Berlin, Germany

Max Schmeling Halle

April 1, 2009

[Grzegorz Gras], [Reinald Purmann], [Patrick Howlett]

Review by Grzegorz Gras

I have just got back home from Berlin 30 minutes ago and took a shower.
Decided to drop this little review right away, so it’s still fresh and

After leaving home at 7:30 in the morning, me and my girlfriend got to
Berlin around 1 pm. Took a nice walk from Hauptbahnhof to Alexanderplatz
and then a subway to the Max-Schmelling-Halle area, where we arrived a
little past 4 o’clock. Surprise – amazingly few people were there at the
venue. Actually not until way past 5 there was not any crowd. We met a
friend from Italy, Michele and couple more guys, had a chat and waited for
the door to open. It did at 6:30. Security guys were struggling to let us
in in their “deutscher Ordnung” way. We finally got to the stage, being in
the third row just in front of Bob’s keyboard, so a really nice view.
Waited another 90+ minutes for the show to begin and there they came – all
dressed up in dark grey (or maybe black) suits with black hats, only Bob
was wearing white.

First song, Wicked Messenger was strong, although I couldn’t help the
feeling that his voice sounded more like shouting, but I guess it was due
to the Halle’s acoustics. I don’t want to go song by song, as there’s no
need for that, you’ll all get to hear that show anyway…

So just the highlights – I really light his guitar picking on You ain’t
going nowhere, and there was also some strong harmonica playing throughout
the show (at least there was a lot of this harmonica, which is nice,
especially when he goes center stage). My back pages had it moments, I
also liked this new arrangement of Beyond the horizon, although Denny’s
guitar picking on that one makes the song sound a little silly. But let’s
not be picky… “Stuck inside of mobile” was good, as you get to see some
acoustic guitar emphasized there, which I miss a lot these years. It was
good to hear “Workingman’s blues” live again, especially that it was the
first performance this year. Then “Thunder on the mountain” and “Like a
rolling stone”, a usual pleaser, which sounds the same every night and
still you don’t get bored with it. A typical encore for this tour and
there they stood, looking into the crowd… or behind the crowd. I’ve got
this really bad feeling that they, especially Bob, looks behind the crowd
now and I gotta admit that I’m a little bored of his scheme of not paying
any attention at all to his audience these year. I mean, even this “Thank
you friends, I want to introduce my band to you right now bla bla bla” is
so much the same night after night, that it’s getting boring. He could do
better, I know he could.

By the way, I almost got busted by the security for taking  pictures – but
the guy gave me one last chance. I did take a few good ones, though! Hope
to take some more in Brussels.

Overall a nice show with a good setlist – especially for my girlfriend,
for whom it was the first Bob shows ever. No surprises though – I actually
stopped counting for any surprises nowadays. The arrangements are nice,
but they all sound the same, the band sounds the same too, and Bob’s
acting is all the same as well.

I’m not saying that I didn’t like it – I loved it, I always love to see
Bob live. But I wish he would change something. I wish for that just one
moment he started to care again – I know that things have changed, but why
so much?

Come on, Bob – change your scheme. Just a little bit!

For anything Bob-related (trading, infos, chatting, whatever), you can
reach me under:


Review by Reinald Purmann

The Wandering Star needs two years on his orbit to return to this part of

High expectations everywhere.

They are planting storys in the press about The Mans portable potty at the
entrance to His Dome in Malibou, Cal ! Is that so far fetched, a portable
throne for the wandering song & danceman ? Remember the old battle hymn 
from M&A: “I wish I was in Dixie, away…” ?

Bob Dylan once said to J. Cash, that all his songs came to him from God.
“That’s right”, Cash replied, “except the songs that came to you
from Woody & Hank& Me.” Anyway, all the songs that came from him in
Berlin 2009 came to us direct from heaven. 

In the “Very Best of..” short-list of the legendary at
least two Berlin-Concerts (up to 04) are beaming. Think this list has not
finished yet.   

At 20.08 time like the day before The Man & his band conquered stage, all
man in black in the darkness, Dylan put on his grey hat – and the lights
went on fur some unaudible “Wicked Messenger”. First impression  was
like an eco-version of rock-music, driven by the solar- power from a
fading april sun. They fixed this p.a. problem very quick, but the last
time in Berlin, 2007, the sound was definetly better.  Dylan compensated
with some fine songs, singing from “the land of coca-co-ola”. Standing
in center-stage playing guitar commanding “You ain’t going nowhere”!

