Reviews
Carcassonne, France
Theatre Jean-Deschamps

June 26, 2023

[Laurette Maillet], [Derek Mankelow], [Sergi Fabregat Mata]

Review by Laurette Maillet


From Barcelona to Carcassonne June 25th.
We are a group of Bobcats at the bus station.
We start panicking when the Flixbus is more than two hours 
delayed. But finally all is well. We can all fall asleep on 
that bus.
I find my Couvent hostel... without any nuns.
The dorm is 6 females only. Great. Except one girl will get up 
every night at 2 am.
June 26th.
With Irene, we take a nice walk early morning around the 
Medieval city (Beautiful place!),
where the show will take place tonight at 9.30 pm.
Back for an afternoon rest, a lunch, a change of clothes. And 
back to the Medieval city.
I bumped into many Dylan crew people or even the musiciens. 
Jerry Pentecost is a great guy!
They will do a long soundcheck..after all!
So...we wait for a stretched afternoon
I go inside by 9 pm.
I chat a little bit with my good friends/fans from ..... 
Australia. Nice to meet them again
I've got a ticket from Irene and we both sit on the upper 
section. Show starts on time but too many folks are still 
moving around. The first song is ruined.
It's getting better on "I contain Multitudes".
The public is not polite, moving a lot for drinks!
I try to enjoy myself and focus on Jerry on the drums.
An echo on "Black rider". 
Long harp solo on "When I paint my masterpiece".
But his voice is weak on "Mother of muses".
Tired???
He said something like "I hope we'll be good, it's past our 
bed time" ????
Then a murmured "Baby, ce soir" but after the song. No 
reaction from the audience
Two or three "Thank you".
A minimalist introduction of the Band with a little something 
about Tony, before "Jimmy Reed".
The public is the worst since the beginning of the Tour. 
Talking (I had to ask twice to shut up), going out for 
drinks, taking photos ( I saw security taking out a fan) or 
even throughing things on stage. Bad manners, the Frenchies!
"Jimmy Reed" wakes up some Fans in the back, clapping along.
"Every grain of sand" is good. Bob blows his harp, puts it 
down, and picks it up again.
A beautiful venue decor, surrounding. An average show. A 
terrible audience.
But all together my stay in Carcassonne had been pleasant.
Let expect a better public in Aix-en-Provence.
A suggestion for the Bob Dylan organisation.
1) Ask fans to be seated on time. Maybe ring a bell 10 minutes 
then 5 minutes before the time due for the show.
2) Ask fans to be respectful and NOT move or TALK during a 
song.
3) Make sure the first song is... audible. Why should " 
watching the river flow " be ruined every night?
On the train to Aix-en-Provence.
See you there!
And be your Baby ...ce soir

[TOP]

Review by Derek Mankelow


With my relatives living near Carcassone and being able to 
secure tickets in the very front section of the Jean Deschamps 
theatre, the chance of once again seeing Bob Dylan live was far 
too good an opportunity to miss. The seats turned out to be in 
the dead centre facing the baby grand piano five rows from the 
front - I can't help it if I'm Lucky. I last saw Dylan at 
Nottingham in 2022 where I was perched way up in the gods so 
it was a real thrill to watch the band take their places just 
a few yards away at 9:40 pm on a beautiful evening. This much 
later start than usual had enabled us to enjoy a leisurely 
evening meal inside the magnificent city walls before taking 
the short walk to this great venue, a sunken bowl of an 
auditorium housing around I guess a couple of thousand 
spectators.

Close up, Dylan's mop of impossibly dark brown hair contrasted 
sharply with the grey locks of long-standing band member Donny 
Herron while Tony Garnier looked Forever Young in his customary 
widebrimmed black hat. It was also a chance to get a first 
glimpse of Jerry Pentecost, his cool dude of a new drummer, 
and admire the fingerwork of Doug Lancio and Bob Britt who 
helped form a unit that was close-knit both physically and 
musically throughout the concert.

Although tonight's set list provided no surprises the audience 
near me remained polite, respectful and enthusiastic throughout.  
That is, except for one lady who approached the stage at some 
point into the evening with the air of a jilted lover and 
proceeded to throw something resembling a packet of letters 
onto the stage. She gesticulated wildly, yelled and whistled 
loudly before stomping away in an apparent huff accompanied 
by security - much to the bemusement, and, ultimately, the 
amusement of all round me. Although her motives remain a 
mystery the projectile probably was not a note stating 'get 
rid of the band' as in 66.

