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Bob Dylan 980705 in Rome, Italy

From: (Antonio Genovese)
To: (
Subject: July 5, 1998 Rome Review 
Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 16:03:44 +0200

Bob Dylan
          Rome, Italy, July 5, 1998
          Scalinata del Palazzo della Civiltą del Lavoro 
Review by Antonio Genovese, Naples,  Italy, July 6, 1998

Although I have read most of the reviews by RMDers here in the net in the
past couple of years, today I have the chance to review a bobconcert for
the first time.  Last night's show was my 8th bobconcert  (the first was in
1984, the latest was at Pistoia Blues Festival in 1996, the best at Naples,
my hometown, in 1993). I had huge expectations for this show - two years
had passed since last time I attended a bobconcert, and, most of all, so
many major events concerning him had lately happened.  
I went to the concert along with my wife (yesterday was our 12th wedding
anniversary, the best way to celebrate it !!) and two friends of mine
(husband and wife: Fulvio & Marina) definitely not Dylan fans.
Despite the local newspapers reports - a small amount of tickets (2000)
had beed sold by the day before the concert - the venue seemed filled up at
the concert kick off (9:30), 5000-6000 people I guess. 
Inside the stage area we saw a very special person: Fernanda Pivano, an
elder wonderful Italian writer, close friend to Ernest Hemingway and
beat generation poets, perhaps the first writer to translate 
Bob's songs lyrics in Italian. It was a very
moving moment for me and the people who recognized her.

O.K. the lights were off and Bob, Bucky, Tony, Larry & David appeared on
the stage. Bob looked great with all white suite and boots (no tie !!).

1) Gotta Serve Somebody; one of the expected openers, not one of my
favourite pieces, I would  have listened to Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat, 
but it was a powerful version and he started hardrocking us.

2) Man In The Long Black Coat; soulful singing after a good instrumental
intro, Bob & the band still warming up. Bob's voice was pretty
strong and clear, although he is almost at the end of the European         
tour and could afford to be a bit tired.

3) Cold Irons Bound; very powerful hard rocking version, much more intense
than the TOOM track. Bob started grinning, duck-dancing and "riflelike"
guitar soloing. People went crazy.

4) Born In Time, well performed and hearted sung. Slowhand Clapton should 
have listened this before recording his pallid mellow version.

5) Can't Wait, a surprise for me not as for the choice but for the tight
funkish sound that Bob & the band reached. At the end he played a 
short electric finger-picking solo with the guitar pick in his teeth. 
The show had permanently soared.

6) Silvio, hardrocking version and clearly a crowd pleaser. Bob enjoying
the event a lot, smiling, dancing and guitar soloing. Excellent work by

7) Rank Stranger (acoustic), country song well performed but nothing
special. The beginning of the acoustic set.

8) Desolation Row (acoustic), one of the highlights of the show played in a
crescendo rythm with a hot responce by the audience, almost an explosion at
the final solo.
9) One Too Many Mornings (acoustic), very very emotional and hearted
rendition. An adequate choice for his constant roaming.

10) Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic with harp), powerful & devastating version
with beautiful endless solos and good backing by Larry and Bucky. 
The up-beat rhythm,  guitar solos and at the end the harmonica playing 
got people on their feet with a new explosion

11) Make You Feel My Love, even though I don't like the TOOM version,
I almost liked last night much better rendition

Band Introduction 

12) 'Til I Fell In Love With You, like all the other TOOM selections more
powerful  and communicating rendition than that on the album


13) Ain't Me Babe (acoustic); completely rearranged tune, evocative
atmosphere, good guitar playing and Bob getting happier and happier.

14) Love Sick; superb version the absolute highlight of the show. It
condensed the magic and mysterious TOOM sounds with the 
feeling and the power of an excellent live singing. 
My friend Marina (absolutely not a Dylan fan) was astonished.

