Freiburg, Germany
November 5, 2003

[Michael Mohm], [Jean Bouchard], [Frank Lindemann], [Stefan Flach]

Review by Michael Mohm

Bob Dylan and his Band in Freiburg - this was predominantly a two-hour hard 
rock thunderstorm. Bob only played E-piano and a little bit harp during the 
concert. But he was not really playing E-piano - he pounded the keys without 
any identifiable result. Anyway, his voice was clear and dedicated.

The set list was great. The highlights: The opener, a long rocking "Maggie's 
Farm", a well-balanced "Senor" and the straight "Positively 4th Street". The 
only low-mark was an awfully "Girl Of  The North Country", with wrong rhythm.

The actually surprise of the show was Freddy Koella - the real chief of the 
band. His place was near by Bob, but for his long intoxicating guitar-solos, 
he changed his place to the front of the stage. The crowd was enthusiastic. 
Larry played a wonderful bouzouki  during "It's Alright, Ma" and "Don' Think 
Twice", the most harmonically of the acoustic-songs. "Floater" was another 
highlight, with Freddy on violin!

Michael Mohm


Review by Jean Bouchard

Tonight was my seventh Bob Dylan concert and I can tell you that "It´s not 
dark yet". The whole concert was great and loaded with Rock´n roll energy. 
I was there with my friend Jochen, my wife Susanne decided to skip on her 
third Dylan concert. She sure missed something…  Jochen who is not a fan 
and doesn´t know too much about Bob was really impressed by the peformance 
and really happy to get Susanne´s ticket.

I´m not going to tell you how he was dressed or what word he missed in some
of the lyrics. To see a Bob Dylan concert is like drinking an Espresso 
Coffee without any milk or sugar for the first time. At first you find it 
quite bitter and strong but if you get used to it you discover the real 
taste and enjoy it as it is. And with Bob it's the same thing. He gives it 
to you the way it is, no sweetener needed because it's life, and life only. 
Some of the songs that were fantastic "Cold irons bound - Summer days -  
It´s alright,ma - Highway 61". My favorite was "The lonesome death of 
Hattie Carroll".

On guitar Freddy Koella was superb and so was the rest of the band. For 
those fans who were not there, sorry but you missed something. When Bob 
introduced the band at the end he actually said a few words: "We´re having 
lot´s of fun here, tonight" in seven Dylan concerts that I´ve seen it was 
the first time that he talked to the crowd. Bob was having a great time 
and so was the crowd.

It´s not dark yet but one day it´ll be. Let´s treasure him while we can.
Thank you Bob and also thanks to Bill Pagel for this great web site, it's 
the first place I check to see where Bob is touring. 

Jean Bouchard


Review by Frank Lindemann

After seeing Dylan two times in Hamburg, Freiburg was my third Show this
year. I liked the Docks Shows in Hamburg, exspecially the new versions of
"Man In The Long Black Coat" and "Boots Of Spanish Leather" and all the
new elements in the arrangements of the songs. But after watching the set
lists of the shows following Hamburg, my expectations for the concert in
Freiburg weren't really high. But like many times before Dylan surprised
me again with a concert without a weak song. "Maggie's Farm" sounded like
it was written in these days and not in 1965, fresh and really hard
rocking. There were  other songs like "Cold Irons Bound", "Tweedle Dee And
Tweedle Dum" or "Summer Days" which were played with so much energy and
enthusiasm, I couldn't believe it. When I had doubts about the skills of
Freddie Koella after Hamburg, then these diappeared quickly during this
show. I think he is a great player and what counts most, he doesn't repeat
himself all the time but always looks for new ideas and licks to put into
the songs. At the end of the show he got a hug on the shoulder from Dylan 
who introduced him as a mighty good guitarist, which is absolutely true.
On the other hand there is Larry Campbell who can play all these
instruments like pedal steel and bouzouki and in combination, Larry and
Freddie are just perfect and it's a great pleasure to watch the play
together. Having said this, the drummer  should also be mentioned. George
Recelli plays the hard rocking stuff really with a groove (unlike Winston
Watson back in the ninetees)and he sounds laid back and tender when it
gets quiet on the stage. All in all a perfect band. But to come the most
important thing: Dylan's singing was fantastic, he looked absolutely
concentrated and handled his songs with much care and love. I can't
imagine anything better than the versions of "Girl Of The North Country"
and "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll" like they were played the night
in Freiburg. Completely new arrangements and Dylan really focussing on the
words. Like he was praying them. Like he knows how relevant and timeless
these songs are. I've never watched anything more moving in a concert
before and I feel sorry for everyone who is not able to feel this. I also
want to mention that there was a "critic" standing in the front row who's
writing for newpapers of the WAZ group in Nordrhein-Westfalen. The
newspaper group sent this guy to Freiburg to enable him to write something
about the Dusseldorf Show on Saturday (for reasons unexplained). Of course
this guy will not be in Dusseldorf (which belongs to NRW), he doesen't
know one Dylan Song and told us that he likes Oldie Festivals (playback
shows, where people like Dizzy, Dave and Suzy Quatro are "performing").
This underlines again how careless and betraying the media systems works
and I can only gratulate Bob Dylan for refusing interviews and press
conferences in Germany as long people like this stupid critic come to his
concerts to write brainless shit about them! So as you might guess, Mr.
Jones from NRW didn't like the concert and has most likely finished his
bad review of the Dusseldorf concert before it has even happend.

