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Bob Dylan 2000.03.27 Modena

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 09:34:49 +0200
Subject: review of Modena show

Please post. I don't know where to send it. Thx. Peter Lowrey


For his first date of a five-concert Italian swing, Bob played
this small medieval town, taking over the central square for the
night. After 10 years of missing many chances to see my main man
live, I'd come six hours by train from Switzerland to be a
Bobhead for a weekend in Modena and Milan. What would a
59-year-old Dylan sound like? Or look like? He looked quite good
actually, although his eyes were red rimmed and when he screwed
up his face I thought he looked a bit - God help me for saying so
- old womanish.

Bob was rather subdued tonight (he had a face like a mask)
although he did a sweet double take mid way through the show when
he finally noticed a woman in the second row who had been slowly
waving a black bra back and forth over her head to the music.  I
thought the contrast extraordinary between Dylan and Charlie
Sexton, the tall, handsome and awfully young guitarist. Charlie
was jumpy all night, keeping his eyes glued on Dylan as if afraid
to miss a cue. Tony looked drawn but alert, Larry like a working
man and David invisible behind cowboy hat, shades and drums. Six
thousand mostly young fans thronged the square but there were all
ages. Tickets were only 40 000 lire, about $20. After getting
soaked in a downpour an hour before, the crowd was ready to roll
at 9:10 when the band came out ...

Duncan and Brady
Who are Duncan and Brady? Whoever they are, they've "been on the
job too long", said the lyrics. Three acoustic guitars and a
double bass sound pretty damn good when they first start up.

Tambourine Man
I have Charlie down as taking a short solo, but Bob seemed to
take all the solos tonight so I might be mistaken. (Some Irish
Bobheads next to me said Dylan only takes all the solos if he's
in a good mood, so what do I know about the man behind the mask.)
Larry just looked straight ahead, strumming.

Masters of War
Charlie on a steel guitar and a song they do indeed always seem
to do well. Dylan's voice quite good but he's not putting any
flourishes into his singing so far. Holds the guitar like a
machine gun at the end.

Boots of Spanish Leather
Nice to hear this classic, sung, I thought, with a touch of

Tangled up in blue
Things start to pick up finally mid way through when Bob starts
to hit the strings hard in a trademark break. He's playing well.
On the line "written by an Italian poet ů" he raised his eyebrows
to acknowledge where he was, to a big cheer (in fact the square
we were standing in would have been around when Dante was writing
his  rhymes). Larry on mandolin.

To Ramona
The beginning was mumbled and I had to ask someone what song it
was. A short non-descript harp solo.

Country Pie
First time I'd heard this live or on bootleg and it was a good,
short punchy intro to the electric set.

Positively 4th St
Without that explosive "You've got a lot of nerve" I'm afraid I
didn't recognize the song for a while. Another mumbly song.

Stuck inside of Mobile
Now the fun starts with a spirited jam.

Can't wait
One of the highlights of the evening. Bob put a lot of feeling
into this one, his phrasing perfect. As I said afterwards, I
don't care what the set list is, as long as the man puts his
heart into it. Virtually all his lyrics are worth listening to.

Drifter's Escape
A rather amazing boogie version.

Pill Box Hat
An Italian next to me had to ask what the hell a pill box hat
was. Song's dated as well. Misses piano. Afterwards the crowd
finally got a full verse of happy birthday in - to dear Bobby -
even though it was three days late. Tony laughed as if to say -
get a calendar.

Love Sick
Another highlight, with a changed lyric "I feel like I'm plowed
under" (thanks, Brendan).

Rolling Stone
is the one they all sing along to.

Don't think twice
A personal favourite and Bob sang it very sweetly and with
purpose. Back to acoustic guitars, Tony on a huge acoustic bass,
a third again as big as the other guitars and played overhand. An
Italian girl behind knew all the words and sang along in a clear
silvery little voice right in my ear. It was a charming duet,
especially now that everyone was warmed up and feeling like a big

Serve Somebody
I really like the 1998 touring version and his big band version
at the Grammy Awards in the early '80s, but the boys steamed into
a pounding, hard rock version tonight that was as tight as any
one could ever want. Not an ounce of fat on this one.

Forever Young
Back to acoustic, the guitar handlers really earning their money
this evening.

Another rocker.

Blowin' in the wind
In many ways this was the most interesting song of the evening.
Bob looked and sounded genuinely sad when he sang it. I was
touched. It was as if to say "I wrote this when I was young,
singing that no one knows when war and sorrow will ever end, but
now I really know it's true."

The show was more enjoyable than I make out, but I said to my
friends afterwards that I thought the band was taking it easy
since it was just a plaza show in a provincial town. It was plain
that half the crowd or more came out of curiosity.

Now on to Milan, the real test.

