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Bob Dylan 2000.03.23 Berlin

Date: Sat, 27 May 2000 12:44:46 +0200
Subject: reviews Regensburg + Berlin
From: Sven Lewandowski ( 

Dylan at Berlin - a possible interpretation

Dylan and Berlin - that seems to be a long story - but I won«t
tell it againÊ! I just remember the 98-show with the only «Not
Dark Yet« at 98s European tour - and the fact that the concert
started and finished so early that it took hours after the show
to get really dark. This year everything turned out to be very
different and Dylan delivered a passionate set and it seemed that
he put all the passion in his perfomcance that the 98 show lacked
so much. The show did not feature «Roving Gambler« but «Somebody
Touched Me« instead - a nice and very welcome change ! «The Times
They Are A-Changin« Êfollowed and Dylan was once again unable to
recall the lyrics (another bad performance). «It«s Alright, Ma«
was better then before and sounded great. The same is true for
«Love Minus Zero«. On «Tangled Up In Blue« there«s really not
much to say, we all heard voices for a while and the rest is
history (Oh Êhow I wish he would do this only once instead of
«Tangled«). «Tomorrow Is A Long Time« was done with deep feelings
and I recognized that Larry Campell«s voice sounds quite good.
The electric set opened with «Gotta Serve Somebody« which was
done the raw way - a bit like the new version «Drifter«s Escape«
(that he performed later). To me it sounded great and it was also
a nice alternative for «County Pie«. I think that there is no
need to explain why «Serve Somebody« is the superior to «Country
Pie«. «Things Have Changed« followed and the song is getting
slower - and not better ! I think the performances at Colongne
and Hannover were much better. «All Along The Watchtower« was
Êhard-rocking once again and surely a crowed pleaser. Dylan also
had fun and smiled a lot during the show. «Drifter«s Escape« was
one of the songs I was hoping for - but I didn«t recognize it
right a the beginning, so I had to wait for the first line to be
sure. It sounded GREAT and also featured the harmonicaÊ! Band
intros followed and Dylan made a kind of joke on David Kamper who
was introduced as the best drummer in the world - «better than no
drummer at all« ! The encores were the usual ones and as I
expected Dylan to do «Forever Young« - «cause it wouldn«t suit
well for his birthday show next day in Dresden - so he had to do
it in Berlin. All in all we can say that the Berlin concert was a
great and thrilling experience with nice changes in the set list
and three songs I was waiting for («Serve Somebody«, «Somebody
Touched Me« and «Drifter«s Escape«). But also the structure of
the show is quite interesting. Each Dylan concert (this year) can
be divided into three sets: the acoustic set at the beginning,
the electric one in the middle and the encores at the end. Each
set usually features six songs exept for the encores which are up
to eight. If we compare the structure of these three stets at the
Berlin concert, astonishing results are to be foundÊ! So let«s
take a look on the first song of very set: «Somebody Touched Me«
shows a strong believe in God and a kind of a new born experience
(Òmust have been the hand of the LordÓ). It is clear that the
love of the singer belongs to God and that God is the one who
loves the singer. «Gotta Serve Somebody« doesn«t refer to the
experience of been new born and doesn«t tell us about God«s love
or about love at all. It confronts us with a kind of decsion
between black and white or darkness and light - or (as another
interpretation) with the fact that there«s no choice at all.
Finally, «Love Sick« is once again about love, but about a love
that has failed and maybe it is also about the fact that love is
doomed to fail. Anyway, in «Love Sick« there«s no God at all. It
shows a dark and dying world where vulcanos have gone out, fires
have burned down and gods have died, a world where nothing is
left but shadows of a future that didn«t come true and where
darkness and despair is all. So there seems to be a kind of
decline - from the touch of God to an empty dark world. But we
also can interpret it as a kind of secularisation and salvation
in a way that god has died, so that love can olny be found in
this world, where the singer of «Love Sick« has failed. But he
surely suffers (he is sick of love - Òthis kind of loveÓ; maybe
wishing to find God«s love instead or to be able to love a
dissapeared god). But the fact that he suffers, show«s that his
feelings are strong - even after the dead of God. So Òthe silence
can be like thunderÓ and like philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche
(1844-1900) wrote (when he was still very young): ÒAs soon as it
would be Êpossible to throw over the complete past of the world
by a strong will, we would immedeately join the row of
independend gods and the world history to us would be nothing
then a dreamingly SelbstentrŸcktsein; the courtain - I mean: the
one of the theatre play world history - falls, and man founds
himself again, like a child playing with worlds, like a child
waking up at a glowing dawn and wiping the horrible dreams out of
his forehead.Ó Ê(quoted in ÊWener Ross: Der wilde Nietzsche.
