Bob Dylan 2002.04.13 in Hannover
Bob Dylan at the Stadionsporthalle Hannover, April 13, 2002 It was a cold and rainy afternoon when I left my flat and went to the Stadionsporthalle which is one of the worst venues I've ever been too. None the less it was at this venue where Dylan performed Ring Them Bells two years ago. Waiting outside the venue the soundcheck could easily be heard - at least if you were not standing at the entrance but at the side of the venue. There were glass doors, a hall way behind them and other door. Between them there was a little gap. If you tried hard you were able to to look through. Most of the time Larry could be seen, but after a while a member of the security came through the door and I was able to see the whole stage. And there he was: a little man in a black jacket and a grey pullover with a hood. And as you can bet - the hood covered his head. But by the way the man moved and played harp you could tell that it was him. Well, during the sound check they performed instrumental versions of the follwing songs: Solid Rock, Watching The River Flow, Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues, Make You Feel My Love, The Wicked Messenger, Rainy Day Women, Things Have Changed, All Along The Watchtower and some instrumental tune I wasn't able to recognize. Sounded to me like they were trying to get their guitars in tune. A while after they finished soundcheck and some more rain had poured on me, the doors were opened and the crowd rushed in. I really can't understand why people in Germany always rush in and why most of them don't sit down on the floor to wait for the show to begin. So they had to stand for about two hours. The show began quite in time. Larry took his cittern and I tried to remebmer if there was any opener featuring the cittern. Okay, now I know that there is one - but, what the hell was it ? At the very beginning it sounded a little bit like Fourth Time Around (but maybe only because it was slow and featured the cittern). Fourth Time as an opener ? But I was not sure. So I thought to myself - wait 'til Dylan starts to sing. But as the song lingered on it became quite obvious that he wasn't going to sing at all and so we got the first instrumental song performed since - I don't know when - It wasn't Fourth Time nor any other song I knew, but it seemed to be a song. It could be argued that the insturmental wasn't a really song but just an intro to The Times They Are A-Changin'. But on the other hand, it was about two minutes╩long and didn't sound like Times at all. And I'm sure someone will find out was it was. But whatever it's called it seemed to be a song in it's own right. There was no break between the instrumental and Times which followed. Everybody in the audience and maybe also on stage was wondering what had happened. It was a surprise for sure. In contrast Times was no surprise at all and it wasn't a surprise either that Dylan wasn't able to remember the lyrics. But it was even worse than it used to be. He totally messed with the lyrics. His singing wasn't good either. Maybe they should have continued to perform instrumentals ? It's Alright, Ma followed and it was a rather weak version. Dylan remembered the lyrics, but his vocal performance was weak and he didn't seem to be very concentrated. He also didn't sing to the microphone all the time. His old problem - once again. And while he performed I wondered if it really is a good idea to travel to the UK in May. For the last acoustic song of the first set Larry took the mandolin and instantly I was fearing that Searching For A Soldier's Grave was to return, But we were lucky - it was only To Ramona. I don't like To Ramona either but I prefer it to Soldier's Grave. The song was quite well done - except by Dylan. His vocal performance still lacked concentration. So except for the instrumental surprise right at the beginning, the acoustic set turned out to be substandard and things could only get better in the electric set. And they did ! They started with a hard rocking version of Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum. I think it was better than the versions I heard in California last October, but every time I listen to this song it reminds me of my impressions when I heard it for the very first time: With these lyrics, I thought, his chances of winning the Nobel Prize for literature are really fading away. But anyway the performance was good and much to my surprise Dylan's voice returned. It was now roaring and had the agressiveness it used to lack. