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Bob Dylan 2002.04.15 in Frankfurt

Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2002 21:55:26 +0200
From: Carsten Wohlfeld  office@carstenwohlfeld.de
To: webmaster@expectingrain.com
Subject: Frankfurt review

Bob Dylan
 Frankfurt, Jahrhunderthalle
 April 15, 2002
 A review by Carsten Wohlfeld

Question: what do you dislike about a lot of the Dylan concert reviews
on the net? ≤ of them say:  „I never saw a better Dylan showš. So I try
hard to put things into perspective, but my remarks about the Hamburg
show will make me look kind of silly now. Because I said that Hamburg
was one of the best Dylan shows I remember Ų and Frankfurt was actually
better! And there were somevery plesant surprises again as well.

I think most of the people who saw Dylan play a pretty strong show at
this lovely and rather small (>3500 capacity) venue in 2000, probably
returned for this show, so it was nice to meet up with someof the
„regularsš before the show. The soundcheck featured (among other songs)
„Man Of Constant Sorrowš, „Honest With Meš and „Knockin On Heaven‚s
Doorš. They opened the doors quite late and when they finally did open
them, you could see that something was different on stage. George‚s drum
set features some percussion stuff (shakers, bongos, etc.) usually
places on the right side of his kit, obviously in his reach. Tonight
they had set up that stuff a lot further on the right side, directly
behind Charlie‚s amps. At first Gunter and I figured they didn‚t finish
setting up the stuff in time, but as soon as the lights went down at
five past eight and Bob and his gang (this time wearing custum made
grey/silver suits) walked out, we knew why the set up was different:
there was a fifth band member (or rather: a guest) on stage tonight,
playing percussion on all songs! The guy in question was Brady Blade, as
Bob introduced him later, a smart looking black guy probably in his late
20s, who turns out to be the brother of Brian Blade, who played drums on
most of the „Time Out Of Mindš recordings. On to the songs:


 I Am The Man,Thomas (acoustic)

By far the worst choice for the opening song, yet nicely (=fast) done.
Bob wasn‚t quite „thereš yet, but the strong backing vocals from Larry
and Charlie made up for Bob‚s substandard performance.

 The Times They Are A-Changin‚ (acoustic)

A miracle happened! Bob made it through the whole song without messing
up the lyrics! Hallelujah! He seemed to really focus on the singing so
not very surprisingly he didn‚t play the harp like he usually does on
this song. I still don‚t get why he has to play the song every single
night, but at least he managed to do a decent version tonight.

 It's Alright Ma (acoustic)

Great version, very good performance from the band and Bob, too!
George‚s drum part had negatively afftect some earlier versions of this
song, but tonight he found exactly the right groove to give the song a
gloomy feel, yet make it sound very groovy indeed.


 My Back Pages (acoustic)

Larry picked up the fiddle and there‚s a big smile on my face: Yes, it‚s
gonna be „Back Pagesš! Unfortunately Bob picked up a harp as well and
decides to bury Larry‚s quite nice opening violin solo with some
uninspired harp blowing. Oh well, he‚s in charge after all! Once he got
rid of the harp (you may remember that I told you about this strange
„what can I do with the harp once I‚m finished with the solo?š ritual
from Hamburg, now he just throws it away and Tommy picks it up and pust
it back on Bob‚s amp!!!), he really got into the vocal performance and
even though he missed out on a line or two, he played around with the
phrasing quite successfully - it was actually a quite nice rendition.


 Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again


Started out slow and tired, but somehow it picked up on speed and power
by the time of the second or third verse. Bob put a lot into the vocals
(epecially during the second half) and it really rocked in the end. I
believe there was a rare verse in there a well („the senatorš), that I
don‚t think I‚ve heard before (or at least not very often).


 Moonlight

Probably my least favourite song on the new album and previous live
versions I‚d heard on tape seem to prove that he just can‚t sing that
song live. Tonight it was different though and Bob delivered an
staggeringly good rendition of this chestnut. The singing was
surprisingly good, gentle and passionate and always hitting the right
(high) notes. A very pleasant surprise.


 Solid Rock

Yes! After he had skipped the song in Hamburg I finally got to hear it!
The messed up the first few bars, but after that it really RAWKED! I
have no idea why he wanted to bring back this song, but I‚m glad he did
and that he kept the original arrangement (always a favorite of mine) as
well! Great opportunity for Charlie to show that he‚s an amazing guitar
player (if you actually let him play the solos)!