Stuttgart 1994, p.36f.; my own, maybe not good translation).
That«s the feeling «Love Sick« causes (at least for me) -
especially when it is performed as in these days. The comparision
of the three sets also works for the second song of each set.
«The Times They Are A-Changin««, «Things Have Change« and also
«Like A Rolling Stone« are about changes. In the first one
changes are expexted and there is also a threat with changes and
a strong believe that changes are to come (Òthe first one will
later be lastÓ). In «Things Have Changed« the change has happend
but it didn«t turn out to be positive - ÒI used to care, but
things have changedÓ. Where things have been clear (as in «The
Times They Are A-Chingin««) and a way to go was opened (Òso get
out of the new one« (i.e. the new road)), times are strange now
and people are crazy (it now doesn«t seem to be good for people
to «come gather round« anymore). In «Like A Rolling Stone« things
are turing out to be clear again, but once again not in a
positive way ! Again a change has happend - Òyou used to be so
amusedÓ and Ònow you don«t talk so loudÓ. But again a Òline is
drawÓ. ÒHow does it feelÊ?Ó When we compare the third song of
every set we can discover a row once again, but this time the
other way round. The row begins with the critical, maybe
frustrated and desillusionated «It«s Alright, Ma«, followed by
the famous line Òthere must be some kind of way out of hereÓ (in
«All Along The Watchtower«) and the third encore seems to offer
the way out (or at least one way out): to stay Òforever youngÓ.
(When I first had the idea that a comparison of the three sets of
the Berlin show would be worthwhile I didn«t expect that it would
be fruitable for so many songs and so I«m quite surprised that
I«m able to carry on:) The fourth songs are «Love Minus Zero/No
Limit«, «Not Dark Yet« and «Maggie«s Farm«. I think nobody will
totally disagree on my opionion that «Love Minus Zero« is one of
the finest love songs Dylan ever wrote. Here we find the whole
scale of the typcial romantic love themes and also the paradoxes
experienced by romantic love(rs) (love and lovers speaking like
silence, no success like a failure etc). «Not Dark Yet« for sure
is a rather sad song, but it«s lyrics and symbols are still taken
from the romantic repertoire. The idea Êof romantic love is not
refused and the singer describes a scenary like a painting by
Caspar David Friedrich (who, by the way, emphasized that a
painter not only paints what he sees outside but what«s inside of
him (and someone who has nothing inside won«t paint a picture at
all)). In «Maggie«s Farm« there«s no romantic love at all, but
the clear refusal to accept any conventions - ÒI ain«t gonna work
on Maggie«s FarmÊ/ for Maggie«s ma / paÊ/ etcÓ. «Tangled Up In
Blue, «Drifter«s Escape«and «Don«t Think Twice« also have things
and themes in comon (althought the first two are loud songs and
the last one is slow and sung in a low voice): all three are
about personal weakness and trying to find a way out and/or
crying for help. Dylan once said on «Don«t Think Twice«, that it
is something you can say to yourself maybe to feel better. And
this is also true for «Tangled Up In Blue«. But «Tangled Up In
Blue« offers no release. ÒWe always did feel the sameÓ, but the
point of view was different and so there was no chance to come
together. Only the dirfter, who manages to do something, that the
singer of both, «Tangled Up In Blue« and «Don«t Think Twice«, is
not able to do: he admits his weakness and cries for help (Òhelp
me in my weaknesÓ) - and he is finally released (Òa bold of
lightning struck he courthouse out of shape / É / the drifter did
escapeÓ. So we have the unnessessary failure (Òwe always did feel
the sameÓ) in «Tangled«, the release, i.e. the escape from a
horrible situation after admitting the own weakness («Drifter«s
Escape«) and the attempt to feel better by refusing to
commuinicate to a (formerÊ?) lover («Don«t Think Twice«). Out of
the last song of every set only «Tomorrow Is A Long Time« seems
to be a serious song, while both, «Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat« and
«Rainy Day Women« are rather fun songs. So we might say that
sense and meaning are blown away as we follow this row. But I
don«t think so. «Rainy Day Women« is created around the two
Êfindings that people will alway stone you and that we should get
stoned by using drugs (music etc). I suppose that we also can
interpret «Tomorrow Is A Long Time« on a basis of getting high
(or on a basis of addiction).Ê! It«s not drugs on this song -
that«s for sure. But love can also be a drug)É «Tomorrow Is A
Long Time« is oviously a song about deep desire and the unability
to live without the presence of a lover. The song is anything but
aggressiv; in opposite: it is one of the most tender songs Dylan
ever wrote and nowadays it is also performed in a very tender
way. Here Dylans voice sound so fragile, so calm and desiring at
