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Bob Dylan 980704 in Verona, Italy

Subject: July 4, 1998 - Villafranca, Italy - a review
From: Carsten Wohlfeld (
Date: 08 Jul 1998 13:52:00 +0100

        Bob Dylan
        Villafranca di Verona, Italy, July 4, 1998
        Castello Scaligero
        A review by Carsten Wohlfeld

Villafranca is basically a suburb of Verona. Bob last played here with Tom
Petty in 1987 and the venue was an ancient stronghold from 1200-something
(italian castle from the 13th century you might say while paraphrasing
Bob), a very impressive building. Yiu just don't get things like that in
America and that why it's nice to see Bob play in Europe every once in a
while. Different kind of inspiration for everybody involved I guess. We
missed the soundcheck cause we watched the soccer match, had a sandwich on
the way to the venue and only started lining up at 8.00pm. At 8.45pm the  
8,000 folks in attendance - tickets were only $25 general admission - were  
on their feet to greet Massimo Bubulo (sp?), the italian Bob Dylan, who  
played a 25 minute solo-set, with acoustic guitar, harp, sunglasses and  
Bob-hairdo. Looked remarably like Dylan in 1986. His songs were nice even  
though you could tell which Dylan songs he had ripped off. We got "Don't  
Think Twice", "Desolation" and "Train To Cry" amongst others. Still he was  
pretty entertaining for an opening act and many people in the crowd were  
singing along. At 9.15pm Dylan and his band came out and Bob shocked us  
all with his clothes I guess. For each and every of the shows in Europe he  
had been waering a suit and bowtie, but tonight?! White shoes, white pants  
(looked like satin to me), white satin shirt unbuttoned almost down to his  
bellybutton (!) and a white sportsjacket. If I'd have to find a nice  
adjective here I'd say he looked funny, but in reality he looked  
ridiculous. Maybe he thought it would be funny to wear white in Pope-land,  
maybe he just didn't wanna sweat as much as in Montreux. I don't know.  
Cuesheet had "Maggie's" and "Serve Somebody" but when Tony asked him which  
of the two he'd wanted to play he made a sour face (both songs didn't seem  
to fit in with the venue) and somebody threw a leopard-skin hat on the  
stage... so we found our opener...

>       Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

They finally got the intro right and the ending is new and improved as  
well. Apart from that I still believe that there are many songs that fit  
in better as the opener. Bob said "Mille grazie" after the first song  
already. He never siad "Danke scheeen" in Germany. Hmmm. Guess he likes  
italian better then?

>       If Not For You

Was nice but nothing special. I always like the song live buit as soon as  
I har it on tape I notice that he only sings one note all throught the  
song. This one probably wasn't an exception. Tons of beautiful girls in  
the first few rows meant that Bob started pulling faces early.

>       Cold Irons Bound

Bob muttered "Villafranca" before this song, at least that's what Gunter  
and I heard. "Bound" was solid with a few mistakes that probably nobody in  
the audience noticed. They didn't seem to enjoy this all that much  
anyways. They were greatest-hits-bound, I guess.

>       Simple Twist Of Fate

Gunters favourite song of the night and I, too, liked it very much.  
Sounded unusally perfect. The "born today" line got a huge cheer, why I  
don't know.

>       Can't Wait

Intro completely out of tune *again* but a very, very strong vocal  
performance. One of the night's highlights for me. Around this time Bob  
switched back to goofy-mode again where he stayed for the rest of the  

>       Silvio

Better than the days before, but still only silver and not gold.

>       Mr. Tambourine Man (acoustic)

I never heard an audience that reponded so enthusiastically to this song.  
They screamed along to virtually every line, not only the chorus. Quite  
impressive. A harp solo graced the end and replaced the guitar solo.  
Usualy he plays a shot solo on guitar, then the harp, but tonight the  
finished the first line, then wanted to start the guitar solo, but chnaged  
his mind and went straight back to grab a harp from his amp.

>       Masters Of War (acoustic)

Yet another very strong version. Larry's guitar was very high in the mix  
which was an improvement to my ears. "Baby Blue" was also on the cuesheet.

>       Boots Of Spanish Leather (acoustic)

The new arrangement debuted at Hamburg again that sounds even better than  
the old one. Still one of my alltime favourite Bob songs, that definitely  
has seen better days vocal-wise, but it was a pleasant surprise  
nevertheless. Especially since I seem to remember that "Times" was the  
cuesheets alternative.

>       Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)

Without harmonica today, but almost as long as Montreux, even though it  
didn't quite reach the heights of yesterdays's version.

>       I'll Remember You

A nice surprise, even though the arrangement is nothing more than 2/3 "I  
Believe In You" and 1/3 (the bridge) from "I&I" thrown in for good  
measure. It took the band ages to start it, they probably didn't remember  
the intro anymore :-)

>       Highway 61 Revisited

Larry broke a string early on and then went over to Bob to show him. Bob  
didn't seem to care and so Larry had to play a 5-string Solo before Tommy  
handed him another guitar (a Strat, no Tele interestingly enough) to  
finish it. Cooking version as usual.
>       (encore)
>       Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (acoustic)

When they returned Bob ran straight up to the microphone, his guitar in  
hands and started this song, even though three *different* ones - "Times",  
"Tambourine" and "Aint' Me Babe" were on the cuesheet. He started the song  
solo (Tony wasn't even back on stage yet!!!) and by the time the band  
joined in Bob was pulling a sour face as if he would've wanted to play the  
song all by himself. Or maybe he realized that he only liked the intro and  
would've liked the other songs on the cuesheet better anyways? "Twice" was  
short and had an unconvincing harp solo at the end. Band intros followed  
very late in the show.

>       Love Sick

Bob was flirting with the girls in the first few rows some more, dancing  
around on the stage, completely ignoring the content of the lyrics.

>       Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

More goofying around, Larry broke yet another string.

>       Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic)

"Tambourine" Part 2, *everybody* sang along. It almost sounded as if Bob  
would let the audience sing one chorus without him ("Real Live" revisited)  
but in the end he didn't.

A very cool show, 105 minutes long and a very nice and enthusiastic crowd.  
On the way back Gunter and I already discussed the possibilites of  
carrying on and going to Rome (which is 300 miles from Verona and 200  
miles from Lucca, were Bob was due to play the day after Rome). We decided  
to make a final decision the next morning. As soon as he learned that  
Germany lost against Croatia in the worldcup, he, too, was very happy that  
he didn't skip Villafranca just to be home in time for the soccer match.  
Bob definitely was more fun than the German soccer team tonight!

So, will we make the trip to Rome? Stay tuned and find out. For now,  
thanks for reading.

Carsten Wohlfeld
"it's irrelevant, i'm an elephant and she's a mouse" (smudge)

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