ReviewS

Barcelona, Spain

Festival Pedralbes 2015

July 4, 2015


[Salomon], [Jim Scott]

Review by Salomon



"The garden of "palacio de Pedralbes" is a great and beautiful environment,
not being the typical place for a rock concert. The average age was quite
high, so as the social position of the people,  due to the price of the 
tickets. Many local and well-known musicians were also there.

It was my 11th attendance to a Dylan´s concert, and it was more or less 
as I expected. The same set list (you always secretly want to be in the day
where he changes everything, like the first two dates of this European
tour, but it generally only happens once or twice a year). At least you
have songs that sound perfectly smooth, without mistakes. Dylan was in the
“old days” an artist that played in a more “rustic” way, giving more
importance to the moment than to the perfection of the sound of the
performance, now the balance has moved a bit to the other side. He sang
quite clear, making an effort to do it well with a band that understands
him and what he wants. The first part was a little bit better, including
some songs of different times, with some extraordinary harmonica moments.
“Tangled up in blue” sounded great, but, one of my favorites, “Shelter”,
was not in the level of previous shows although it always sounds good
enough. In my opinion the best performances that night were “Full Moon 
and Empty Arms” and “Autumn leaves” from “Shadows in the night”. They 
really sound like the new Dylan sound. I will check tonight again in Madrid.

At the end of the show, many people ran to the front of the place, as a 
tribute. He liked it. He played “Blowin´” (as usual his worst election: that 
song does not fit with his current style) and “Love sick” that was a great 
end, with power and convincement.

He never disappoints and it is amazing how he continues improving everything
he does. I hope he continues performing a few decades more."

Salomon

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Review by Jim Scott



Whereas historically the Never Ending Tour was almost exclusively a la
carte, it has recently become a fixed-menu offering. As has been his wont
for the last 4 decades or so, the proprietor resolutely refuses to
countenance discussing his business plan in public. (Furth of China at
least.) Still less his occasional precipitate decision to switch between
menu modes; as in Roma in 2013 or in Germany a few weeks ago.


Capricious decisions these which frustrate both actual diners who only
bought tickets because of their penchant for Forgetful Heart on toast
which the waiter nowsays is “off” as well as potential diners who
failed to turn up in the secure knowledge that Ballad of a Thin Man saute
was not on offer but who now hear from friends who were there that the
maitre recommended this very dish thein stant that diners walked through
the door.  For this customer, despite personal restaurant preferences, a
la carte is not a welcome innovation. Nevertheless it eliminates the need
to make notes on the cover of the programme and so allows even
closer attention to the performance by Bob Dylan.  The 2 local newspaper
reviews in La Vanguardia Espanyola and El Punt Avui  were both ecstatic;
the reviewers outdoing one another in their superlatives in Castilian and
in Catalan.  My opinion of tonight’s show is: Song,1 was better
performed than in Torino but not as well performed as in Roma. Song 2 was
better performed than in Roma but not as,well performed as in Torino.,Song,3
was less well performed than in either Roma or in Torino. Song 4 was better
performed than in both Roma andTorino. Got the message? Need I go on? 
Well I prefer not to!  Overall, for someone who first paid (handsomely
at 17/6d) to see Bob Dylan more than 49 years ago, the set could be
divided into three main parts: 1-18: 19: 20 though with some further
precision required in the first block.  The majority 16 out of 18 songs
penned by Bob Dylan are, on reflection, in deeply introspective mode. They
tell us about Bob Dylan and his small world. The personal slights he has
suffered and the emotional triumphs he has achieved. But little if
anything about the wider world in which he lives. And which the audience
who pay (still more handsomely today than 49 years ago; top price 200 USD
tonight though I was not seated in that price bracket) to see him in habit.
Syria, Greece, Iran, Senator Susan Collins recently spotted caressing the
memorial to the Maine on the Malecon in La Habana are all a world away
from the bubble-in-Barcelona which this boy-artist currently occupies on
stage. 