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues followed. A nice and quite rare choice. And as it had been rehearsed the performance was a real good one. Floater still is a song I can't get to terms with. It took me a long time to accept or even to like the album version. Although yesterday's version was much better than the version at Hamburg, I still think there's something missing. Maybe it's the fiddle╩? But whatever it is - there has to be some change. Larry for sure provided good guitar work but neither he nor one of the others is able to replace what's missing. Floater may be a song to which some keyboard should be added. But never mind - at least Dylan was now concentrating on his vocal performance. Solid Rock closed the first electric set. The music was great but I still was a little bit disappointed because I wasn't able to hear Dylan's voice very cleary during most of the song. At least where I was standing the sound mix was rather poor (but only on this song). But as the music was impressive I'm sure I will be able to catch a good version of the song somewhere during my UK tour. All in all the first electic set was much better than the acoustic set, featuring a rare choice and a lot of good music and even Dylan's voice was fine by now. So we were ready to stand another acoustic set (personally I'd prefer more electric songs). Dylan opened the second acoustic with a harp intro to Mr. Tambourine Man and as soon I recognised the song I felt a let down. It has been about one and a half year since I heard the song the last time and there are songs I heard many times more, but - T-Man is for sure one of the man's masterpieces. But why must he perform it when I'm at his shows? Okay, enough of weeping. The version we got was a quite good one and that fact made it much easier for me to stand it. Another classic followed: Masters Of War. The performance was really good and even I enjoyed it. The song still ends with the repetition of the first verse and the line: I want you to know I can see through your mask. Sometimes it's really strange: Dylan picks out a song that is one of those songs you definitely don't want to hear any more, but then it somehow turns out to be a highlight. You look at him and you ask yourself - how does he do it ? How is he able to create such magic moments with such an old song ? I really don't know how - but he added a lot of magic to It Ain't Me, Babe╩!╩╩ The song was performed as soft and tender as this song can be performed. Dylan's voice was not only concentrated but also very tender, whispering, singing, showing all of it brilliance. The way he used his voice created a strong feeling of lost and regret and not the 'I knew it better'-emotions that are laying in the song. You could really feel the pain of rejection and infidelity. It was really thrilling. The tenderness was only destroyed with the very last "babe" that sounded rather like Dylan belched. But it was definitely the best I Ain't Me, Babe I ever heard. And it was him to perform it. Unbelievable╩!! Dylan seemed to feel the same way and as he tried to keep the moment the song featured quite a long instrumental part at the end. Summer Days followed and this time Dylan was really on. The aggressiveness that I missed so much on his Hamburg performance of this song was back in his voice. He leaned in the endings of the lines, his voice was roaring and showed all its brilliance. Summer Days, summer nights are gone, but I know a place where there's still something gooiiin' oooonnnnnnnnnnn ! You got to hear Summer Days on one of his good days. No need to add that the music was fantastic. Another choice I'm not happy with follow: Make You Feel My Love. It was great at Leipzig back in 98, but not now. In contrast to It Ain't Me Dylan wasn't able to add magic and so it was a lala-performance, not bad, not good. Drifter's Escape was very good but the harp playing at the end was rather short. A good Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat followed and included the band introduction as well as some nice solo by Charlie. The encores began with Not Fade Away. No my favourite choice, but enjoyable. A good performance, but they should reconsider the ending. They tried to fade the song out by repeating "not fade away" many times but it didn't really work. On Like A Rolling Stone there's nothing to be said, except for: Drop it !! (Although the version we got was not that bad). If Dogs Run Free was a little disappointment for me - I'd prefer any other song at that slot. Honest With Me was good as always but nothing special. The latter is also true for Blowin' In The Wind. The band then left the stage but returned once again for a last encore. As you can see, I usually don't comment much on the encores but this time I have to make an exception: The last encore was All Along The Watchtower and it was fantastic. The song featured not only a new intro, great guitar picking by Charlie, but also rocked the house down. Dylan once again proved that his voice can be brilliant. So all in all it was a show with a surprising opener, a poor acoustic set at the beginning, highlights in the middle, a fantastic It Ain't Me, Babe (I have to mention it once again !) and a great last encore - and much else beside. So I'm really looking forward to the UK tour. Sven comments are welcome: Sven.Lewandowski@stud.uni-hannover.de
