Hamburg, Germany

Colorline Arena

April 4, 2007

[Wolfgang Strehl], [Harke Dohrn], [Werner Kehl], [Reinald Purman], [Stefan Flach]

Review by Wolfgang Strehl

Well, we run about 300 km west to see bob dylan in the color line arena -
and it was finally worth it. We have tickets for berlin in may too, but
like too see bob dylan anytime he is around.

The beginning: bob in a black I guess silk suite and a white silk shirt
and I white - I would say - yet not finished hat. The same kind of hat
that tony garnier had on. The others have either another hat or no hat at

Bob standing face to face with the crowd and singing cats in the well.
Well, I don't like that record that much though - but it was okay

It ain't me babe I remember as being a great version, a really good one.
Rocky. I'll be your baby tonight, not one of my favourites. But it's
allright ma for sure is, and he played it great. I like the 'new' version
with the violin by donnie herron.  

When the deal goes down was followed by mosts likely you go your way and I
go mine - a highlight of that evening. The phrasing of the last verse I
remember as being superb. He barked the words out. Anything to say about
masters of war? The light dimmed in red and the version was another
highlight of that evening.

Next I remember well is a hard rains agonna fall. A version I think close
to that Japanese appearance on that world music festival or how it was
called. Pretty good and remarkable.

All the others up to the break a done well, like a rolling stone with a
long harmonica intro.

But then. Everybody who knows expected thunder on the mountain to emerge
when they came back after the break. But the sound coming up was different
- and out came ain't talking. A marvellous life version of one of my
alltime favourites. They all played it well.

Thunder on the mountain and all along the watchtower were ok. 

The color line arena seemed to be pretty crowded. Not sold out, but well
enough. The mood was good. The band on stage was sometimes I think a
little bit funny: everybody was stargazing at bob Dylan, what kind of idea
he creates next. For everybody up there tries to keep up the songs. So it
was sometimes funny. He had his hints. Sometimes he missed to fall in,
waited another bar, and all the others up there have to be careful.

All in all I'd to say, it was a good concert. The acoustic in the hall was
good. It's not that normal, that you could hear all the instruments played
that clear and distinctive like yesterday evening.

And I've seen a lot of bob Dylan and other concerts.

Well, bob, like to see you again in berlin in may. If you show the same
spirit like in hamburg, that will be another good concert.

Wolfgang Strehl 


Review by Harke Dohrn

Well, counted my tickets of all Dylan shows I've visited before and it turned
out, that this show will be NO.32 in my List.  After reading that Bob's back
on guitar again I was very curious about the show here in Hamburg. I was a
bit worried before, playing the great Colour Line Arena but it turned out to
be a quite nice atmosphere. Sound an acoustic was quite well and it was 
going to be a fantastic show with a setlist that I liked a lot. It was filled with 
many personal highlights. The only song I really can't stand is ''Summer 
Days''.  Bob was dressed all in black with a white shirt and his white hat.

The show started with a cool cookin' ''Cats In The Well''.  Bob was at good
voice from start of the show and he seems to be in good shape and mood.
Great seeing Bob back on the guitar. He played a few nice licks & that 
promised,  to be on a show which will bring great entertainment to all of us.
It followed 'It Ain't Me , Babe'' which was played in complete new 
arrangement. The first highlight of the evening to me. Love that song so 

So the show went on with ''I'll Be Your Baby Tonight'', ''It's Alright, Ma'' and
''When The Deal Goes Down'' all songs played very careful by the Band and
sung very emotional by Bob.Seems to me the Band has improved their 
playing together a lot since the last time I saw the boys. Then came ''Masters
Of War''. The song speaks for itself and was played in a great arrangement 
too. Another highlight of the evening followed by a rockin' ''Rollin' and
Tumblin'''.  After that the 2nd very big highlight for me. '' A Hard Rain's 
A-gonna Fall''. It was sung very very nice and this new arrangement of the 
song is close to perfect. Never heard such a great version of that song. The 
stage was couloured in wonderful purple with some spots of red and green, 
which came out very nice. Loved that sight with this beautiful played song.
Thank you Bob!. The show went on with ''Spirit On The Water''(great live 
peformance here) ,''Highway 61''(business as usual here),''Nettie Moore''
(wonderful sung by Bob), ''Summer Days''(not a personal highlight) and 
closing the first set with ''Like A Rolling Stone''. All songs played well, but 
nothing special.

