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Bob Dylan 980531 in Nürnberg, Germany

Date: Mon, 01 Jun 1998 01:49:19 +0200
Subject: Review of 05/31 Rock im Park, Nuernberg
From: (Gunter Valentin)

Review of Dylan's appearance at ROCK IM PARK (actually not a park 
but a soccer stadium), Nuernberg, 05/31/98

audience: approx. 40.000

Well, only few surprises in tonight's setlist, though there were 
several changes from last night, as Carsten predicted in his review 
of ROCK am RING. One is the reappearance of 'Tough Mama' at # 3, the 
other surprise was that not one TooM song was played tonight, seems 
that this happened for the first time since the end of last year's 
summer tour...
Otherwise - as to be expected at a festival show - an evening filled 
with greatest hits. But don't think it was a usual show tonight. It 
was very special, mainly because of Dylan's vocal performance. I've 
never heard him singing with that much enthusiasm and passion before. 
On the other side the band still had some problems with finding a 
common sound, for instance Dylan had to change the tempo at the 
beginning of TUIB...

# 1 To be alone with you
What a great opener!Warmly welcome those changes at # 1 with Maggie 
and Marie. The band was not always at the point from the beginning 
and also throughout the entire show. Anyway, hundrets of hands in the 
air from the first note on.
Dylan quite fashionable tonight in his black suit with a gambler's 
tie, only beaten again by Larry Campbell who wore a long, dark-red 
(satin?) coat, black pants and shoes. There were 2 huge video screens 
at each side of the stage which provided a nice close look at 
everyone in the band.

#2 Lay Lady Lay
showed the direction of the evening: straight, uptempo and very 
rocking as every song tonight. There's always a very nice special 
kind of drumming by Kemper at this song.

#3 Tough Mama
The first appearance since the UK mini tour last October, if my 
memory serves me well? Sounded pretty similar to the last year's 
versions. I don't like the song that much, would have loved to hear 
Cold Irons Bound instead...

# 4 I'll be your Baby tonight
IMO the highlight of the show, though you might consider it to be a 
crowd pleaser for all those who are not familiar with Dylan's work. 
But you should have heard Dylan singing the chorus, even shouting to 
the audience: " I'll ........ Hey, I said Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii'll .... 
be your Baby toniiiiiiiiiiiiight". WOW! Never heard this 
before!Really great.

# 5 Silvio
Well, business as usual. But even with this old warhorse they had 
problems keeping the beat in some moments. Several nice jams though.

# 6 Friend of the devil
Another highlight - als  a great vocal performance by Dylan on this 
one. And then, towards the end an extensive (appr. 2 min.) harp solo, 
which caused heavy cheerings from the audience. Quite surprising this 
resonance as I still suppose that most of those festivalers heard him 
for the first time...

# 7 Baby Blue
I always loved this one because it has been played very slowed down 
and laid back in the recent years, but tonight even Baby Blue was 
uptempo styled with some heavy drumming by Kemper. Also not too bad 

# 8 Tangled up in blue
During 'Tangled' the audience in formed a long queue and walked along 
in front of the stage hopping up and down. Quite amusing for the band 
- they all smiled a lot. Dylan reacted with his own very special 
dancing style, bending his knees almost to the floor.

# 9 It takes a lot to laugh
This one came also with heavy guitar riffs tonight, reminded me of 
the version they played at Woodstock.
BTW, as I drove home I tuned in to the local radio station which 
broadcasted the whole event just to hear that Dylan is the only one 
of 80 (?) artists who played at the festival who did not permit to 
record and broadcast his performance. Well, actually we should be 
used to his extravaganzas and fears of being bootlegged but I guessed 
that he could have left that behind as so much live material appeared 
on recently... 

# 10 Highway 61
Also a crowd pleaser. Really rockin tonight, as usual. Caused 
standing ovations from the people sitting at the balcony. As the band 
disappeared they brought them back onstage for the encores with 'La 
Ola', the mexican wave...

encores: Don't think twice, RDW

The show lasted approx. 1h 10 min. Very inspired performance by Dylan 
though the band still needs some shows to rehearse and find together 
again. Seems they had too many days  off in a row before hopping to 
Europe ;-)

That's all for now - good night - see you all in Berlin!? Let's hope 
that at least a few songs from TooM will reappear...


