Reviews

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Heineken Music Hall

April 9, 2007


[Joop Bekkema], [Huib Krijgsman], [Keith Ravenscroft], [Vernon Briscoe], [Tom 't Hart]

Review by Joop Bekkema



For good acoustics, Heineken Music Hall is the place to be. For a seat,
your chances double or even triple in Ahoy or any other venue in Holland.
I still wonder why Freddy chose for such a large hall without sufficient seats.
The result is that everybody, except the happy few, is or has to be standing.
If you, as an architect, have planned all that on purpose, your choice
should include a relatively high stage. No such thing in the HMH. As a
result of all this, everybody is enjoying the sound but cannot see clearly
where it is coming from. Furthermore everything is forbidden in the HMH
(distributing flyers for a Dylanevent in Heerenveen on 8 sept, bringing in
drinks or food, taking pictures on your cellphone) but you ARE allowed to
smoke as much and as often as YOU like. Strange people those Dutch, Obelix
would have said.

Dylan was in excellent shape with a very clear voice. Tonight was a real
treat. The opener was once again Cat's in the Well, and nobody seemed to
mind and I really love this strong opening. Don't Think Twice was once
again (after M�nster) nothing special. Watching The River and especially
It's All right Ma were played very well and the audience loved it. When
The Deal Goes Down and Spirit On The Water changed places compared to
yesterday(also a way to produce different setlists). For me both songs do
not belong in a Rocktemple like HMH or any musichall. I would not pledge a
tear if both would never make it again to the setlists. The same goes for
Rollin'and Tumblin' and Thunder on the  Mountain. Both songs are played
pretty straight forward with a lot of noise. They roll to an end without
any remarkable finesse or brilliance. Most Likely You Go Your way should
start with the typical dodadodaaadodado, dodadodaaadodado. Freeman comes
up with something that looks like it, but it is not the same. Sadly that
is the case with a lot of songs they play. If it was a very difficult riff
(like in Tweedle dee) I can imagine, but this is elemantary. Is it a lack
of capability or a lack of interest. When e.g. Koella came to the band he
immediately took the lead and played all Dylan songs as they were
originally written, also he produceed amazing solo's. In those days the
setlists differed substantially more than today.
I have not seen or heard anything like this from Freeman (yet). 

The absolute surprise of the evening was a sublime rendition of Ain't
Talking. Totally unexpected for everyone. One of the songs that fits  in
every setlist. It replaced Nettie Moore, which I really pitied. I'd rather
would have seen "Spirit" or "Deal" go down and Nettie Moore as well fixed
in the setlists. The other surprise was a wonderfull High Water. Like in
M�nster one of the highlights.  Furthermore Visions Of Johanna was very
very nice, with a wonderfull staccato type of singing introduced by Dylan.
As always looking for a change.  The absolute winner for me tonight was a
stunning, chilling, unbelievable version of To Ramona, with the best
functional harmonica solo's I have ever heard from Dylan. His singing was
beyond imagination. What a performance.

The band? Defenitely better than last year and slowly improving.
The sound is very good (like yesterday) but still no solo's like the
guitarplayers in Dylan's Band used to demonstrate.
A few names? Mick Taylor, Jerry Garcia, Robby Robertson, Tom Petty, G.E.
Smith, J.J Jackson, Larry Campbell, Carlie Sexton and Freddy Koella. If
you listen to them, you see, or better: hear,  what I mean.

[TOP]

