Torino, Italy

Pala Alpitour

July 2, 2015

[MichaŽl Moors]

Review by MichaŽl Moors

A few words and thoughts on the concerts in Rome, Lucca and Torino.
Terme di Caracalla, RomeJune 29, 2015
3 loud gongs call the crowd to order. Introduced by Stuart Kimballs
acoustic guitar, Bob and Band walk on stage as if they are having an
evening stroll in the ancient city. The huge Caracalla ruins in the
background make Dylan look strikingly tiny. But this visual effect fades
away as soon as the band launches into another Things Have Changed. Things
haven't changed and we're in for another "standard set list-evening". For
the regular Dylan show attendant, aware of the major set list changes in
the beginning of this tour, this may be, in some way, a little
disappointing. But think of the Roman fan, who missed out 2 years ago,
when Dylan strangely played none of these songs during his Roman concerts.
To him this comes as a blessing, for this collection of songs and the
magnificent way they are performed, is not something to be missed.† 

Of course it wouldn't be a Dylan show if there wasn't something new to be
witnessed. There are quite a few things that distinguish the actual shows
from the previous European tours. Workingman's Blues #2, Long and Wasted
Years and Love Sick got some new lyrics. Scarlet Town and Long and Wasted
Years have been slightly rearranged (very slightly in fact). Dylans piano
is higher in the mix than before and there is more room for Sextons guitar
and less for Kimballs, who is holding 2 maracases in each hand during
Early Roman Kings. Why the special mention of this triviality? Because
there is something beautiful in seeing this bloke giving his best in
handling these instruments, while the rest of the band plays the more
"serious" stuff. But what really makes these shows so special and
incomparable to anything Dylan has ever done before live, is the inclusion
of the Shadows In The Night material. Full Moon and Empty Arms and Autumn
Leaves are given prominent places in the set list, and one has the
impression that this is well-considered. The first replaces Love Sick in
the final slot before the intermission, while the latter closes the main
set. Oppositely to what we are used from Dylan, these songs come to us
almost exactly the way they were recorded. But this isn't to say that
listening to the record equals the live experience. The songs sound
terrific on the album, that's the least one can say, but hearing Dylan
sing them live in concert is something different altogether. I say hearing
Dylan sing ad not seeing Dylan sing, because the visual aspect -for most
of the fans an integral part of the experience of any Dylan performance-
is very secondary here, it's all about the singing. Dylan brings these
songs with the greatest care and conviction, visibly concentrating on a
perfect vocal delivery. And then there is the band. The subdued playing is
incredible. Dylan really can make these men play whatever he wants. These
are splendid performances and the Shadows In The Night songs are very well
received, night after night. Dylan closes surprisingly with a brilliant
Love Sick. You went through my pockets while I was sleeping...After the
standard encore Blowin' in the Wind, this is no evident choice. Somewhere
near the end of the song he steps back from the mike, overlooks the crowd,
hand on hip and hand on thigh, and lets Charlie out of the cage for a
brief, swirling guitar solo that gets a rapturous response. 2 days later
at the Lucca Summer Festival, there is pre-show excitement among fans as
the band can be heard and seen soundchecking. Instrumentel versions of Pay
in Blood and Love Sick fill the streets of the lovely ancient town. The
show itself is even better here than in Rome. The next day in Torino, we
wait for Bob and Band in a huge, hot and soulless indoor arena. The Terme
di Caracalla are an unsurpassed setting and this is quite the opposite.
But that doesn't hold back Dylan from playing another excellent show.
After years of concert-going it has become obvious to me that the quality
of the shows rarely appears to be affected by the esthetics of the
setting. Bob and his music simply seem to be beyond all that. Roll on
Roman King. 

MichaŽl Moors


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