Subject: May 31, 1998 - NŸrnberg, Germany - Review From: Mike Cronin ( Date: Mon, 01 Jun 1998 23:51:18 -0700 Rock im Park It's three o'clock. The sun is shining, and the virus which laid me low the past two days is on the retreat. Maybe I should go after all? The cold symptoms are manageable. Some Paracetomol and I could definitely make it through. But I don't have a ticket! Nuernberg is two hours away up the Autobahn. I don't know where the Frankenstadion in Nuernberg is. I have no idea when Dylan is scheduled. He could have been the first act. He might be finishing up his set. A quick look at and Carsten says Dylan didn't appear until 9.55pm the previous evening at the Rock im Ring which is a twin event to Rock im Park. The temptation grows. The daughter who had such a fever that we called the emergency doctor, is chuckling happily in the background. No worries. I remember the enjoyment of the last concert in Munich in 1995. It would be worth it. Then I remember the lack of a ticket, the distance and what could go wrong. I imagine myself returning home after 4 or 5 hours, having failed to see the concert... but so what. Next time Dylan hits these parts will be between 2 years and eternity, so the decision is made. It's 5 o'clock and I start to gather my things. My God, it must be over ten years since I've been to an actual Rock festival. It's straight onto the Autobahn and cruise-control at 135Kph while Dylan sings a terrible Memphis Blues Again to a Dublin audience in '91. The show's highlight is a beautiful rendition of "Barbara Allen". Bono joins in on "Maggie's Farm", singing "Charlie's farm" in (dis-)honour of Charlie Haughey, a former Irish P.M. who has since been disgraced. The summer sun fading to the west casts a spectacular yellow light over the fresh forest greenery, which has sprung to life in Bavaria only in the last month. Roof open, music volume up, the traffic very light. In no time at all Nuernberg approaches, and I follow signs for the Stadion. I was here in 1982 for a similar festival with Neil Young as the closing act. It was Trans-time and he was in guitar hero mode walking out on a platform into the crowd with hair flying, legs kicking and back curiously twisting as he hacked at the air with his guitar. Will our own guitar hero be a'noodling tonight? The stadium in which the '82 festival was held is the same one in which Hitler held his rallies. The whole area was to house gargantuan stadiums for Nazi gatherings. A sports stadium was planned to host 460,000 people. Few of the plans were executed, but what is there gives one pause. I park in front of a monstrous building, built by Albert Speer. It is only three stories high, but the stories are over twice the height of normal stories, so the building seems to tell the visitor just how small they are, and how great it is. The effect is chilling. This was the intent. The main event of the festival is held in the modern football stadium, with nothing sinister about it. Even the team it houses is harmless. The path to it is through thousands of tents. I recall that there have been summer storms on Friday and Saturday, and the festival goers have the look of boiled carrots, having been alternately soaked and baked over the three days of the festival. By seven o'clock I have purchased a ticket. By seven thirty I am in the grounds and by ten to eight I am standing less than ten metres from where our man is going to sing. I've discovered that Genesis is the other closing act. I enquire when Dylan is on, and find he starts at eight. Perfect timing. I look around at the 30,000 people and decide that a quick exit after Dylan might be a wise decision. I knew very little about rmd at the last concert I attended, so this is the first occasion on which I was aware that I might be in the presence of fellow bobcats. Gulp. A guy with amazing Rastafarian hair under a colorful cap is standing in front of me. Who knows? Maybe John Howells is not a professorial looking type, or it could be Craig Jamieson. God knows! He takes off his hat, and the hair, which is stitched to the rim of the hat, comes with it. He turns to my neighbour, and from the pursed lips in the middle of his pasty white face it emerges that the hat and hair ensemble cost him five marks, all this enunciated in the thickest Frankish accent. I do not indulge in any further speculation about my neighbours. Some men in hats walk up to the side of the stage, and suddenly they're on. Dylan is pulling at his nose, quenching a smile, then flashing a broad grin at Tony. Larry is in a long blue jacket, Tony seems to be wearing a gray silk suit, and Bucky is in leather jeans with a snakeskin jacket. Dylan is in a black suit with white piping on the trousers, and an old-style necktie. The evening is so warm, it must be pretty uncomfortable. The band are quickly at their stations, and they launch into "To be alone with you". I didn't expect that for an opener. Larry has the look of a worried student, the rest are more confident. Tony, in particular, seems to be an anchor for the ship, as their captain sets off in search of storms. The first song is played well, and Dylan is controlling the tendency where an attempted whine breaks into a screech. The singing is also stronger than the