Oslo, Norway


March 25, 2009

[Espen Aas], [Michael Snell]

Review by Espen Aas

So, there we were again, a mix of excitement after seeing the 
setlists and heard recordings of the two Swedish shows and the 
memories of the perhaps below average show in Stavanger last year.

Anyhow, we had nice seats, row 21 from the stage, with good view. 
Concert start was 19.30 according to the tickets, 19.40 the lights 
went down and Al Santos' intro was read out. First song was

1. Watching The River Flow

which isn't exactly my favorite, mainly because it never goes 
anywhere I guess, but this was a quite nice song, and the opener is 
seldom the highlight. I was slightly more surprised when we got to

2. When I Paint My Masterpiece

which meant a second song from "BOB DYLAN'S GREATEST HITS, VOL. 2", 
Dylan was center stage with harp only, great song, and Dylan 
continues to sing "rum and coca-cola" which is funny. I could feel 
that this show was going in the right direction, and although the 
vocals where slightly distorted, Dylan's voice was way better than 
I've heard in years... Then, they continued to surprise with

3. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere

the third song from Dylan's second greatest hits album, (now, 
obviously, there's nothing special with Dylan doing songs from a 
greatest hits album, the special thing with these three songs that 
they are not to be found any regular studio-album, their first 
release was on...a greatest hits album). Nice version, but I do miss the
arrangements with Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell joining in on the
chorus (well, I got to the third song before I mentioned them...). After
this, I could see Donnie Herron picking up his banjo, and I was hoping for
"To Ramona" or "High Water", but instead we got

4. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

which perhaps was the low-point of the show for me, partly because 
it's outdone, partly because the short-breathed talking-singing voice from
the last tour came back. What stroked me however, was that I never noticed
the "president of the United States" verse...? It was however the most
polite crowd I think I ever have seen at any Dylan show, only clapping
between songs, so the regular cheering to that verse would probably be
absent in any case. After going from the three 1971 songs, we dived back
into 1965 with this, but Dylan was obviously in a sixties mood, because he
only jumped a year and started playing

5. Just Like A Woman

and the light-engineer lit the background as a clear night, with lots of
little "stars". Dylan started again center stage, and obviously wanted to
audience to sing with him as he so often does on this song, but the crowd
continued to be surprisingly polite and quiet. He gave up the sing-along
and went back to the keyboard and stayed there for the reminder of the
song. It seemed to be the evening for grouping albums, so they continued
on "Blonde On Blonde" with

6. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again

more harp-playing here, and Dylan seem to have adopted a new style in
which he sings a line, blows the harmonica, sings a line etc. He started
that already on "Masterpiece". I remember he did that a few times during
1991 with rather disastrous results, but tonight it worked perfectly. And
his voice! I have to mention yet again how great it was.... And his
singing got even better on the next songs, which was

7. Ballad Of A Thin Man

plowing into his third "anarchy-record", and still keeping us between the
years 1965-1971. Brilliant version, and he continued to really SING every
line, no shortcuts, keeping the tones and delivering big time. The sixties
songs obviously felt good as they launched

8. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)

with Dylan center stage, on guitar! He was so cool being in the 
middle of the stage, being just the image of...well, Bob Dylan! After
eight songs, we had three songs from Blonde On Blonde alone! After a great
delivery, Dylan pushed the fast forward button and landed on Modern Times

9. The Levee's Gonna Break

which Dylan clearly enjoyed, jumping and dancing around behind his 
keyboard. Tony Garnier had brought out the stand-up bass for the 
song, I was wondering wether Stu Kimball was ever going to move this
night, as he still was in exactly the same spot as he'd been since he
entered. Fun song to hear, and for the third time this evening, they
decided to continue on the same album, with

10. When The Deal Goes Down

which was kind of an anti-climax in terms on how great rock'n'roll 
the previous song was, but on the other hand it was a beautiful 
delivery from Dylan, phrasing each word and line to full, and I was 
in no doubt that he is very satisfied with the songs from Modern 
Times... Tony continued on the stand-up bass After being slowed down for
some minutes it was time to rock again, with

11. Highway 61 Revisited

which was exactly that, I've seen and heard that too many times I 
suppose... A new twist was a weird organ-solo by Dylan towards the 
end...last years singing-voice made a quick visit on one of the 
verses... We went even further back in time to his second album and

12. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

which of course pleased the crowd, but also another example of how 
good Dylan's singing voice is (so far on the tour anyway), daring to hold
the tones, playing around with those majestic lines from that powerful
song. Back to the fast forward button and the evening's third song from
"Modern Times",

13. Thunder On The Mountain

which is another funny song to see Dylan do. He wasn't as animated as on
"Levee.." but clearly enjoyed playing the song. I admit I was STILL hoping
for a little surprise, such as Billy or One More Cup Of Coffee, but on the
contrary, we got

14. Like A Rolling Stone

which of course pleases the crowd... However, everyone was still 
sitting in their seats, politely listening to Dylan's show, so when 
they turned the spots on us, they must have wondered it they were 
alone up there for a second. I must note that they did get huge 
applauses between the songs, the rest of the time, we listened. After this
huge hit, the left the stage.

