St. Etienne, France
Palais des Spectacles
July 5, 2004

[Marita Becker]

Review by Marita Becker

This concert was so different from the two German concerts I attended. I liked it 
very much, but it was a strange concert after all. 

After a hail-rain-thunder-and-lightning spectacle while we were waiting (we could 
go in for a while but had to go out again), we were completely wet. The venue was 
indoors, so we were safe from another rainstorm when we could finally come in. The 
stage was not so high, people could sit at the sides or stand in front of the stage. 
Unfortunately it was from the beginning very bad and warm air in this venue. Nag 
Champa didnīt make it better. And for unknown reasons we had to wait about half an 
hour longer until the concert started. 

The opener was a powerful, "Drifterīs Escape", which is not so much my favorite, 
but  set the right mood for the concert. Then Larry sat down at the pedal steel 
and Bob sang Iīll Be Your Baby Tonight", which I never heard live before. I was so 
glad to hear it now. But I was a bit disappointed by the sound: though I stood in 
front of the center of the stage (first row) I couldnīt hear Bobīs voice and harp 
playing so well and clearly, as for example in Worms, even Stu seemed to be 
"silent", all was drowned out a bit by Larryīs instruments. This was a problem 
especially when they played loudly and electric.  For example "Stuck Inside 
Mobile", which will always be one of my favorites just  for the rhythm and sound. 

Then I remember that Tony got his upright bass and they started with "Moonlight", 
which I wished to hear live since I heard "Love and Theft" the first time. The 
arrangement was different, more rhythmic,  not so smooth, but it was absolutely 
one of the highlights for me. I like this "Bar-Jazz-style" so much with Bob at 
the piano, Tony at the upright bass and Larry with the jazz-guitar.

"Itīs alright , Ma" was the typical version but from my point I couldnīt 
understand so much. Even the really well-known verse with the "president" was 
hard to make out. Afterwards I was told that he mixed it up a bit.  "Tweedle Dee" 
came next, Larry who was totally at the center, had a wonderful solo. Stu, who 
was standing in the background, played a solo too. But it was at least from my 
point, not loud enough. I wished someone would have pulled him out of his corner 
more into the center. But it was absolutely Larryīs show. He played powerful and 
interesting solos, all looking very easy (which it wasnīt in fact) while he would 
smile at the audience. For me it was absolutely interesting to look at his fingers 
while he was playing (or at his feet during pedal steel songs). He is a really 
fantastic guy. 

"Man In The Long Black Coat" was played next, this wonderful slowly "dark" 
acoustic arrangement I heard now the third time live, and could listen to it 
again and again. This time I could understand Bob very well.
"Highway 61" was a very rocking version with a powerful arrangements, at least 
for me, and made me "dance" so far as I could do it. The next song was "Standing 
in the Doorway" (as I was told later). I tried hard to understand what Bob would 
sing, but it was in vain. "I donīt believe you" and "It takes a lot to laugh, it 
takes a train to cry" followed next. The same problems like before were the reason 
that I didnīt recognize the latter one, because I never heard it before. But Iīve 
learnt my lesson and will read the song texts now (J). During one of this two 
songs Larry was again at the pedal steel and had a very long intro with lots of 
variations until Bob finally started singing. 

"Honest With Me" followed, which was in my opinion the typical great performance 
with strong vocals from Bob (especially under this circumstances) and nice solo 
from Larry. And then Larry started with an intro, I couldnīt classify first, but 
after Bob was singing the first line I got it: "Every Grain of Sand". Believe me, 
even if Bob had whispered the song I would have understood the whole text, because 
itīs one of my favorite songs. I never heard it live before. You can imagine, how 
happy Iīve been to hear it then.

When Tony took his upright bass, I knew it was time for "Summerdays". I like this 
song, even though I've heard it so often, you know, the instrumental arrangement, 
the solo, it usually makes me dance. But this time it was quite different: when 
the usual solos should start, Bob took his harp and played a terrific, very long 
solo, which was supported by the band. They didnīt played as loudly as usual, 
and took over the "ideas" with their instruments. For me it was the best 
performance of "Summerdays". Keep on doin` it like that, Bob! 

Btw. Bob played harp on almost every song. I cannot remember the songs he didnīt 
play the harp. Some solos where wonderful some a bit strange, so that I thought, 
"is it really the right key ?". But in a way he managed to make it  come out right.

After a short break they came back and started directly with "Like A Rolling 
Stone". I think then Bob introduced the band at the center of the stage and made 
a funny comment to Tony, like something about a building in St Etienne which was 
named after him (I think there is a French architect or building artist with the 
same name). Tony and Larry were doubling over in laughter.  The concert ended 
with "All Along The Watchtower", the wonderful arrangement with the pedal steel. 
No further encore, so it has a shorter setlist then the other concerts Iīve 
attended this year. I felt a bit sorry for that, but actually I was glad to come 
out of this hot venue with air you could cut with a knife.

After all it was a great concert for me, especially for hearing some songs Iīve 
never heard before live and the wonderful "Summerdays". On the other hand I 
preferred Worms for the sound and the atmosphere (and the fresh air) though I 
was told that others, who stood in the back (in Worms), would say the opposite.

For me the tour is over now, what a shame! 

I hope, Bob and his Band will come back!




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