Most of these songs come from a small selection of recent albums of
generally poor quality; certainly poor by the standards which Bob Dylan
himself sets. The single song “Waiting for you,” the one I least
know from the set, typifies this. It had, to be fair, a pleasant tune and
it was very sweetly played indeed, but after studying the lyrics on-line
subsequently, the composition is slight in the extreme.

Looking back later at the setlist of 15 songs in my first show, I was
frankly surprised at how little of the outlook, which had brought him to
prominence throughout the western world, was present in my first concert.
So patently the greatest difference is not really the total lack of
outward vision from the artist tonight, since in 1965 it was represented by
only 2 songs; Desolation Row and Mr Tambourine Man. (Though what songs,
some might say!) However Bob Dylan in 1965 seemed both to possess a
spectacularly infectious sly sense of humour and also to be “a little boy
not inclined to take himself too seriously.” Whereas tonight his outlook
was, from my viewpoint, sternly humour-free and, like his set list,
apparently beyond questioning.    The inclusion of 2 “Sinatra”
songs, I found incomprehensible. Unless Bob Dylan has pretension to the
French pop charts,that is. To paraphrase a famous presidential debate:
“Though I’ve never been to a Charles Aznavour concert, he’s no
Charles Aznavour.” Comparing these 2 covers with “Spanish is a loving
tongue” (from an artistically extremely badly received album from several
decades ago only released by CBS as retaliation for Bob's decision to jump
ship) which I chanced to listen to as soon as I arrived home merely
confirmed my low opinion of his ability to perform these recent covers.
And then came Song 19 (previously franchised under the title “Blowin’
in the Wind.”) the opening song on his first fully self-penned
album. Played tonight broadly in the style of Stevie Wonder at the
30th anniversary concert. But with a tenderness, a vulnerability, an
artistry which even a wonderful performer like Stevie Wonder could never
match.  Song 20 I barely noticed it, so overwhelmed was I by the previous
song. And even more by its performance…..   Before the cheap seats sold
out, I had considered buying tickets for Zaragoza tomorrow night but for
the reasons outlined above I decided against doing so. Obviously on
reflection, I reckon that my reasoning was sound.  But what would I pay
for a ticket to a concert performed by the Bob Dylan impersonator who
appeared ever so briefly on stage to perform Song 19? “I’d listen to him
in anything so I’d stand in line.”  

In terms of the environment:
Temperatures varied between 34C and 38C (roughly 93Fand 99F) on the
motorway as I drove to the show. The sun had set around 20:45 and so
obviously the heat was less overwhelming as the open air show started,but
it remained intense.  The show took place in a public park just off off
the 8-lane Diagonal thoroughfare in SW Barcelona. Customers had their taxi
doors opened by immigrant workers in braces when the cars arrived at a 40m
long red carpet runningfrom the road to the park. The stage itself was set
in front of a small palace in the park, formerly the property of Catalan
textile magnate Eusebi Guell i Bacigalupi; the one “of Gaudi-patronage
fame.”  The park was bedecked with flags and posters for the many many
business sponsors of the long series of summer musical shows in the park.
Cava, the Catalan non-champagne drink was available at a
commercially appropriate price for the flor i nata of Catalan society who
came out in drovesfor Bob Dylan’s first show in the city since 2010.
Those more financially challenged were allowed to indulge in the popular
Catalan pastime of eating sandwiches wrapped in metal foil at a discreet
distance from the view of the customers paying for the cava. Bob Dylan and
his backing group of 5 musician sappeared on stage within 60 seconds of the
published time of 22:00; a normal show time here in Catalonia. Bob Dylan
did not offer a name check to the musicians who accompanied him. The
performance was undertaken at breakneck speed with the next song always
coming between 15 and 17 seconds after the previous song. So the 2 main
sections of the show both clocked in between 48 and 49minutes.

The break was timed for 20 minutes but probably lasted about 23. Such was
the discipline of the local upper middle class that no reminder was
required for them to file dutifully into their seats almost on time.
Finally, as we left the show, one of the many sponsoring firms handed out
bottles of expensive Andalucian beer to all Bobcats irrespective of their
views of the show. So I didn’t in the end have to suffer the indignity of
seeing my thoughts passed through a washing machine in order for me to 
get the booze!

Jim Scott
[email protected]

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