to Berlin.
Third song was Watching the River Flow, when Bob came out in full voice, really singing
it, and giving the first hint (at least to me) of things to come. A very solid Cold Iron
Bound, well played and sung, came after. Mr Tambourine Man was cheered up by the
whole place, and rightly so: the slow version with the crescendo Bob is proposing this
year was perfectly sung and very much appreciated. Highway 61 came earlier than usual
and was good: maybe not like two days before in Bologna, but very effective anyway,
with large parts left to the band and Bob in full control. Then an acoustic intro with
Donnie on violin gave way to the first surprise of the evening: Boots of Spanish Leather.
It is hard to put words together for the sensation it gave me; it has a new arrangement,
even more lovely than the beautiful Love Minus Zero/No Limit we are getting these days,
and though it has never been one of my favourite songs, last night it almost brought
tears to my eyes: it is such a touch of genius to inject so much new life into an old song
it really got me nailed. I can't wait for the boot to surface to listen to it again. Memphis
Blues was great, Bob playing with his voice (I cannot explain it better: just wait for the
recording and listen closely) and sounding in full control. Then it was Hollis Brown: Bob
interpreted the song with care and sentiment, like meaning the words, and it came out
pretty good, even if the band sounded a bit tentative, like they were not so sure about
what to do. I'm not complaining about this, as it is clear they are always trying new
formulas instead of laying on more assured territories. Down Along the Cove was fine,
with good guitar playing. Then the first notes of Just Like a Woman, which I am always
happy to hear even if these days sometimes brings too much upsinging; it was not the
case, Bob performed it well and it also brought a nice, funny surprise. At that point the
audience was hot and on the chorus started singing 'just like a woman' very loud, and
Bob sang it back clearly imitating the crowd and laughing; very funny and very moving too,
to watch him in such a great mood, recognising his fans that way. Next came Tweedle
Dee, that allowed me to relax a bit, giving the fact that I heard it live so many times.
Then unexpected came Forever Young, always good, with heartfelt vocals. Summer Days
closed the show as usual, and I have to say it really is an excellent number for the end,
either when it rocks - like in past editions - or swings, like this year. Encores were a fine
Don't Think Twice and Watchtower. About this last, I always wonder if it can get any
better than last time, and the answer is 'yes it can'. Bob has found this staccato version
which is so full of energy and passion, music underlining those incredible lyrics so well,
one would like it to last twenty minutes. Then it was over. An evening of pure magic.
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