15)  Rainy Day Women  #12 & 35. People literally went crazy, dancing,
shouting. Bob completely freed himself showing his best in guitar hero
Excellent and nice guitar duet featuring Bob & Larry. 
Much more than mere jamming. 
Everybody must get stoned - crowd singalong. Cheerful, hot and loud
standing ovation.

16) Blowing In The Wind. Rythm & tune rearranged just like only Bob can do,
with an unintelligible instrumental introduction. The answer my friend is
blowing in the wind.... singalong.

At the end the audience tributed Bob with a huge ovation begging him to
return on the stage. Of course Bob had fleed away.
All in all a superb show, with Bob in great shape and a very good
interaction with the audience (only a little bit of disappointment because 
they would have wanted Bob to keep on playing). 
The excellent response of the audience was a surprise since TOOM 
achievements have been tepid in Italy and I don't know how many 
other songs were known by the people attending the concert (except Dylan
The band is very quick and tight beeing - throughout the show - in almost
perfect harmony with Bob acting as the band leader.
Bob guitar playing was very good, much more melodiuos than in the past.
Only minor mistakes and a few wrong notes, probably due to imperfect
guitars tuning. (The evening was hot and humid). 
A little bit too much "noodling", but Bob looked so happy.
I would have liked a slightly different set list (for instance, Blind
Willie McTell). 
I don't mind, probably the next time (I hope in a couple of years) I will
be satisfied.

May God Have Mercy On Us All.

Antonio Genovese.  