whispering he used for the more successful songs in the '95 show. The band quickly leads into "Lay, Lady, Lay". This time the screech plays a greater role, and I tune out much of the singing. I hope that the choice of songs will help avoid the screech. The song is played well. The huge TV screens on either side of the stage are not blank, but a single camera mounted on the mixing platform is showing either Dylan, head to toe, or the whole stage. It definitely would not make for good TV viewing, so I presume it's a compromise between Dylan's management and the organisers of the show, and will not be shown on TV. Just before the show, there were two guys with stage cameras at the foot of the stage, but these weren't used during the show. Then a surprise at number three, "Tough Mama", followed by "I'll be your baby tonight". Not songs I'm over excited by but Dylan looks so happy to be there, and so happy to play the songs, that I'm carried along with his enthusiasm. He gives the impression of someone who thinks he's lucky to be able to do what he wants to do, and have an audience, and the talent to entertain the audience. Now he's smiling, now pulling a face at Tony, now he's playing lead guitar like he's in a glam rock group from the seventies, now his head is doing the chicken dance like he's Chuck Berry. And at each scene change there's a mischievous grin. "Silvio" is played in the sledgehammer style we know so well, with excellent heavy solos from Larry and Bucky. Dylan's contributes another solid vocal, and there seems to be no weakening as the show progresses, as I thought I heard in the '95 show. Now the band change to the acoustic instruments, and they start a song I know only through the reports on rmd, "Friend of the Devil". Where once the acoustic set used to mean Dylan, alone, with guitar; these days it's as acoustic as Unplugged. All of the acoustic songs are played with a heavy beat that suggests these guys just enjoy thrashing their instruments. It strikes me that when Dylan chooses to do a song by someone else, he is less playful and more 'professional' about the performance than with his own songs. He really seems to give of his best, paying homage to its author. "It's all over now, Baby Blue" has a sinister threatening tone, which brings a freshness to it. The vocal is also dark and foreboding and handled with care. Then Bucky grabs the mandolin and Larry strikes up the rhythm of "Tangled up in Blue". Now Dylan is no longer the custodian of his legend, but rather it is Dylan the rock solid entertainer, master of his trade, who steps up to the microphone. Halfway through I look at the screens and imagine the white face snarling out the words, the light flashing under the brim of his hat, the eyes glowing pale blue rage, and know that this is as good, but different. Bucky drives the song with, well, hard rocking mandolin over the solid strum from Larry's acoustic guitar and the steady beat from Tony and Dave. But what brings the song conviction is the committed vocal. Now they pick up the electric instruments again, and I'm expecting the first TOOM song, but since I'd prefer the ones he doesn't or rarely does, "Standing in the Doorway" or "Not Dark Yet", I'd be happy to forego it. The first chords of "It takes a lot to laugh" and I'm laughing. Larry is now firing on all strings and he's smiling too. Does he need to excise his demons with guitar solos? Another confident vocal and I'm looking forward to anything he might play next. It's "Highway 61" and this is the most enjoyable live version I've heard. It's fizzing and popping, and the 30,000 crowd which is curious about the old crustacean period folk singer, the curmudgeon of rock, is responding enthusiastically to the young fool hopping about the stage. Then a "Thank you", a bow and they leave the stage. How many encores? Only two last night according to Carsten. It could hardly be more tonight with another act to follow. The whistles and cries of "Zugabe" are steady. The musicians are joking just off stage. Bucky lights up. A minute later they're back on, this time with acoustic instruments. "Don't Think Twice" is played well, though Dylan fumbles the ending, with Tony saving him twice. They switch back to the electric instruments for "Rainy Day Women" and, unusually for me, I really enjoy the song. The fact that no TOOM songs were played is a surprise. The sense of joy that Dylan brought to the concert was infectious, and when he left the stage for the last time, both he and his audience were smiling. It had lasted all of 75 pleasing minutes. The evening was so balmy, and I was feeling so good, I briefly considered staying for the Genesis set. Instead I headed off. I laughed at the fact that there were so few people leaving early, that I had no-one to follow to the exit, so it took me a while to find it. As I drove off, a flash occurred in the sky, and the steady thrum of a summer storm began to beat on the windscreen. I pitied the poor Genesis fans, drenched again. As it happens, the storm lasted for over two hours of the trip back to Munich, and it was so bad I barely went above 90Kph. Mike Cronin (Dedicated to those whose reports make the experience of a concert come alive, which I find more interesting than a mere song list)