After a few minutes break the band came back on stage for the encore set. 
I expected Thunder on the montain at first. The first tunes I really couldnt 
figure out which song it was, but then it was clear. I couldnt believe it....
He gave us ''Ain't Talkin''' from MT. That was the absolut favorite of the 
evening to me. It was played fantastic by the band and Bob did great singing 
an phrasing.That song is new and it hits the list of my all time favorites in very 
high position. ..Please play it again in Herning, Bob....

Then the show ended with ''Thunder On The Mountain'' and a great 
performed '' All Along The Watchtower''.

All in all I'm very satisfied with the show and it hits my personal list in a very
high position. 

Looking forward to Herning, Denmark on May 5th.

and pls Bob...Don't let the deal go down and keep on touring the road for 
many years....



Review by Werner Kehl

Cloudless blue skies set the scene as Helmut Heimann and I once again
road-tripped our way to Hamburg from Berlin, this time to witness the
first german performance by Bob Dylan in 2007.  It seems that every time
he plays in Hamburg, his concerts take place yet again in a different
venue.  This one took place in the still somewhat new Colour Line Arena, a
huge auditorium that is used for a variety of entertainment events, mostly
though for sporting purposes (namely: handball); and now whoever booked
the place for this concert must have been totally unaware of the fact that
regardless of how well "Modern Times" did in the german charts last year,
there would never be a chance that even half of the ten thousand or so it
would take to fill up this place would be coming.

The last time I saw Bob & band was in Gelsenkirchen last year and by all
accounts it wasn't a very good concert.  Standing just off to the right
and slightly back when proceedings began at 7.40 p.m. wednesday night, I
at first feared that things would continue from where they left off last
time I was around as the first two numbers sounded pretty awful; out of
synch with the others and with quite a few bum notes coming from Bob
himself, the start was anything but promising.  But that changed almost
instantaneously as everyone on stage got into a stride with the last two
songs that featured Bob on guitar.  I would say that every song from
thereon until the end of the set was well performed and even Bobs organ
playing was absolutely decent and spot on.

But to be perfectly honest, I felt that all in all something here was
lacking.  Most tunes were void of any real intensity and I would think
that perhaps the break-out of some song unheard of in a while would liven
things up a bit as the sets have become far too standardized (in my humble
opinion).  While it's certain that this ensemble with its newer guitarists
has come together to gel even tighter than in times before, this band is
far from producing the amazing sounds heard live from those in Dylans band
between let's say 1991 and 2004.  As towards the end of the concert I
gazed over the crowd infront of me and onto the stage from a seat in the
back (where the sound was really good, by the way), I couldn't help but
feel that there was something essential missing in the mix.  O.K. all the
songs were routinely well executed definetly, but the little twinkles were
absent, or that big spark that would carry over onto an audience that I
sensed felt anything but exuberance in the music and who were thus
anything but exuberant themselves.

I was ready to call it a day and admit to myself that the trip hadn't
really been worth it until the encores.   I couldn't figure out what it
was they were beginning to play as the sound I was hearing clearly didn't
match what I was expecting to hear.  When I finally realized what was
being performed, I couldn't believe my ears: " `Ain't Talkin'´?!  Wow,
that's only been performed live once before!! ", I was wondering.  Just
when I thought nothing unusual's gonna take place anymore, this curveball
gets thrown out and it wasn't just a casual toss either.  One could tell,
this song had been rehearsed as it flowed wonderfully without any glitches
whatsoever and it was sung with such poignancy and conviction that it
easily became the highlight of the evening and the best thing I've heard
from Bob Dylan and his current band in years!!!

