Date: Mon, 17 Jul 1995 08:22:06 GMT From: Andrew Muir (Andrew@ZIMMY.DEMON.CO.UK) Subject: July '95, Personal Reminiscences (Long) Hello, what follows are my memories of the July part of my never ending Bob story. I'll warn you in advance that it is a long, personal piece so you may wish to bin it rather than read it. But here it is for those who are interested, and I've stuck the set lists at the end for easy reference. These little tour travelogues are one of the most difficult things to write. Not only because following Dylan is such an intensely personal experience, but also because for the writer the whole event is wrapped up in her/his experiences surrounding the event. As Dylan's touring has become so continuous, so the travelling experience has become more and more a social event centred around the epiphanies of the concerts. So it was in this case for me. So where is the difficulty? Well, to tell you of my trip properly you'd have to know my friends. Most of you reading this won't- and if I go on about that element of the trip you'll quickly become bored; after all you want to hear about the Bob Dylan shows, not how Homer went to Hamburg..... Still you must allow me the merest of scene setting or this tale will not bear the telling....
July 1stDue to a peculiarity of air flight prices in Europe, it is much cheaper to fly if you "stay over" a Saturday night. I take advantage of this oddity to fly to Frankfurt Airport and meet up with my good friends and travelling companions; (Germany '94, UK & Germany '95 and many more to come, I hope) Stephan, Chris and Daniel. They live nearby, and after the obligatory swapping of & listening to, recent Dylan tapes we head off for a pleasant day walking on the hills overlooking the Rhine. The weather is glorious and I am taken to a picturesque tourist village. It turns out to be Rudesheim which just happens to be the home of a famous - and utterly adorable - brandy coffee. This coffee is the highlight of the meal at an obscure country restaurant in Scotland that is the celebratory place for major events in my family's life (engagements, graduations etc.). I am stunned by this coincidence but take it as a good omen for the days ahead. The omen was true. The evening was perfectly rounded off with a visit to a Straussenwirtschaft, run by Daniel's girlfriend ,Moni, and her parents.
July 2ndIntense excitement as today is the first time I'll see Bob since April 9th. We are up early as it is a six or seven hour drive to Hamburg. By the time we arrive in the city Ray, Marion and Giovanna are already on their way to queue up at the venue. The Stadtpark in Hamburg is a sensational venue. If you were given the chance to design the perfect outdoor venue it'd look like this. The whole area is enclosed by cultivated hedges and trees, the sun is shining brightly throughout the evening. Dylan is due to start at 19:00 as there is a strict curfew at 22:00. After soaking in the ambience, the great moment arrived. "Ladies and gentlemen, will you please...." The stomach muscles clench in painful anticipation, and then there he is, the centre of all our attention. Looking cool, looking great, wearing shades to protect his eyes from the glare. (New but same style trousers, looks like a new shirt - or, rather, a new version of the shirt he seems to have worn all year.) He tears into CRASH ON THE LEVEE. It is the first time I've seen him do it with a guitar in his hands. I like it, I was getting bored with the old version. (I realize I am too demanding - in March I was *so* excited by it, now only a change in its presentation assuages the pining for DRIFTER'S ESCAPE.) The voice is *very* strong and assured. This I notice as all the tense anticipation of waiting to see him again melts away. I am back in the presence of our Bob. Next up is IF NOT FOR YOU with its pleasant country-ish backing, the acoustics are superb, Bob is in good voice. Before I know it the Toilet Song has started. (I find it so galling that TANGLED UP IN BLUE is no longer there in 5th place as it was a much more convenient bladder break.) Toilet is au naturelle in the trees around this setting. Dylan is behind me singing one of his best known songs, surreally enough tennis games are being played on the other side of the trees. I have no idea if he performed ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER well or not, and until it moves from the third spot, will never know or care again. I do know that the fourth song, the majestic QUEEN JANE APPROXIMATELY, raised everything to a whole new level. The intro. to the fifth song sounded very like WATCHING THE RIVER FLOW but then quite clearly, no doubt at all, became I'LL BE YOUR BABY, TONIGHT (honest.) Dylan had greater things on his mind and went into PLEDGING MY TIME. This was turning into a very fine show indeed. SILVIO brought the first electric set to an ear-shattering close, the song building to a crescendo on wave after wave of guitar attacks. The acoustic set began with TANGLED UP IN BLUE. It would be my dearest wish to report to you that Dylan reclaimed this masterpiece from the trashing he's given it in recent years, alas it was not to be. Here is a strange thing: Dylan sang TANGLED UP IN BLUE acoustically, carefully