Berlin, Germany
Arena Treptow
October 25, 2005

[Stefan Flach], [Werner Kehl], [Frank Schulz], [Reinald Purmann], [Dr. Stefan Münker]

Review by Stefan Flach

After an annoyingly amateurish entrance procedure at the Berlin Arena,
almost resulting in fights and chaos, some first fifty folks ran through
the hall and towards the stage. My girlfriend and I immediately got
ourselves very good standing positions in second row slightly to the right
side of the stage where later, when the show was on, Dennie Freeman stood.
Five minutes after 8 pm the lights went down and a well-known and beloved
silhouette approached the keyboard. The very first few chords by the band
sounded as if they were about to play “Cold Irons Bound”, but after some
seconds it turned out to be: 

“Maggie´s Farm” 

Apart from the fact that we can hardly expect a different opener these
days and weeks (with Dylan still suffering from Amazon-timeloopiness),
there is nothing negative I could say about its standardized setlist
positions in general, and surely nothing about this version in special.
From the second verse on you could tell that Dylan was willing and able to
look for something in his vocal delivery. There were some beautifully
nasty phrasings full of relish that were a delight to hear (“ain´t gonna
work for Maggie´s maaaaaaaaa no … more!” – with “more sounding like a
little piece of garbage that he almost forgot to throw after the event).
The song was very tight and almost too short for my liking. 

“Tonight I´ll Be Staying Here with You” 

was the expected second song, especially since we got its partner “Tell Me
That It Isn´t True” the other day in Hamburg. Here things really came
together in a way I could have only hoped for. Waves of full-bodied lovely
sound came down on me, and the beautiful minor chords of the bridge were
like monolithic rocks standing in the flood. Dylan, not using the
upsinging device once on the song, seemed to make it his perfect bed in
which he layed down vocally. There was lust in his vocals that
corresponded perfectly with the lust focussed in the old original lyrics
and was brought into the present of that night. That version was more
enchanting and unagitatedly urgent than every other I´ve heard so far.
Towards the end Dylan grabbed his harmonica and second microphone and went
center stage to blow a beautiful, unobtrusive solo (knee bends included)
that harmonized fine with his vocal delivery before. 

“Watching the River Flow” 

inhabited the place of “I´ll Be Your Baby Tonight” this time, and having
already been played transcendently by the band (mostly thanks to Dennie
Freeman) the day before, this version had a different leading man: the
singer. Dylan kneaded and spit out many of the words in a gorgeously nasty
and “enlightened-ironic” way that made me smile with joy throughout.
Freeman´s and Kimball´s soli were again splendidly playful and wild. I
really think the song cannot be performed better than this. It´s even as
if he was born a second time that tour. 

“Lay, Lady, Lay” 

is another example of how well a fixed set of songs might work that is
repeated every night. Dylan visits the song like a neighbour every day
with whom he builds a cabin in his yard. The corporate work has rendered
that neighbour dearer to him than ever. Maybe they´ll split again soon,
but that doesn´t matter – for the time being, they are a casual unity …
Again Dylan leaned beautifully into many words and proved that he is STILL
abe to hold his breath twice as long as Caruso. That these words were
rather uncommonly chosen (from the middle of lines) more than once, may be
taken as evidence that he invented his delivery on the spot and mostly
abandoned all rhetoric devices. An impressive version I was very happy

“It´s Alright, Ma (I´m Only Bleeding)” 

put a stop to the “Amazon-set”. Afer a short disappointment about the song
being played (I had the impression that I´ve heard it often enough, both
on tape and in concert), it was a spellbinding experience to witness that
version. Like a fierce steamroller it channeled its way through the
audience that was entirely mesmerized. Donny Herron´s violin playing was a
terrific addition to the song as it gave it a somewhat purified, ulterior
quality that contrasted with the piercing force of the two guitars. Dylan
was very much into the song and sat on its top like a conqueror. We all
know the song well and occasions on which its original impact strikes us
are rare. But this was one that enabled you to almost see through time and
space in order to get the “original” “It´s Alright, Ma” again – the one
that was written in 1964 and performed on “Bringing It All Back Home”.
“And if my thought-dreams could be seen, they´d probably put my head in a
guillotine” sounded like an absolutely credible statement that night. You
Apparently Dylan wasn´t willing to let the momentum go, as he then pulled
out the most uniquely sung 

“Under the Red Sky” 

I´ve ever heard. I was immediately happy that they played it since
standing ten centimetres from away from my loved one (whose username on
the dylanpool is taken from this song) and seven metres from Dylan at that
moment was a wonderful combination for me. From the beginning, Dylan
twisted the words around on this tongue in a hair-rising way. His
phrasings were almost absurdly playful. It was as if he suddenly was on
drugs that extended his creativity and knight errantry to bizarre
extremes. He had nothing but fun with the song that night – you could see
it and you could definitely hear it. If there´s one song I´d like to
listen back to soon on a recording, it´s this one. 