 Lonesome Day Blues

It‚s loud, it rocks, but it‚s a slow-ish blues, so it was bound to be
sort of a let down after the steamroller performance of „Solid Rockš,
but I guess it still was as good as it gets with this type of song.
Larry played the slide, Charlie and Bob were trading licks during the
solos.

 Mr. Tambourine Man (acoustic)

Boston folkie Mary Lou Lord (http://maryloulord.yi.org) has a song
inspired by this Dylan tune (and Kurt Cobain), called „Some Jingle
Jangle Morningš. I‚d much rather would heard that song in this slot. Yet
another crowd pleasing standard „Tambourine Manš.


 Mama You Been On My Mind (acoustic)

Bob on harp (he did start of „Tambourineš with a less-than-perfect solo
as well), again with the „let‚s just throw the thing away after I‚m
doneš trick. Much better version than Hamburg last week, but still not
spetacular. I rattled my brains what song  could possibly follow
„Tambourineš AND „Mamaš, but I couldn‚t think of ANY, as I completely
had forgotten about my „former favourite songš (oh, the irony!)∑

 Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)

Very rocking version (thanks to George on drums), with lots of jamming
and looong soloing. Huge crowd pleaser as usual and actually more
enjoyable that most other versions I‚ve heard over the last two years or
so. I think the song needed a rest and as long as he‚s not gonna do it
every night again, a welcome alternative now.

 Summer Days

Very similar to the Hambirg version (or indeed every live version that
I‚ve heard of this song). Great rockabilly performance from all band
members, with extended solos and a lot of smiles (Bob even laughed out
loud once close to the end!) on stage and in front of it. Great stuff!

 Shelter From The Storm

Probably the biggest surprise of the night, but a very welcome one.
Larry on pedal steel guitar. Gently played and stunningly well sung,
this was one of the unlikely highpoints of the night, although it‚s
worth pointing out that Ų similar to Hamburg Ų there were very few
standout songs, but absolutely no real low points either. Very solid
show throughout.


 The Wicked Messenger

This song as well has now an extra guitar solo break before he regular
harp solo ending Ų very similar to the reworked „Drifter‚sš. It rocked,
the crowd loved it and that was it! Larry goes over to the steel guitar
and we don‚t get „Pillboxš as the last song, but:

 Rainy Day Women Nps. 12 & 35

Strong version, although nothing tolose your sleep over. Bob introcued
the band during the end part of the song, there was the usual formation
after it had ended and then they were gone, only to come back for:

 Man Of Constant Sorrow

Yay! It was the same strong performance that most of you probably have
heard as an mp3 from Stockholm, which is actually a 1:1 rip off from the
excellent „Brother Where Art Thouš soundrack, down to the lyrics change
(„Kentuckyš) and the harmonies at the end of each verse. To disguise
that fact Dylan plays it electric, but what the heck, it‚s a nice rootsy
song and a very good arrangement as well! I couldn‚t get the song out of
my head for hours after the show had ended!

 Like A Rolling Stone

Too slow still, and because of that not THAT good.

 Knockin' On Heaven's Door (acoustic)

Still love the backing vocals, so I always enjoy this one. Regular
version though.

 Honest With Me

Brady got his „bigš solo on the bongos on this song. Apart from that it
was the usual bluesy rocker with Larry on slide. Who needs „Highway 61š
if you can have a similar song that Dylan visibly enjoys more?

 Blowin‚In The Wind

Starts off with a harp solo, then turns into the regular tired and
boring crowd pleaser that now ends with a different semi-a capella
ending. If this would lead into „Watchtowerš, I probably would‚ve even
liked it, but as the last song I always think it‚s a let down Ų for me
anyway.

But as I mentioned earlier, it was a really solid 2:20 hrs show
nevertheless, Brady didn‚t add a lot, I think he was just there to hang
out with the band afterwards and have some fun. How he ended up on stage
I don‚t know. Bob and his band seemed to really enjoy themselves on
stage and Bob kept his experiments down, mostly it was  new phrasings
and he didn‚t try to mess with thesong structures too much, and if he
doesn‚t challange his band too much, they are just great, one of the
tighest bands I‚ve ever seen actually. Looking forward to Stuttgart,
more soon!

Carsten Wohlfeld


2002: Jan - Feb - April -

Tour