enunciating each word, and it didn't move me. He just didn't *inhabit* the song. Even the first appearance - to predictable applause - of the harmonica at its climax failed to hide the fact that this just hadn't worked. I asked myself during the third verse if the fault lay in me, if I'd expected too much but I knew that wasn't it. (The fact I could even think such things during the song proving the point!) A final point here is just to say that much as I like "truck drivers' wives" in the final verse I wish he'd occasionally sing the more complex and satisfying "carpenters' wives". I don't think it was a particularly strong Masters of War, but he was clearly projecting it better than Tangled and suddenly the whole evening warped into another universe (you know the one I mean where Bob is in our heaven) with a heart rending IT'S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE. This was to prove my favourite single performance of this particular trip. The lovely slow version first unveiled just before Woodstock II. You could have heard a pin drop, in fact the only interruption was the singing of the birds above in the tree tops as Dylan poured himself into a glorious rendition of a magnificent song in a balmy evening in Northern Germany. Heaven. Slam, bang, thank you ma'am guitars led into the second electric set with MEMPHIS BLUES. This song peaked for me at Hammersmith Odeon in 1990, one of my favourite memories. Three years after that I was completely fed up with it after seemingly endless, turgid renditions. I have never recovered affection for it, so took the opportunity to sidle over to the mixing desk to see what was upcoming on the set list. (Anyway I could keep the stage in constant sight throughout this manoeuvre, just in case you think I was being *too* cool.) I was pleased to see OBVIOUSLY 5 BELIEVERS on the list and resumed my place noting that Dylan was still singing "smoked my eyeballs" as opposed to "eyelids". I prefer the latter but he's Bob Dylan and anything he wants to do is fine by me, SHE BELONGS TO ME as the next song in particular. Then the dark glasses come off at last and we can see his expressions as he plays OBVIOUSLY 5 BELIEVERS - and a damn fine version too. Highlight of the encores - and second best performance of the night for me - was a gorgeous acoustic version of the magnificent MY BACK PAGES. After the closing strains of RAINY DAY WOMEN # 12 & 35. I wander around, meeting lots of friends from Germany and the UK. Then it is time to find a 'phone to call Lambchop and get him to update my information line. Tales of the Reeperbahn and respected EDLIS TOUR AGENT Ray Webster will have to wait for another time. All I can say for now is that four of us went into the depths of the deepest part of the iniquitous Reeperbahn and Ray spent longer there than me, Stephan and Daniel combined.
July 3rdAn early start after a late night to ensure we get some sight seeing done. As we head out for Hamburg harbour Ray, Marion and Giovanna go off to Hannover to queue. Thoughts and talk of Thomas Mann as we sail around the marvellous old port. Our sailing finishes just as a downpour of biblical proportions begins. Ray should be about queuing in Hannover by now, I hope it is drier for him. We go for a meal, there is plenty of time yet to head off for Hannover. Everything has gone to plan so far; but, as it aft does, is about to gang all agley. We are in Hannover in plenty of time, 18:30 or so, Dylan is back to the more customary 20:00 starting time. We drive in circles. We stop to ask directions. We drive in circles. Time passes. We stop to ask directions. We drive in circles. It is approaching 19:30. We are told to follow the signs. We haven't seen any signs. we look with increasing desperation. 19:48 we see a half obscured sign. (All Music Hall signs have been obscured by a poster campaign!) Ten minutes later we catch sight of the venue, Bob is due on in 2 minutes. All three of us bravely wait on Stephan returning from his car in the ante room as the band strike up the opening to CRASH ON THE LEVEE. Stephan is astonished to find us all waiting for him, we have missed all of 34 seconds of Dylan. (I explain later that it was a sacrifice worth making as a friend and, if the opening song had been Drifter's Escape he wouldn't have seen me for dust!) There really is no problem seeing Dylan in a venue this size nowadays. It is with no problem at all that we all walk down to the front, slightly off centre to the right, and all have a perfect view from about the third row. (I always think back to the queuing mayhem off 1978 when this kind of thing happens. 