“Cold Irons Bound” 

then hit a very different note of course. I feared a change for a more
standardized vocal approach with that song, what Dylan didn´t really
justify, but I would have nevertheless wished for a different song that
gave him more room to invent his vocals more offensively. The song was
highly intense and sharp and loud as hell. With the sparse and spooky
lightning on stage you could see the old bricks of the Arena in the back.
It was a strange effect for me to hear him singing “the walls of pride are
high and wide” while looking at that other wall. The audience seemed to go
nuts during the song. The well-known first lovely chords of 

“Just Like a Woman” 

then sailed through the air. When hearing the song the first time in
person in Worms last year (it almost escaped me before), it was a major
experience that changed much of my appreciation of the song being
performed live. Sadly I had to take a little rest throughout this version,
so that I cannot say too much about it. But there was a strong tenderness
in Dylan´s vocals that surpassed many other renditions from recent times.
The band also was very much into the song that night. The final “outro”
was performed like a collective decleration of love for the original
“Blonde on Blonde” take. 

“Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” 

was next, and even if I surely didn´t want to hear it in Hamburg, the
version they played there had made a deep impression on me. It´s been a
while since I last noticed the inherent punk quality of the song and the
great surrealistically tragic tale it tells. The guitar duels of Stu and
Dennie were again a pure delight to witness, even if the Hamburg version
was even slightly wilder and more focussed. Dylan´s vocals, though, were
less standardized and dragged-in than on most other occasions in recent
times. His somber growl on “looking in the window with a pecan pie” was an
especially impressive moment. 

“John Brown” 

was the most intimate reading of the show. Dylan evidently put an effort
in getting the lyrics across the best (and best discernible) possible way,
and that showed great results. The pauses in his delivery were perfectly
inhabited by the band who, being on a great driving roll (mainly
maintained by George playing a subdued military march beat), explored the
songs in parts where Dylan didn´t set a foot in, which made for a terrific
view of the song from different angles. There were also three instrumental
verses featured – one more than usual, I think. Some people told me after
the show that they thought this was the definitive version of the song. 

“Down Along the Cove” 

was, together with “Under the Red Sky”, the most exuberant song of the
show. Amazingly inventive and catchy guitar attacks came from everywhere
and Dylan yelled and growled like there was no tomorrow. Again he held his
breath incredibly long at some points (“you make me feel like a
baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaby – like a baby boy!”). They also incorporated a new
ending that features the first verse again and that ends on the very last
sung word. A highly effective idea. 

“Floater (Too Much to Ask)” 

then followed. Into the first verse, a paper sheet fell down from Dylan´s
pedal steel and Tony immediately came running to put it back. Dylan was so
annoyed by this that he actually stopped in the middle of his singing to
yell something at Tony who vanished quickly. I don´t care about recent
live renditions of this song too much, and that one didn´t make an
exception. Dylan also seemed rather uninterested in it and reverted to the
upsinging device at some points. A solo by Freeman received a wild
applause by the audience, but its merits somewhat escaped me. The only
dispensible song of the evening. 

“Masters of War” 

contrasted very, very much with “Floater” then. If I ever witnessed a
version of this song where everyone involved was virtually on fire, it is
this one. They all explored the song to its dephts, and every second was a
delight. The response of the audience to the song was equally overly

“Highway 61 Revisited” 

then brought the main section of the concert to an end – in the most
rauceous way possible. I think the Hamburg version was superior, but this
one, though, was somewhat “scenic”. The different parts of the song (sung
and instrumental verses) were rather different from each other, what again
gave me the impression of being able to look at it from distinctive
positions and angles. Dylan´s singing was exuberant and wild. Dennie
played a little new riff mainly towards the end of the song that I already
in Hamburg would have described as a “gangster riff”. It consits of four
ascending and another four descending notes (if I remember it right). It
seems to come from the soundtrack of a not too ambitious gangster film
from the 1960s maybe, and adds at the same time a dark and comic quality
to the song. In Hamburg it was even more expressive. 