Review by Huib Krijgsman



Amsterdam, The Netherlands Heineken Music Hall April 8 & 9, 2007

2 brilliant shows. Surely this band lacks great guitar players but as
turns out now their boss has improved lots on the keyboards and the
sologuitar as well. Denny plays something like 2 or 3 solo's and Stu
….. for 2 nights he did nothing but strum the rhytm. Most of the
sound is the familiar punkrocking cowboyband but with Bob now doing
practically all the interplay on guitar, piano, organ and harmonica,
relying heavily on Donnie's steel to fill in empty  spaces. Bob is
clearly in control of everything, he's the true bandleader and he sings clear
and confident throughout the show. Both RollingStones started with a
harmonica line in which Bob layed out the tempo for the night for the band to
follow. The feel of the first 4 songs on both evenings with Bob on
guitar was, let's say StevieRayVaughn-ish-working-for-MCA-like southern
bluesrock. This feel returned in the uptempo songs like HW61, River Flow
and Mobile. Especially the hardrocking arrangements of It Ain't Me, Tom
Thumb (Easter Time song ?) and Alright Ma on the 8th were a pleasure.
Alright Ma on the 9th sounded even better than the night before ! To
Ramona was a little bit out of place but there were some 'irregular on
the setlist' songs that stood out and not only cos of surprise. Red Sky ,
Chimes Of Freedom  (though bits of up-singing) and Ain't Talking were
great but nothing beats the Visions Of Johanna of the second evening. A
perfect performance in all respects that sent out shivers through the
entire hall. I am certain not a word was spoken by anybody through this
song. For me this has been the best Easter in ages, many thanks again
Bob!!

[TOP]

Review by Keith Ravenscroft



I think that of the two Amsterdam concerts this one slightly had the edge.
Although by far the most stunning song of both nights was It's Alright, Ma
on the first night. He delivered this like a declaration of war; it
reminded me of a live Isis; snarling, chewing and spitting. 

It must have scared the bejesus out of even Bob himself as he watered it
down a tad tonight. 

Last night after the first few songs with Bob on guitar it became clear
that he was having fun. Looking out over our heads and smiling right from
the start. 

It sure was nice to see him holding a guitar again, and yes he even played
one or two effortless solos.

Cats in the Well and It ain't me Babe were pretty much standard fare, but
the aforementioned It's Alright, Ma, along with the stunningly beautiful
Nettie Moore, were the two highlights of the evening. 

The organ on the first night, just didn't work, especially during songs
like Like a Rolling Stone, and particularly All Along the Watchtower was
quite despairing (dare I say dreadful?) The piano worked so much better on
these songs. Those dreaded three high-end notes were as painful as a
grazed shin on a rock. Burn it Bob- and while you're at it.well, more
about the band later.

His singing on both nights though was superb. A little up-singing on
Chimes of Freedom, but it was forgivable and seemed to work. Under the Red
Sky was a nice surprise. 

But where, oh where, were the subtleties, the ethereal and delicate songs
he used to surprise us with, haunting words hushed and accentuated by
sweet harmonica breaks. The band didn't allow Bob a quiet moment on the
first night. Okay people were jumping around and dancing to Summer Days,
but they can do that at a Rolling Stones concert. That lead guitarist-
Denny? He seemed at times capable, breaking into a short forced solo, but
most of the time it was like, 'come on man what are you waiting for?' I've
never really felt the urge to analyze these new guys- I wonder why.

Tonight though, Bob seemed to care a little more about his playing. A
little more passion he put into his performance. To Ramona was gorgeous,
as was Visions of Johanna, his phrasing sometimes causing brief spatters
of applause and even sniggers of cheerful laughter. Who else with only a
brief change in voice level, emphasis and accentuation, inflection &
intonation can make a crowd grin, gasp, shiver or weep? All in all then,
these two concerts were not to be missed. After the first night I couldn't
help thinking that I'd missed something. That spark, that rare flicker of
brilliance, something that we take away from all Bob's gigs- that one
priceless moment that we go for- just wasn't there, and I felt more than
happy that Bob had enjoyed it for he seemed to be having the time of his
life. 

On the second night- everything I could wish for was there in abundance. 

Ain't Talkin'was so special.

See you next year Bob!

Keith Ravenscroft

[TOP]

Review by Vernon Briscoe



THE MYSTIC GARDEN

Have you ever seen a Harrier jump jet achieve vertical take off?  That�s
what it felt like watching Bob tonight at the second Amsterdam show.  It
happened during High Water: a mighty meshing of cogs and then whoosh!

Maybe it was the invoked spirit of Big Joe Turner or perhaps it was 
something about Donnie�s banjo lick that tickled Bob.  More likely it just
happened to be the point at which our man finally converted dripping sweat
and brute willpower into musical gold: a troubadour equivalent of alchemy.

