Paris, France

Palais Omnisports de Paris

April 23, 2007

[Melanie Longden], [Jacques Graf], [Mike Cunningham], [Richard Lager],
[John Gallienne], [Christopher McGreal], [Noam Faust], [Dana Enciu]

Review by Melanie Longden

We hadn't planned to see Bob in Paris, but London and Birmingham were so
good that the craving to see one more show of the current tour was too
intense to resist and we thought we'd try and squeeze another one in -
Paris seemed the logical choice.  Thanks to the links on this site,
getting hold of the tickets was easy and collecting the tickets was
straight forward. 

As we hadn't seen Bob perform abroad before, we wondered what the
atmosphere would be like in a non-English speaking country.  We arrived
early because the pre-concert atmosphere usually sharpens the anticipation
and the buzz is usually quite palpable.  It was completely flat!  There
simply wasn't an atmosphere - and it was very quiet, the few people who
were there appeared nonchalant to the point of boredom.  We took our seats
- amused to be asked by the attendant in perfect English for her 'tip',
not a custom we've come across before.  Having been told that the concert
was sold out, we were surprised that at 8.30 pm about a quarter or more of
the seats remained empty!  A few minutes later, with the usual fanfare,
the lights went down and Bob and the band were on stage.  The audience
erupted into applause and cheers - people rushed in to take their seats
and any fear that this was going to be a rather sedate affair disappeared
rapidly and the audience were very responsive and appreciative.  

Once again, 'Cats In The Well' was the opening number, and although a lot
of people criticise it, I don't agree - it starts the set off with the
right amount of energy to sweep away any doubt that you're in for a treat
and that Bob means business!   The first five numbers saw him playing
guitar, looking completely comfortable and very animated.  The real
surprise was 'Under The Red Sky', it seems that that he's revisiting his
back catalogue and nothing's off limits.  It's striking how fresh the
songs sound, there's nothing tired or perfunctory about the performances. 
I thought his voice was a little less sharp than the previous week, but
the compensation is that the mix was better - particularly in the second
part of the gig after the unexpected intermission that occurred after 8
numbers!  All of the instruments could be heard quite clearly and from
where we were sitting the sound was good for such a cavernous venue.  
This tour has been a real joy because of the variety of the songs and the
set list speaks for itself - it makes it really hard to pick a highlight. 
The numbers from Modern Times define the sound of the band and hearing the
songs live elevates them to another level and breathes something into them
that is really special.  He's using the organ to add emphasis, and it's
noticeable that the band seems to pick up on the rhythms/riffs to
highlight them.  We were treated to a stunning rendition of 'Nettie Moore'
and once again, 'When The Deal Goes Down' was a heartbreaker - the melodic
guitar part is played superbly.  I have to mention last night's 'Like a
Rolling Stone', it was so good, all the passion was there and it was
offered up with a blazing energy and precision. Bob really is on top form
and offered up another night to remember, with no disappointments or duff
moments. It was a performance that couldn't fail to please even the
harshest of the critics - if you get a chance to catch him in Europe you
really are in for a treat if he remains on this sort of form.

Melanie Longden  


Review by Jacques Graf

The Palais Omnisport de Bercy is certainely the worst place for a
Dylan concert, he usualy performs at le Zenith (which is not what i
call a very appropriate venue but is quite smaller and usually has no
seats ­ which was not the case yesterday evening -)

Last time in Bercy was 1987 tour with Tom Petty.

Never the less as soon as the "Fanfare For A Common Man" was heard i ran
to the stage and stood there... which was fine. Standing next to Roberto
who called you at the intermission (if i understood everything... :-) )

Bob appeared with the stratocaster, black suit and white hat for a very
convincing "Cat's in the well":  "OK we're here to rock, i take my
guitar and play" (if you can call it play... it's more like
punctuations on the voice, weird chords and small phrases... which i
quite appreciated. As long as i was just in front of the man! I suppose
that not the quarter of the crowd did see anything, a pity for the
audience... but as i already said the place was not appropriate at all).
seconded by a regular "It ain¹t Me" followed by a very good "Tom
Thumb's" and great "It's Alright" first highlights of the night to my

Modern Times is well served with "Levee", "Rollin'" , " Deal", 
"Spirit", "Thunder" and the beautiful "Nettie Moore" . First french
performances of those : this album is a threat live ! and of course
"Nettie Moore" is to become a must ear. "Hattie carroll" and "Things
Have Changed" were not expected... and very welcomed .

