Europe -- Spring 2009

The paths are many and the road is happiness. Setting off to see Bob is not what it seems. Friends say, "Oh cool, you are seeing Bob Dylan. How many shows? Are you kidding? Don't you get bored seeing the same show so many times?" Well, what can you say to that? "As many shows as I can afford, and as far as I can go, boredom is not an issue!" For me getting on the road means paying the karma upfront, paving the way to grooving at the shows. Always something or lots of things happen in the months before tour, but after - the road is greased and you can slide through untouched by worry. I flew to Amsterdam sick, depleted of energy, already broke, but with the zeal of those who make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Its Bob, Bob Dylan who will be there waiting for me. The Amsterdam doors. The Heineken Music Hall is in a very weird location, way south of town, in a theatre/sports complex adjacent to an Urban Relocation Camp for Africans from the Dutch colonies. So right away, weird energy, with lots of cops. Nice to be back in line in Europe, seeing fans not seen since 2007, no one has changed, like all we do is wait in line to see Bob, finishing conversations suspended two years before. It is an organized venue, with pretty good doors, I am lucky to squirm my way past security to be first in the hall. (With the exception of the idiots who bought the VIP Package, hard not to have bad feelings towards these people.) I want to be as close to Bob as possible, so center in front of the mic. Bob was so present, just pumping everything in site, in and out of him, and to us. I faced the quandary of grooving to the music, the loud raucous fantastic sound of the band, or just watching Bob. I wasn't ready for the music yet, I had to absorb as much Bob as I could take in. The three shows were progressively better and better. My favorite song was Tweedle, who would believe that? Bob came center mic with his harp, and let us just witness him grooving to the bands music. This became the theme of the rest of the tour. Bob actually watching and listening to the show with us. He added his riffs and sang the words, but he was with us listening. After the shows I stayed in Amsterdam for Little Easter, beautiful sunny warm day, I stayed at the Hemp Hotel, really just to be crazy. It was Rastas just smoking and drinking pot beer in the sun. The Italian Shows.
You just can't believe the difference between these shows and all other shows I have been to. The energy and love towards Bob was so much more intense, full of passion, Bob just rode that and gave performances that out-matched any other. There were lots of one way conversations going on between Bob and the Rail. Just intimate friends and he loved it. We sang the songs passionately with Bob, he directed us when to join into the song. It was fantastic. He ended the shows with his hand on his heart, letting everyone know he was returning the love presented to him with such honesty. The doors in Firenzi were pretty funny though. Security didn't speak any English, but were heard to say, "We have no problems here, these are old Bob Dylan fans they are harmless and will just walk in." Well of course when we broke through the gates early and mowed them down, they probably rethought those statements. It was the four Genovese folks that broke through, they were very American. Brussels was the first indication that Bob was tiring. He was there, a professional musician playing great, but personally he had very low energy. It is a great venue, so sad that he couldn't really deliver the kind of show that he had been giving. The long term Dylan fans were almost brought to tears, thinking that the Bob they have followed for at least the last 20 years is gone and gone forever. "Do you know what this means, it is over!" I believe that a change will come soon, allowing Bob to go on, but the inevitably of less was palatable. The UK. Not to much to say about the UK except, man those people need a life. It is just unbelievable the amount of liquor that these people consume before and during a show. Sickening really, just the walking or swerving dead. I was finally ready to listen to the Band, and with great luck the sound at the London O2 was the best acoustic sound I have ever heard in a huge venue. I closed my eyes, and listened, it was the other path separate from the personal Bob, and the reward was one of my best shows. Bob was of course conscious of the great sound so cranked up the sound, the loudest on the tour. It was fantastic. The London Roundhouse was the exception to usual UK audience. Limited ticket sales ensured the people there were really at full attention, waiting for the surprises to pour forth. I had read all the speculation about guests and all that, but never believed any of that. When did Bob jump through hoops for a record label, especially for Sony? But Bob was so amused that he cracked himself up the whole show, he entered scooting across the whole stage saluting the audience, just like a boxer entering and swaggering across the ring. Oh man, watching him watch and listen to the band, was the coolest. He stood next to the organ with his hand on his hip, smiling and then grimacing, but listening