Needless to say, this awesome ending to an otherwise average show had
Helmut and I return back to Berlin very excited with the hope that more
surprises are held in store for us all as the 2007 European Tour

Werner Kehl


Review by Reinald Purman

...a little false start for us to meet the first concert in germany in
2007  ! Approaching the Volkspark-Area in good time we get in a real
traffic-jam at  the last access-road. A crush of people everywhere,
police, no parking lot. Will  this huge crowd fill the colorline-arena for
a dylan-concert ? New fans out there ? Doubts  raised seeing  Youngsters
with blue or black flags, yelling: St.Pauli ! - The venue ist in a 200 m
distance to the big football-stadium, were an  hamburgian derby should
happen soon. All perfectly timed to the concert, both  events started (and
ended) same time. So two very different crowds shoved to  their
contrasting desires. We had dared to miss two songs, wich is an  unheard
thing for us!  Most bitterly we missed the first half of the guitar-set.
Seeing him play guitar is a real refreshing thing  ! The venue is normally
used for ice-hockey, so there was a big general  admission area in front
of stage and a U-formed sitting area along the  walls.  - Dylan in black
suit and a little, round white hat, his band  in light suits & black hats
for better contrast. Standing  side by  side, from the left with D.
Freeman to Stu Kimbell on the right, Mr. Dylan in  center at first, later
playing keyboard on the right side, next to S. Kimbell.  - This music will
not lie ! The 2007 tour will become very interesting. They  rehearsed a
lot of new things. In my ears maybe the only song without rework was 
"Netti Moore" (a great highligt tonight nevertheless). They are trying to 
ballance the songs, the band and the music in a new way. Besides of this,
Bob  Dylan is in great form, relaxed, smiling, almost loose. And his voice
! Strong,  changeable, exactly and more. Promising for things to come.
"It's allright  Mama..." is very bluesy now and Donni Herron played a little 
Muddy-Waters-like  Guitar, a bit high pitched. "Most likely you go your
way..." was another  highlight (new arrangement), Dylan playing with the
words in a most  impressive (say dylanesque) way: "You say you're so---ry
for tellin  sto---ry, say you got some o---ther kind of lo---ver"
and so on, very  scornfully and real swinging. (Can't get this out of my
ears). Followed by an  impressing MoW (new arrangement) with great harp
intro all in a  sulphurous-poisonly-yellow light. Then a Bill-Hailey
styled "Rollin &  Tumblin". Then the majestic (new arranged) "Blue eyed
Son" . They are  constantly changing between his rocking and the more
quite songs. The absolute  highlight of the night was "Netti Moore",
perfectly fitting in every nights  setlist. A big new Dylan song is born !
"Highway 61"(newly arranged)  gives chance to D. Freeman for great,
perfect lead guitar. Summer Days is  revamped to rocking&rolling, but a
little shortened. Then the  standard songs before the short break.  - To
our deep conviction Dylan  now realized, that we had lost 2 of his precious
songs and therefore decided to  throw "Aint talkin (I'm walkin)" into the set-list. 
A majestic flowing "Thunder  On The Mountain" , the eye-logo appearing  to
this. "All along the watchtower" was a little let down. Compared to the 
last tour, when the venue-roofs were burning on this song, this time it
was  a little blurred.- The accoustic in Hamburg was not as perfect as
usual,  less powered, little high-pitched. Dylans keyboard little to hear,
only when  neccesary. This type of venues brings a lot (too much
?)distance between crowd and  stage. - But this was the evening. The band
is very perfectly now, tension-free  and everything in place.(The Oscar
vanished from his amp.) Great concerts  promising to come. Don't dare to
miss one single song.



Review by Stefan Flach

The derby 

Even though they're only part of the third division, any clash of the
Football Club St. Pauli (part of Hamburg) and the HSV 2 (Hamburger
Sportverein, 2nd team) is a crucial one. The leadership role in the city
is at stake - at least until the return match. It's been, of course, a
splendid coincidence that the match was held some two hundred metres away
from the Colorline Arena where the Dylan show took place - and very much
about the same time. When Annika and I arrived at the venue some 2 1/2
hours before the show started, there were hardly more than 50 fans
standing in line whereas hundreds of football fans were about to enter the
opposite battleground. Though we were already slightly worried regarding
our way back "home" (a faceless, outpriced hotel near the Reeperbahn - the
very heart of St. Pauli), we didn't know yet what to expect when leaving
the Arena - which was a blessing ... 