“Like a Rolling Stone” 

was the expected first encore then (since we got “Don´t Think Twice”
already the day before), and even if I would like to abstain from too many
superlatives in this review, I must say that of all the 20 versions I
witnessed in person, this was the most pleasant one. Dylan loved the song
that night. His singing was as strong and in accord with the song´s
original impact as it can be. His clippings of some words (“everything!”
from “everything he could steal” was a singular message all its own)
within an overall relaxed and laid-back reading made a great impression on
me. Freeman played a solo (including wild tremolo strumming very high up
on the neck) during the instrumental verse that was an aptheosis of the
song in general. One diamond of a version. 

During the band intros that followed Dylan added the places of births to
the musicians names which caused smiles and wild applause all around.
“George Receli is playing the drums – he´s from New Orleans … and Tony´s
from New Orleans, too (laughs by Dylan). Tony Garnier is playing the bass
guitaaaar.” (Stu Kimball apparently is from Boston, but I forgot the other
folks´ towns.) 

“All Along the Watchtower” 

still is THE Dylan song in concert, and it never fails to touch me in an
unequaled way. Maybe there aren´t too many things that can be said about
this version, but this doesn´t narrow its impact. Its wildness was again a
statement all of its own. It is good that it is made every night. 

After the song Dylan and the band got one hell of an applause – and there
he stood, nodding his head. Having a tremendous look in his eyes that
answered all and every question why he is still on the road. 

Stefan Flach


Review by Werner Kehl

"Beautiful despair is hearing Dylan when you're drunk at 3 a.m./ Knowing
that the chances are no matter what you'll never write like him"

           "Beautiful Despair"
            Rodney Crowell
            THE OUTSIDER,  2005            

Rock folks in the german capital had a serious decision to make tuesday
nite: Bob Dylan or White Stripes.  I saw the latter once already a few
years back in the fall of 2001 and it was by far the best concert I had
seen in years from a novelty act (featuring scintillating versions of
"Lovesick" and "Isis").  Last night, my very own decision was an easy one
as I believed I had some catching up to do since I didn't attend the show
one ought not dare to miss last time it passed through here; but on a
monday night in late oct. 2003 I had a show (radio) of my own to deliver
and thus I missed out on what I heard turned out to be another wonderful
Bob Dylan show at the Arena in Berlin.  It is a venue Dylan obviously
cherishes otherwise he wouldn't have chosen to play it again for the 4th
time around in five years.  What a dump the Arena used to be!  When I
first saw a show there (Blur in '93?) it was still in the same state it
used to be in when it was an old, run-down bus-depot in the former East,
but about six years ago it was nicely transformed and it became a
down-right cosy place when I sat in reserved seating and saw Crosby&Nash
perform there about 8 months ago.  Most shows at the Arena are general
admission though and for Dylan shows I have always shown up early to get a
good spot right up front.  Unforgetable the time when I was right up there
front of stage in April 2002, by all accounts one of the best german Dylan
show in recent history.  Apart from meeting up with the usual suspects
(Helmut H., Ulrike, Igor, L., and assorted others) I had decided this time
to bring my friendly neighbour Udo with me.  Udo is a couple of years
younger than Dylan and a couple of decades older than me and he had yet to
see Dylan live.  Udo's big hero who got him into music was Lonnie Donegan;
his favorite band ever remain the Beatles and Paul Simon has become his
main man over the years.  I took Udo to see the Rolling Stones two years
back and he thought they was great and so it felt only right to get him to
see another one of my biggest heros.  We showed up at the Arena right as
the gates opened and we ended up standing 8-10 rows in on Tony's side. 
Time flew by as we chatted on about all things mostly musical, and could
it have actually been that the lights went down a few minutes before 8? 
Whatever, from the start it was as I had anticipated:  much more `rock´
than I had witnessed the previous night in Hamburg.  "Maggies Farm" was
way more charged-up and advancing "Watching The River Flow" to the #3 spot
further underlined the fact that this was gonna be a hard-rocking show. 
Sure there were tunes that slowed things down like a lovely "Tonight, I'll
Be Staying Here With You" or a to-melt-to version of "Just Like A Woman";
but the rock-bottom-line was drawn under scorching versions of "It's
Alright, Ma", "Cold Irons Bound", "Down Along The Cove", "Highway 61",
"Like A Rolling Stone", and "All Along The Watchtower".  Udo was mightily
impressed as he sensed an 'unbelievable rhythmic energy of the highest
degree'.  Consensus became: this was another awesome Arena-show for Bob
and his band (who stuck out alot more than the night before).  Some
claimed the gig to be even superior to the one previous but that's
comparing apples to oranges...

