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Bob Dylan 2002.04.27 in Oberhausen

From: "Carsten Wohlfeld"  
To: billp61
Cc: webmaster
Subject: Oberhausen review
Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2002 00:57:08 +0200

            Bob Dylan

            Oberhausen, Arena

            April 27, 2002

            A review by Carsten Wohlfeld

After having enjoyed two days "on the road" in NŸrnberg &
Strasbourg (it's both a pain and a delight if the shows are
five hours away from where you live), the last show on my
own little tour was considerably different, as there was no
need to leave early.  So no running around town all day, no
getting in line early, no conversations with some nice and
some not-so-nice people before the show - just leaving the
house at 6.45, getting there by 7.20, waiting for the show
to start at 8.15pm.

I was surprised how many people turned up, I would guess
about 8 000, maybe even 9 000, so the huge Arena actually
didn't look as empty as I had initially thought it would.
There were tons of "tourists" though, lots of first-timers
that made for a very unenthusisatic audience, and the show,
performances and setlist were only mediocre as well. If it
had anything to do with the audience or if Bob was a little
sick (he was coughing a couple of times) or if he just
didn't care is open to discussion.

Humming Bird (acoustic)

The band was great (Keltner's playing really improved
compared even to Strasbourg and he had no major fuck ups
throughout the night), but Bob's singing was in his best "I
only woke up 10 minutes ago, so what am I doing on stage
already" voice. Nice solo from Larry on the electric guitar
though. I knew that we would quite possibly get another
"electric" song in the acoustic set again and we only had to
wait till song #2. For the first time since 1984 (or maybe
even ever!?!) in an acoustic arrangement:

You're A Big Girl Now (acoustic)

Bob's voice was still a bit rusty and it certainly wasn't a
new arrangement as such (like "Senor" in Innsbruck, they
just played the electric parts on acoustic instruments), but
it was a nice choice and even though Bob didn't sound great,
his phrasing was quite good. Bob on harp and Larry on

Desolation Row (acoustic)

Although Jim's drumming was solid, the song  had lost the
magic touch from the Hamburg show, when George had really
elevated the tune to another level. Bob butchered the intro
and first verse completely, he sang a completely different
melody and played a different guitar part (sounded as if it
belonged to another song!) and that surprised/puzzled not
only me but Larry as well, who looked very uneasy. Bob had
trouble with the lyrics, singing various lines off mic. Not
the most pleasant rendition.

Don't Think Twice (acoustic)

First real crowdpleaser, despite its less than perfect
rendition. Actually, it wasn't that bad, it was just playing
safe and while Bob tried to make thesong sound special, he
just didn't manage to do just that. Larry moved over to the
steel guitar after the song and I knew - shock, horror! -
what was coming:

Watching The River Flow

I don't care if it was the first time he payed the song in
ages, as it sounded exactly as before (even with Jim on
drums) and since he had played this at his last show at the
Oberhausen Arena already there was no reason whatsover why
he should have played it again.Crowd reaction: Indifference.

Positively 4th Street

I was surprised that Larry didn't play pedal steel on this
song as usual, but even with just three "regular" guitars it
sounded terrific. Bob delivered his first really good vocal
performance of the night and the band just hit the perfect
groove, led by Keltner, who obviously knew this song. It was
faster than other recent versions I've heard, but it worked
quite well that way.

Cry Awhile

Larry on slide guitar. not as rocking as the Strasbourg
rendition (or maybe I just thought it wasn't, as I was a
little further in the back this time). While Keltner didn't
make any obvious mistakes the show before, he missed his
cues several times tonight, although you could only spot
that if you knew what George had played on the song before.
The crowd needed another blues song as much as a bullet in
the head though and it was no wonder that the crowd never
got into the show as much as it should/could have with a
different setlist. Especially, since there was yet another
blues to come next:

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Not as good as Munich, a little better than NŸrnberg, with
most of the lyrics right.

Tomorrow Is A Long Time (acoustic)

This should have been a highlight, with Bob on harp at the
beginning, but while he delivered the first verse soft and
tender and almost perfectly, he messed it all up, when he
sang "against" Larry's nice backup vocal during the chorus,
confusing both Larry and the audience. He completely forgot
the third verse as well (it had exactly two-and-a-half lines
tonight!). A pity. File under: Could've been great.

Masters Of War (acoustic)

Best song of the night  so far. While Bob had trouble with
the lyrics on most of the songs before, he clearly enjoyed
the fact that he didn't have to think too hard to get the
lyrics right on this one. Great, driving beat from Keltner,
solid performance from the rest of the band as well, with
Bob's singing reaching an unexpected high level.

Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)

As expected they played it again. After they had massacred
the tune twice in a row in NŸrnberg and Strasbourg, they
actually managed to get through it without any major
incidents this time. Bob wasn's singing, only mumbling the
words, but that's what you expected from him at this point
in the show.

Summer Days

Not as long and energetic as before.Charlie's solo playing
wasn't too good either.

Every Grain Of Sand

Totally saved the show, even though the Stuttgart version a
couple of weeks ago had been slightly better. Nice harp solo
at the start, too. Bob' svoice was still a bit shot, but
nevertheless he delivered his best vocal performance here.
He played around with thephrasing quite a bit and it just
sounded lovely (especially during thelast verse).

Drifter's Escape

Same as before, long guitar jams, energetic harp solo. The

Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat

Another repeat from Oberhausen 2000 that they could have
avoided. Same old version as well, with the by now common
soloing from all band members during the band intros.
Larry's solo had a nice call and response part that Bob
visibly liked and he gave Larry a nod of approval after he
had finished. Tony's solo made Bob crack up - for the first
(and only time) tonight. Side note: Bob had picked out a
hrap beforethe song started, but didn't play it at all.


Things Have Changed

A sub-standrad version as well. I think he sang the verses
in a completely different order and had trouble to remember
some of the lyrics as well. All the same he decided to
"steal" Larry's solo and tried to do a fingerpicking solo
(sans guitar pick) that went nowhere. Another song that
could've been great.

Like A Rolling Stone

It seemed as if Bob had lost his interest in the show
altogether during this song. He still played his electric
guitar without a guitar pick and halfway through the song he
started talking to Charlie and then disappeared behind his
amps for a drink. In the meantime Charlie delivered his
longest ever solo on "Rolling Stone" and did quite a good
job, although it was weird that Bob just left the stage in
the middle of the song. There was a new (slowed down)
ending, probably because Keltner didn't remeber how to end
the tune properly. Didn't sound too bad though.

If Dogs Run Free (acoustic)

As strange as always, this time with the added "weirdo
bonus" of a harp solo at the start of the song.

Honest With Me

The usual rocking version. By now Jim felt confident enough
to play a lot of extra drum fills at the end of the song -
made Charlie and Tony smile big time.

Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic)

Another highlight, at least in the context of all the weaker
song before. The harp solo was almost inspired and the
phrasing was much better than usual. For the final
formation, Bob had his guitar on his shoulder, like a
lumberjack. very funny. Before they left, he talked briefly
with Tony and Jim and it certainly looked as if they were
discussing a second encore, but by the time they had
disappeared backstage, hundreds of peoplein the audience
fled the scene and I think because of that they decided to
scrap the 2nd encore.

All in all a disappointing show and by far the weakest of
the seven I've seen on this tour. While NŸrnberg and
Strasbourg had some lowpoints mostly due to Keltner not
being familiar with the songs, this time around it was only
Bob who didn't deliver. Hope this was just a one-off, would
be too bad if he nothing more in store for the second half
of the tour.

I've yet to decide if I'll do the Rotterdam show as well,
but just in case I don't make it, take a little advice: Go
see Bobon this tour, even if Oberhausen was really
sub-standrad, the rest of the shows rank among the best I've
seen Dylan ever play. Don't miss it!

As always, thanks for reading and putting up with my bad
grammar and tons of misspellings. See ya next time!

Carsten Wohlfeld
"your girlfriend can leave you, but the rolling stones are there forever" ~
alan mcgee

Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2002 05:10:08 +0200 (MEST) From: tobias freimueller To: billp61 Cc: webmaster Subject: Oberhausen review Bob Dylan Oberhausen April, 27, 2002 Review by Tobias FreimŸller How long has it been since I had so high expectations before a Bob Show? I can«t tell. So many redescovered songs and enthusiastic reviews (not only from the bobacolics). In the end it became what I would call a ãcould have been-showä that was divided in two very different parts. What I first thought about when we arrived at the Arena was the strategy of Bobs touring company: Booking venues as large as possible (the Arena has a 12.000 capacity), making tickets as expensive as possible (about 50¥) and make hardly any promotion at all. I have no clue why they do it that way ö tonight they were not really succeeding though: The Arena was about 80% filled when Bob and the Band hit the stage at 20.15. The Guys were dressed in grey suits, Bob got his black suit combined with a white hat and looked very grumpy for the first two songs. HUMMING BIRD Larry and Charlie carried this song, Bobs vocals were not very audible, he did«nt do anything apart from just standing there. Well, thatât not too unususal, right? The second song has become a new surprise slot. I was wondering which electric song he would transform into an acoustic one tonight, and after a pretty good harmonica intro it turned out to be YOUâRE A BIG GIRL NOW Wow! This was an unexpected one indeed! It could have been an early highlight if Bob had remembered ANYTHING of the lyrics. But unfortunately he got only the first verse halfway right, during the second and third verse he produced some kind of senseless noises that rhymed on ãmeä or ãyouä. Quite funny to see, but of course that nonsense-singing ruined the song completely. I have indeed never seen him singing a song with less original lyric content! DESOLATION ROW was the first strong performance. Not only the new groovy arrangement made it so good, but also Bob who did a good job at the vocals now. DONâT THINK TWICE was blocking this spot ö I had high hopes for ãPo« Boyä, or ã4th time aroundä, but well, I like this tune much more than ãTimesä or ãTambourineä or any other old warehouses, so I was«nt complaining. The performance was again very good, maybe one of the best versions I«ve heard. Keltner played much quiter than Kemper and Receli what helped much to give the song a fragile feeling, Bob was again singin very well. They could have kicked the show into another gear after this ö but it was«nt to be. Bob chose on of his most uninteresting songs which is called WATCHING THE RIVER FLOW the audience fell into a deep sleep during this one and did«nt awake till Rolling Stone. River flow was a solid version but it«s definitely the wrong song to kick off the electric part. Bob was still not showing any signs of feeling comfortable on stage. No foot-tapping, no posing, no smile. POSITIVELY 4TH STREET This was the new uptempo-arrangement. Everybody was doing a good job on this one and Bob found a nice way of phrasing too. He stretched the last two words of every line to great effect what made this on another strong performance. The only problem was the fact that ãPositivelyä was as fast and hard as ãRiver flowä and sounded pretty much the same to many people I think. CRY A WHILE very good performance again. Even if Jim Keltner could not really play this one yet. Tony was coaching him very hard but there were a few problems in the ãrhythm-sectionä. Bob made up for that with a good vocal performance. Audience was still sleeping, maybe because it was the third uptempo blues in a row. I gave up hoping for ãHomesick bluesä and ãSolid Rockä now ö but I was wrong: SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK BLUES followed and it was the best song so far. This has always been a favourite of mine, this one brought me 20 points in the poolö and this one was dammed good! I did«nt check the original lyrics but what Bob rapped sounded right to my ears and they obviously found an arrangement for this one now. Very funky! TOMORROW IS A LONG TIME opened the second acoustic set. This one was by far the best song of the night. Great great performance by everyone on stage! Larry and Bob were singing the chorus together and the song sounded as fragile as ãThink twiceä did before. This song could have been a highlight of my ãBob-careerä, if· Well, if Bob had remembered all the lyrics. After delievering two killer-verses he stepped up to the mic for the third one and ö forgot everything. Not only that he was mumbling something that replaced the first line but he was also unable to produce a second line. So he did«nt sing at all and could only recover with the last line of that verse. Too bad! But it was a stellar performance nonetheless. The missing lines should be overdubbed for the forthcoming live album! MASTERS OF WAR is a song that can«t go wrong. Very powerful rendition again. But nothing I had hoped for really TANGLED UP IN BLUE was the turning point of the show. Up to that point things had worked very well even if Bob was«nt as half as animated as I have seen him during the last shows. During ãTangledä he seemed to loose every interest into his performance and the show turned into an really uninspiring one. Bob sang the first and the last word of every line and filled it with some noises: ãI lived wethememberredem street ö in abaranegemenf stairs ö music inafaremdesremde night - revolutionsamengenemngenairä and so on. Bad. SUMMER DAYS worst version I have heard so far. What was a razor sharp 4 minute-rockabilly last fall has now become a 7 minute jam-rock song actually going nowhere. It was during this song when I realized that NO ONE on stage was smiling and joking as usual. Charlie did his best and added some tricky licks but he did«nt save the song from being boring. What followed was the last attempt to save the show. A rarely played tune is always the best way to