1995, Dylan always easily accessible, Dylan as opening act for chrissakes....) Anyway it is a very fine show, Dylan giving a high energy. powerful performance. My highlights from the first set being POSITIVELY 4TH STREET and JOKERMAN, the majority of the audience - as at the other two shows - being far more enthusiastic about ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER and SILVIO. The acoustic set was the usual delight, with MR TAMBOURINE MAN absolutely stunning as it has been so often in '95. :From the remainder of the set, TOMBSTONE BLUES, LEOPARD SKIN PILL BOX HAT and RAINY DAY WOMEN # 12 & 35 were real pile-driver party pieces. As I said to Lambchop and as he repeated in a quaint Scottishy accent on my line: "You couldnae help but dance." So, now it is an overnight drive to Berlin, with Ray Webster joining us in the car. As we leave Hannover we see the London Calling Dylan bus go the wrong way down a street. We frantically wave to attract their attention....they wave back! Thankfully we see them stop. (Mind you, this was very far from the end of this particular story. The driver, in attempting to turn, demolished a set of traffic lights, was fined and then followed home by the police. He then scraped a car near the hotel they were heading for and ended up in police custody the next morning. Rock 'n' Roll, phew!) We stop at the first opportunity off the motorway for refreshments, toilets etc. Later that night we discover we missed Dylan and his entourage at the same stop by a matter of minutes. Mmm. And so we all arrive at Marion's place in the middle of the wee sma' hours & she generously sees that all these itinerant nutters are comfortably settled for a few hours sleep. Next morning we get an introduction to her collection before setting off sightseeing. I love meeting people whose interest in Bob makes me look normal-ish, and it keeps happening in Germany! We make the most of the day in Berlin, it is my first visit and the centres of the old West and East form our forward path. This is a most affecting part of the trip, in particular the shell scarred buildings in what was East Berlin still standing as a(nother) monument to the futility and horror of war. There is a fascinating exhibition of the proposed reconstruction of Berlin centre. "Berlin 2005", 'the acoustic tour', I murmur. It is leaving this exhibition that EDLIS TOUR AGENT Ray Webster comes out with a comment that I think sums all of us up. Ray is deep in discussion with Stephan re previous German Dylan tours he's attended, and makes a slip of memory by calling Frankfurt '87, Frankfurt '89. When Stephan points this out, Ray says, straight-faced and with due gravitas, "Ah, yes, of course, the Berlin Wall came down in '89, Dylan in Frankfurt was '87". Honestly - we measure our history in Dylan tours! We all go to witness the spectacle of the Wrapped Reichstag that has caused such a stir around the world. It is certainly an impressive sight - much more so in actuality than in photographs - and there is a great deal of enthusiasm for it amongst the thousands of visitors. I am not too sure what I feel about it, it is still to my mind just a building wrapped up. On the other hand anything which has so many thousands of people (millions world-wide) discussing the nature of art can be no bad thing. The more you stand in front of it and balance the view with what you know of the history of the place (occluded but simultaneously present) the more you feel the prominent flag of the new Germany to be symbolic. I decide I like the idea of it more than anything else, Ray Webster agrees, and claims we have an English consensus. He has never come closer to missing a show & quickly amends this to British consensus. As usual we then split up, Ray for his customary half day's queuing for a front row position. I was once that obsessed too, you know, until I became more mature ;-) I am a bit concerned for Ray as he has not had his obligatory bloody-Mary-breakfast, still I know the thought of Dylan will sustain him. I go for a lovely meal with my trio of German guides, just by the shattered remains of the war memorial, Remembrance Church. After our meal we take a bus back to the venue - still with plenty of time before the doors open - and alight to hear the strains of THE LONESOME DEATH OF HATTIE CARROLL. We follow the sounds, 'It is alright, it isn't Bob singing...' I begin but Stephan is over the road and far away already! We stand outside the gates. It's cool. (I don't mean the weather, it is a perfect summer's day.) There are intermittent breaks in the soundcheck, so during one I shout to John Jackson. Ever-accommodating, he returns my greeting with a big smile. He then does - to my none guitarist view - a strange thing. He intently practices while facing a mirror. I can't see how this could be anything other than confusing, anyone have any ideas? We see Winston and Tony too, the soundcheck since we first heard it has consisted solely of various versions of THE LONESOME DEATH OF HATTIE CARROLL. We are having a pleasant time, particularly as we are standing where Bob's bus must almost certainly be arriving. Victor, a man whose features are carved out of a material even older and more experienced than Keith Richards', walks up to the security gates -which have remained unlocked but observed all this time. He cannot find his pass and fumbles for it in every pocket, just like me at work on a Monday morning. He eventually finds it - not that anyone is waiting on it as he was immediately recognised anyway. The only person who had more trouble with his pass was Bucky. This was, from our point of view, a very funny incident. We watched Bucky walk up and down and then he decided to go in. He has his Bob Dylan access badge round his neck and walks through the guards showing his card to each one. They all completely