San Sebastian, Spain
June 19, 2023
Review by Todd Kennedy
Very excited to see Bob for my fifteenth time (16th tomorrow)
in at Kursaal in Donostia-San Sebastián, and my first time since
New Orleans a year ago March.
Kursaal is a great venue and the crowd was thick and into the
event more than I've seen in the U.S. The Basques have long
appreciated Dylan, have their own folk traditions, and have hosted
him more often than any other European city of similar size over
the past decade or two. So the crowd/enthusiasm wasn't
surprising, but I was glad to see it. I had some concern two dates
might have oversaturated the market given how much he's been
here in the last decade.
A higher percentage of the Basque crowd was local than other
reviews have referenced during his tour in Portugal and Spain.
Bob was more talkative than I've seen him before, saying "thank
you" after most songs. He received partial standing ovations for
at least 6 songs, complete for 2 of them.
The band introductions came earlier than typical, and he refrained
from either "Not Fade Away" or "Into the Mystic."
His current version of "Paint My Masterpiece" is, itself, a masterpiece.
And it's amazing to me how versatile that song is. The original was
never one of my favorites, but I heard a version in Mobile Alabama
in 2019ish that blew my mind. Then the version on the new live
album was entirely different yet still very good. And now he's
rearranged it yet again to what may be the best version yet.
The entire house went silent for "Mother of Muses," and it was one
of the best live performances of that song I've heard (out of the
3 or 4 times I've heard it).
"I'll be Your Baby Tonight" also got a large response (and was a
The acoustics in Kursaal are amazing, and while (as always) the
sound was really rough early in the first song ("Watching the River
Flow") it got adjusted faster during the song than I'm typically
Local celeb Fermin Muguruza, author of Black is Beltza, was in
attendance, as well as several major local chefs. Everyone's mood
seemed positive and happy on the way out, a stark contrast to
what I've felt from those around me leaving U.S. venues in recent
Hoping for another great show tonight (and Not Fade Away or
Into the Mystic!)
Todd Kennedy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English and Film
Advisor and Coordinator, Concentration in Film Studies
Chair, Fletcher Lecture Committee
Department of English, Modern Languages, & Cultural Studies
Nicholls State University, Thibodaux LA
Review by Laurette Maillet
From Huesca to San Sebastian.
An adventure on his own: took a train to Zaragoza then another
train to Pamplona then walk half hour (nice walk) the streets of
Pamplona (no bulls??) then catch an Alsa bus.
All fine. I then walk a stip hill to my Hostel for 45 minutes. I hear
thunder on the mountain and boom! Bada boom! Hail is following
on me. Grab my poncho and stay still for 10 minutes under bushes.
But I'm all drenched to the bones (again???).
Walk the last few meters to my dorm. Empty and warm. Wash my
clothes and hang them to dry!
Nice night sleep.
Cafe con leche ???. Sunny weather, so walk down, all the way
to the beach.
For a while I consider a swim but I don't want to get wet. So ,
just a sun bath and a picnic.
The 4 BD buses are parked behind the venue. So Bob and the
Band should not be staying too far??.
I walk the Old city streets, get myself a Basque cheesecake.
Bumped into Bob's security man. Say hi! Says hi! Back??.
Bumped into Tony. Say hi! Says hi! Back. Have a chat with a Bobcat.
And then time for serious business: I do need a ticket.
Not sold out. But the few extra tickets outside are sold for 200euros.
Folks want their money back. I doubt they'll sell for that price
A young guy wants to sell for 20euros. Ok.
But when we try in , the tickets don't work. They are
for.... tomorrow ??.
Finally three good English speakers (rare) offer me a seat. Thanks ??
It's all the way up (really up). Plenty of empty seats on the floor,
right and left. But I don't want to try tonight. What the point?
Only if you're first row, maybe and only maybe you can see
his face ??.
The first song is massacred.Terrible sound. Even Bob stops singing
middle song and do some instruments.
Second ...not much better.
Starts to be better on 'Multitudes'. Do they really do soundcheck???
Or the sound is changing with public inside?
Bob says 'thank you' only once. Then an 'Alright'. Then a 'thank you
everyone' or 'thank you all'.
Harp in the middle of "Masterpiece" which makes it a little more
Songs are ok, delivered with a strong voice. But I'm getting bored.
The audience is hyper quiet. The folks next to me don't even
applause. They may wonder where is Bob Dylan. As from this
distance and the stage in the dark all is more or less "shadows in
the night". The only one clearly visible is....Jerry Pentecost, high
perched on his drums.??
Bob introduces the Band right after "Key west".
He asks Jerry to do a little drumming.....??
He tries a joke with Tony....lost in the night??
And something funny with Donnie....lost in the night??
He seems lost in his own little world.??
No much reaction from the public. Except always at the mention
of Tony Garnier, the afficionados(das) are clapping a little louder.
I wait carefully after "I've made up my mind...."
Bob turns to Tony who starts "That old black magic".
We'll! I was happy to participate, but truly not the best experience.
I like San Sebastian. Wish for a better weather but... What can
Lucky the shows are indoors.
Outside it had been raining.
I catch a late bus and walk just few minutes under the rain before
crashing on my bed.
See you tomorrow good people.
Bobby should do some thalassothérapie ??????.
The right place!
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