Paris, France
The Zenith
October 3, 2000

[Eric Wishart], [Dylan Jones], [Joserra Rodrigo], [Paul Body]

Review by Eric Wishart

Last time around two years ago I couldn't give away a spare ticket for
Dylan at the Zenith. This time the scalpers were looking for up to 120 US
dollars a shot just minutes before show time, so  Bob's stock as elder
rock legend has risen in France since then. The show was a sell out, and
my front row seat didn't count for a lot as the Bob mob rushed the front
of the stage as the band strode on and swung into 'Duncan and Brady.' But
no complaints, it was all good fun -- even if my nine year old son David
had to spend his first Bob Dylan concert standing on a plastic seat for a
view over a sea of (increasingly balding) heads.

I don't see Dylan that often so the changes are that more noticeable each
time. This was as tight a band as he has had in years, and the only
clunker was 'Country Pie', which never really seemed to get going. Other
than that, there was a disappointing rearrangement of 'Trying to Get to
Heaven', which stripped away the original melody and poignancy. But let's
not nitpick. The astonishing thing about Dylan is that aged 59, in the
year 2000, he still throws new meanings on his songs with twists of
emphasis and phrasing which make them seem totally fresh. He finished with
'Blowin' in the Wind', and it still means as much now as it did then. Play
it against the backdrop of footage of what has happened in the Middle East
this week and you could think he wrote it yesterday. This was a real feast
-- 'To Ramona', 'It's Alright Ma', 'Love Minus Zero', 'Standing in the
Doorway', a real heartfelt 'Make You Feel My Love,'  a great 'Leopard-Skin
Pill-Box Hat' that had Bob really bopping, an incendiary 'Wicked
Messenger' -- never mind 'If Dogs Run Free' which I thought he had left
behind long ago. Throw in 'Like a Rolling Stone', 'Highway 61' 'Maggie's
Farm' and 'All Along the Watchtower' and on paper it looks mainly like a
stale run through his greatest hits from the 60s. But it was not -- it was
fresh and relevant, with that dignity and integrity which sets Dylan apart
from most other performers. It was Dylan being Dylan as you want him to
be. And unlike a scowling close encounter I had with him when he accepted
a music prize in Sweden in May, he actually looked like he was enjoying
himself, playing up to the audience and even occasionally smiling. He
didn't please everybody though. A suited middle aged Frenchman walking
ahead of me out of the Zenith said to his equally spruced up wife ''Ah,
when you think what Tina Turner's show was like. There was nothing
imaginative about this, they just seemed obsessed by their guitars.' But
then again, my son said: 'I can't believe I just saw Bob Dylan.' And
funnily enough, neither could I.             