Subject: Tour Review--Murenberg-Manchester--Complete From: ITS ( Date: Thu, 02 Jul 1998 12:21:23 -0400 Long Black Coat as an Old Song and the Fourth Street/Ring Them Bells Nod A Tour Review (Nurenberg Ring to Manchester--Skipping a Few in Between) By Josh Nelson NOTE: PLEASE ADDRESS ANY COMMENTS/QUESTIONS/THOUGHTS/BELIEFS DANKE. Bob came on ten minutes late at the Nurenberg Ring and everyone passed the time by doing the wave. It was not a one or two level thing, but a full arena event, including those people on the floor. The German version involves a pre-wave stage where people hold their hands directly out in front of them and wiggle their fingers in preparation for their marvelous hands up moment. This way, presumably, they feel more involved, a greater part of the arm-raising whole. It also makes the event that much more athletic. Sitting there in my level-two seat (the farthest from Bobby that I had ever been and unable to figure out how people enjoy the show from such a hideous distance), this wave ritual fascinated me. Actually, it still does. Well, the seat wasn't so bad considering that, three hours before the show, there had been a floor-clearing hail storm. Bad weather and all, Bobby didn't play any of his "wet" songs (sorry, a 1991 Germany reference). He did play To Be Alone With You Lay Lady Lay Tough Mama Baby Tonight Silvio Friend of the Devil Baby Blue Tangled Takes A Train Highway Don't Think Twice Rainy Day To Be Alone was a bit of a surprise (my whole crew figured that, since we were there, Bobby would pull out a special treat like Sweet Marie), and it seemed to go pretty well. The first four songs were ultra country and really seemed to fit nicely together. Tough Mama was, of course, unexpected, and, as usual, difficult to understand. It seems that even the best versions of this tune involve Bob singing as the band wails - sort of reminiscent of the entire John Jackson era. Anyway, Baby Tonight was a highlight with Bob using some quirky phrasing and repeatedly saying "I'll, I said I'll, I'll be your baby tonight - " Friend of the Devil was also a bit of a surprise and actually involved a rather long, song-ending harp solo. Bob actually picking up the harp and playing it was exciting in its own right, but doing during this tune was close to orgasmic. The whole thing seemed rather rough, but also emotion-backed on Bob's part, and certainly not contrived. Takes A Train was strong, bluesy, clear, and slower than other recent versions. Bob's vocals were exceptionally clear, and the tune had what struck me as a dark, haunting feel. Don't Think Twice had an extended, strange intro that was probably nothing more than Bob screwing around on the guitar, but got us all temporarily excited. After the show we referred to it as the Restless Farewell intro. They put seats on the floor in the Stadthalle in Leipzig. The general consensus was that this was done because they didn't sell very many tickets, and seats somehow magically makes the room look more full. Anyway, while standing on line and then running to a seat has always struck me as slightly unfullfilling (sort of like every frequently played acoustic song that has a major title word that begins with the letter, "to" is not a major word), my eventual front row spot directly in front of the stage speaker and not far from Larry Campbell were the early makings of a glorious night. Bob did not disappoint. He played The Greatest Song Ever Written If Not For You Cold Irons Bound Shelter Silvio Hard Rain One Too Many Mornings Tangled Wheel's on Fire Feel My Love Highway Ain't Me Babe Lovesick Rainy Day Blowin' From the very beginning of Maggie's Farm, you could tell that it was one of Bobby's "on" nights. He was dancing and gesturing from the get go, doing some much of his now-legendary, two-legged shuffle. While I won't attempt to describe his every move, it was more animation than I had ever seen, and starting so early on boded well for the rest of the show. If Not For You (my least favorite song that the band knows all the chords of) was piercing and surprisingly powerful. Bobby started doing the Cold Irons bop even before the band started playing (any one who was in Starkville will surely remember the bop - it's a foot-tapping, weight-shifting almost-lunge, sort of like a sped-up version of the Not Dark Yet video - anyway, more detailed info. can be obtained by contacting Rhett Thomas), and the song was just glorious. Clear, not-screamed, extended vocals and a real sense of the song's inner fabric. Like may nights to follow, it was my personal highlight. Bobby played harp on both One Too Many and It Ain't Me, Babe, and my first Make You Feel My Love was surprisingly good. Having heard all the other arrangements on tape, this recent one seems to work the best. There's something about the compactness of it all. It's strange, but for some reason, what I consider to be an awful song that most anyone could have written, becomes a Bob song when he does it live. If I may quote Stephen Scobie, "It's like God Knows. He's gonna keep playing it and trying to prove to us that it's a good song." He may be succeeding. Overall then, this may have been my favorite show. Certainly it was up there. Blowin' was a surprise (especially