Subject: July 5, 1998 - Rome, Italy - a review From: Carsten Wohlfeld ( Date: 08 Jul 1998 15:21:00 +0100 Bob Dylan Rome, Italy, July 5, 1998 La Scalinata del Palazzo della Civilta' del Lavoro A review by Carsten Wohlfeld Okay, as you probably could've guessed after my last review, of course we did the insane trip to Rome after dropping off our friend Robert aka "Shelter" at the trainstation in Verona. A lot of the other "regulars" skipped this show and went straight on to Lucca, but when you pay and take the "autostrada" you can go at an average of 80 or even 80mph and reach Rome within four-and-half hours which isn't too bad I guess. The "Parking Meter" Rainer fortunately had told us that the show would be in the suburbs, in a part of Rome called E.U.R., so we managed to avoid the insane traffic in Rome City, dropped off our stuff at a nice camping site nearby - they had a real life ostrich running around there that actually slept next to our tent!!! - and reach E.U.R. at around 5pm. Unfortunately they didn't have any posters to lead our way and the people we asked for the venue could help us much either (we later learned that it took other people two hours to find the venue), cause the official tour poster as well as Bill Pagel's excellent site just mentioned "la scalinata", which just means "the steps" in italian and let me tell you, Rome has plenty of 'em! So a nice old couple told us to go to the city center of Rome anyways to ask for the right way there. Too bad, that's exactly what we wanted to avoid, the traffic in Rome! Well, we were waiting at the streetlight in order to turn right when I nearly had a heart attack... Guess what I saw passing by? A golden nightliner! Now if you know anything about anything you will know that there's basically just one band touring in a golden bus... Bob Dylan and his band! So we just followed the bus which took us to a free (!) parking lot backstage, we parked right next to the bus, saw Bucky, Larry, Tony and David get off and start to soundcheck immediately! The stage was situated in the middle of the road, so the gigantic stairs that let up to a huge buliding could be used as an amphitheater kinda thing. It was quite a sight! All day we had discussed wich "Italian" songs Dylan might do tonight... "Joey" (complete with little Italy reference!) or even "Masterpiece" ("Streets of Rome...")? The soundcheck was pretty good and interesting too, and since we sat right behind the stage in a little park we had perfect sound and that's why I'll review the soundcheck as well, even though Bob wasn't there. > Love Sick A full version was played without vocals, Bucky tried a few new things here and there... nice. A short country instrumental followed and then they did another instrumental version, this time of: > It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry Long version, again Bucky was in fine form taking the slide lead solo. Interesting. > When I Paint My Masterpiece Gunter and I both had to laugh, cause when you talk about a song for 5 hours and sing the "streets of Rome" line repeatedly in the car you don't expect the first words to be sung at the soundcheck "streets of Rome", too! I dunno who songs at the soundchecks (I know it used to be JJ, so my guess it that it's now Larry, right?), but this version was very, very nice. > Joey Yes, they did that one too, several times even, once with vocals, the rest instrumentally. Didn't sound as perfect as "Masterpiece" but since our chances were slim that Bob would sing either song at the show it was still a very nice surprise to hear them both (and in full-length versions with vocals) at the soundcheck. > I'll Remember You Was done twice, once with vocals and once instrumentally, sounded pretty much like last night's version in Villafranca. > Gotta Serve Somebody Instrumental, even though Bucky and Larry did their backing vocals "serve somebody" thing. I thought that was pretty interesting cause it obviously means that they really play their instrumental bit at the shows as well and not only follow Bob with whatever he's doing. > Boots Of Spanish Leather (acoustic) As with "I'll Remember You", same version as the night before. What came next was a kind of surprise. A tape of either Paris or Dijon was played over the PA, and we got Bob singing and the band playing... > Mama You Been On My Mind (acoustic) Afterwards the band rehearsed certain sequences from the song, apparently the ones they had messed up on the taped version. Did they do that before? Listening to tapes at soundchecks and then repeating the song? Soon after that the soundcheck was over and we got a sandwich and got in line. At 8.20 they opened the gates and the people - 5,000 or so) started flooding in. At this point it still was very hot, 95 F / 35 C, but by the time the show started at 9.35pm it not only was almost completely dark, but much cooler as well. On to the main event! > Gotta Serve Somebody Bob was wearing the same outfit as last night and again looked remarkably like the unemployed people in my neighborhood when they meet at the bar as early as 11am to get wasted. Nevertheless Bob (and the cuties in the first few rows) were in fine form tonight and as soon as the came on stage Bob started dancing, flirting, smiling. This pretty much was "Leipzig part 2", only better. "Serve Somebody" was quite perfect, too, he seemed to recall all the words and his singing was very strong from the first line in. Bucky made the v-sign at the audience during his "serve somebody" call-and- response-bit, which I thought was hilarious. > Man In The Long Black Coat "Senor" and "Tonight I'll Be Staying" were on the handwritten cuesheet for tonight, but Bob skipped both. "Coat" was okay, but not amazingly good. At least I've heard Bob sing this song better before, in Bielefeld in 1995 for example. > Cold Irons Bound Much better than the previous nights. If I wouldn't have known that there was no time inbetween, I would've said they rehearsed it. Bob's singing was getting stronger again, too. Maybe he was just too busy checking out the italian ladies in the audience during "Coat" to concentrate on the singing? > Born In Time Very nice version, that