Braunschweig, Germany

Volkswagen Halle

July 6, 2019

[Jim Borrows], [Laurette Maillet]

Review by Jim Borrows

So the time came for the second leg of the Scots 2019 pilgrimage. This
time with Birgit and Astrid, their first time seeing Mr Dylan live. There
was no rain in Braunschweig until an hour before the gig, but then things
changed. It didn't fall very hard, but enough to persuade us to change our
plan and call a cab rather than get soaked in our 20 minute walk. 

Fast entry, German efficiency at work, and another first - Aperol Spritz
available inside the venue at 6! Reasonable pricing, an improvement on
our Paris experience a few months ago. Beer and wine too, a fine welcome
for the Bobcats.

It was a good turnout, although a bit short of filling the
Volkswagenhalle. VW's HQ is at Wolfsburg, just a few miles away. Astrid
told us they employ tens of thousands there, many of them commuting daily
from Berlin, a 2 hour journey each way.

The band were on stage pretty much on time, after the usual warnings about
mobile phones and photography. Birgit dressed all in black, expecting Bob
to do the same. But he surprised her with a white suit and black hat. The
hat came off midway through the set and didn't go on again till the final

So to the music. No major changes to the set list, though we were treated
to a fine rendition of Boots of Spanish Leather - the only little
surprise. Bob's singing was strong throughout, though he is perhaps losing
a little of the quality of melody that seemed to improve throughout the
gigs when he was singing the American songbook numbers. I'm convinced he
took singing lessons then, or at least practised or concentrated on his
singing much more than he had before. But no complaints about those old
American standards being dropped from the set list! 

As expected nearly all numbers were delivered from behind the piano,
except Can't Wait - first time I've heard it, very clearly sung - and
Scarlet Town, both from centre stage. Although the band are a fine group
of musicians and were tight throughout, I felt it took a while for them to
really get into the groove in this gig. Many of the arrangements have a
kind of staccato delivery, rather than a very fluid sound. Though this
isn't a new feature, I believe it's becoming more prevalent.

There were some fine moments throughout, but the band really got going at
their best in Thunder on the Mountain - it started off on a very
pop-music- sounding high-register riff reminiscent of The Beatles I Saw
Her Standing There, before developing into a full-on rock number, with
some fine guitar breaks from Charlie.

Other highlights for me:
Highway 61, powerfully sung as ever. Simple Twist of Fate, one of my all
time favourites in whatever arrangement, this one with the tune as close
to the original as anything Bob plays, but with lyrics expanded, changed
and re-arranged over the years. A delight. A beautiful rendition of Boots
of Spanish Leather, very laid back. And a two-tempo arrangement of Like a
Rolling Stone, with the slowed down section before the chorus allowing the
audience to appreciate the powerful sentiment of the 50 year old lyrics to
this all-time classic.

Not forgetting the pre-encore close to the main set - a brilliant version
of Gotta Serve Somebody, with all the band in fine form and Bob's vocals
in commanding magnificence as he wandered through a much changed set of
lyrics - I was trying to remember as many of the new verses as I could but
there were so many it's just impossible. Here's one example: "You might be
on the highway, Might be on the coast, Might be hallucinating, Might have
seen a ghost, But you're gonna have to serve somebody . . . " Made me
laugh out loud, brilliant. The man might have been in white, but this was
no ghost, this was the real thing!

We stood for both the encore numbers, and It Takes a Lot to Laugh . . .",
another of my all time favourites, was a fine close. The band lined up
briefly for a quick bow to the appreciative audience, and were gone.

We left on a high. Outside a duo were playing Bob and other covers, they
were in fine form too, Frankie from Prague on guitar, harmonica and
vocals, and Sissi from Kempten very ably contributing some fine vocals
too. Their renditions of Hurricane and Subterranean Homesick Blues really
rocked, and we sang along to their encore - by request - of Forever Young.
A fine end to a great night. Roll on Hyde Park in a week's time.

Jim Borrows
PS Many thanks Bill for all your work on boblinks.


Review by Laurette Maillet

Brunswick. I arrive just on time with Flixbus and walk all the way to my
Couchsurfing host. Chun Le, from Vietnam, but for now living in Germany
and working for ....Volkswagen. The whole city works for the car
company.Chun cooks me a Thai lunch and we chat a little bit before him
going for a nap and I walking towards the venue.The buses are pulling out
the parking lot to go at the hotel packing the luggage and picking Bob in
one bus and the Band in another bus.The Hotel is right Accross the venue.
I hang around because I am curious.The musicians are crossing the bridge to
reach the back stage door for the sound check. Unexpectedly Bob will cross
the park by the hotel, walking, to step inside his bus parked few meters
away. They drive the bus to the hotel to load his luggage in. Whoa! I then
bump into a nice Fan and we have a drink together, downtown, before
joining two more fans that I met before on the road.We have a nice
conversation for few hours. No one will open his telephone to chat
on line!By 6. 30 pm it is time to move to the venue ; Volkswagen arena.
By now it is pouring rain. I have luck with an early ticket and I move
in immediately. The arena is huge but will not be sold out. I take a seat
on the floor, on the far back. I am all by myself on that row. The show is
good but again I am surprise by the NO reaction of the public. Even on
LARS.It is too much quiet. Polite applause at the end of each
song. Bobby's voice is clear but nothing like Hamburg.He will do "
Spanish boots" which is nice for a change." Thunder" will wake me and
the audiance. Bob had his hat on until LARS and a beautifull white
embroidered suit. 2 songs are center; "Can't wait" and "Scarlet town". 
A nice average show for me but a nice day all together.I manage to have a
ride to Mainz for the next day with some Bobcats. Bye bye Bobby. See you
tomorrow Good night. I walk back the half hour to my CS host and we have a
long conversation about...politics, ecology, philosophy....Chun had also
been trav elling a lot and he is thinking about moving to Colombia to open
an  ecologic farm....away from the folly of men and cars!


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