Review by Dylan Jones

well, something is happening here, and i get the feeling that a lot of
people don't know what it is.  i've been reading these reviews of this leg
of the tour, so i anticipated everything they might suggest, but i had
remained skeptical because i look for other things in dylan shows than
these reviews tend to address.  i don't care so much if he plays my
favorite songs or if the band sounds good or if everyone has a good time
or if bob really rocks or how special it all is.  i'm interested in things
like what kind of mood dylan is in, how his voice sounds, what he's doing
on the guitar, how he's reinterpreting stuff, how sober and healthy and
heavy or thin he looks, how he's behaving, what kinds of strange things
he's doing, what his attitude is, how many different dylans we're going to
see, what's coming across thru all the show, you know --- what it's all
about.  there are always these other levels with dylan where it gets
interesting past all the typical rock icon kind of stuff.  he's really
quite a character first, with a cultural significance all his own, who
just happens to be a rock star.  so having read all this stuff about his
tour i was ready for a good show.  but what kind of a good show, really? 
and from my point of view having last seen him at the puyallup county
fair, he had a hard act of his own to follow.  that had been an
exceptionally good, actually special, show.  well, last night's show was
interesting.  [laughs]  it was 'good' but really there were some strange
things about it that represent in some ways old dylanisms but which strike
me as distinctive among the shows i've seen since his unplugged rebirth
into accessible popularity or whatever it was several years ago.  in line
with what others have said, the show was tight and professional.  bob
looked and sounded good.  he appears fit and healthy. his physical
presence was solid and focussed.  there were fewer tics and gestures from
the other world than i've seen in the past, but bob did have his moments. 
he had apparently had a shower and his hair was styled!  he wore a black
suit with gold flowers and blue leaves and stems, a white shirt with white
silk tie, and black cowboy boots with white fleur-de-lis rising from the
soles.  pretty sharp.  his voice was stronger and more stable, open, and
clear than other shows i've seen in recent years, though still pushed past
its breaking point several times during the evening.  in comparison to
other shows i've seen his enunciation was strikingly studied. for most of
the show it was articulate and clear, and he played a lot with phrasing,
so his occasional lapses into garbled mumbling were more conspicuous. 
there's a new quality about his voice; a kind of biting edge that opens
its deepening resonance into a crackle of brightness that is more smooth
and sonorous than gravely.  it seems less inward thru the snout and more
open throated from the chest.  this really impressed me.  it's subtle but
definite.  i've been more or less looking for this from him for some time
now.  he's not ready for the opera yet, but his voice appears to be
weathering nicely in a way that flatters much of his material more than
was the case in earlier epochs of the eternal tour.  so what was happening
that was so strange?  well, immediately when the show began e. & i left
our seats and secured an excellent position at the front of the stage only
slightly left of center.  this was an ideal vantage point from which to
follow the show closely.  through his focused professionalism and hard
hitting performance bob said "thank yew" only once that i noticed, after a
straight rendition of "to make you feel my love", otherwise perfunctorily
turning his back to the audience no matter how wild their applause after
each number. he didn't nod or wave nor show any acknowledgment of audience
response.  he did not smile, and when no more than a few times a smile did
begin to break he quickly suppressed it.  there was a lot of that strange
tense grimacing that might be mistaken for a smile, but actual smiling was
avoided.  this was clear after having seen so much beaming and smiling at
puyallup.  he didn't introduce the band (!).  nevertheless, throughout the
show he threw himself into the songs, hamming it up, strutting, shuffling,
bobbing, sporting elvis and chuck berry footwork and other moves and
gestures, pointing his guitar neck back and forth, making eyes and all
manner of wild expressions with extravagant showmanship, all of which left
his otherwise cool at best, if not hostile, response to the audience
between songs even more conspicuous and striking.  his behavior while
performing might have appeared as engaging of the audience, but as i
followed it all closely i simply took it as performance.  it was
entertaining, to be sure!  i mean he really put on a show and as a
performance it was impressive and at times wonderful.  there was a kind of