the same timeÉ His voice is changed on «Leopard-Skin Pill-Box
Hat' and 'Rainy Day Women' for sure. The tenderness it gone and
Dylan sings or even shouts on these two songs in an rather
agressive way. Seems like he wants to destroy all previously
shown tenderness. As 'Tomorrow Is A Long Time' is surely about
love, 'Leopard-Skin Pill-Bo Hat' seems to be about nothing but
sex (ÒI saw you making love to him, you forgot to close the
garage door') and we can easily imagine that the "Rainy Day
WomenÓ are not the ones that would make the singer of 'Tomorrow
Is A Long TimeÓ sleep well in his bedÉ The very last song
'Blowin' In The Wind' seems to stand aloneÉ But it's main line -
"the answer (É) is blowin' in the wind" Êis surely true - at
least for my interpretation of this concert. Don't get me wrong -
I don't want to say that Dyan intended such a concert structure
nor that he had something like this on his mind. It was just an
idea of mine and I know it may be a strange interpretation of a
concert (and I also don't think that it works also for other
shows) - but I invite you to comment on it. 

Here's my e-mail
adresse: (Please state a
subject in your e-mail - I won't any open e-mail without subject).

From: Carsten Wohlfeld ( Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 10:10:51 +0200 Subject: berlin review After the disasterous (and pretty short) Berlin show at the WaldbŸhne two years ago tonight was a very relaxed evening for Bob and his crew. Everybody seemed to have fun, the audience, the roadies on stage (even before the show) and Bob & band throught the show. The Arena is an old bus depot, not very far away from the site that Bob played in 1987 (we are talking about Treptow, former East Berlin here) that they converted into a rock and roll venue. It's okay, but not exactly beautiful. It was an all-standing venue as well with about 5,000 people attending. Bob came on stage at 8.10, and right before the first song they started discussing which song they wanted to do, which I took as a very good sign for the remainder of the show, especially when they didnât go for "Roving Gambler", but another first-time-song for me: Somebody Touched Me (acoustic) It was fun, it was nice, it was as good as "Hallelujah..." although the "complicated" backing-vocals sounded kinda messed up. Still liked it, especially the "glory, glory, glory" line. The Times They Are A-Changinâ (acoustic) Not AGAIN! And, as everybody expected, he messed up the lyrics again, tonight even started butchering them as early as he hit the second line of the first verse. Ouch! He probably will singing it every night until he gets it right once and then leave it behind. Which probably means that we'll get to hear many more versions. It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (acoustic) A very good, very intense version. Bob's singing was very strong even though he forgot the first line to the last verse, I won't complain. Love Minus Zero / No Limit (acoustic) Ten times better than the rotten version we got to hear on the first night of the European tour in ZŸrich. Very relaxed singing, he even "highlighted" some words very nicely and played a long guitar solo at the end, than was much better than the no-solo in ZŸrich. Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic) Much better than the nights before Tomorrow Is A Long Time (acoustic) I definitely want complian, but I'd never expected to get to hear this song, usually only performed a handful of times every year, at three consecutive shows Iâve seen. This version was about as good as the one from Horsens, which is to say that it didn't touch the perfect Hannover rendition. Mzusically perfect, it was Bobâs less than-perfect voice again that made it less enjoyable than the Hannover version. Interestingly enough the cuesheet called for "Gates" or "Mama" in this spot. Gotta Serve Somebody Country Pie was listed as the alternate choice on the cuesheet, but this was a very welcome alternative and it was every bit as good as the Horsens version, where they debuted this new somewhat cut-up arrangement. Bobâs singing (or may I call it shouting?) was pretty good as well. Larry played a mean little rock 'nâ roll riff too. Things Have Changed Got a huge cheer from the crowd even though it was actually the worst version Bob has played so far in Europe. It seems to get slower and slower with every rendition and Bob now starts to toy around with the phrasing, with doesn't improve the song very much. Some people think this song sounds like Chris Rea and if he keeps slowing it down even more, it sadly will. Cuesheet alternate: "If Not For You" All Along The Watchtower Did rock as much as previous versions at the start, but got quite good by the time they hit the jam part after the first verse. This version seemed to be much longer than other recent ones with a lot more jamming and soling going on. Larry on lap steel and it was interesting to see how Charlie started out playing