The fence 

Catching a standing spot "at the rail" was a first-time experience for me,
so that I didn't know that leaning against the metallic fence comes close
to paddling in frozen water. Thankfully, Annika still had their well
thumbed "Frankfurter Rundschau" with her, so we padded our part of the
fence with newspaper each. Surprisingly, neither the security guards
(sitting in chairs before the stage) nor "The Man" (the crew's bearded
zero-tolerance guy predistined to get felonious cameramen out of the hall
and into solitary confinement) suspected any papery recording devices and
left us alone. 

The Oscar 

must have been stolen on the way from Copenhagen to Hamburg, because for
the first time in six years I didn't see standing on any monitor or
loudspeaker. I've yet to figure out the direct link between "his" absence
and Donnie Herron's clean-shaven chin and cut hair (he had looked like a
gentle Rasputin on the first shows of the tour), but I'm sure there is
one. Probably either Herron or Oscar had lost a bet, just like Dylan did
before the Newport show five years ago. 

The sound 

To hear the sound at a show fully built-up you shouldn't stand too close
to the stage. This is nothing new, and not for the first time I gladly run
the risk of hearing an imperfect sound to get near the action on stage. In
Hamburg, though, I was positioned in front of two speakers which presented
me with a bizarre stereo effect. On the left I could hear Dennie Freeman's
guitar, on the right Dylan's vocals. All other instruments - lacking Stu
Kimball's guitar - were drowned in the back. No matter how hard I try to
abstract from this, the fact that I virtually heard "solo shows" in each
ear strongly tinted my experience of the performance. It'd be appropriate
if readers kept this peculiarity in mind. 

The difference 

For the first time in 41 years Dylan shows on this tour have two strictly
seperated parts. The first comprises the first four songs, the second all
the rest. On the first Dylan plays electric guitar (his old sunburst
Fender Stratocaster), on the second keyboard. I assume that everyone
attending current shows experiences this difference - the only question
might be which part influences the other. Of course, it could be answered
only individually. As Dylan's habit changes almost dramatically when he's
"back" behind the keys, it's very possible that the second part puts a
different complexion on the first. On guitar, Dylan looks sullen, fairly
bad-tempered and almost reluctant to perform at all, whereas he seems to
lighten up and becomes animated when crouched behind the keys. Seeing him
standing center stage, with his traditional instrument in hands and
displaying all his idiosynratic authority (together with all indices of
displeasure) was such a revelation and relief for me that I almost took it
amiss when he unstrapped the guitar again. The whole "second part" of the
Hamburg show was influenced by this withdrawal of his return to his
"ancestral" habits of performing - if only for me. 

The "guy enforcing payments" (comment by an unknown fan) 

Dennie Freeman makes for one of the finest guitarists to have ever worked
with Dylan. Throughout the whole show he was able to take a song's basic
melody line and simplify it without ever making it sound banal. It's as if
his aim was to "translate" it - always together with its emotional
significance - so that virtually everyone could "read" and understand it.
Then again he embellished a couple of songs with those "B-movie gangster
riffs" I had already loved so much when I saw play him in Berlin 1 1/2
years ago. Coming straight of a "Jerry Cotton" movie that doesn't exist,
they dramatize in a slightly yet undeniably "campy" way without ever
losing touch with a given song's demand notes. Also due to strange fact
that I could hear him so clearly ("left channel"), I was mesmerized by his

The songs (some of them) 

"Cat's in the Well", with its thumping bass line and fast beat, is one of
the better openers from recent years, if only because it features a bridge
(three, to be exact) and is more varied than "Maggie's Farm" & co.
thereby. There was nothing specific about the Hamburg version, save that
Dylan's vocal approach seemed a tad hesitant to my ears (it was more
forceful in Münster the next day) and that he sang one bridge twice and
flubbed another. Donnie Herron's violin playing came nicely to the fore
during the instrumental verses. 