since they had already turned on the house music), but, given our proximity to Poland, perhaps it shouldn't have been. When Hitler built the Waldbuhne, I'm willing to bet that he never envisioned that it would someday be the most dangerous general-admission theatre in all of Europe. The place holds 18,000 and, after a brief run through the woods, contains the most steep, precipitous seating arrangement I've ever been lucky enough to run down. Most people were smart and just realized that over 100 small, steep, concrete steps was simply an invitation for a broken limb - not me. Like Brussels in 1996, I ran down, this time screaming loudly in English was everyone to be careful, and again managed to end up in the front row. No joke though, I'm 21 years old and, upon getting to the rail, I had to sit down and rest. Looking up, the top level really seemed up there with the horizon. Bob and crew played Oh Mercy, Everything Is Broken If You See Her Cold Irons Red Sky Silvio Times Love Minus Zero Masters Tangled Not Dark Yet Highway Twice Lovesick Rainy Day Blowin' I enjoyed this show. Many others thought that it wasn't good but, after he opened with Broken, he had a free day in my book. Even though he badly muddled the last two verses (and yes Stephan, it is a stupid song about nothing), it was different and something new. Bucky played acoustic guitar on it and Tony couldn't stop smiling. If You See Her is a personal favorite and was fast and louder than other recent versions that I've heard. Not Dark Yet was a nice choice considering the sun was setting, and considering that it's a brilliant tune. Like the versions on the east coast, the vocals were clear and emotional and just well sung. All in all, the show just had a more relaxed, laid back feel. It was solid, though. Seriously, how can you complain about any show with Not Dark Yet? Nobody plays Rostock. None of my German friends had ever been there. There is, however, a ferry to Trelleborg (which is quite near Malmo). The show was damn good. A German friend of mine pointed out that Dylan shows at Stadthalles are almost always very good. We both decided that this is because Bob thinks it is a funny sounding word. Whatever the case, the Stadthalle in Rostock was the smallest venue that I saw, and it was close to full. Bob and crew played Watchtower Tonight, I'll Be Staying - Cold Irons Bound What Good Am I Silvio North Country Masters Tangled Tears of Rage You Ain't Goin' Nowhere Highway Back Pages Lovesick Rainy Day Ain't Me, Babe Watchtower reminded me of Memphis Blues in Jean, Nevada - just a song that has always been done a certain way slowed down and played with a completely new arrangement. Many times, Bob repeated either parts or complete lines, for example, "There must be, must be some way out of here, Said the joker, said the joker to the thief" - or something like that. Some people think it sounds a bit like Series of Dreams, and this seems to ring true for the opening moments. Bobby played harp on Tears of Rage and, yes, it was so good that it should have sent a certain Scottish fan almost completely off his seat at his computer. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere was a bit of a surprise and, afterwards, Bob started laughing and said something like, "He, he - an easy chair" - kind of reminiscent of Montreal 1997 when he called it his "song about furniture." Bob was once again very animated, and spent a lot of time staring down at his cue sheet. As we learned afterwards, it contained many acoustic songs listed in parenthesis, thus displaying the option of having an all-acoustic second half. While Bob didn't go this route, he seemed to find the whole idea rather confusing. Oh yeah, the cue sheet also contained the surprising option of Rolling Stone/Silvio. All in all, another real strong show with another surprising opener and Bob in one of his drinking-and-dancing, smiling-and-nodding, former-East-Germany moods. The act before Bob at the Brofestival in Malmo was a Dutch woman/band called Anouk. During her set, my second-row spot suddenly became the center of a mosh pit. Survival overpowered my ingrained territorialism and I fled to the side. Just one of those moments where you had to laugh. The festival was the cleanest, most well organized music event I've ever witnessed. There was a direct bus route from down town, relatively good food, a lovely beach, and two stages alternating acts (which meant that everyone cleared out before Bob and the front row was suddenly open and, once again, a safe place). Seriously though, I commend the city for excellent arrangement and planning. Bob and crew played Watchtower Peggy-O Cold Irons Fourth Street Silvio Roving Gambler Masters Twice Tangled Forever Young Highway Lovesick Rainy What first impressed me was that Bobby managed to wear the same grey suite that he wore the last time he played Malmo. This time, however, instead of wearing his white cowboy hat, he simply carried it back and forth with him each time he came onto or left the stage. It is a nice hat. Bobby forget part of Watchtower's third verse, which still strikes me as funny, and, like his last Malmo visit, he played Peggy-O (the place is on the beach). It's beyond a personal favorite - ya know, one of those songs that he could play 18 times as an entire show and I'd leave very satisfied. Again, he spent vast amounts of time staring down at the cue sheet and, after the show, I found out why. There were more alternates/possibilities/songs in parenthesis than Rostock. Poor Bobby got lost in his own song list! Again, there were entire directions that the show could have gone, each defined by picking a certain song at a certain time. My first never-ending acoustic set was, in a word, weird. All in all, the show was solid, and had some very nice moments including Bob cracking up during the Don't Think Twice harp solo. Oh yeah, the Fourth-Street nod came just before it was played. Tony looked at Bob and said "Fourth Street, Ring Them Bells." Bob said "Fourth Street." Tony said, "Fourth Street?" Bob nodded. I thought "Thank God for the Supper Club." The Globe Arena in Stockholm actually looked like a globe. It was quite impressive, really. While, in the past, this probably would have been enough to satisfy me, these days I'm getting rather greedy. That is to say, I still went to the show. It was average. After four straight general admission shows filled with Bob toying with the front few rows, the reserved seating scene just didn't seem to work. Bob hates reserved seats. Apparently, he has for awhile. In Stockholm, it was apparent why. People simply never stood up. Even when he first came on stage there was just some clapping but little more. The resulting show just seemed to lack that certain sense of energy that Bob seems to get from excited fans. The setlist was Watchtower Tonight, I'll Be Staying - Cold Irons Bound Every Grain of Sand Silvio Desolation One Too Many Tangled Feel My Love Wheel's on Fire Highway Forever Young Lovesick Rainy Day Blowin' Every Grain was great to hear, especially since the last time I saw it live Bob opened with either the second or third verse, got it partly wrong, repeated it, and apologized at the end of the song for not knowing the words. At the time, I really didn't care, and admired the effort in the attempt. Needless to say, a version with the correct words was still exciting. Desolation is a personal favorite, and was very nice. It seemed a bit louder/more drums-driven than the erotic-screams-driving version from NYC in January. Sorry, but that version from Madison Square Garden was one of my favorite all-time Dylan moments, and subsequent versions just don't seem to live up in my mind. However, don't get me wrong, it was still quite nice in Stockholm. Feel My Love was still an awful song done marvelously well. Is the Garth Brooks version out yet? I loved Goteborg. Many others didn't. Perhaps many of the Swedes didn't get quite as ridiculously excited as I did over the line "Nighttime is the right time to be with the one you love." But c'mon, he sang it wearing white shoes! It was a sudden return to the summer of 1996. It was almost impossible to make out through the guitars. It didn't matter! Seriously, though, the different opener and white shoes gave the show a new, different feel. For everyone who doesn't know (which would be most everyone except a certain woman in Missouri), I wrote a review of the 1996 summer tour that pretty much said that you could tell both the show's opener, and the subsequent of quality of the resulting setlist, all by looking at Bob's shoes as he walked on stage. White shoes meant Drifter's, a man with something the matter sitting by an expanse of flowing water, the Mr/Master/Twice trifecta, and a little diddy about a man walking through all kinds of doors carrying a pencil. The black shoes were the instant symbol of greatness. They meant difference, an opener about a flood, and wild acoustic sets including that tune about Johanna. Thus, given the white shoes in Goteborg, the setlist and quality of show were a very pleasant surprise. This was a trend that lasted for the rest of the tour. Bob and crew played To Be Alone Long Black Coat Cold Irons Born In Time Silvio Times Baby Blue Masters Tangled She Belongs to Me Till I Fell Make You Feel My Love Highway Ain't Me, Babe Lovesick Rainy Day Bob brought his cowboy hat on stage again, but never put it on. The crowd was more animated, and the stage rush came earlier. Bob did the bop again before Cold Irons Bound even started, and Times was one hell of a crowd pleaser. The harp solos came during Baby Blue and Tangled. The highlight moment came after Till I Fell. The band was supposed to leave, and Bob looked over at Tony, smiled a big toothy grin, and said "Do you wanna play another" - as if Tony was gonna say no. Needless to say, from then on, the shows became two songs longer (with the exception of the Van shows). While this was not the plan on the Goteborg setlist, it was for all subsequent shows. Oh yeah, She Belongs to Me was She Belongs to Me. Bob wore a tan shirt in Copenhagen. As a frequent concert attendee recently told me , "tan is not his color." She is right. His white shoes and white belt did not help the look all the much either. When you consider the fact that the Forum had technicolored chairs on the floor (giving it that almost-acid-trip) kinda feel, the whole night was just one big failed attempt at a rainbow. The show started