bring things together again! EVERY GRAIN OF SAND is a nice choice, despite the fact that Bob played it in Kšln (100km away) when he was around for the last time in 2000 already. This was a brilliant performance by the band. Very subtile, very strong. It could have been another highlight of the night, if Bob had decided to SING the song. He chose to speak the lyrics instead. Still a good version, but now things went really downhill: DRIFTERS ESCAPE Bob got totally out of sync. with his band. We got Charlies funky riffs but nothing more. LEOPARD SKIN PILL BOX HAT Hm, every other song would have been more welcome. I«d even preferred ãRainy dayä. Leopard was most definitely the most boring Bob-performance I ever heard. Endless jamming, but no one really found a groove to settle in. I was already thinking about which train to use after the show when Bob introduced the band: He forced everyone to play a solo and ãhelpedä with playing some very fast random notes on his guitar. In the end I must say that Larry was the one who managed the situation best. Even Tony had to bring everything out of his Bass that«s possible· After all the song lasted for about 10 minutes and I was quite happy when it was over. What could have been a strong start of the enchores (ãConstant sorrowä) turned out to be THINGS HAVE CHANGED and was a rotten version too. Band played on autopilot, Bob was singing off-mic half of the time. Why the hell does he play this if he obviously is bored to death with this song? Lowpoint of the night. LIKE A ROLLING STONE Bob was very busy during this one demonstrating us how less he cared about the whole thing now. First he was talking to Larry (during the song), then walked to Charlie and told him something, than to Tony. Inbetween he somehow managed to sing some lines but you can imagine how good they were. After he had talked to everybody he was checking his harmonicas for a while (you know: there«s always the danger that someone steal them!), than he disappeared behind his amps just for returning for the last verse. IF DOGS RUN FREE Was my least favourite coiche in this slot ö but was the best song in the second half of the show. Very jazzy performance and Bob did an okay job on the vocals HONEST WITH ME was ãHonest with meä. It rocks ö but it was nothing special tonight. BLOWING IN THE WIND The Band did a surprisingly good job on this one, giving it a nice relaxed (and somehow new) groove. Bob sung the chorus with triple speed now to make sure that Larry and Charlie could not follow him. Jeeez! They did«nt come back for a second enchore, Bob didânt fall on his knee tonight. He was obviously pissed during the second half of the show. I have no idea why that was, but it is always better to follow a bad first half with a good secong half. Tonight it was the other way around. Well, (count the ãCould have beenä«s in this review) it could have been a very special show· See you next time ö and forgive my bad english! Tobias
Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2002 10:17:42 +0200 From: Gerrit SchŠfer To: webmaster Subject: Review Bob Dylan / Oberhausen 27 April 2002 Review Bob Dylan / Oberhausen 27 April 2002 by Gerrit. General Remarks: The Oberhausen Arena is one of the nicer venues in the country. It's also got a shopping centre and some restaurants nearby, so it's good to get there early. I don't mind bringing my own sandwiches if have to, but I still prefer the way things are in Oberhausen to the venues that are in some industrial estate with nothing there to kill the time before the concert. The Arena is about five times as big as the smaller venues on the tour. Since it was the only show in the populous Rhineland-Ruhr area, tickets had apparently sold quite well, and the crowd was mixed. There were lots of first timers and day trippers, many of whom didn't seem to catch fire. So there we had a rather muted crowd response and a band that had to accomodate a new drummer, which worked all right on most songs, though many endings seemed to be, ehm, spontaneous and somewhat unconvincing. Generally, the grinding tedium of touring seemed to have taken its toll on Dylan and the band -- there were few sparkling performances and a lot of routine going on on stage. Dylan and Sexton may not have been well, which wouldn't be such a suprise given the horrible weather during the days before. The Songs: Humming Bird. Really well played, though Dylan never really got the hang on the lyrics. Big Girl Now. My personal favourite of the night. Like Senor, the song works really well with the acoustic guitars. Quite good solos from Dylan, and some revised lines. Whether they were better that the original ones is a matter of taste, but they were not non-sensical, as one reviewer has supposed. Desolation Row. I hope they'd leave me alone with this one, but they didn't. It bored the pants off me altogether. Half-way through the song, Keltner apparently got bored with it, too, and started to mess around with the drumbeat, completely wrecking the song in the process. Don't Think Twice. Good, though not outstanding. Keltner made amends for what he had done to Desolation Row. Watching The River Flow. A very good performance. Shame that the crowd didn't respond. I'm not sure what they'd expected, but it clearly wasn't noisy, electric blues songs. 