ignore him. (Because he's recognised too I suppose.) Bucky clearly feels someone should nod to him or open the gates or whatever so, makes a very firm point of showing his pass to the last person at the gates. This is our companion Daniel, who is intently reading the sports pages in his German paper and will only lift his head when Dylan himself arrives. Daniel also completely ignores Bucky who is left to wander in a rather aimless fashion. Minutes later the German paper - which included the great line: "Watching Dylan perform LIKE A ROLLING STONE is like hearing Goethe reading FAUST" - is discarded as THE (pronounced theee) bus arrives. Only now are we asked to move, albeit quite firmly! There is no way we can miss Dylan coming off the bus. In utter nutty Bob follower fashion I follow Chris rushing round to the side Dylan will come off. Stephan and Daniel stay on the other side of the bus. Dylan comes off the bus pretty fast but I get a lovely glimpse of him, dressed in the hooded sweatshirt with jacket on top in the height of summer. Stephan and Daniel are rewarded with a longer glimpse. When I return to the UK I am asked more questions about this brief glimpse than all three shows combined, which is a kind of worrying indicator of what we Dylan fans are like. Then again, as David Bristow remarked to me, "Those are the moments we live for." So, with Bob in place it is time for us to join the queue at the doors to The Berlin Tempodrome. Strange venue, really. Like a big circus tent, pretty good way to see Dylan with the massed foot-soldiers at the front and well raised seats around. As it transpires I watch from various vantage points throughout the show. We get fairly near the front but I am not convinced I'll be able to see well from where I stand. Still it was fine for the opening two songs and there was a great atmosphere when Bob took stage. I Want You was a gorgeous choice as the second song but the crowd really went daft when the opening chords to ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER started. This was a double disappointment for me (well, triple actually!) - firstly I just didn't need to go to the toilet and secondly a surge forward had subtly altered the crowd in front of me so that Bob was almost constantly obscured by a head or a hat. Time for a move! I wandered around, keeping my eyes on the stage, and came across a bar not too far back that afforded a metal support as a slight elevation for my feet, a rubbish bin whose rim provided a resting place for my butt and the corner of the bar acted as a leverage point when anyone tall walked in front of me. Sorted! UNDER THE RED SKY followed and was thoroughly enjoyable; it is a song I've always loved and he's doing it proud. The crowd don't seem quite as taken with it, though they are wildly enthusiastic for the next two. (In fact in all three shows ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER and SILVIO receive BY FAR the most applause in the opening set, the very two I least like each night. There is such a noticeable split in Dylan's audience these days between the regulars and non-regulars.) TANGLED UP IN BLUE is a big improvement on Hamburg but still has some way to go to be the standout song it clearly deserves to be. (Some of you someday will hear it open the acoustic set and it'll be so transcendent you'll not even notice the next song, I'm sure.) The next two are their usual gorgeous selves and the crowd are applauding the harmonica solos to the rafters. Highlights of the remaining songs, for me, are- LENNY BRUCE (only 'in a taxi' once!) and CAT'S IN THE WELL- both great, driving versions. KNOCKIN ON HEAVEN'S DOOR and THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' are pretty special too. It was a really great show, and during a magnificent harmonica climax to TIMES I feel overwhelmed with sadness that I won't be seeing him again properly for months. If it wasn't for the festival at Stratford-Upon-Avon to come I'd probably be crying my eyes out. Words from a completely different Dylan voice, from the incomparable Basement Tapes sessions, fill me head as tears fill my eyes: Pardon me, if I'm sentimental when we say goodbye Don't be angry with me should I cry When you are gone yet I'll dream... I am writing this on July 15th, I can remember my feelings exactly. The foreboding was accurate. I now don't even know when I'll see him again. His absence is physically painful. I am close to tears again when I see the set lists with acoustic alternatives including VISIONS OF JOHANNA and DESOLATION ROW and TEARS OF RAGE being, appropriately enough, among the electric. It is back to Marion's for the three Germans, a Scot, an Italian and an Englishman. Marion and Giovanna have Glaucha to look forward to, Chris, Daniel and Stephan have Dortmund and Stuttgart, Ray has Stratford and Spain. I only have Stratford, it doesn't seem enough! The next morning sees me bid farewell, with heavy heart, to Chris, Daniel and Stephan. At least Ray gets a bloody Mary for his breakfast though. After a series of inexplicable crisis and panics Ray and I manage to say farewell and Bob-speed to Marion and Giovanna. Next it is home to the Bob-less reality of daily life; the non-real in other words.