From that moment this show became truly awesome to witness.  From my
vantage point five heads from the front I watched as Bob�s face became a
kaleidoscope of expressions: sorry, strong, vulnerable, proud, pleading,
lost, devilish, comic, sad, tender, mischievous, kind.  Had he not sung a
note I would still have been in no doubt about what he was conveying.

To Ramona, was plain beautiful precisely because Bob was dealing so openly
with the tender regret at the heart of the song.  I struggle to think of
another performer generous enough to allow an audience into quite such a
personal confession.  The harp playing was purest silk. People around me
were visibly moved.  So was I.

It is impossible to describe to anyone who has not witnessed it at first
hand a show where Bob is not only in full command of his gifts but is also
alive to the possibility that these gifts may still not be enough to
convey all he wishes to say.  In this he is both audience and performer. 
He sings and even as he does he listens � excited as we are � to see if
the song is sung.

Visions of Johanna was a triumph.  Bob called down every like from some
unknown place and saw that it was entirely new like the freshly unfolded
leaves on the springtime Amsterdam trees.  I shall never forget his double
call to the Madonna either. Nor the look on his face.

But there is more: the performance of Ain�t Talkin� � its third ever live
showing � was staggering, the absolute high point of the evening.  The
crowd held its collective breath and Bob intoned from that dark space
somewhere between life and death where only he goes.  And Oh mother,
things were going well!

Four more songs, the line up and the gardener was gone leaving nothing but
sweet sweet blooms in his wake � and a pinch or two of holy terror for
good measure.

Thank you, Bob. Thank you.

Mr Jinx

[TOP]

Review by Tom 't Hart



Day two of Dylan-week for me was another amazing, unforgettable evening!

His singing was sometimes less clear than the day before but there were
some highlights that transcended everything I have ever heard! Chimes of
Freedom from 8th of April was close to perfection as it was but tonight's
Vision of Johanna and Ain't Talking were perfect, sheer brilliance

-Cat's In The Well was much better than the day before and a good opening
number I think..better than Tweedle Dum and the crowd loved it -Don't
Think Twice, It's All Right not having heard this classic Dylan song
before, I really liked it but I do believe it has been done better
-Watching The River Flow again rocked the place! Amazing song -It's
Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) I thought was a bit less than the day
before, because Dylan's voice was less clear but still a cracking
rendition because it's such a good song -Spirit On The Water was nice but
as said before by another reviewer, it shouldn't be played in HMH -High
Water (For Charlie Patton) was superb! Great song, great performance and
the crowd loved it -To Ramona took some time for me to recognize but it
was such an honour to hear this beautiful, beautiful song..amazing!
-Rollin' And Tumblin' was little bit boring the second time around
-Visions Of Johanna was perfection, divine..I will never forget the moment
he played this, simply stunning and as said before, the entire audience
was listening to every word -Highway 61 Revisited was again rocking and a
good transition from the beautiful Visions of Johanna to get the crowd
going again -When The Deal Goes Down is, after Ain't Talking, now my
favorite Modern Times song, just a wonderful song and Dylan seems to
really love this song -Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine) had
a great intro and the band really rocked on this one -Ain't Talkin' was,
again, perfection! This is one of the best songs ever written and ever
since I bought the tickets to the shows I was hoping and praying he would
play this song..and tonight thank God he did. Stunning -Summer Days was
much, much better than the day before, really got the crowd moving -Like A
Rolling Stone was great and, like the day before, I noticed that Dylan
again allowed the crowd to sing the lyrics with him and they ate it up,
great response

After a rather long wait, they came back to thunderous cheers and applause
and played 2 great versions of Thunder on the Mountain and All Along the
Watchtower and then the band stood there with Bob for up to 30 seconds and
the crowd loved it! Dylan raised his hands and received the applause,
knodded a few times and walked away, to get on with his tour

These past 2 days have been unforgettable and, god forbid, he would decide
to stop touring or something worse, at least I have been to these 2 great,
great shows and it was my honour to be in the presence of the greatest
artist the music scene has ever known and probably will ever know

Come back soon bob!

[TOP]

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