wholeheartedly. One song he did seem unnerved since the band seemed to be out of tune, he was pretty frustrated. Tony had a blank look on his face, he wasn't trying to communicate with Bob, which was strange, he just kept on. It was as if Bob heard the song different in his head than what he was hearing, and he couldn't get it through to the band, and he didn't want to go their way. I don't know what got in to him, if it was all the Sony people standing behind Jules, playing in such an intimate space, or just that he had a great day, but he was having fun. I was center front and can say for sure he was not in a bad mood, or pissed off at the band, he was being funny and amusing himself. I am not sure he loved the sound, he knows what he is hearing, but he was grooving. After the show we found a cool speakeasy (a falafel shop during the day) with a musician playing Johnny Cash and Chuck Berry until dawn. Better to party after the show, at least you remember the show. A little mention of Liverpool, the worst city/venue in the world or close second to House of Blues Dallas. It was a seated show but we had been running up every UK show, and the audience had all been standing with no controversy between sitters and grooving standers. Everyone just stood. Perfect!! But after the initial run up, security came to clear, it was loud and disruptive, I missed the third and forth songs completely. Getting us back to our seats wasn't good enough, we were not allowed to stand either. Telling us that if we stood, Bob would leave the stage. They were moronic. I guess when Bob's people told them NO PICTURES, they heard no standing. While they were yelling at us for standing, security was escorting people from the back up to the front to take pictures, it was so bizarre. The energy of the audience was completely subdued, not much applause, and silence before the encore. When Rolling Stone started, I turned to took around, and yelled "This is Rolling Stone, you can stand now!" Nothing but blank stares. Security was so poor that with 6 feet between the first row and the rail gave plenty of room for some moron to run up, leap over the rail and flop on the stage, amazingly getting behind Bob and grabbing him by the neck. Bob kept on singing and tried to shake him off. A security guy was sitting right next to the place he leaped over, but was on his cell phone on a personal call. Jules just ran up, Bob's security was no where in sight, and grabbed the guy. The asshole "had wild eyes and was incoherent." It was bull that he was just a drunk Liverpool dude, he was deranged. Unbelievably, I left the hall before the show was over, I was just so upset, believe me I let security know my feelings when I was leaving the venue. The Scottish shows were both good, especially Glasgow, which after the horrible fight with security in Liverpool, was light and airy, Bob seemed very grateful for such a warm response, and once again put his hand on his heart in appreciation. He was full of energy and gave us a fantastic show. An interesting point was that Bob stopped introducing the band, and never took that up again, even last show in Dublin. What does this mean? I don't know. Dublin....Premier of new album.
How lucky is it to be at the premier of a new song? It rocks! It came as a big surprise after a fantastic show. Bob was so pumped, it was a gift to the audience for being almost Italian. The live song was better than the recorded version. On our day off before the shows, we found a gallery that was showing the original pictures taken on the Rolling Thunder Revue. Most we had seen, but not at this quality and size, and there were pictures never seen. We were all mesmerized and most people went a second time, just to bathe in Bob's images. The pictures were selling for around $2500. The energy from those eyes was just as palatable as in person. More evidence that Bob is a shaman. It also demonstrated to some, the difference between the pentacle of Bob's career and the current shows, I personally don't know if I could have a better experience, but not having been on Tour during the Rolling Thunder Revue, who knows. The very second the last Dublin show ended, we all snapped back to reality almost instantly - there were lost cell phones, money and purses, illness, and mostly tears of sadness. The grease was used up, only rough road ahead. It was such a sad and lonesome time, I never experienced that before. The sadness started during the line and no one seemed to snap out of it, even with a good show. The first show was absolutely excellent, second was a standard good show. But if Bob feeds off the audience even a little, he didn't have much to draw on. The rail people were just sad, just plain sad. No one knows for sure what will be coming up for the Tour. There is an expectation of a change, and there is uneasiness about that change. I heard an interview about Johnny Cash given by Kris Kristofferson while I was in Dublin, Kris said that it was absolutely necessary for gifted people [like Bob] to keep on, never to stop, and that Robert Blake said that if they stop their afterlives will be unhappy and restless. They have to keep on keeping on.
Review Location: 
Review Date: 
Friday, April 10, 2009
Review Author: 
Carol Rosalind