driving force about it.  but the personal dimension was remote, way back
behind it all.  i was pretty much as close as one could get but felt kept
at a distance.  i just wasn't drawn in as i had been at other shows where
there had been a palpable sense of chemistry between bob and the audience
that showed as much in him as in anyone.  and there was a physical
distance as well, as it seemed that he hung unnecessarily back from the
front of the stage, away from the audience.  or maybe that was just me. 
and then there were the line ups, which have been mentioned in reviews of
other shows.  seen in the context of what i've been saying, these were
particularly interesting.  in both cases, ending the sets after again
turning his back to audience applause and setting down his guitar on his
way to the rear of the stage, bob would then run his fingers thru his
hair, fussing with it a bit to fluff it out, and then straighten his
collar, cuffs, and lapel, and brush down the front of his jacket while
walking back out toward the audience with his head held high and his brow
set firmly on some horizon, casting a fleeting burst of nervous energy
thru outwardly extended arms, hands, and fingertips in a spontaneously
evangelical jerry lee lewis kind of rock & roll salvation gesture.  i
believe i saw some sparks at his fingertips.  or maybe that was just me.
bob then suitably freshened up, he would stand with the band, all four in
a line, facing the audience, still and without expression.  or obviously
that was the ideal, though in practice it was only dylan that managed a
truly composed flat expression.  the others were obviously more or less
awkward in their roles as dylan stood dead on, but clearly the intention
was to avoid fidgeting or response of expression of any kind to the
enthusiastic standing ovations they were receiving.  on both occasions
this continued for a distinctly uncomfortably extended period of time
until finally they broke rank and simply turned and left the stage.  no
smiles, nods, or waves.  are you getting the idea?  actually in a way
there's no idea to get, where in terms of communication we have a form
with no content.  this line up thing is a blank tableau on which one can
project anything, and it's easy to see how it could come off in a variety
of different ways in different contexts depending on the mood or vibe or
spin of the moment and what's been happening during the sets.  it's a
convention from theatre in fact, where the performers present themselves
formally to the audience and acknowledge their response.  traditionally
there's a consensual interplay where the fiction of the drama is cast off
and the audience has an opportunity to relate to the actors behind the
characters in expressing their approval (or disapproval) to an
acknowledged response, as the actors do things like smile and bow and wave
and even return after leaving to show the message is getting across. 
musicians might come back for encores.  and here dylan is mocking up the
ceremony of all that in a way that could be taken as humbly presenting
himself and his band to the audience for its approval with a formality
that would be endearingly old-timey and traditional for a rock band, or as
cutely magnanimous, or as audaciously self-important, or even simply as a
funny bit of slapstick as part of the act.  in any event it might appear
as part of the act because it's a showy thing to do, and an unusual thing
for a rock band to do in quite that manner.  yet the curious thing last
night was that, as i saw it, these were the only moments during the show
when dylan wasn't acting.  these were the only moments when he came
foreward and actually exposed himself.  suddenly it was actually just bob
standing there.  just this guy.  after all the spectacle i found it
shockingly real, as if i'd just run into him outside on his way to the
bus, or at a cafe somewhere.  yet he stood there in a kind of sternly
aloof composure that punctuated the simple formality of the gesture with a
visceral defiance, as if to say well the show's ancient history and it's
down to this.  what are you people applauding for?  what do you think this
is --- a rock concert or something?  after spending all that time acting
like a rock star he was just standing there while the audience addressed
itself to the wrong guy!  it was as if dylan had once again turned away
from the audience and walked toward the back of the stage to straighten
his suit, but just changed his mind and kept on walking while this other
guy named bob, this double, had stepped out to take his place for the
applause.  and bob hadn't even heard the show.  the standing ovation was
sliding right on past him.  watching closely one could see that really
nothing was happening and it was amazing.  so really, straightening his
suit had been straightening the WHOLE suit of the whole act.  in the end
it had all been theatre.  it was like the rolling thunder dylan painting