We've been surrounded by two hysterical girls from the middle of the
second set, which was quite boring and i had to ask them to calm down
for it was nearly impossible to keep any concentration on what was going
on on the stage as they shouted and screamed some crazy "Boooob! look at
meee!" i feel deeply sorry for you guys, that were around, having to
withstand this... but be sure that not all the french girls are that kind
of freak! I can tell you!

The coda is more expected: "Summer Days", "LARS", "Thunder" and
"Watchtower" ( didn¹t he sing the first verse twice?)
at the very end and as usual Bob comes and stands in front of the crowd,
in the middle of the stage, to salute, more like the statue of the
commander than any one else... and vanishes as he appeared, in the smell
of encense, leaving the Oscar behind...

Ite missa est


Review by Mike Cunningham

Oui, Oui, Oui! From start to finish, the show in Paris was awesome. I had
seen Bob twice before (Saskatoon in '98 and Portland in 2001) but recently
kept missing him as I moved around. I find it almost unfair to single out
any of the songs ... they ALL contributed greatly to the overall night ...
but I was particularly impressed by the contributions from the latest
album. "Thunder On The Mountain" was as rockin a number as you could wish
for and I thought "Nettie Moore" was just amazing. With new dates just
announced for July in Canada, it may be time for me to think about hopping
continents again. Merci beaucoup Monsieur Dylan and band.

With Bob On Our Side
Mike Cunningham


Review by Richard Lager

Well, it was a bad concert. Even though it was great to see Bob with a
guitar for the first five songs, it is impossible to ignore the
exceptionally incompetent band he's playing with. I came away disappointed
and frustrated, regretting that he hadn't delivered more of what he can
show he is still capable of and that instead he'd gone for head nodding,
foot tapping stuff that anyone can deliver and where his good voice and
writing and meaning was lost in the general mush. I had hoped for a better
voice, more focused, concentrated and less mannered. But it wasn't "that"
better and even Hattie Carroll and Nettie Moore were disappointing and
Under The Red Sky (a nice surprise) turned out to be as empty as Things
Have Changed. Even the hat looked rickety... Oh Bob, what happened ?

Richard Lager


Review by John Gallienne

Had the immense pleasure of attending Bob's concert in Paris last night. I
have been a lifelong fan of his, and I grew up and identified myself to
his music in the 60's. I went through a patch in the 80's and 90's where I
didn't listen to him too much, then I rediscovered him through his superb
DVD "Unplugged". This was the first time I was going to see him live.

So it was with great anticipation that I went to Paris yesterday. 300
kilometers from my hometown of Angers to Paris, on the high-speed train,
and worth every minute and penny of it !

So many good points to mention ! Great to see loads of young people at the
show. There's no generation gap with Dylan. As for the show contents,
there were so many good things : the band was excellent with some great
solos on guitar and pedal steel, Bob's harp playing was great to hear. His
voice was in fine form, clear as a bell. There were 6 songs from Modern
Times, all superbly done,  with "When the Deal Goes Down" the highlight
and worth the trip to Paris by itself. And I really thought the versions
of "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower" were terrific.

Just one or two things which could have made it even better in my opinion.
Firstly, Bob and the band were a long way away from most people, so it was
a pity there were no big screens to allow us a close-up of what was going
on on stage. Secondly, the sound was overall just a bit too loud,
especially on the rock numbers. And lastly, most of us were a bit
surprised by the 20-minute interval between the 2 sets which seemed to
break the continuity . I must confess I was expecting just one long set
and then the encore. The concert was really getting going just after
"Rolling and Tumbling" and then came to a halt and we had to start all
over again. Dylan picked up superbly where he'd left off with a tremendous
version of "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again", so the
disappointment was soon forgotten. Still, let's just remember it was very
warm in Paris yesterday with temperatures up to 26° / 27° during the day
(it was one of those "Summer Days" he sings about !) and I guess they
needed a drink ! 

What can we say about Dylan at the age of 65? Is he "over the hill" as he
says in "Spirit on the Water"?  No way ! He gave us "a whopping good time"
as he says in the same song ! 

