Bob Dylan 960721 in Pori, Finland
... Although the setlist might suggest that this show was Ho-hum City, I thought it was quite good (then again, I hadn't seen Bob in six years, so I couldn't be disappointed). But considering the postings of Bob's previous shows, it seems that he likes Norwegian audiences much more than Finnish. And perhaps just to get some response from the audience, the Ol' Silver Pants chose to play the most familiar, tried-and-true classics such as Mr. Tambourine Man, which indeed got the greatest applause. There wasn't much interaction between Bob and the audience; one reason being that those who wanted to stand up and dance, or otherwise show their appreciation apart from clapping, just couldn't do it, as the audience sat on wooden benches and anyone who stood up was soon yelled at and bombarded with empty Coca-Cola cans, mostly by the moms and dads in the crowd. And considering the fact that Finns are usually quite inhibited at concerts anyway, I think the setlist (only 1 80's song, and 1 70's song!) showed some miscalculation on Dylan's part (which has to be forgiven, for one can't expect him to know the characteristics of the average Finn).
The performance itself was, in my opinion, quite strong: Silvio was explosive, thanks to Winston Watson, who also got favourable comments in today's papers. The acoustic numbers were all definitions of beauty, and Bob seemed to be in the mood for playing long harmonica solos (nothing spectacular, though - the same old wyyyyyoooouuuuu-weeeeeaaaa). He also delighted/baffled the crowd with his economical-styled guitar solos (you know, the 2-3 notes repeated over and over again). And Maggie's Farm - this was Dylan's fourth gig in Finland, and he has played that song every time. The encore consisted of only one song (we didn't deserve more?), ending the unecstatic but nevertheless high-quality show. .
Bob's performance was followed by Little Richard, who in no time had the audience eating from his hand. Doing his old routines backed by a band that played even louder than Dylan's - he couldn't fail, and the crowd went bananas, dancing, shouting and singing along. He said how he loved seeing Dylan again, calling him everything from "my old buddy" to "a great legend" to "rop-a-lop-a-Bob", and at the end of the show he asked for a round of applause for Bob as well, who was watching the show from the side of the stage (I didn't manage to see him, but apparently he and the band members were there). And as I had predicted, the newspapers today were praising Little Richard's show, but Dylan's performance also got well-deserved favourable comments. .
-- Mark Kaunisto