The opening song 'Watching the River flow' had provided yet 
another shambolic start with the first few lines inaudible and 
the climax producing something of a musical road crash giving 
Dylan cause to chuckle helplessly. The show righted itself with 
a proper rendition of 'Most likely you go your way and I'll go 
mine' and by the beginning of the opening track from his Rough 
and Rowdy ways album 'I contain multitudes' Dylan was on his 
feet singing full throttle. The songs from the last album are 
still enthralling, witty and wise, so despite the show's 
predictability the faithful remained engaged throughout 
providing one of the best concert going experiences I can 
remember. I gave 'Key West' its own much deserved standing 
ovation despite him making a minor error at the beginning of 
the penultimate verse.

The crowd loved 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight' and Dylan repeated 
the song title wistfully after it had finished as if to 
emphasise his own satisfaction with the performance. He 
obviously had the time on his mind and did comment that the 
show was running 'past our bedtime'. The band visibly reacted 
to the nearby Church clock chiming at 11 during the intro to 
one of the closing numbers while his brisk take on 'That Old 
Black Magic' would prove to be the elusive song 14. My mild 
disappointment that the set list was going to be identical to 
the Nottingham show minus last year's historic tribute to Jerry 
Lee Lewis soon gave way to the delightful if familiar finale, 
a bittersweet 'Mother of Muses', a rough and rowdy 'Goodbye 
Jimmy Reed', and lastly...

In one of those inexplicable senior moments we long standing 
Dylan fans get from time to time, and although this set list 
has barely altered during the tour, I actually found myself 
momentarily struggling to recall what the final song would be. 
Imagine my delight as the opening notes provided the 
realisation it was, as always, the majestic 'Every Grain Of 
Sand'. Dylan's magnificent rendition served to crown a 
fabulous night inside the ramparts of this World Heritage 
Site, the Medieval city of Carcassone, which, like Dylan, has 
remained largely impregnable throughout history. It stood 
while Caesar crossed the Rubicon but during the Crusades its 
sword-wielding Cathar heretic rebels, medieval Black Riders, 
were finally overcome.

Around 11.20 , as the ancient Cite's illuminations shone down 
upon its stone steps of time to light the way, it was 'Every 
Grain Of Sand', the perfect closing song, each line written 
for the ages, which provided both the highlight of the evening 
and its fitting climax.

Derek Mankelow 

[TOP]

Review by Sergi Fabregat Mata


"Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius."
(Kill them. The Lord knows those that are his own)

Reportedly, this words were spoken by abbot Arnaud Amalric, 
military commander of the Albigensian Crusade, when he was 
asked by his men how to tell apart the heretic Cathars from 
the Catholics in the city of B├ęziers on 1209. The whole city 
was slaughtered and burned to the ground, and a few days later 
the Crusaders arrived at Carcassone, capturing the city in a 
matter of days.

Catharism is an extremely interesting heresy. They sustained 
that there were two divinities, good and evil, and that the 
evil one had created the terrenal world, thus the presence of 
sin in all earthly things. The good God created the spiritual 
world (what we would call Heaven), accessible only via the 
'consolamentum', a form of baptism performed when you were 
about to die. This idea of the reality not as a transit state 
before going to Heaven or Hell but as a literal creation of an 
evil God (Satan) seems absolutely revolutionary and incredible 
to me. As the Cathars rejected the idea of monotheism and as 
their ideas also abjured wealth and the material world, the 
Catholic church of course deemed them heretic.

As if Arnaud Amalric was a proto Bob Dylan, he stole his 
famous phrase from the Bible, precisely 2 Timothy 2:19: But 
the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord 
knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who calls on the 
name of Christ depart from iniquity."

So there we were, into one of the strongholds of the Cathars, 
a castle some places of which date from the first century AD, 
with Roman towers and mosaics, walking to and fro beneath the 
afternoon sun on the walls of Carcassonne when we found 
ourselves overseeing the stage, already set up even with the 
piano, ready for soundcheck. We stood there a bit, got to see 
Tony, Donnie and Bob (Britt) arriving, before a not very nice 
lady kicked us out at 5:45pm, half and hour before the 
official closing time.