his face or wearing a dylan mask again, only now in reverse: the time out
of mind dylan taking taking time out of mask.  these were really
electrifying dylan moments in all their disconcerting force [laughs], and
were for me the defining points of the whole show.  they made sense of the
disparity between the showmanship and the brazen disregard for the
audience in a way that fits in with other famous contradictions of his
career.  aspiring to become a rock star become a folk icon and activist
along the way, then disaffect the folkies and activists becoming a rock
star, then slide on out of all that cool stuff going country, then just
when the mainstream thinks it's got some kind of modern american gypsy
poet prophet really hit 'em with some true religion, then slide out of all
that appealing to a new pop generation that's finally grown up, then while
no one's looking begin the transformation into a seasoned country blues
legend steeped in traditional music who just happens to be a rock star. 
send it all back to from where it came by burying it all cleverly in
popular culture to fox the mob and distracting all the heavy attention
from what's too delicate to bear it.  then even in the popular success of
that stand in defiance of the limelight because it's never shining where
the vision is that it's all been about.  it's all so much show and these
disjunctures of personal involvement dramatize the performance and
heighten the sense of theatre.  standing at the center of the stage
dylan's already gone.  well, that's my take on it.  but maybe that's just
me.  oh yeah, the show!  i got the impression that maybe all was not well
with the band.  maybe they were tired or having an off night but even they
didn't have the chemistry i'd seen in the past.  bob and tony the bassist
had virtually nothing to do with each other, while in other shows they've
really worked closely together and dylan's paid him a lot of attention. 
perhaps they've just got it down so solidly it's just natural now.  but
tony seemed kind of down some of the time.  what attention bob did pay to
any of them went to larry the lead guitarist, who hardly reciprocated but
mainly focussed on his own thing and gazed dispassionately out over the
audience. charly the other guitarist paid close attention to following
tony, not dylan.  they all did a great job as i've said, and the show was
a real piece of work, but that aspect of it was a bit different, if not
strange, and left bob appearing all the more the focus of attention.  the
high points of the show for me were standing in the doorway, where dylan's
lead guitar fills worked wonderfully in all their loose roughness punching
out in louder volume heavy distorted blues chords and swanky laid back
lounge jazz licks just on the edge of breaking into atonal chaos yet not,
sounding more like the playing in summertime, heart of mine, and watered
down love than anything i've heard since such that even in his singing and
aspect it was as if the shot of love dylan had appeared; the new SLOW,
mellow, jazzy tryin to get to heaven with gentle punctuated plucking from
bob, who would then punch in with the same hard distorted sound --- contra
what others have said i liked this better than the album version; and, of
course, if dogs run free (!) which after reading he'd pulled out a few
days ago i'd been hanging in anticipation to hear more than anything.  so
in an otherwise disappointingly uninteresting set list this came as a real
treat.  and it wasn't the outamind dylan but the new morning dylan
stepping in for a special guest appearance who did it.  that alone was
worth the price of admission.  mostly the dark lanoisesque ambience of
sound was gone from this show.  it was cleaner and more colourful.  duncan
& brady i couldn't really follow thru the distraction of the drama of
securing and holding our positions at the stage.  too bad because i'd been
wondering about it.  ramona was straightforeward but good and solid in
this arrangement, and brought the first dylan epiphany of the evening with
his shocking enunciation of ". . . making you feel that you must BE like
THEM!"  well, you get the idea. perfect, i thought.  it's alright ma was
good, though it was larry that picked as dylan only strummed.  he did do a
nice little lead but the sound was bad.  bob was strutting, shuffling, and
bobbing.  love - 0 was slow and deliberate with larry on pedal steel
guitar.  bob did a noodling lead. tangled up in blue was straight but with
the best and strongest vocal i've heard recently live.  more noodling with
elvis knees, laid back footwork, and surly looks.  a minor vocal explosion
into gurgling, and big eyes in "BLUE!", and some good competent guitar
work from bob on an extended hard edged solo.  searching for a soldier's
grave was done straight country but i couldn't follow it.  the sound on
the vocals varied from song to song and bob wasn't always clear.  bob was