Peter Lowrey

From: (Federico Boggio) To: Subject: 27.05.2000 - Stuck Inside Of Modena... Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000 21:14:57 +0200 All is well that ends well. After a stormy afternoon with heavy showers that forced most of the audience to throng╩for shelter under the arcades of the Piazza Grande, the sky eventually turned blue just an hour before the show and at 9.15 p.m.╩Bob Dylan and his band took the stage for what was to going to be one of the best shows I ever attended to. Duncan And Brady (ac.) Unexpected show opener (Dylan only gave 4 airings to this song before Modena, the last one being at the previous show to this one in Regensburg, Germany) the song worked very well as a start up. Mr. Tambourine Man (ac.) Excellent. Dylan's mellow voice and his acoustic guitar riffs made the audience╩dream╩and, although I╩listened to this this song hundreds of times before, I felt goose pimples all down my arms for the beauty of this rendition. Ovations at the end of each chorus. Masters Of War (ac.) Good number, sung and played in the usual╩way these times, with the band well tightened up╩following the inspiration of the leader. Dylan's singing maybe expressed a little more intimacy than other times. Boots Of Spanish Leather (ac.) This indeed sounded magic. It's incredible how Dylan can still╩take out something from this beautiful song, but he sure can. I felt rocked and cradled by his voice, soft and low and it was like╩he was telling a fairy-tale to the closest of friends. I would have liked the song never to get to the end, but╩alas, it did.╩A highlight. Tangled Up In Blue (ac.) As usual the 5th song of the setlist, this inevitable number rocked well enough and it's always a pleasure to listen to it.╩No harmonica coda this time, but a long "Taaaaaaaaaaaaangled"╩at the end of each verse. Solid rendition, not particularly impressive, though. To Ramona (ac.) With this song Dylan told the audience another beautiful fairy-tale, this time in waltz time. Larry's mandolin in the background and Dylan's warm and confident singing took our imagination╩to the sunny porch of a Mexican hacienda and we all listened, breathless and in wonder, to this magnetic serenata. After the final verse, Dylan added a short harmonica solo: a sort of signature. A highlight. Country Pie The electric portion of the show did not take off╩very well as the band didn't╩start the song properly and messed up a little (although I am not able to say what exactly went wrong). It took about one minute to get it straight, but this song is╩so short, you know. The time they got it together it was nearly over. It was the first time I listened to "Country Pie" live and I think it is a good song to get the audience into the╩electric atmosphere, but not tonight, unfortunately. Positively 4th Street Things reached to another highlight with "Positively 4th Street". Slow and strong,╩astonishing vocal rendition of this number that keeps growing through the years and is capable of reaching edges of perfectness like in Modena. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis╩Blues Again Dylan and the band╩enjoy playing this long classic song and they keep it as a bookmark in the setlist and often frequent it in the middle portion of the show. In recent renditions, like Modena's, the song sounds less rocky, maybe a little slower than it ought to be and the sound is more smooth and "country-like". I suggest Charlie Sexton should have more space on this song in order to give air to his metallic guitar refinings which should add a lot to the song. (Just my opinion, for what it's worth!) Can't Wait Big surprise and another highlight.╩This song has been╩completely re-worked upon and it has now turned to be╩a totally new song:╩a solid and morbid slow rock number of tremendous beauty. I really can't find words to say╩how good and magic this song is these days. Dylan's voice is deep and haunting, the new arrangement is poignant and unique.╩I╩still like the TOOM version (I think that "Can't Wait" is one of the best tracks of the album), but this new version is really something! Drifter's Escape Another surprise. This song is not often performed and it is not among my favourites, but once again Dylan took another rabbit from the hat: new arrangement, Sexton's guitar tricks in the foreground, "Drifter's Escape" has become another new song, plenty of╩"rock'n'roll"╩with a slice of "funky". A few bars of a convinced harmonica playing were added at the end of the song. Very very good indeed! Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat Usual show stopper before the encores in this European tour. Well played, well sung, plenty of irony and a lot of fun! Love Sick I would have never expected this song to ever be among the highlights of a show, but in Modena it really was! Dylan has another tale to tell and how well he tells it! His voice is dark and intimate as I never heard on this song before, he takes you by the hand, he's speaking to your ear and leads you into the tunnel of the eternal struggle between instinct and rationality. The doubt and perplexity, the scepticism and in the end love╩in his voice are so real that you can almost touch them. Astounding! Like A Rolling Stone One more classic. Not particularly inspired, the song speaks for itself. The audience really seemed to appreciate it a lot and sang along during the choruses.╩In my opinion, a standard rendition of a masterpiece. Before the end of the final chorus, Dylan has already got rid of his electric guitar to get the acoustic one for the immediately following Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (ac.) where he began an arpeggio in a completely different key from Larry's, which caused some confusion and a little mess. The song got finally into place and took off in the proper╩way.╩An unimpressive rendition, I'm sorry to say, except for an excellent Dylan (too) short guitar solo in the middle of the song. Gotta Serve Somebody Another surprise! Totally rearranged, this╩song comes to a new life and now it sounds rocky and sharp as can be. Great guitar work of Sexton, which╩indicates innovative new ways of interpreting old material (as already suggested by "Drifter's Escape"). Good song and a surprising rendition. Forever Young (ac.) Very intimate except for the choruses when Larry and Charlie join Dylan's singing, this song has become a hymn. It is the final portion of the show and everybody sings along, the audience is estatic and in wonder, the song goes on and on like it would never end. But then again it does and it's Rainy Day Women #12&35 Long rendition, Dylan sings at the beginning and then he sings again after the instrumental middle break. This song is joyful as ever and everybody (in the audience as well as on the stage) is happy and satisfied. Blowin' In The Wind (ac.) The final encore. Nothing to say about this anthem that has not been said yet. Everybody sings along. I was completely bewitched and╩looked around to the crowd singing, people of so many different generations, I looked at the medieval Dome and palaces of the Piazza Grande beside the stage, echoing with the notes of the song, I looked at Bob Dylan that once again had made it, and made it so well! By the way, at the end of "Duncan And Brady"╩Dylan spoke in Italian and said "E' abbastanza umido" ("It's damp enough") with a wrong accent on the "i" instead than on the "u", which sounded funny. We all really appreciated the effort, anyway. Thanks everybody for your attention Federico Boggio
2000: March - April - May