Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Heineken Music Hall

April 12, 2009

[Howard Weiner], [Trevor Townson], [Judy and Tom Lallier]

Review by Howard Weiner

Football hooligans partied on outside of the Bijlmer Sports Complex as
mild mannered Bobsters filed into the Heineken Music Hall for Dylan’s
final act in Amsterdam. “Gotta Serve Somebody” electrified pronto,
though it was a truncated version like the openers from the other nights.
“Don’t Think Twice” was well received, Dylan was swaying and plucking 
his organ gospel style. The Cowboy Band emerged from hibernation
during a romping “Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine.”
“Million Miles” was a surprise and a performance that exceeded
expectation. Dylan laid down swampy chords, recreating that bluesy late
night feel of Time Out Of Mind. This band’s is at its best on this kind
of number – one that hits a nerve and evokes a hazy feeling. “Stuck
Inside of Mobile” was the right follow-up.  Dylan seemed to be enjoying
himself for the first time during this Dutch run.  The reworked Sugar Baby
was an ugly baby, as was Beyond the Horizon. If this Horizon can be pulled 
off by Dylan, he’s still a million miles away.  In between the ugly babies, 
Dylan goosed his Dutch fans with “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum,”
stepping to the microphone to do his lead singer thing while side-swiping 
his harp. Quality entertainment. I need to go off on a bit of a rant here, 
I have never seen audiences as disinterested and talking amongst 
themselves like the ones here in Amsterdam. I tried to avoid their 
yappng, but they were yapping all over the place - like kids during recess. 
I had to vent, because this went on for three shows and was especially 
disturbing during the slower songs.  Getting past the horizon, amends 
was made with a focused Desolation Row. Bob really locked into this 
one. A huge performance, but I was struck again by the lack of courage 
or conviction from the axe men. Moving forth with a crashing but 
meaningful blow, the band blasted Tough Mama again. Dylan improvised 
most of the words as the band prematurely evacuated, ending too
quickly. By himself, with a little organ plinking, Bob sang the final 
“Crestfallen” verse.  The band made amends with a”Highway 61” that 
was perverse. The Cowboy Band had some wild call and response 
exchanges that had Tony Garnier crying – truly unique improve - this 
is a show you’re gonna wanna track down. “Ain’t Talking” was beyond 
reproach - an Easter Sunday treat. “Thunder on the Mountain” was 
out of control – instead of pussy footing around, the guitarists went 
out on a limb and interacted with Dylan. LARS was powerful, and the 
three song encore just was. Amsterdam is such a phenomenal city,
but the chatty cretins who came to these shows didn’t know what 
they were missing. Even Dylan seemed dismayed, after acknowledging 
the audience in typical band line-up fashion, he half heartedly pointed 
at them, spun away and quickly disappeared.