badly and got a bit better. Nothing all that special. Nothing Christiana (from what I hear). There were, however, very polite ushers. The setlist was Watchtower Tonight, I'll Be Staying Cold Irons Shooting Star Silvio Ramona Masters Love Minus Zero Tangled Can't Wait Feel My Love Blind Willie Highway Twice Lovesick Rainy Day Blowin The show was not going very well, and all of a sudden, they played a brilliant Love Minus Zero. While some others though that the show began to improve during Masters, this is not a notion that I will ever accept, no matter how true. It was nice to hear Can't Wait again, especially in its new spot. Bob did a great two-legged leg kick during one of his guitar solos, and almost fell over. I was impressive, really. He shot out both white boots at the same time and sort of jumped in the air (there were no feet left for the ground). As usual, I was happy that he was happy. I didn't go to any shows in 1991. I went in 1990 and 1992, but, for some reason, just skipped the local 1991 summer shows. Thinking back, it was probably for the better (even though I would give anything to have witnessed the eight minutes of instrumental and "random piano chords" during New Morning in Stuttgart, or been at the Spring show where JJ and Caeser all of a sudden changed sides and each started playing what had previously been the others parts). Anyway, the first five songs in Hamburg were as close to this glorious, early-John-Jackson year as I may ever come. Bob walked on stage with his Darien-Lake, Tuscaloosa, no-sleep, they-pulled-me-out-of-bed-for-this-shit look. In fact, they had been doing construction near his hotel the night before and, even though the show started over an hour and a half late, he hadn't slept much. During the first five songs, he spent great periods of time, sometimes complete lines, not singing into the mic. Interestingly, this trend persisted, to differing degrees, throughout the night, with the exception of during the TOOM songs. Bob and crew tried to play Watchtower I Want You Tough Mama Tears of Rage Silvio Oh Babe, It Ain't No Lie Masters Boots Tangled Can't Wait Feel My Love Till I Fell Highway Back Pages Lovesick Alabama Getaway Blowin' Tough Mama was loud and, as usual, it was impossible to make out the words. Tears of Rage was awful and, along with Tangled, may have been the highlights of Bob singing into the air. During Silvio, Bob walked around the stage, not singing, not playing his guitar, and suddenly stared to lean towards Bucky. Then, out of nowhere, with his back turned to the audience, he played one chord, kept his hand extended up in the air (like Dignity in Unplugged), as if to say "hey, looks what I've done." It was just funny, weird because it was so bad, and funny. The acoustic set had its moments. Oh Babe was a revelation, not because it was a surprise to hear, but just because it could be heard. Boots is a favorite of mine, and the new less-pauses, Carolyn-Hester arrangement is beautiful. Actually, it sounds a bit like the album version. The three-in-a-row TOOM songs were great. Powerful, Bob suddenly strutting his stuff, and just caused everyone to stop and ask "where the hell did this come from?" Back Pages was a certain Scottish fan's highlight. Alabama consisted of Bob singing the same made-up, incorrect verse three times illegibly, and it was still great to hear. Overall, then, to quote a friend who was at the show, "Parts of it were brilliant and most of it sucked." Bremen was much better. It had to be, it was in a Stadthalle. Bob wore his white shoes and played, in my opinion, his first completely solid show since either Rostock or Goteborg. The setlist was Pill-Box Hat Long Black Coat Cold Irons Bound Big Girl Silvio John Brown North Country Twice Tangled Can't Wait Feel My Love River Flow Till I Fell Heaven's Door Lovesick Rainy Day Blowin' Pill-Box sounded like the last arrangement that the band used. I simply mention this because, on subsequent nights, it sounded more and more different (especially the opening few moments). One of the later cue sheets said "Pillbox (from the v chord)." While I do have some musical sense of what this means, given Bob's white shoes, it seems more enjoyable to think of it in a Star Trek kinda sense. Anyway, John Brown was gorgeous. It was the slowed-down, NYC arrangement done right. Bob sang the first few verses almost completely with no backing, and played the three-note lick correctly a bunch of times. I'm still not sure why each member of the band joins in at a different part of the song, but it certainly doesn't seem all that planned. The song, then, went from Bob alone to a full band, rather loud, almost up-beat tune in the end. River Flow was actually enjoyable. Give them all some credit, after only five years they've come up with a somewhat new, more bluesy arrangement. It's tough to describe, but it just didn't sound like it used to. Perhaps it's because Larry's guitar was particularly up front. While I was waiting for Bob to then end the show by saying something like "Here's a request we're gonna do. Every once in awhile we do requests" and then brake into Fourth Street or Takes A Train, Till I Fell was nice instead. Lastly, Bob ended Heaven's Door by repeating the