rhythm guitar (= THE riff), but switched to lead soon after, at wich point Larry takes up the riff and plays it on the lap steel. Not Dark Yet was played surprisingly early tonight (it was listed in it's usual #11 slot on the cuesheet), sounded as lovely as every night even though somebody said David messed up the drum part badly -I didn't notice that. What followed was the highlight of the night and one of the most unlikely renditions of any Dylan song Iâve ever heard. Actually the expression "rearranged" doesn't do this performance justice, as the band actually played a cover version and Bob sang the lyrics to his song on top of it. So let me call this: Spanish Castle Magic / Drifter's Escape for what it WAS "Spanish Castle Magic" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Larry did a perfect job playing the very cool Jimi riff. The song had an unbelievable middle-part, definitely the HARDEST and FASTEST thing I'd heard Bob play - ever. Close to the end Bob picked even up the harp, the guitars dropped out and we got a harmonica solo just accompained by David's drums. It was both amazing and ridiculous. Nevertheless it was a very enjoyable performance and Bob definetely wasn't singing but shouting to get heard in the huge sound. This version had nothing to do with the version that now circulates from Santa Cruz. Band intros followed and for the first time Bob said more than just the names of the musicians when he said: "On the drums, David Kemper. There are very few drums who are better than no drummer at all, but he's one of them" which made Tony laugh out loud, in fact he was still laughing his head off when he was intoduced at the end. Cuesheet alternate: "Train To Cry". Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat The usual jam-packed version, that includes a little extra line, as Bob added something like "I'm sure it is" after his own question: "Is it really the expensive kind?". A few bows and they were gone. (encore) Love Sick was either very good or a complete mess, depending from which side you look at it. Bob sounded and looked very tired (throughout all the encores actually) and so he stretched some lines, skipped the pauses where they belonged and as I said, that was either very nice, because it was a change or pretty bad, because the way he usually sings it is mor than just okay already. Like A Rolling Stone Bob seemed to enjoy it, but acutally he and the band messed up most of the changes and it didnât sound as good as most of the recent shows. Forever Young (acoustic) The "highlight" of this version was when Bob forgot the first lines to a couple of verses. Apart from that it was quite lovely, a solid performance. Maggieâ' Farm I wish there was something to say about this song, like: Larry busted a button on his pants, Tony and Charlie got into a fist-fight or something, but there wasn't anything like that. A solid "Maggie's" and nothing more. Only cuesheet choice in this slot: "Not Fade Away". Don't Think Twice (acoustic) Very, very slow version that was pretty boring actually. Bob looked very sick and you wonder how he wants to survive an eight week crosscountry summer tour in the US with just a two- week rest after these European shows. As ridicolous as a 12 song main set and seven encores might look, I have a theory that maybe they really don't know if Bob will make it through a two hour show every night and to make sure they donât leave without any encores, they start doing the "extras" early and just keep on playing if Bob feels like it. They hit the 0 minute jark after about two or three encores and I guess nobody would really complain if Bob would leave after 90 minutes, as he always did for the best part of the early and then again the late 90s. Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 & 35 Again, Larry expected them to do "Not Fade Away", as he was standing there his Strat in his hands and he looked very, very angry when the band started "Rainy". For a second it looked as if he wouldnât want to play on this song at all, but after a surprised look from Bob (who obviously noticed that something was missing sounndwise), he picked up his finger picks from the amp behind him to play the lap steel. The last verse was improvised as always and tonight Bob rhymed "street" wwith "heat" even though I didn't catch the whole lines. Blowinâ In The Wind (acoustic) Longer and better than the Horsens rendition even though I'd much rather hear them end the show with an electric rocker (but, please not "Rainy Day Women"...). Bob actaully came back on stage after the band had left to take another bow, but unfortunately he didn't return to do another song. All in all a very good show with an very enthusastic audience and a band in fine form and good spirits. Thanks to Christian in Hamburg and Tom in Berlin for letting us crash out on their couches the last couple of days. On to Dresden for the birthday bash... Carsten Wohlfeld
2000: March - April - May