Due to a lenghty entry process, we hit our seats a couple of 
minutes before lights dimmed, still with much daylight above 
our heads. Being in row 4, left side, we saw all of them 
entering the stage, it was such a great momrnt, Bob trotting 
easily towards his piano, sitting down and, after a couple of 
mostly silent lines, his voice shining all the way to us, and 
him laughing (more exactly openly cracking up) while looking 
at Bob Britt. From where we were, it was such, such a fantastic 
moment, and Bob looked so fine, so careless and youngish...

After a super groovy and refreshing 'Most Likely', with one 
line specially sounding as if Indiana Jones had stolen it from 
the Marianna Trench itseld ("I can't do what I've done before"), 
Bob stood up and embarked into an extremely powerful journey 
that had so many instants of pure beauty and rivetting wonder. 
Of course being so close to him, seeing his silhouette moving 
forward and backwards while playing, played a big part on that 
feeling, but it was really a deepening and profound concert, 
between heaven and earth, life and death in the same old cage.

After 'Multitudes', I asked boyfriend (he offered before) if we 
could swap seats, as from his Bob was perfectly visible while 
from mine a mic stand blocked part of his face. I knew he'd say 
yes, but I can't thank him enough for that, that view really 
added even too much weight to the whole experience. Take 'False 
Prophet', a crazy wild ride with Bob and all them stomping those 
instrumental parts, and *that* line, viciously longed more than 
sung: "the city of God is up there on the hill!". 'False Prophet' 
is a true obscure song if you come to think about it: what's 
that about the cool breeze, sitting on the shade? What's that? 
Nobles from the XVIIth century, a Renoir painting, a cute couple 
looking at Tik Tok by the fountain side? What if the garden is 
paradise divine, huh? Well, last night those questions arose, 
as Bob was fully into the mystic.

Then, they lighted one of those side standing focus (as usual) 
that impacted directly on our face, thus making it a bit 
difficult to see Bob and at the same time adding the song an 
ethereal longing beauty, like if Bob was some autre, not a 
regular guy anymore, but just something else. His voice came 
out amazingly beautiful, and all that part about the hotel r
oom, which is one of my favourite ones for obvious reasons, was 
just mesmerizing. He picked up the harmonica by the end and 
Donnie followed him with the violin and the thing was so 
beautiful that at the same time I could only sense that it was 
a shame it had to end. Maybe then I started to get the idea of 
the earthly world as a creation of and evil God. What's the 
point of joys if they are so transient? Yeah, someday 
everything's gonna be so doggone beautiful, or different, but 
when and what we do in the meantime? Just enjoy? EXCUSE ME?!

'Black Rider' and 'My Own Version' saw Bob so immersed in the 
sea waves that I had at some point that feeling of shame or 
'unrealness': that guy IS Bob Dylan, how can that be possible? 
I mean, the sold the soul to the devil stuff, the je suis un 
autre stuff, the Buddy locked eyes with me stuff, the I can't 
sing a song that I don't understand stuff yet here I am, saying 
the hell to all things that used to be. Isn't that the New 
Testament? To the hell with the old, cruel, non-merciful God? 
Won't Jesus be my baby tonight, bring the bread and wine over 
here? If 'False Prophet' felt obscure, 'My Own Version' surely 
was esoterical. What's that about picking a number between one 
and two? Like LIBERACE?! Yeah, I know the lyrics for three 
years now, but last night raised lots of questions, what is 
that supposed to be? Bob surely asked himself too when he put 
on a strange voice to sing "can you cross your heart and hope 
to die". That's a pretty bold line, it seems to come from a 
strange ritual, seems to come long before the first Crewsade...

The real own version of the song came of course afterwards, 
between a one and two, as if the thing was going on as myself, 
with a little delay for so much thoughts in the way of the day. 
'Baby Tonight' started with the usual almost 'a cappella' start, 
but due to whatever happened in a microsecond, Bob started a 
baby piano riff and the band followed him, giving birth to a 
new arrangement of the song, part jazz, part elevator song, 
part just a beat, part the greatest thing I had ever seen. Who 
knows, but my feeling was that it was a non fungible own 
version, like that thing he did with T-Bone, but cheaper!

