Prague, Czech Republic
T.Mobile Aréna
October 23, 2003

[Enrico Basso]

Review by Enrico Basso

Someone says you'll never forget your first concert (as if it were your
girl coming from the North) and you'll always enjoy the most your last
one. Well, my first one was in Milan, 19th June 1989, a really
unforgettable show, with great performances (above all a mythical Ramona
in a perfect duet with G.E. Smith and a rising Knockin' on Heaven's door,
not forgetting the wonderful and full of energy Tangled Up in Blue as
opener); my last one was Thursday's night in Prague, the beloved town now
I live in, where Bob played for the fourth time after two concerts in 1994
and one in 1995.

I was saying about the concert you enjoy the most: I don't know if that is
true but yesterday Bob's event was really very nice, with great music and
a few songs played like you never heard before. It was also a special
night for me and my sweet life companion, for the first time to see Bob
with a marriage ring on our left hand.

The concert was arranged in a strange way by the organizers, with
reserved seats just in front of the stage and parterre at the back.
Quite unusually for us we drew to Vystaviste just some half an hour
before the planned start (we had two tickets at the 11th row - a nice
wedding gift from one of our best friend - not too far from the podium);
after a quick queue for a rudimental check for cameras and recording
machine, we got into the Arena and took our seats. It was clear since the
beginning most of the go-head people from the back would jump towards the
stage once the lights would go off, disregarding the fact the security
staff had already tried to explain they would prohibit that. I told my
wife I would grab her hand at the right moment and we would then move
closer to the stage. So at 8:20 the intro music gave us the signal, and
just before the lights went off we followed the fastest ones and jumped
with them to the front line; most of the people were hesitating, not sure
the security would allow them to move, so we could easily gain the first
places just at the barriers and in front of the central microphone. At my
previous concerts I have always tried to be as closest as possible to Bob,
not necessarily being always at the first line, but surely at our common
last four Bob's concerts in 2001 and 2002 we have always been at the
barrier. This time we were however even closer, because the space between
the stage and the barricade was much smaller, so we were at not more than
four meters from Bob. He came him just after the rest of the band, wearing
the black suit with silver stars we already saw in one concert last year;
this time no hat on his head. Then the first notes of Maggie's Farm blew
into the air and everyone started weaving.

Maggie's Farm  
Bob seemed already well deep into the music since the beginning
(something which was missing with the openers of my last concerts),
enjoying playing the piano, sometimes even smiling to Freddy Koella, and
almost spelling the lyrics of the song. Strong the impact on the crowd,
which enjoyed the song, and definitely a nice version of the it, sung in a
very decent way.

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
Very nice version, with Freddy playing a brilliant guitar solo before the
last verses, which reminded me some live version of the song played by the
Dead; Bob was singing clearly, articulating every word of the beautiful
lyrics of his masterpiece, and giving the impression he was really paying
attention to the meaning of the song, with a strong satirical smile I
didn't see on him for a long time once he came to the end of the song:
"The vagabond who' s raaaapping at your door is standing in the clothes
that you oooooooooonce wore" (smile).

Cry A While
This song proves Bob has really great musicians in the band, great
guitar performances of Larry Campbell and Freddy Koella (who at least in
Prague did not make anyone miss Charlie Sexton too much). Bob enjoyed
playing this song as well, weaving on the piano each time the refrain
came, and smiling to himself anytime he pleased so.

Boots Of Spanish Leather
A very nice surprise to me, as I like very much the song, probably not
know to most of the Prague audience, which did  not react so
enthusiastically when the first notes played by Larry on the cittern
introduced the acoustic set. I have head this song played by Bob live in a
couple of other concerts, but this time the beauty of the song has been
totally kept, renovated under a new brilliant light, with Bob spelling
every verse very effectively, pausing after every single word: "I m sure -
 your - mind - is - not - with - me - but with - the - coun - try - to -
where - you - are - go - ing." For me one of the three top performances of
the evening.

It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)     
Bob put the same enthusiasm of the song before to this version of It's
Alright Ma which came down full of energy, and the crowd itself welcomed
it enthusiastically: the lyrics of the song have always been sung as if
they were shot by a fast gun, but this time it was even harder to decode
Bob's words, and so, even if almost everyone at the front tried to catch
the wave and sing with him, the result was a mumbling and whispering, with
just the refrains and the famous verse on the "President of the Unites
States [that] sometimes must have to stand naked" being caught. Another
top performance of the show. Then Bob moved on the electric guitar and
Larry's first notes on the cittern made everyone clear that the next one
would be

Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Great music, nice melodic version of this ever-green, with the crowd
calling "Bob" and waving to him, thankful for this concession, played
excellently by Freddy and Larry and superbly completed by Tony on the
bass. Bob voice was clear and full, covering excellently all the
tonalities of the song.

Things Have Changed
This song does not belong to my top-ten, this time however I really
enjoyed it, I loved the way it was arranged, and Bob's voice was really
melted with the three guitars and the bass; he also was definitely having
fun, attempting some dance steps at the end, and singing clearly and
loudly every verse of the song. 

Highway 61 Revisited
The top of the electrical session; Bob stressed on the end of every
verse, in a growing climax until the release of the refrain "highway

Nice version, but unfortunately the microphone at the piano side was not
at the right volume, so it seemed Bob's voice was not melting with the
rest of the music. A pity, because he was trying very hard to sing it
decently, and giving the song the full emotions it required. The result
was unluckily not excellent like the rest of the show.

Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
The second song of the evening taken from "Love and Theft" was globally a
much better performance, and the audience acknowledged it; Bob himself
considerably was satisfied of the result, as he moved some more dance
steps toward Freddy at the end.

Every Grain Of Sand
I was not expecting this song, as Bob played it already at the two shows
before, but luckily it came, in a very nice soft and tender rearrangement.
It was probably not known to the whole Prague audience, as it has been
welcomed less enthusiastically than it deserved. Bob sang it in an
excellent way, giving attention and the right weight to each word. Among
the top three performances of the show. 

Honest With Me
A standard result for the song Bob seems to enjoy the most in his last
shows, which means a great result. I still had in my heart the emotions of
the song before so I didn't pay attention to this performance as it
deserved. The audience was enthusiastic.

Mr. Tambourine Man
A clear concession for the crowd. Bob inserted the automatic pilot; I had
the impression the emotions he felt while playing this song for the
thousandth time were somewhere down below his heels. 

Summer Days
As expected and invoked by the audience in the front lines, just after Bob
introduced the band, the first notes of this song were heard in the air. A
solid rock, electric, full of energy. 

Cat's In The Well
Once the lights came out again, the fixed encore set started in the
usual way, with a dynamic Cat's in the Well that made the audience roll
and wave and just prepare for jumping for the subsequent

Like A Rolling Stone
which started without interruption at the end of the previous song.
Another good performance of the evening, with the crowd in enthusiastic

All Along The Watchtower
And the close came, with a terrific, long instrumental part and Bob
repeating the first verses just before the volume was turn down and
thzen the lights shortly after...

Nice to arrive home half an hour after the show, this time without
driving some thousand of kilometers through Europe. Considering that the
Arena was full of people (some 4 thousand heads I would guess), it was a
great response from Prague. I hope Bob will come here more often.

Enrico Basso


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