And I'm delighted to have finally seen him in the flesh. Let's hope he'll
be back in Europe again soon on his Neverending Tour. The form he was in
last night, you can see him going on for a long time yet. "Forever Young"
just about sums it up, and I wish he'd sung that too !

John Gallienne
Angers, France


Review by Christopher McGreal

Having regularly attended Bob's gigs since the year 2000, and having read
through a lot of the reviews of the current European tour, I headed off to
Paris with my wife in a jubilant mood expecting another good performance
from the man himself. It was also to be the first time for me to hear
material from Modern Times. I had some reservations about the venue,
mainly based on the theory that Sports Halls re designed to accentuate
crowd noise for atmospheric effect, and not for the benefit of good
acoustics. We got to the venue about an hour beforehand, enough time to
grab something to eat and then join a very large group of people who were
trying to get in through some very small doors. Security checks were doing
their best to prevent people getting to their seats on time, which we all
know with Bob is the time it says on the ticket. It was our own fault, not
having bought the tickets in time, that we ended up way up high and way at
the back, so I can't really complain about the seating situation (apart
from having to tip someone to show me to the seat, which I was in the
middle of finding myself!). We literally had the bums on the seats when
the usual Copeland/Columbia Recording Artist blurb rang out, lights went
out and Bob was on the stage faster than I've ever seen him move, straight
into Cat's in the Well. The acoustics problem became immediately apparent,
with a few volume alterations in both directions indicating that the set
up had not been set up. It ain't me Babe followed and was passable,
although I've heard it a lot lot better. Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues, a
song I can pull off on the guitar myself, was well into the second  verse
by the time I recognised what it was, due to the 'reworking' and terrible
sound. Even then I don't think calling it a reworking would excuse
omitting 2 verses in lieu of one of the many atrocious guitar solos by
Denny Freeman, a musician hopelessly out of his depth, and one not
deserving to appear in a list that includes Freddy Koella, Robbie
Robertson and Mike Bloomfield. Every song ranked with a solo that sounded
like someone learning to play the guitar. The rest of the band too were
having an abysmal night. George Recile was just off all night long which
plainly threw everyone else off. Bob himself needs to pick that keyboard
up and throw it away, it's of no addition to the music. The harmonica
playing was pretty good though and maybe he could concentrate more on
that. I guess I'm just not happy with the set up of the band as regards
having pedal steels and violins going on either. As usual Tony Garnier
performed with great ability. Back to the songs for a moment - Like a
Rolling Stone suffered the same fate as Tom Thumbs Blues, getting a verse
cut and an arrangement that sucks (it was nearly up there with the Isle of
Wight version). At this stage I'm sitting there quickly becoming of the
opinion that Bob needs to stick to performing the last four albums only.
That's where the band works best and he sounds the best. All of the Modern
Times sounds were well rendered, however Things have Changed shows indeed
that Bob only 'used to care'!. When the songs that made Bob Dylan get
thrown out with such indifference, it makes you wonder if the Never Ending
Tour is becoming the Elvis in Vegas tour. On the way back to the hotel I
told my wife it was the same as Reubens breaking in to the Louvre to touch
up some of his paintings. Bob, please lose that hopeless lead guitarist,
stay away from the classics and focus on making more. Then I might be
back, but for now I'm going to do what you should do - take a break. I
should hasten to add, lest anyone decide I'm just one of those Dylan
critics, that this was the 7th time seeing him, and every day I will
listen to one of his albums and will do for as long as I can. I also know
that Bob has as many off days as good one's and I'm sure that the standing
ovation was kudos for the man and his music, but this gig just did not
work for me.  


