Bolzano, Italy
October 30, 2003

[Vittorio Colombo]

Review by Vittorio Colombo

A perfect finished plan.

I have done this very biased thing of writing a review of a Dylan's concert only
very rarely and for definitely good reasons. And this Bolzano night is surely 
one of them good reasons. I would not tell you how he dressed or how the weather
was and how I came and went. I try to tell you some of the reasons why this 
one seemed to me to be a great concert or even more. Dylan "live" art, ever 
changing and ruled by most unpredictable behaviour, has always been somehow 
related to the Trapeze artist: when you feel that the man is falling right 
down to floor, a flick of the wrist saves him and his job is done. Live Dylan
has always been living on the knife edge, always risking too much, always 
understood by the majority of the small minority of so called fans. When you
go home after the concert you have to try and rearrange the emotions those 
songs have granted you, but more than in the past it is not strength that 
rules those concerts but a more subtle attitude, a more complicated tapestry
where no chord or word can have a meaning by itself even if some stage moments 
seem to be so unusual for a Dylan concert; and more I believe that the overall 
effect is not so easily perceived; live wondering which among the 52 versions 
of Monet's Rouen Cathedral would be the best in any moment of your life.  There 
seem to be very personal reasons behind Dylan's new attitude towards his own 
material as evidenced in these concerts. F. K. with his wounded duck walk to 
the center of the stage during his guitar solos seems to be showing to our 
incredulous eyes that he does that under superior consent of the Master of the 
situation and that he intends to be mild in doing it but with definite ideas 
about it all; it's a strange guitar playing, never before experienced in Dylan's 
band at my live recollection (no less than 25 years); the only imaginary parallel 
with a band that would have eventually included Link Wray; let's take as only 
comparison the superior art of Charlie Sexton: in the legacy of Hendricks and
Steve Ray Vaughan, he has probably been the most impressive guitar shoulder 
Dylan has ever had. But he was in a "classic" track and you knew exactly where 
his solos where starting from and where they were going, even though it was not 
at all easy to say how he could do it; the impressive "wall of sound" was then 
one way to filter those notable words and to put those songs in a particular 
perspective. What we hear today induces some kind of a different experience; a 
more complicated one and probably more revealing. I don't know F. K. past enough 
to say if this is his trademark or if his skills have been turned and used by 
Dylan to conjure this whole strange rendition of his songs, as I strongly suppose, 
but what we hear today is anyway and definitely something else. The way they did 
All Along the Watchtower yesterday night reminded me of  the words the late Cesar 
Diaz told me in '92 in Juan les Pins after having been invited on stage to play 
that same song with Dylan (and Dave Steward): "I showed him (him being too long
suffered and easily forgotten J.J.) how Watchtower should be played!". One more 
notable thing: F.K. plays those solos differently every night. Now Dylan is
clearly, if ever was it in doubt, the Leader of the band and he rules the stage 
in an unprecedented  manner. He seems to enjoy it.  The heights of the night, in
my opinion, have been Can't Wait, Hattie Carroll and Watchtower, but the whole 
is better understood than single pieces.

Like in ancient Temples where the Priestess voice and prophecy where heard by 
people unknowing the inspiration and reasons behind, also here we confront 
ourselves with the increasing mistery of - Where does he takes it from? - How 
does he know that we might need it? - and most of all - Do we know why we need 
it? Both for the Artist and for ourselves I hope these questions will end up 
being unanswered. 


page by Bill Pagel

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