Howard Weiner    


Review by Trevor Townson

Walls and water, it would appear that these are the main reasons people 
visit Amsterdam, to photograph walls and water. Some really grand walls
like those of central station even warrant a video  being taken of them, I
must admit that I never saw those walls move once for the  full three
minutes of filming. Some walls must have been photographed so much that
they now have signs posted on them prohibiting you from taking any more
pictures. My reason to visit Amsterdam was not to take pictures, in fact
where I was  heading photographs were not allowed either. Three nights,
well two actually at that point as I only had tickets for the first two nights.
As the Dutch ticket service had seemed to make it over complicated to buy 
tickets off them it was no surprise to find that the third night was not
sold  out. Tickets being available and tickets being got where two
different  things and I was advised to try the internet.  An E ticket not
being my preference it was a case of needs must so off I  went to the
internet cafe. Quickly getting to the site via only to find
it in local  language with no obvious signs of switching it into any other
language I asked the owner of the cafe if he could read it, he was Asian
and spoke English well  but had not a clue about the local language. I
asked another guy for assistance who did turn out to know the local 
language and he agreed to help.  However, after trying to help me for
several minutes even he gave up and said it was far too complicated for
him! There was only one thing to do, Trust Yourself. Through a combination
of some of my own personal details and the hotel address I was staying in
plus a few times of trying with a totally made up post code, out printed
a ticket.  Lining up for the shows the queuing was just a few people for
the most part of each day. Security did seem to be concerned about
controlling the entry but to no great effect in the end.  OK, so apart 
from a totally impractical single file barrier up to a ticket operated turn 
style nothing is going to be totally safe and fair but there could be far 
better effective segregation control as things always hot up towards 
the end and I saw one guy fall to the ground and that's not the first 
time I have seen that happen.  Outside the venue on the huge electronic 
announcement board details of Bob and his shows took turn amongst 
the other up and coming attractions. One of the screens gave some
details of Bob's background, where he was born  etc and also his date 
of birth which was stated as 1947 so someone had indeed  pushed 
back the clock for him. First night was a good solid performance and 
I thought George was  outstanding on the drums particularly during 
Highway 61 where he gave himself a  real work out. It is not often 
that eyes fall off Bob so when they do it is usually something good 
and eyes were on George at times tonight. His enthusiasm continued
into the second night and he did not want to stop  at the end of
Levee's Gonna Break, in fact he didn't as Bob half laughing looks at him
as if to say "stop playing George, the songs over". Yet again, Things Have
Changed, the keyboard was well audible and Bob seems to be taking the
lead on it and almost going solo in place of the guitars or his harmonica
at times. At many points Bob picked up the harmonica only to discard it in
favour of blasting chords from the keyboard.  I guess Bob's touring is more
like The Never Ending Rehearsal for a show that is never going to be.
Never has it felt more so than during these shows. Bob seemed to be
experimenting all over the place with both the phrasing and music and
everything seemed even more spontaneous than usual as Bob seemed to be
bursting with ideas and inventions that it was not possible to do all at
once and there was too much for him to fit in or do. Most times it worked
to tremendous effect, I do think he lost it, though, on The Lonesome Death
by the way that he sang it and chopped up the sentences, I could not take
the song seriously like that, it left me thinking Hattie is dead, William
too is now dead and finally Bob has killed the song.  Not a favourite of
mine anyway so I was not overly annoyed as the  couple behind me talked
all the way through it, yet again overall the crowd loved it and cheered
and clapped their approval.  No matter the show was soon resurrected for me
on this Easter weekend by the next song as Bob gives rocking Tough Mama 
a rare outing. There was a lot of good work from Donnie 2nd night too,
violin plugged in and well audible. Not everyone had braved a day on the
pavement for a place up close as a couple in front on the rail had simply
gone to the side door and gained a kind of early VIP entry. Justly
deserved as it happened as talking to them we find out they were on their
40th wedding anniversary and they had come to see Bob in Amsterdam, this
was only the second time seeing him, the first being at the Odeon in
Newcastle, England in 1966. Coincidentally I told them that the first time
I saw Bob was also in Newcastle, England at St James' Park in 1984 but
this night would not be my 2nd but my 60th show. Turns out they were
actually from London and it had proved easier to see Bob in Amsterdam
than at the O2 Arena. Having made my own arrangements for getting to the
O2 Arena, I appreciated what they were saying! They really enjoyed the show
and commented as is usual with people who do not see Bob often, "he was
mostly half way through the song before we knew which song he was
singing". I told them best at this stage not to get hooked but not to
leave it another 40 years till the next time. There seemed to be so much
new and different amongst the old and familiar it is not possible to
remember or itemise the detail, personally I found the second show better
than the first and the third show better still. The third night started
with what seemed to be a change of set list as the start time was delayed
as people scurried around the stage replacing pieces  of paper, this had 
also been the case first night.  With Serve Somebody as opener a lot of 
people thought "this will be the one" and it certainly turned out special in 
a number of ways.  Million Miles really rocked but it seemed to me to be 
Stu Kimball on lead  and on a couple of other occasions during other songs 
too but I could be  wrong. Another song I cannot remember which one, 
I think it was Beyond The Horizon or could have been Sugar Baby had 
been totally reworked almost to making it a new song and it sounded 
really good. Seems like there was not just me not paying full attention 
this night as all kinds of things seemed to be going on between Bob 
and something or  other with Bob seeming at times to be totally frustrated. 
At times he would be smiling and laughing with the band and next thing he
would be scowling or looking in some ways totally peed off with something 
or someone.  It was hard to tell what was wrong as otherwise it was a cracking 
show and even the band members seemed puzzled as Bob would stand for a 
while at the key boards looking as if thinking I do not know why I bother!  
There was certainly a full audience out there glad that he does bother though.
After a fairly lively Desolation Row during which Bob could not help but be 
drawn in by the crowd, to the point of adding a body swerve and bended 
leg to the event, things suddenly came to a head during Tough Mama.  Bob
looked like he wanted to put in some harmonica near the end but did not
seem to get an opening, the band seemed to go round again until everyone 
had evidently lost the plot as to where they were at. Bob had stopped
playing the keyboard and it all just came to a deathly silence as the band 
closed the song. The song had stopped but it was like everyone knew
it was not finished but did not know what to do and no clapping broke
out. Bob then suddenly  starts pounding on the keyboard picking up 
where he had left off to finish the last few lines of vocals as the band
scurried to catch up with George being the first to break in adding some
light percussion and a worried  expression.  The show closed as previous
two nights with Blowing In The Wind ending with Bob centre stage on 
harmonica.  That's all for me till Sheffield where I will be introducing Dad for 
the first time to Bob, probably taken the only song he will know, Blowing In
The Wind, off the set list by then, no matter he would still probably not 
recognize any of it.  Dad really wanted to go to Vegas to see Elvis but
that possibility has passed so it is a man equally as great but who will
come to visit Dad, Bob Dylan in Sheffield!  Actually, I did not mention
the gem of the shows, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum with Bob centre 
stage on harmonica, if Pop had seen that he may just have believed he 
had seen Elvis, Brilliant.


Review by Judy and Tom Lallier

Ah---After three glorious days in the beautiful city of Amsterdam one is
ready for a final blowout - and Bob did deliver. The amps were turned up
and he drew on each song like he was singing a final farewell to a good
friend - and it was appreciated !! It was Easter - so Gotta Serve Somebody
gave me a jolt -  Then followed up by a soulfull and heatfelt Don't Think
Twice was perfectly positioned - then to test your senses Most Likely
trailed along with an explosive Miliion Miles to further draw you in to
the road ahead....Stuck Inside of Memphis was a powerful noted and sung
message - Sugar Baby followed and again my husband and I LOVED it and took
many of our neighbors a bit to catch - Tweedle Dee was better than it has
been- Desolation Row brought us back to REMEMBER THIS DAY ...another Tough
Mama ....hope everyone knows what a gift this number was to us..61... good
as always ...Ain''t Talking... scared me ...Bob you truely rock my
heart...Thunder on the Mountain was lively number - and I always love Like
A Rolling Stone- tokens had run out - I my husband loved the
Heineken from the roving dude - I personally have to have the Bacardi and
Cola Light - but still bowed at the encores Watchtower Spriti and Blowin'
in the Wind... Bob our thanks to you for a great run - 5 shows in six
nights - our hats off to you and your Band.

Judy and Tom Lallier 


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