Review by Noam Faust

I’m 28. I’ve been a Dylan fan ever since I started taking lyrics for
serious. I’ve never really managed to pin down the reason why, but to me
his texts, together with his performance, are the best example of magic in
popular music. In the course of time, I translated to my own language,
performed and released my favourite songs by him. I know most of his songs
by heart, from all periods. But I never got a chance to see him live. Last
year, when he passed through Paris, I didn’t have enough money to go see
him, and had to bear this embarrassment for more than a year. This time
around I decided I was going to pay my last 70 Euros to attend his concert
in Bercy. To tell the truth, I was pretty disappointed. I consider myself
very easy to impress in concert situations, with all the adrenaline and
what have you; but I just wasn’t impressed this time. I think the band was
good, and the sound decent. It was tight rock’n’roll and the guitar solos,
in my opinion, were beautifully melodic. Maybe I just expected stricter
singing. I know this is a little too much to ask from Dylan, but I’m just
telling it like it was. The first three songs had me move uneasily in my
seat (that and the fact that the French never heard of air conditioning).
It sounded to me like he wasn’t really interested in singing them, and
anything nice the band did was totally unrelated to Dylan’s singing. That
was the problem with “it’s alright ma”, too: nice arrangement – blabbered
lyrics... The show’s surprise in terms of repertoire was “under the red
sky”: a justly neglected song from a horribly mundane album. Then, first
song from “modern times”, “levee” had Dylan a little less indifferent as
to the emotion in the text. I thought, well, this might be taking off.
Dylan went on to abandon his guitar (never to pick it up again that
night), and gave a nice version of “Hattie Carroll”: bluesy arrangement,
moving harmonica solos, more or less comprehensible lyrics. Promising?
“Rollin’ and Tumblin’” rolled and tumbled as it does on the record
version, in the same vein as the former “Modern Times” song: more
heartfelt, but not really exciting. But it was too hot in Bercy, and the
band had to take a break (can’t see any other reason why).

And so all the momentum was lost. When the band came back on stage, they
had to start building up the atmosphere all over again. Dylan’s singing on
“Mobile” was muttered, with no real melody, and the chords the band played
were the only thing that let you know which song you were hearing a poor
version of. The rest of the show went on like this, with songs from
“Modern Times” performed much better (especially a quite nice version of
“Nettie Moore”) and promising an improving atmosphere, and then “rolling
stone” or “highway 61” letting you down for the same reasons described
above. And the encore was the same one he’d been performing for the length
of this tour. I don’t know, maybe this wasn’t his day. Maybe it was the
atmosphere in the huge concert hall. Maybe I was just expecting more
accurate singing. At any rate, something didn’t quite take off that night.

Noam Faust


Review by Dana Enciu

It was my 5th Bob Dylan concert and it was brilliant.

I got the tickets in December 2006 (very good seats, in front of the
stage) and I’ve been counting the days until April 23rd 2007. I arrived in
Paris 3 days before the concert so by Monday  I already recovered from the
jetleg. The concert was absolutely amazing, better than the one I attended
in Montreal in November, probably  because of the audience, at Bercy
people were warmer and more responsive… Paris loves Bob Dylan! He was in a
great shape, great mood and  he seemed to enjoy every minute so we were
rewarded with18 songs compared to only 17  for the other European
concerts.  From beginning to end the show was full of energy, Dylan’s
voice was clear and  powerful and passionate.
The impromptu intermission somehow disrupted my concentration, all of a
sudden I found myself back on earth again, however it was really hot that
day, almost 28C and quite humid , there was no air conditioning at Bercy 
(but I read somewhere that Mr. Dylan doesn’t like the air conditioning) so
in the end I guess it was ok,  we could all get something to drink.   

I loved each and every song but as always I had tears in my eyes when I
heard When the Deal Goes Down. Bob Dylan’s voice was warm and soothing,
you could feel that he was pouring his heart and soul out;  there is so
much beauty, sensitivity and sadness in this song/poem that it melts my
heart each time I hear it live:
  More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours 
  That keep us so tightly bound 
  You come to my eyes like a vision from the skies 
  And I'll be with you when the deal goes down 
  Well, I picked up a rose and it poked through my clothes 
  I followed the winding stream 
  I heard the deafening noise, I felt transient joys 
  I know they're not what they seem 
  In this earthly domain, full of disappointment and pain 
  You'll never see me frown 
  I owe my heart to you, and that's sayin' it true 
  And I'll be with you when the deal goes down 
  I wish I had a rose for Mr. Dylan. 
For me it has the best concert ever, especially since I attended it with
my best friend Andra who now lives in Paris and I also met a friend (the
wonderful and talented  actor Florian Pittis) who came from Romania with
his wife Anda to see Bob Dylan. Hopefully one day soon we’ll see Bob Dylan
in Bucharest?

In the meantime I got 2nd and 3rd row tickets through the pre-sale on
the  to the concerts in Quebec City and Montreal  and I’m
very happy, and of course counting the days, and thinking about that
Dana Enciu (aikizum)
Montreal, Canada


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