4th Street. Again a good performance. Faster, rougher, without the the pedal steel melancholy that made the song during the last couple of years. Cry A While. Quite a tricky song. They got through it all right, but they didn't play it as confidently as it needs playing. Subterranean. First time I heard the new arrangement, and I was really pleased with it. One of the best vocal performances of the night. Tomorrow. The all-time favourite of me, the sentimental jerk. A good, but not brilliant version, because the lyrics didn't always come out like they should. -- Extra points for Keltner on this one. Masters. Very, very good. But also the last major effort to get the crowd going. There wasn't much of a response though, and from that time, Dylan ceased to show any interest at all in what he did. Tangled. All I can say is that it lacked the magic it had had in Frankfurt, and just dragged on and on. Summer Days. Same. Uninspired. Every Grain. Things got better with this one. I missed the pedal steel a little bit, but still this was great. Very enjoyable. Drifter. A good performance, too. Keltner played it in different way than either Kemper or Receli -- quite tricky stuff, but I'm not sure whether the song benefitted from it. Leopard-Skin: Not that good at all. This song can throw sparks on some nights, but it didn't in Oberhausen. Things Have Changed. An average performance. Like A Rolling Stone. Dylan went to get a drink of water during Sexton's solo. But apart from that, not many exciting things happened during this song. It had its moments, but the magic faded as quickly as it had appeared. Dogs. Quite a good one, I never fail to enjoy this one. Honest With Me. Not as good as it was in Hannover or Frankfurt. The first really noisy song of the night, but it somehow didn't take off. Blowing. A decent final. Quite well played and sung. Conclusion: An ok show which could have been better if the crowd had been more attentive and less indifferent. Dylan always looks like he didn't care a thing for them, but that's where he gets the energy from. Also he might want to consider a week-long break in a five week tour. Why not spend a few days in Italy or Spain, get some sun, and re-charge the batteries? There seemed to be a touch of the tour blues in what Dylan and the Band delivered in their Oberhausen show. Gerrit.
From: Axel Jost To: webmaster Subject: in defending oberhausen Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 01:07:29 +0200 hi karlerik, normally i don't talk about german shows. this time i simply couldn't resist: when you watch a dylan show always check back your expectations, your prejudices, your musical taste in general and always remember why you like dylan: because he' s always trying something new, something new you might not have guessed, something new you might not even understand at first - but it might be very good all the same. never go to a show and have an exact idea about what he has to play and how he has to play it - you just might miss the highlights and the essence of his performance. and be alerted: that guy is clever and he and the guys around him know exactly what they're doing and why - at least nowadays. "humming bird" had very nice vocals and choruses, it was played very softly, the arrangement seemed to be very sparse - it sounded great and new to my ears. i liked especially the "quiet" parts. "you're a big girl now" - hey, in oberhausen you've got an all-time-first-acoustice-performance of this song - so what would you expect? be thankful in the first place. to my ears he was experimenting with the possibilities of the phrasing and the intonation, he was working on the new arrangement very hard on the spot - i'm glad he did that when i was around - to watch him was a true exeperience. and, oh bummer, he had changed some of the words too - but that's what he always does with this song, lest you forgot... "desolation row" - a very cautios beginning, almost a capella to my ears, and then the band came in and lead this song to a triumphant ending. just another new way of arranging dylan song, leading it from soft to powerful - and done so on purpose! it surely was different than in the years before, but very convincing to my ears... "watching the river flow" - great song, great performance, a first-timer to this tour - a nice surprise for me! "tomorrow is a long time" - probably the best song of the evening, bob and larry not singing against each other, but larry striking up the chorus (but much softer than dylan's vocals) before dylan's lead-singing - imo done on purpose as well, and sheer magic to my ears - i never ever heard it done before in that way and can't wait to hear it on tape, just to check back my impressions during the night. this was art. it helps if you've been to a van morrison show before, because he arranges some of his songs in that way... "tangled up in blue" - the only low point of the show, mostly because keltner played too loud. he should have used brushes instead of sticks. "leopard skin pillbox hat" - a great performance - and they really had a great time on this one, i never saw a better introduction of dylan's band. hey, did nobody notice the big big big smiles on tony's face during his jazz-rock like solo? did nobody see keltner throwing his arms into the air and the happy expression on his face while doing so? lemme tellya: you did miss something. "drifter's escape" - great new electric version, very strong and rocking. "like a rolling stone" - keltner's drumming was extraordinary, he played a very special beat on that one, i tried to count along, but i failed. compared to my last show (naples in 2001), dylan's guitar playing had improved tremendously, i sometimes couldn't believe his solos, especially during the electric songs. i was truly amazed. sometimes a guitar (his guitar? - i really couldn't make it out) sounded like a keyboard or a harmonica, maybe somebody had a built-in synthesizer or whatever - in any case it was something i had never heard before during a dylan-show. but hopefully this stage of his art is not going to be the last one, hopefully he'll be keeping on developing his music and his performance further and further. i'm really glad he's still "on" doing what he's always been doing. i consider myself to be lucky for those nice surprises his shows are giving me (although they are much more arranged and "produced" than the ones 12 years ago). i'm glad he still gives me something to listen to and to think about. in that way oberhausen was just another example of his art, proving again that bob dylan is still way ahead of all of us. axel
2002: Jan - Feb - April -