completely made Gunter's night. I had a great time hearing it again as well, since it's one of my alltime favourite Dylan songs and I think the current live versions are all very strong (they only topped them in the spring of 1997 with the harmonica in between). > Can't Wait While Bob was flirting with the female audience some more Larry and David finally got the intro right (third time lucky, you may say) and Bob's singing was very strong again as well. The crowd was having a great time too, cause we all had a very good view (actually the view was better from the middle of the stars where we were sitting than from the front row cause the stage was more than 6ft high to allow more people "in the balcony" a better view. > Silvio was recovering quickly as well. Yet again a better version than the night before. Obviously there was a number of "Silvios" in the audience who pretty much went nuts during this song. Interestingly, there was not one 60s song in the first electric set. The oldest one was "Serve" from late '79! > Rank Strangers To Me (acoustic) A very nice surprise, the song made it's Euro '98 debut. Same arrangement as in London '97 and (presumably) in California in May, nicely done, with Larry and Bucky singing their gorgoeus backing vocals. I think Larry was a bit out of tune once, but it sounded quite funny and not all that bad. > Desolation Row (acoustic) He sings it every second show right now, but as long as he keeps singing it this strong you can't blame him. He was more animated during the song as well, I guess the lyrics to "Rank" took his whole concentration and now his mind wandered back to the girls in row 1. It was during this song that I thought: "Wow! You're really in Rome, Italy, 1,100 miles from your home, in the middle of the summer and non other than Bob Dylan himself sings one of his greatest songs for you." I couldn't believe that I was actually there! > One Too Many Mornings (acoustic) Wow! Another very pleasant surprise and only the second song from the 60s in the whole main set! Given that "Desolation" and "Mornings" are not really radio-classics it's quite possibly that some people in the audience didn't know one single song until the encores which is quite funny I think. "Mornings" was amazing as ever. The highlight of the show (and the whole set was verrrry strong!). > Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic) Featured a harp solo, but the song didn't reach the heights of the Montreux performance. Still was a great song to dance and have fun too! > Make You Feel My Love The first letdown setlist-wise all night! The performance wasn't as smooth and gentle as usual either, but hey, even Bob should be allowed to have one bad song in an otherwise quite perfect show. band intros followed and the main set was closed with: > 'Til I Fell In Love With You Which rocked as usual and gave Bob a chance to flirt with yet more girls. It's hard to believe that is song is almost as heavy rocking as "Highway" if you only listen to the recorded album versions, but live there's hardly a diference between the two. > > (encore) > It Ain't Me, Babe (acoustic) Since he skipped this one two nights in a row, it wasn't much of a surprise, but it was nicely done, was longer than usual and gave Bob a lot of space to pull faces. > Love Sick Was the other lowpoint. Either Bucky was way behind with his pedal steel riff or the speakers were fucked up, but there was some kind of echo that killed the whole song for me. Bob's vocal delivery was okay, but this song has seen better days before! > Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 Bob was goofying around some more having a great time as did everybody in the audience. Larry's solo was above average as well and I have to admit I kinda liked this song tonight. *blush* > Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic) After he had what was a very strong, very physical 100 minute show he was pretty much out of breath on this one. Larry messed up the a-capella ending but just carrying on with his guitarplaying. Tony was shaking his head and looking at Larry like a teacher who goes "you should've learned this song by now, my son" afterwards. Anyways, even though the encores could've been a little better performance- wise, I think this was by far and away the strongest out of the 18 I've seen over the last four weeks in Europe. The main set's choice of songs was excellent throughout and clearly split the purists from the tourists. Nice! I for one was very happy that we travelled the extra 600 miles and saw an excellent show. Stay tuned for the last of my reviews from Europe... Lucca! Thanks for your time! Carsten Wohlfeld -- "if you don't stop to smell the roses now they might end up on you" (hüsker dü)
Subject: A Bit More From Italy From: ( Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 13:27:44 GMT A special member of the audience in Rome was Italian writer Fernanda Pivano. She's an expert in American Literature. She translated Beat generation poetry in the 60s. She met Dylan in the early 60s and also wrote an introduction to the Italian edition of "Writings & Drawings". She's about 80 and, since I also noticed small kids, Bob really had an audience of *all* ages that night. The "Tambourine Man" he sang at Lucca was nowhere in the cue-sheet I was privileged enough to glance at: a solitary "Baby Blue", instead. I like to think the ghost of the Italian Poet was among us: he was left unsung, but he *did* live in this area of Italy, whoever he was. At Turin, we were treated with the strongest "Love Sick" I have been given the opportunity to listen to. Not to mention the gorgeous "Baby Blue" and "Masters Of War". After "Gotta Serve Somebody", Bob greeted the audience with a kind:"Nice to be here in Italy. Most beautiful country in Europe". This is the longest speech he gave here in Italy, I guess. This was my first "live-Dylan" experience and I couldn't have been treated better. As for the "flirtation with Italian ladies"...I thought it was just what it is generally referred to as "eye-contact" in RMD-language... Until I read Carsten's reviews. All the best Francesca

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