If there was one song I hoped to hear apart from my all-time favorite "Man
in the Long Black Coat" (played as song # 2 in Copenhagen) it was "It
Ain't Me, Babe". The newly introduced "old" arrangement that bears no
similarity to the impressive "indian war drum" eccentricity played in 2004
- 06, splendidly captures the essence of the song's basic undertone which
oscillates so much between the categories of melancholia and sadness
(tune), self-determination and injustice (lyrics). The song's played
faster than before and the use of electric guitars makes it sound a bit
harsher. It was beautiful to see that Dylan actually used his famous "D'
(x54030) - C (x32010)" chord pattern for the verses which is so prominent
on the studio version from 44 years ago. Tony Garnier's bass playing I
remember as being more playful than usual. 

"I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" often acts as an indicator regarding Dylan's
willingness to "abandon himself" in concert, to make the lyrics' promise
palpable by adding exuberance to it. If there's nothing rampant about the
song it doesn't work, I often think. The Hamburg version made no
difference to this, but failed the topic. His beautifully edged guitar
work was lovely, though. 

There was something static about "When the Deal Goes Down". Like "Make You
Feel My Love" and "Moonlight", the song lives on harmonic conditions which
seem to suggest a somewhat rigid vocal approach on Dylan's side. The
result is that live versions hardly differ. Dylan has to really "pick up a
rose" in the song's landscape to surpass his "standard" vocal path. This
night it didn't happen. 

On the last verse of a nicely rocking "Most Likely You Go Your Way" Dylan
went willfully berserk when stretching two words in each line: "You say my
kiiiiiiisses are not like hiiiiihis / This time I ain't gonna teeeeeeell
you whay that iiiiiiihis ..." which pretty much brought the house down.
The effect worked well - but happened strictly on purpose. 

"Masters of War" saw some impressive yellowish-brownish stage lightning
that somehow tinted even the song's atmosphere - more than ever before I
thought the song reached back to a time that preceded the one when it was
written and recorded. 

A strong "Highway 61" saw the introduction of a gloriously effective
4-note riff - Dylan started it on his keyboard, then Donnie Herron raised
a thunderstorm by repeating it over and over. 

The one line 

If there's one song in Dylan's current repertoire that brings on some
authentic, non-premeditated intimacy, it's "Nettie Moore". Or, to be
exact, it does so despite the designated qualities of the instrumentation
(every dropping needle is supposed to be heard). Dylan inhabits the song
so convincingly that any other quality takes a backseat. It's this
strength of Dylan's standpoint in the here and now that makes any prefixed
vocal devices superfluous - or, even better, pervades even prefixed ones
with spirit and life that belongs to the instant. In Hamburg it might have
been an accidental frog in his throat that made Dylan sing the first line
("Lost John's sittin' by the railroad track") in such a compassionate,
pitiful and exhausted way that it immediately offered a new perspective on
a character who never comes back in the song. I truly saw him sitting
there - in an "image" that's both transcendent and earthbound, that's both
present and bygone. 
What Dylan accomplished with the word "glue" alone the next day belongs to
the same pantheon (comments to follow). 

The myth and possible story of a lifetime 

"He was born, he suffered and he died", Joseph Conrad writes at one point
(I forgot where). The first line of "Ain't Talkin'" could be perceived in
a similar way - a guy walks out one night (goes through his life), comes
to a place that offers him ease and beauty (entering a possible golden
age), and gets defeated (stabbed in the back) by an unsuspected force.
Perhaps that's what "Ain't Talkin'" tells about. A while ago, Peter
Vincent compared the song to "Under the Red Sky" - in that his
understanding of the latter song was considerably altered by Dylan's
statement that "it's about my home town"; he thought we might need a
similar "explanation" for "Ain't Talkin'". 
When the song opened the encore set in Hamburg it came as a complete
surprise for me - not only because it seems so unlikely that it gets
played at all, but rather because I thought the show wasn't good enough to
be blessed with this opus magnum. Even though the performance wasn't
perhaps not up to the level of the New York version from last year, it was
nevertheless a revelation to see this giant of a song suddenly entering
and trampling the hall. At a few points I felt like experiencing the
presence of an archtype of human haggardness rather than a song.

Stefan Flach 


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