“Levee…” – not one of my favourites – was as perfect as the
night before and a real high-light. (Only 5 songs were the same the night
before). An heartfelt  “My back pages” touched the audience in full.
This was another highlight. “Highway 61” was another and “Working
Man Blues 2” was a perfect & beautiful tell tale sign on the day of the
G-20 summit. How many Artists speak (in a song !) of the proletarians and
their economic fate ? –

“Like A Rolling Stone” touched everyone and many one fight on tears.
The concert was to many people, young & older, Dylan-hard-core and
concert-beginners who I with wich I talked to a source of good feelings.
And so say I.  “Just like a woman” was missed. The band is very tight
& concentrated on what they are is doin, the guitars have little freedom.
(Watchtower for an exception). The good Donnie Herron is very close to
his masters voice. He and all the band are perfect musicians, but in
fixtures and the sound-mix reduced the violin and  strengthed his harp
instead. Maybe this is the way  he wanted it, and in some way it must
be done and so it’s okay and the music was very good, instead or
because of it. – Then they stood their like a stonewall, facing the more
than 5000 people and turned around to the left and vanished back in the
darkness. ---  I wish all the best for This Man and his Cowboy Ba nd, and
to Bill Pagel, and to all of you. Don’t dare to miss.

R. Purmann 


Review by Patrick Howlett

The concert in Berlin was quite amazing, although I know so many variables
can have an affect on how one experiences one of his shows. I found myself
thinking from the third song on how well the set was adding up, layering
what was becoming a single work (i.e. ' the show') more than I have ever
experienced, or at least more completely and in different ways than I have
previously seen. I have managed to see Dylan about once a year for the
last fifteen years, so I have had a taste of different tours and I have
listened to the odd bootleg, but not enough to really have analyzed the
differences, or the scope out the finest moments. So with my relatively
limited experience, the show tonight was excellent.  Maybe even special.

Dylan's songs are often about moving, traveling and a particular point of
view. A traveler in one of his songs might be a messenger, probably is in
a strange, foreign place or at least is in touch with any place's
strangeness. They might want to be home but know they can't, reaffirmed
because they are looking out a window, from a hotel or a train, looking
back and forward in an instant and thinking 'this is what I'll do when I
get back' or 'I've never seen that before' or 'what a beautiful street.'
There is beauty in the movement too:  in the journey and its state of
being 'in between'. But maybe theirs is also another beauty that is
constructed from a point of view. It lies in the fact that this traveler,
this stranger, is a particular kind of outsider in that place, and is
seeing it from the outside; the outside of love, or youth, or a moment.
This movement and this perspective was in all the songs tonight, upfront
and in your face, right from the beginning. Wicked Messenger, When I Paint
My Masterpiece, You Ain't Going Nowhere were all songs that tapped into
this vein, finding a deeper mood than perhaps is expected from the first
few songs. Stepping up to the central microphone while strapping on a
guitar to perform masterpiece, in the slot and place where the concert
before he played The Man In Me, Dylan introduced himself as this artist,
this man in the song, this man on tour. The set list was about more than a
few lucky rarities or a really rocking version. This show highlighted
Dylan's layered performance art, adding to the complexity of the songs
with precise execution.

The songs all had the pleasurable effect of seeming new to me. There is
always the excitement of seeing one of his shows and I had just arrived in
Berlin the day before. With the exception of All Along the Watchtower and
a few parts of other songs, I felt there were new versions and visions for
a lot of this work, as well as the ways the songs worked together. But
maybe it all just made sense to me tonight.  What held this group of songs
together wasn’t just the thematic connections, but how those connections
were built with layers of feeling from the arrangements, the playing and
the singing. Dylan's skill with a song is unquestioned, but at times, he
can seem to be just going through the motions. This wasn't the case

The emotional pulls of each song were layered in Berlin in a way I haven't
heard at the last few shows I was at, even though on the whole they have
been very good shows. The arrangements were a big part of this. There was
a pulse, a musical and emotional tempo that ran through the entire
performance. It functioned as a unifying mechanism and I think it reminded
me of Dylan describing the process of learning to play his songs again in
the early 90's. Taking them apart and putting them together, finding new
places to sing them from. Tonight he it sounded like he was singing them
from the same place.

This pulse was in both the louder songs and in the softer ones. It was
steady, the overall effect resulting in a fairly mellow show, full of
feeling. The details of the arrangements often reinforced the mood so that
the tempo really became the heartbeat of this music. Things have Changed
had a great mechanical violin part that Dylan also sang with, hammering
the words into the rhythm. Love Sick's heavy, repeating chops that sound
the walk of the singer brought that feeling of pensive movement right to
the fore. Beyond the Horizon was so seemingly casual and down tempo that
the pulse could almost be hypnotic, if not for the words that kept lifting
you out and folding you back into the music.  Workingman's Blues was
delivered with a beauty that is like a slide show of attitudes and
thoughts, it moved from image to idea buttressed in the feeling of the
melody. The new lyric "If I told you my whole story you'd weep!" underlay
the emotional power these words and music have.  Even the effortlessly
anthemic Like a Rolling Stone was tempered, slowed a little by the tempo
bringing out the sad, empathetic side of the song that its edge often
obfuscates. When Blow'n in the Wind was delivered with steady, protracted
questions, my partner suggested it would be a long version done this way. 
It wasn't really. But it had the effect of thoughtfully re-presenting the
song for ears that have heard it many times before, feeling it again,

P. Howlett


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