Fact is, it was another fantastic concert and when I overheard others
making plans for Hannover for the next day, it almost made me reconsider
my decision; but that one stands and I for one will not be making the
short two-hour trip. I have tickets for the weekend shows in Oberhausen
and Wetzlar and in the meantime I will be content to sit out a show after
having had the good fortune to have been part of the past two; right now
I'm going to settle into my sofa to perhaps watch the White Sox sweep the
Astros in WS'05 (by the way: how about Michael McDonalds monumental
rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" before Game 3)?

Also, bis bald

Werner Kehl


Review by Frank Schulz

Average show for Berlin standards.  Last year, Bob sounded rough and mean,
this year rather mellow for most of the time. Same with his band...

One hour and a half plus encores; but except for the final "thangyou" and
band intro, not even eye contact with the audience.

Anyway, the song selection for the first third of the show is always
surprising, as was the appearance of "John Brown" (a highlight and the
only acoustic number) AND "Masters of War".

Real highlights that stuck out were the arrangements of "Cold Irons 
Bound" and "Tweedle Dee".  Obviously, he puts more effort in the more
recent songs...  Funny also, "Lay Lady Lay".

Frank Schulz


Review by Reinald Purmann

Hamburg was the nashville-country riverboat (with only little smoke) in 
the hyped-up, well-ventilated, neatly-polished all incl. Congress Centrum.
 - Berlin-Arena is a trashy-scrapy, desolated place in a disused
bus-depot. Even  a small-animal-fair was held here the day before, I swear
! - Tonight for  the Big Animals of our Music. Big clouds of smoke over
the stage at 8.00  promising big events to the more than 5000 people.
Smoke will never lie. This  show was a real good rock-night with full
volumed PA for the  guitar-department. Dylan all in black, his jacket with
red collar, white  polka-dot scarf, a little, round black hat and
moustache looks like Zorros  lawyer. Some great harp-solos in the first
part of the show. He frolicked the  crowd with "Lay,Lady,lay", oh, big
brassed be-e-ed, he drawle-ed. Guitar night  with drums: Stu Kimbell &
Denny Freeman are really great, exchanging riffs  and licks. The audience
liked this "original-60th-Rock-Concert-Sound" and both  get big extra
applaus at the end. In this rocking row ( CIB) the higlight for me  was
the accoustic Nr.10 and than Nr. 13.: John Brown. With great emphasizing
he  sang this nobel-prize-worthy- lyrics. The reverse side of the medal
was his  great "Masters of War" little later. I think this was a statement
tonight in  this rocking event. - There is a discussion about Dylan and
his lyrics, e.g. he  is mixing something a.s.o.If my binoculars serve me
well he has a lyric-sheet on  his piano. If they are not there to compare
with the words he is actual singing  or maybe to sign than and give them
away for autographs, than his sometimes  mixed words are part of his 
performing art, maybe. No such thing in  this show.  At the end of the
show Mr. Dylan gets really talkativ: He extented the band  intro to the
places his musicans come: Stu Kimbell from Boston, George  & Tony from New
Orleans a.s.o. I think this was a signal that everything  went very well
tonight. For me this was another great, remarkable even(t)ing bei  Bob
Dylan, one of the best I have been. Thanks to Bill Pagel &: Don*t dare  to

Reinald Purmann  


Review by Dr. Stefan Münker

What a show!

The Berlin Arena was crowded. When the band started to play at 8:04 pm
people still entered the hall. Maggie's Farm - still a great opener. The
band, all dressed in grey suits, some wearing hats - a rocking
rhythm'n'blues band. They did, what Dylan asked another band to do back in
Manchester 1966: played @#%$ loud . Nevertheless the sound was perfect
during the whole show. Dylan, dressed in a black suit and black hat, was
apparently in a good mood. As expected he played the keyboard all night
long - with some harp in between. Highlights: Lay, lady, lay - with some
most funny, even self-ironical phrasings. A pounding version of It's all
right Ma - I'm only bleeding. The two encores: Like a rolling stone, with
a fabulous solo by Dennis Freeman - and All along the watchtower! Donnie
Herron played a Jimi Hendrix-like solo on his pedal steel! The only one
(!) acoustic song was John Brown - great performance with Stu Kimball on
an acoustic guitar, that looked to me like a 00-style sunburst Gibson,
though I am not sure about it. It didn't look like a Martin. Stu Kimball
played a Stratocaster during most of the songs. Dennis Freeman was my
favorite musician during the show (playing a half acoustic that again
looked from my place like a Gibson) followed by Donnie Herron (who played
his steel guitar and had great moments on the violin as well). And His
Bobness himself? Speaking rather than singing; minimalist solos on the
harp as well as on the keyboard: A great performance! And he does not wear
his mustache any more .



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