Like if something had got under Bob's skin, 'Rubicon' was 
almost whispered, like the doctrine of an heretic, and I can't 
get out of my head his movements with his whole body swaying 
eastbound and westbound on the piano keys during those heavy 
all-playing instrumental breaks. If 'False Prophet' was 
obscure and 'Own Version' was esoterical, this was testamental; 
it seems obvious because of the lyrics, but there was, or I 
sensed, an uneasyness in his voice that made it even 
uncomfortable, as if it was something personal he was sighing 
to himself.

'Key West', like in Barcelona #2, was minimal in arrangement, 
but Bob stuffed all that silence with a heavily-thought voice, 
take that first "McKinley hollered, McKinley squalled", you'll 
see the history of the whole human race. "Death is on the wall" 
is such a line, quoted in the song, that brings us all together, 
and again with that side focus lighting bright, the words shone 
on me as if that light was a prison light, knowing deep inside 
my heart that I can't scape, 'cause death is on the wall. In 
the walls of Carcassonne too, of course, in that castle high, 
where everything seemed a dream, Bob Dylan kept being true to 
truth, true to life, true to me, and breaking the grapes, he 
let it all hang out: death is on the wall. It followed a 
trance-like rendition of 'Key West', one where words weighted 
200, 300, 400 pounds to the point that the earthly thoughts 
turned into prayers as time stopped, and I hated it that it 
couldn't stop, that the doctor was right: death is on the wall. 
I remember how he sang those first lines, and they teached me 
so much, so dignity facing darkness when it comes. I could 
stop at pretty much each line, but there was this moment when 
a butterfly crossed above Bob's head, just where the standing 
focus was lighting us, silhouetting her completely as she 
passed by and afterwards he sang "fly around my pretty little 
miss, I don't love nobody, give me a kiss". It feels pointless 
and stupid to try to describe what I felt.

From that point on, the show (or me) entered in a very elevated 
mood, me ending up cheering the devil serving in 'Gotta Serve 
Somebody', as if unconsciously I was paying tribute to the 
creator of this earthly world, praying more than thinking. I 
remember Bob's leg following the rhythm, with the embroideries 
in his trousers shining on me, and again this feeling of 
unrealness, that only grew during 'I've Made Up My Mind', where 
words fulfilled and satisfied themselves in an endless dance 
encircling me, getting to the true meaning of "I'll lay down 
beside you when everyone's gone". Honestly, this is a song that 
feels timeless, so simple and yet precise, so ungrippable and 
ungraspable, made of genuine rough and rowdy ways, such as life, 
such as happiness, like Bob has sang also roughly a minute ago...

Yeah, that old black magic would be a great way to sum up what 
he did, at least with me, last night in Carcassone, got my in a 
spell, weaved so well, those icy fingers up and down my spine, 
same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine... I also feel 
sometimes like a leaf caught in the tide. It seems a nice 
little love song, but the words are the words, and they say 
what they say, like the words of the Bible, and they speak of 
black magic, like the Catholic church said about the Cathar 
doctrine. Bob seated down for this one, conjuring with his 
hands the keys, twisting a bit his neck when singing, and it 
sounded so different to previous renditions, not that innocent, 
not that freed... By the end, he even chewed the words a bit, 
as if trying to find the middle in them, the pirate radio 
signal, as if grasping the other side of their Rubicon...

The last three songs were immensely deep, the layers of 
meanings topping onto each other, the three wise Kings named 
but not directly, the identity more forced than forged on the 
inside out, the effort of it all palpable, the last request 
being to disappear, with one hand waving free, into a lost 
land, past the frozen leaves, far from the walls of death, all 
pain burned down, melted like a golden jewelled crown melts 
with a guitar, like a shoe burns in a bonfire, like a juice is 
sucked and a head is hang. Words, words, words, like Hamlet 
said, and I've come to understand that words are like the 
ancient footsteps, it's all I have, all I'm made of, all I'm 
lost at on a night like this.

After the show, I saw Tony and Donnie leaving and shouted 
"Great show guys!", and Tony waved his hand at me. Then, they 
went through a little stone staircase and we ventured 
following them. Both still black suited, Tony with his hat, 
it was such a sight those two guys down the walls of 
Carcassonne. At the bottom of the stairs, they turned right 
to where the buses were parked and we went left, heading to 
our hotel, surrounding the immense walls of Carcassonne. On 
the road, a black van was approaching, heading for the 
parking, and I was 100% sure Bob was in it. He went his way, 
we went ours.

[TOP]

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