line "so many times before" a bunch of times. Given all the lines in the song, it was a pretty interesting choice (imagine, though, if he had just repeated "blood in my eyes", or better, "blood in my guns" - now that would have been a go Bobby go moment!). Anyway, after the song, he said something like "so many times before, at least one more" and then giggled. Again, I was happy that he was happy. Standing there, I was still expecting Abraham to be happy shortly after. Rotterdam was what we who are just outside "the know" refer to as a "no highlights show." To be in the know, simply write to Henry and prepare to be ridiculed to tears. Actually, my highlight was the fact that Bob wore baggy pants! Give the man some credit, he realizes that he isn't that far from grunge. His pants were black and, though perhaps just too big, bordering on "alternative." Also, he played part of Silvio with his guitar pick in his mouth. It sounded like Silvio sung by a man wearing baggy pants. The setlist was Pill-Box You Ain't Goin' Nowhere Cold Irons Bound Woman Silvio Desolation Times Tangled Can't Wait Feel My Love Highway Ain't Me, Babe Lovesick Rainy Day Essen was really good. The setlist was interesting, the crowd was energized and standing, and License to Kill and Not Supposed to Care were on the cuesheet but not played. The Grugahalle had chairs in it for the first time that anyone could remember (supposedly at the request of the artist - yeah, sure), and the mineral water was surprisingly cold. The setlist was Pill-Box Senor Cold Irons Bound Red Sky Silvio Hollis Brown Ramona Hattie Carrol Tangled Can't Wait She Belongs Blind Willie Till I Fell Ain't Me, Babe Lovesick Rainy Day Blowin' Red Sky was the best of the ten or so versions that I've ever been lucky enough to hear. Bob really toyed with the phrasings, speeding up some lines and slowing others down. It was surprisingly captivating for a song off the Red Sky album. Unlike 1996, Hollis Brown did not sound like John Brown. No banjo and a pretty equal speed throughout. Bob sang the entire song (including the ball and chain verse) and just got it right. She Belongs to Me was introduced by saying "that (Can't Wait) was a song off my new album, here's a song off one of my old ones." Blind Willie was the same arrangement as 1997, and still damn good. The Grugahalle parking lot was quite near the highway. Life was good. Well, I'm getting lazy, so we're gonna combine the rest. I skipped Brussels and Belfast. Bob played License to Kill and The Roving Blade. Carsten got excited. The fans in Belfast were there to see Van. Serve Somebody was always good, but just too short. Bob sang three verses each night. While it was usually the same three, there was one night where he said something about "a glass of milk." Again, I was happy that he was happy. The never-ending acoustic sets were weird at first, and then too long. Mama, You Been On My Mind is the ultimate in country, and has a pause, sort of like the album. Along with a friend, I line-danced to it in Sheffield. The ushers were not too impressed. Then again, maybe he knew that we weren't in our correct seats. Hearing Desolation every night was something for which I am eternally greatfull, and the break from so many TOOM songs was needed. Overall, Glasgow was the best of the UK shows, and maybe the best overall. Besides, it didn't have Silvio on the cuesheet (only Memphis). Then again, it wouldn't be a Bob show without Silvio. The Bob/Van duet on Heaven's Door in Birmingham was better than you can possibly imagine. Really, I don't get excited over much, but seeing Bob pick up a harmonica half-way through and hand it to Van was just unreal. Also, just there seemingly spontaneous, back-and-forth, constant repetition of certain lines over and over again was just too good, sounded too much like two musicians who really cared. Bob sang the first and third verse, Van sang the second, they traded lines for what seemed like five minutes, and then ended by repeating "just like so many" - JUST LIKE SO MANY! Bob was smiling in the end and, at some point, high-fived Van. He also talked to Larry twice during the show. Something tells me it meant more to Larry. So, the tour was great. Really. Maybe not all the shows were orgasmic, but they were different. There were six different openers, four more than all of 1994. The long acoustic sets gave the shows a different feel and, when you're going to a bunch, that's all you can ask for. No, no Visions, no Idiot Wind, and nothing about a girl who was the Rose of Sharon. But, then again, in over fifteen shows, only once was my tambourine was in time. As some of us like to say, "Everything was okey dokey on the okey dokey tour!" Thanks Bob. Really. It was lots of fun. Thanks go out to the following people who made it possible/more fun: Stephan and Chris, Dangerous Daniel, Heinrich, Frank (for changing the tire and saying, in perfect English, "Don't worry, I'm an engineer"), Carten B., UK Ray, Anneke, Carsten W., John Jackson, Sigrid, Mark CS, Homer, Brian Kennedy (for staying home), Christine, and, of course, Bob. Mr. Thomas, Oh Mr. Thomas - Gotta Get Through January, Gotta Get Through February - Wanna make, wanna make, wanna make - -Josh

May - June - July