Dylan's eye-logo was raised in the background and after clapping them
back, we got another well-known song,

15. All Along The Watchtower

which is probably the song every Dylan-nerd have heard most times.... Hard
to know what to say about it really, it clearly pleases both Dylan and his
band, and just about every crowd they meet.. Time to slow down again
though, and the evening's fourth number from Modern Times,

16 Spirit On The Water

with a nice and short harp-intro and a lovely solo at the end. Again,
Dylan sang it so great that you'd think you were listening to the album
rather than a concert-version. I couldn't resist shouting a polite "no" to
the "you think I'm over the hill"-line. I think I was alone on
that....after the song, Donnie pulled out the violin in the back, and I
was STILL hoping for a little surprise (but when, if ever, did he end the
show with a surprise...?). The next thing wasn't even a song, it was
Dylan's first spoken words of the evening - the presentation of the
(slightly boring) band! Donnie was picking his violin throughout, before
they gave us

17. Blowin' In The Wind

which had some great moments with Dylan and Donnie playing around 
with violin and harp (Dylan ended center stage whilst playing the 
harp). I was hoping for a last song, perhaps Rainy Day Women or 
something, but they had done their 17 songs, and the applause was 
probably not hard enough. They bowed and left...

To sum it all up: This was the best show I've seen Dylan do since the
Sexton/Campbell era. I do find his current band to be a bit boring,
delivering very little (well, George and Tony does), but Dylan delivered
so much tonight! There was never a moment when he was on auto-pilot, and
to repeat myself; the singing had come back to him. It was great to see
him leaving the keyboards on several occasions too. I left the show very
happy, jumped on my buss and was home by 22 hours...

On a side note, I must say that the song-selection was centered 
around seven albums tonight:

Bob Dylan Greatest Hits vol. 2 - three songs
Bringing It All Back Home - one song
Blonde On Blonde - three songs
Highway 61 Revisited - three songs
Modern Times - four songs
Freewheelin' - two songs
John Wesley Harding - one song

NO songs between 1971 and 2006...!!


Review by Michael Snell

Just got back home from Oslo, last night was a pure blast of excitement!
well for me and a few others around me.. but the audience overall was
quiet on parts where we should have cheered more! also for all you people
that were in section 003 next time stay seated, for at least one song
please!!! x... people either had ants in their pants, bladder problems or
just wanted to be plain annoying...

to the more postitive sides of things  last night was a great set,
"watching the river flow" was a little more slower than i've seen and
heard before (which was fine for me!) but then when Dylan hit the centre
stage howling out "when i paint my masterpiece!" then! followed by one of
my most favs "you ain't goin nowhere!" (maybe he played it for all the
weak bladders and plain annoying walk abouts) though it was great to hear
"its alright ma" again!

But!! but yes! the song i have been waiting for since 2006 (after hearing
it from a bootleg in Cork, Ireland) JUST LIKE A WOOOMMAAANNN i think i
might have almost wet myself like a little girl after giggling so much
when her friend had put a pin sticking upwards on their teachers cha... no
i won't go on about that, BUT thank you very much Bob that was the top
highlight for me  

My girlfriends brother and i (sitting section 003 row 14 seats 29 and 30)
had a fantastic view of the whole band throughout the show (but of course
when the people that HAD to keep getting up all the way through the show,
the view was a little blurred out at times)

The rest of the concert with highlights like "Ballad of a thin man" which
was beautifully roared out of Dylan mouth and "I dont believe you" with
Bob on his beautiful chunky guitar centre stage playing some lead at times
was a pure treat! 

"Levee's gonna break" is one of my favourites from modern times and so
obviously i was clapping the x out of my hands and the band was very VERY
tight! so on and so on! 

The only downer was "Highway 61" which i think i have had in each 6
concerts ive been to before this one.

so with the songs i have missed out; stuck inside of mobile, when the deal
goes down, (another nice treat with "Hard rains a gonna fall" with Bob on
track of every beautiful moment of the performance! "Thunder on the
mountain" the same very tight playing all good there, i even enjoyed "like
a rolling stone" more this time after 2007, tho when i saw Bob in 2006 in
Cardiff that was the best ive seen! 

And then the 3 encores, "Watchtower" (best i've seen ever), "spirit on the
water" (people didnt shout and cheer when he asked if we all thought he
was past him prime...) and "blowin in the wind" which was a nice new one
for me!

Then we had a few beers after in the two dogs to relax and just let it all
sink in (the beer of course hahahah)

Michael Snell


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