counterpointing the other guys' chorus lines.  then without a break the
electric set began with country pie.  this was just funky with bob gettin
DOWN you no wut am sayin!  then standin in the doorway which i've
mentioned, with another dylan epiphany with "makin me SICK, in the head!"
and "BLUES wrapped around my HEAD!" and passing little grimaces and grins,
tentative strutting, and hamming on the guitar.  in maggie's farm dylan
was looking grim and visibly suppressing smiles, ambivalently venturing
some reserved hamming and riff looking knowingly to larry to his right
while pulling already left out of the riff and ham hurling rolling eyes
off into some distance fingers trailing off into whatever next thing
while, tony totally focussed and cool, dylan ain't gonna work on maggie's
FAAAAARM no more pionts his guitar neck back and forth to conclude
completely ignoring applause.  tryin to get to heaven i've already
mentioned.  wicked messenger was hot in hendrix style with great vocal and
slick pointing of finger low from hip bob gettin down again strutting with
the harp more into it now than before.  straight version of to make you
feel my love with more punchy fill licks strutting a little duck walk. 
first and only "thankyew" i recall.  volume up on pillbox hat animated now
and cutting up but then getting cool with distorted guitar licks and a
repeating bend leading to another dylan epiphany after ". . . found him
there instead" with a spontaneous hip sardonic "HA!", then more strutting
looking one way thinking the other diggin it with a half smile when
suddenly the blonde on blonde dylan appears as he "saw you makin live to
him" with chuck berry moves.  then the first line up i've mentioned.  back
with things have changed played here more like a dylan song than a leonard
cohen song, and sung by the shot of love dylan who just dropped in again
(where's that guy been all this time anyway?).  lotta water under the
bridge; lotta other stuff too.  not crazy not EEEVEN gonna make a
mistake(!) but anyway looking left while moving right.  good solid version
of this.  rolling stone was no big deal with talkin blues and licks,
though bob did show some impressive high range back solidly in his vocal,
and yet another dylan epiphany at "you're invisible" as he turned right
and kissed the air so quickly anyone could've missed it.  hopping around
to switch guitars and trade places with the new morning dylan for if dogs
run free which i've mentined.  the rendition was totally straight new
morning mellow acoustic jazz groove guitar with tony on acoustic bass
guitar loving this for a change tonight as bob hung in with jazz strumming
and the original phrasing and that other voice.  this was wonderful.  all
along the watchtower was heavy rock chord based with pedal steel and
modest psychedelic light show on the curtains. bob was back in introverted
aspect now with stripped down minimal melody talkin blues the lyrics
though with strongly accentuated intervals shouted out clearly.  looking
left and rolling his eyes he pulled back and ended the song at what seemed
a premature stop where there may have been an extended solo, but i don't
know.  good singing.  next an acoustic i shall be released with minimal
melody and straight chorus counterpointed by bob's lead line. then highway
61 with more strong singin talkin blues style from a latter day tour 66
dylan who's somewhere else in more ways than one now, partly evident in
his funny crazy lead guitar which might just be awful depending on one's
politics today as it ain't 66 no more.  little grimaces.  blowin in the
wind was the same version from the recent live single with another funky
dylan solo.  then the culminating strange line up i've discussed, with
bob's hand on his hip, leaving the stage with the lights left low for an
extended and swelling applause that no doubt contrary to the expectations
of many in the audience was not to bring an encore.  even at this point
simply turning the lights on would have avoided some of the confusion, but
as i've said, i guess confusion was part of the point.  it's all a very
inside joke.  this show started later than others, at 8:30, and unlike the
rest of the tour i've read of, had an opening act, so i guess they went on
at about 9, accommodating parisian work schedules.  ironic that the venue,
"the zenith", a rather ugly place in one of the most beautiful cities in
the world, was at the actual nadir of the tour, paris being at the bottom
leg of the tour before returning north to london to finish.  and i've
wondered if paris or the french had anything to do with any of the other
ironies of the evening, the cool response, the conservative set list, the
shorter song lengths, the tight clean lines of the show, etc.  i don't
know, but i can say that it was a night of ironies, contradictions, and
extremes, and that is something the french should appreciate.  bravo!!!