Postscript: The Phoenix Festival 14th JulyWith long term Dylan following companion Joe McShane (see Homer 9 for near-life history) in an airfield packed with thousands of Suede fans. It doesn't seem right that Chris, Daniel and Stephan aren't here with us. On the other hand Bob shouldn't be here as a titular-only headliner. He is out of place and so are we. There is a rumour Dylan won't appear but he does, I wasn't worried, I knew by the incipient thunder clouds he was nearby. The two Dylan, Van Morrison and rap-group Tricky, play to packed crowds. There is no way forward. Never mind there is a huge screen showing the singer's face in startling clarity. Of course the minute Dylan takes stage this is switched off and the minute he leaves it comes back on again. You aren't making this easy for us are you, Bob? Never mind the arrival of Dylan is a sign for thousands to leave the main stage area and we easily get to a few rows from the front, stage left. He looks fantastic as he takes the stage, Supper-Club jacket, shades, THAT hair I finally get to hear DRIFTER'S ESCAPE, though that claim is more in theory than practice. This opening thrash bears virtually no resemblance to the song and I am alarmed to discover that I recognize the sound mix is awful even through the dreadful noise Dylan and the boys are making. I WANT YOU makes an overwhelmingly joyous contrast. ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER is more memorable than normal for me; I spend the song trying to get the security guards to move as they are blocking my view of Dylan. This is probably quite rash, as other than children and Joe McShane, I am probably the smallest person in the field. All I get for my trouble is a V-sign and a curse, perhaps it was the way I delicately phrased my request? Stewards help to solve the situation and, with my personal viewing now OK, I am left to wonder at the manic security that tries to block videos and photographs of our man. The giant, blank screen a mute testimony to this nonsense. The majestic TEARS OF RAGE is next up, not the best ever version but a highlight of this show. SILVIO is really getting on my nerves now and TANGLED UP IN BLUE is still not working. Things look up with MAMA, YOU'VE BEEN ON MY MIND and really take off with its climactic harmonica playing. The highlight of the night is a beautifully paced, vocally rich ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS. It is all over far, far too soon SEEING THE REAL YOU AT LAST and RAINY DAY WOMEN #12 and 35 finishing off what seems a let down of a set after the three German shows. Maybe it is just me, there are a number of factors that could be the cause of my dissatisfaction: bad sound horrific venue shortened set and, finally, the heaven's opened and poured a torrent of last track, first side FREEWHEELIN' like proportions on us as we left. There was no shelter from this storm. Still, I don't think so. I WANT YOU and TEARS OF RAGE were pretty good, MAMA, YOU'VE BEEN ON MY MIND ended gloriously and ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS was breathtaking. Unless my subjective feelings distorted my hearing, nothing else was special. The tapes may prove me wrong - it wouldn't be the first time - but this didn't seem a fitting farewell to my July stint on the Bobwatch campaign. Besides I miss him already and wish to hell I was going to Spain and then on to the USA in the Fall! JULY 2ND: HAMBURG CRASH ON THE LEVEE (DOWN IN THE FLOOD) IF NOT FOR YOU ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER QUEEN JANE APPROXIMATELY PLEDGING MY TIME SILVIO TANGLED UP I BLUE MASTERS OF WAR IT'S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE WITH THE MEMPHIS BLUES AGAIN SHE BELONGS TO ME OBVIOUSLY 5 BELIEVERS BALLAD OF ATHIN MAN BACK PAGES RAINY DAY WOMEN #12 & 35 JULY 3RD HANNOVER CRASH ON THE LEVEE (DOWN IN THE FLOOD) LAY LADY LAY ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER POSITIVELY 4TH STREET JOKERMAN SILVIO MR. TAMBOURINE MAN MASTERS OF WAR DON'T THINK TWICE, IT'S ALL RIGHT TOMBSTONE BLUES IN THE GARDEN LEAPARD SKIN PILL BOX HAT I SHALL BE RELEASED IT AIN'T ME BABE RAINY DAY WOMEN #12 & 35 JULY 4TH BERLIN CRASH ON THE LEVEE (DOWN IN THE FLOOD) I WANT YOU ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER UNDER THE RED SKY I'LL BE YOUR BABY TONIGHT SILVIO TANGLED UP IN BLUE GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRYL LOVE MINUS ZERO/NO LIMIT SEEING THE REAL YOU AT LAST LENNY BRUCE CAT'S IN THE WELL KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' RAINY DAY WOMEN #12 & 35 14TH JULY STRATFORD-UPON-AVON DRIFTER'S ESCAPE I WANT YOU ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER. TEARS OF RAGE SILVIO TANGLED UP IN BLUE. MAMA YOU BIN ON MY MIND. ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS. SEEING THE REAL YOU AT LAST. RAINY DAY WOMEN #12 & 35 -- --------------------------------------------------------------- Andrew Muir aka Andy aka Homer aka "Alias anything you please" MS-Mail: MUIRA@olddipesh.agw.bt.co.uk Internet: Andrew@zimmy.demon.co.uk ---------------------------------------------------------------