BOB DYLAN IN HANOVER/GERMANY, 13 April 2002 Review by Jerry Schafer There aren't many good reasons to travel to Hanover, Bob Dylan concerts being the major exception. The May 2000 show was fantastic, and the 2002 show was nearly as good. Considered that it was the third show in three days, Dylan was engaged and energetic, apart from a somewhat slow start. As for the much talked about first 'song', I'd rather think of it as an intro to TIMES. The defining instrument was Campbell's bouzouki-type thing, the melody and the sound was quite oriental, and the key was in minor, I believe. I am tempted to interpret it as a comment on what has recently happened in the oriental world, from Afghanistan to Israel/Palestine -- signs and catalysts of the changing times. But that's just me, and everyone's free to get a recording and make up their mind themselves. TIMES wasn't great, Dylan's mind still being in the dressing room or wherever. IT'S ALL RIGHT. Same problem. Also I miss Kemper's drumming on this one, which really made the song. Receli clearly wants to distinguish himself and develop his own style, but hasn't had the right idea yet on what to play here. TO RAMONA closed the first acoustic set. It started with a rubbish harmonica solo, and remained pretty mediocre throughout. TWEEDLE DEE. Dylan started to wake up, and parts of the audience started to go to sleep . It wasn't as noisy as I'd expected, but the feeling was there -- think Elvis' Mystery Train. Lots of dark feeling rumbling underground. TOM THUMB. A very good performance. Rather uneventful at the beginning, it became special when Dylan's determination suddenly seemed to pop up after the third verse. From this moment, he had the concentration and the stage presence which make him a great performer. The band delivered an energetic, captivating performance, with a strong build-up towards the end. FLOATER. It's difficult to understand why most people didn't seem to appreciate much this lovely performance. Sexton playing the fiddle theme on the electric guitar is fine with me, as long as they capture the essence of the song as well as they did here. SOLID ROCK. The first song on which they played really loud, especially Receli. The vocals were difficult to make out it the noise. No big response from the crowd though -- people didn't seem to know it. TAMBOURINE MAN was average, with much routine and little inspiration. MASTERS OF WAR. As long as it's played as well as it was in Hanover, I'll rejoice in hearing it, even if it's the 932nd time. IT AIN'T ME. Excellent performance from everybody except Receli. Great harp solo, great guitar work, great singing, but to me, Receli just didn't seem to get it. His drumming were over-complicated and out of place. No interaction with the rest of the band. SUMMER DAYS was the song where he began to make good for it. A very loud and energetic performance that got the first noisy response from the crowd. And it's well known that an attentive and enthusiastic audience often helps to lift Dylan's performance to a higher level. MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE was a point in case, although not everybody seemed to appreciate it. Call me a sentimental fool, but this is one of my favourites anyway, and last night's harp solo was the icing on the cake of a strong performance. DRIFTER. Well done, as usual. LEOPARD-SKIN. Not what you'd call an original choice -- but I guess I'd miss it if he stopped playing it. Receli is the man for this kind of song. NOT FADE AWAY was first in the encores, and I had a lot of fun with this one. ROLLING STONE. See my comments on Masters and Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat. DOGS RUN FREE. How come such a gem didn't get the response it deserves?!? Great harp, great guitar work, deadpan performance from Dylan. HONEST WITH ME was not bad, a bit lengthy maybe. BLOWIN' IN THE WIND was way above average. I've never before enjoyed this song as much as I did last night. A very focused performance without the crap guitar solo that usually ruins it. WATCHTOWER wasn't just better than expected -- it was pure energy. Dylan the Performer. I don't think anybody walked home disappointed. Some general remarks ... a very varied crowd, with a significant number of teenagers among them. It seemed to take about ten songs until people really got in the mood. The stuff from the greatest hits albums got the biggest response. I'm a bit sorry that the rare and sophisticated stuff didn't get as much recognition as it deserved -- but who am I to tell people what to like? Some of the sixteen-year-olds in front of me clearly loved the music, and that is good news, as far as I'm concerned. See you down the road Jerry.