Review by Joserra Rodrigo

Midnight train to Paris from Bilbao with no gamblers on but the
concert´s worth my tired legs.
Best Dylan show? Always the last one but surely this one.
I always loved his vocal mood. He is the maestro of a vocal performance in
his heartfelt phrashing. The two-syllabes-final verse way to get you into
the spirit of the song. HIGHLIGHTS OF PARIS SHOW: Perhaps not a song but
verses, bridges or guitar links. VOCAL TOP: "Summer nights...jukebox
playing low...under the midnight moon..."(cavernous) ("Doorway" with " One
of us must know" are my favourite masterpieces of Dylan vocal moods) What
a dream listen to this song in Le Zenith after my plea!!! PERFECT
PERFORMANCE: "Trying to get to heaven" Reasons: the new arragement (Hats
off Mr Lonnie Johnson!!!) Not jazzy in Coltrane terms, buddies, jazzy in
vocal treatment a la Charles Aznavour (It´s Paris after all...the land of
chanssoniers) There´s no words to be said about this had to be there!!! AMAZING song. MOST EMOTIVE
MOMENT: The final "Blowing in the Wind" How many times must we hear this
masterpiece...till it lost his mean" I´m from Basque Country, you know
what I mean when I listening the "deaths" verse.Pure present in a low, low
,low... and tremolous voice. I recall the "street legat" tour and the
theatric feling in a good sense , not fake. Oh I saw your son Eric
Wishart!!! I saw him sleep while the lights turns down in "Blowing" and I
thought about my son Jon. See you soon all spanish Dylan freaks, Iñaki,
Antonio, Manolo, Guillermo, Elena, Alberto,...(Qué cervezas más caras pero
que rato más agradable!) See you soon Bob too. I love your music more than
words can say!!!



Review by Paul Body

It was a day of steel (the stuff that was happening in the Mideast) and a
night of the Zim. Seeing Bob Dylan in my favorite city in world was a
treat beyond words and he was even good. After wandering around Paris all
day in anticipation, finally it was time for my wife and I to leave our
favorite cafe, LE BALTO and head for Le Zenith. We got to Le Zenith, no
problem. Then we got inside and taken to our seat and dig it, it cost us a
couple of francs to be taken to our seats. We paid without protest. A few
people were miffed. Anyway, let's cut to the chase. After a short set by a
local band, it was time for Dylan and his band, I call them "The Gospel
Tears". The annoucer said....."Columbia recording artist, Bob Dylan. Like
a puff of smoke there they were. They started off with "Duncan and Brady"
and it was smoking. The Zim looked good in his Hank Williamseque outfit
and the the crowd was there from the beginning. Once again he was singing
behind the beat just like a jazz singer. Sometimes he sounded like he was
singing in some other tongue. He brought down the house on "Tangled Up In
Blue" for some reason everything came together on that song and they were
hitting THAT note. The Zim, "The Gospel Tears" and the audience. We came
to the crossroads at the same time. It was like the ultimate major chord.
"Country Pie" was fun and he totally turned around "Trying To Get To
Heaven. He sexed up "Make You Feel My Love" and "Leopard Skin Pill Box
Hat" was dirty filthy, just the way that it should have been. Just like
that the show was over. The regular part of the show, then it was encore
time. That is when  was when  the show launched into the stratosphere. He
did his eccentric vocal thing on "Like A Rolling Stone" on the chorus but
he finally relented enough to let the crowd sing along with him. He
surprised everybody there with "If Dogs Run Free", WOW. He took back "All
Along The Watchtower" from Jimi for the night, it was a magnificent
version. "I Shall Be Released" was truly religious, maybe the best time I
ever heard it by anybody. By the time they blew the lid off sucker with
"Highway 61", it felt like he was going to play all night but he slowed it
down with "Blowin' In Thw Wind. Then they stood on the stage and faced the
audience and we bathed them in applause. We wanted more. After a few
minutes the lights went up and that was that. One of the cool things about
Le Zenith shows are the long walk after the show, everybody is on the same
vibe, higher than Georgia Pines on the music. The Metro station was so
crowded that night, that people were just let through the turnstiles for
free. A lot of people rode for free in the name of Bob Dylan. Sorry this
so late but I just got back from the City of Lights. I just wanted to add
my two cents worth.

Little Paul Body
from Paris by way of Boss Angeles

A Bien Tot


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