Montreux, Switzerland
Montreux Jazz Festival
Stravinski Auditorium

July 1, 2023

[Michael Sobsey], [Stefan Dietrich ]

Review by Michael Sobsey

So, overall a very good show. The band was super in synch. With 
the seating arrangements, the four thousand standing room 
capacity of the venue was reduced to 1,500 seats. I had a great 
aisle seat in the eighth row. Honestly, the best songs for me 
were ‘Every Grain of Sand’ and ‘Not Fade Away.’ The cover 
seemed inspired and sped up the moderate tempo that had been 
established.   After that I enjoyed Watching the River Flow, 
Most Likely You Go Your Way…; the arrangements on the Nashville 
Skyline tracks were cool, but the songs are a little ‘fluffy.’ 
I was eager to hear ‘Rubicon’ which was not in the NYC set list 
earlier on the tour (I saw three shows at the Beacon in NYC but 
all I could hear of the lyrics was the chorus. He also seemed 
to have shortened it by half. ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ was hard 
to make out the new lyrics so people just reacted when the 
chorus came around. I honestly am not a fan of most of the new 
songs other than ‘False Prophet’ and ‘Crossing the Rubicon.’ 
It’s Dylan, but with his back catalogue, it’s not up to par 
lyrically. The band was amazing. ‘False Prophet’ did not stand 
out particularly at this show, whereas in NYC it was a tour de 
force. Throughout the seventeen-song set, the vocals were 
strong and mostly clear, and the phrasing was really cool, 
The vocal on ‘Every Grain’ was seriously lucid and very moving. 
It was the highlight for me tonight and worth the price of 
admission for that performance alone. In short, it is always a 
great experience attending a Dylan concert. I first saw him in 
1974 with The Band, when you had to mail away for tickets. Then 
in ’76 I caught two Rolling Thunder shows. Right on through, 
every time he plays New York City for the last forty years I 
catch the show. Huge fan.  

Michael Sobsey



Review by Stefan Dietrich

Bob Dylan, july first, 2023, Montreux:
At the entrance shutter of the
Cell phone. That's good: Away with it! A lot of English, also quite a lot
of French around me, almost no German. Bob Dylan starts right on time. As
expected, no "hits". A total of 17 songs, 9 of them (!!) from the new
album Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020), the other songs for the mainstream
rather unknown. If you had expected crowd-pleaser: Missing! Dylan plays
one song that was not written by himself: "Not fade away" by Buddy Holly.
Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash at the end of the 1950s. Dylan
attended a concert by Holly as a very young man, and it is known that this
experience made a lasting impression on him. Dylan's band-leading at
Montreux on the grand piano is impressive. He leads his band, which is
like a conspiratorial community grouped around him, through very different
sounds, through rock, blues, Americana, story-telling, tender love songs,
angry accusations or hymns. If he plays the piano without singing, Dylan
sits, and only his hair is visible, while singing, he stands behind the
piano like a Jerry Lee Lewis, puts the microphone to the right height,
looks at the keys, sings into the microphone again. Sometimes he does this
on one song for almost 10 minutes. Some songs contain so much lyricism
that I wonder how Dylan can stay so focused. His timing is still
absolutely impressive. It is striking that Dylan sings differently than he
did a few years ago.  About ten years ago his singing sometimes resembled
a hoarse, angry bark, especially in the rock songs. At Montreux, Dylan's
voice seemed to have gained an expressive power. When he wanted to give
his words emphasis and weight to his words, the voice did not break away,
but cut through the room in a demanding and virtuosic way. Also striking
the new arrangements of the songs, so for example on "When I paint my
masterpiece." Dylan begins tenderly singing, accompanying only himself on
the piano. I rub my eyes in wonder. These are moments of beauty, almost
rapture, before the band joins After about two minutes. Other highlights:
Key West (this song seems to me a very great, late throw of Dylan),
Crossing the Rubicon, Mother of Muses or the closing track "Every Grain of
Sand". It is also noticeable that Dylan has changed song lines or whole
verses.Thus he sings in "Gotta Serve Somebody" from the gospel period that
even the people who have fun in Las Vegas have to serve someone. (I had to
smile, and I had the feeling that Dylan does, too), be it the "Lord" or
the devil, but they, too, would have to serve someone, rockingly
delivered. Dylan lets out a few "thank you's." At one point he says
something like: There where he comes from, music like this would be played
in every corner. I had to laugh. It seems to me that this music is unique.
On my left and right of me English, apparently people who accompany Dylan
through the world. At the end, Dylan and the band let "Every Grain of
Sand" continue intensely before the sounds fade away. Dylan stands up and
comes out from behind the piano for the first time; the musicians stand at
the edge of the stage for a few moments and then they are disappeared.
Some of the unwavering think that Dylan will come back again or would even
come back on stage to their applause. By then I had already left the hall,
inspired by a musical service full of intensity. An experience almost as
if from another world.

Stefan Dietrich 


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