Frank Lindemann


Review by Stefan Flach

Travelling to my favorite town on this earth to see Dylan there, proved to
be just the right thing to do. I enjoyed my two days in Freiburg very much
and even though standing in line in front of the Stadthalle for two hours
while the low stratus crept down from the hills, got me very nasty cold
the other day, there´s nothing to regret – on the contrary. I had a nice
talk with zimmo and Siamak while waiting and the time passed faster than
expected … Twenty minutes after 8. 00 the ligths went down, Dylan and the
boys came on stage and launched right into:

“Maggie´s Farm”

Already after a few words one could tell that Dylan was ready and willing
to put fire into his delivery this evening. I absolutely love it when he
leans seemingly at random into some words in the middle of phrases, as it
was the case here, mainly in the “father” and “brother” verses. He
apparently really WANTED to FIND something on his way through the song –
while the band did a great job to give him the appropriate grooving
foundation (it always takes a solid rock to hang on, right?) – and there
was no reason to think that the effort wasn´t maintained on the next song,
for which Larry thankfully DIDN´T took his seat on the pedal steel (which
would have signaled another “Baby Blue”), but got handed his white
Telecaster … One minor chord was enough for me to raise my hands and say
to Zimiak “Yesssss! There it is again!”


My very favorite song, played for the third time in front of my eyes and
ears, at this place … well, what can I say? Only after maybe half a minute
in which I was occupied to thank my creator that he (and Bob) presented me
this gift, I could concentrate on what the thin man in the long black coat
was doing, which was delivering a major reading of this song. His phrasing
(going down, down, down with his voice on most crossroads of the lyrics)
was gorgeously all his own, so that I could really witness Dylan (and all
expressions of his body) trying to find that all so important balance of
a) getting into the lyrics and what they say and b) listening carefully to
where the sounds he produces while expressing them on this evening might
lead him (= are able to lead him). Freddie and Larry traded excellent
solos around the second bridge and gave Bob time to contemplate and
delivering a great last verse afterwards …

“Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum”

somewhat surprisingly (since “Cry a While” is the standard third song
these days) came next, and also surprisingly turned out to be a major
performance. Sometimes it needs only a slight change, and everything IS
JUST ON IT´S PLACE. The whole bizarre drama of the two guys of the song
became visible here. Larry´s prominent riff (which can be monotonous on
quite a few versions) amazingly got in touch with the different stages of
the tale that Dylan belted out with unusual conviction and urge. Finest
version I heard so far.

“Positively 4th Street”

was the next surprise (it hasn´t been played on this tour so far). Usually
I´m not too happy with live versions of this song (at least after 1996),
but this one left me somewhat speechless. Dylan must have absolutely fell
in love with his singing here, since he went further and further in
stretching (“I can hold my breath twice as long as Caruso!”) and kneading
certain words (“… to be! among! the crowd! your! in
wiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaath!!!”) – an orgiastic pleasure it was to hear and see
him doing this. After smiling maliciously on “don´t-you under-stand
that-it´s not-my problem?!?” and the instrumental verse that followed he
didn´t find the same intensitiy for the last verse at the end, but no
matter – the song was an absolute giant this evening.

“It´s Alright, Ma”

came next and again proved that 2003 is a far better year for this song
than 01 and 02. The band and Dylan spit (credibly) fire here – the
aggressiveness of the current performances is something of a huge red
signal on each show (so that all souls can see it) and today Larry and
Freddie even did something special during the awesome instrumental
interlude before the last verse – after Freddie threw his two or three
chord solo (played on the two low strings in first position!) at the
crowd, Larry smiled, stepped center stage and “answered” him with some
tremolo riffs on his bouzouki. An instrumental feast this was which lifted
the already stellar performance again a little higher … Great.

When the next song started (with Freddie on his usual pink Strat and Larry
on his acoustic Martin), I could see that no one (including me) knew what
it would be. The chord structure of the intro seemed at the same time
familiar and unknown and when they finally did a very strange
interlude/embellishment after this first instrumental verse, the
helplessness of the audience created a singular, terrific silence of
anticipation … What a shock it was to hear Dylan sing “If you´re
travelling to the north country fair” then and realizing it was

“Girl of the North Country”

which gets my award for the most amazing re-creation of a song I ever saw
Dylan do in person. Plain outwordly stuff here … Dylan literally sung his
heart out here, clearly trying to get the story of the song across as GOOD
AS IT GETS (as he´s able to do it here and now), while the strangely
classical arrangement served as something of a protective cover for what
Dylan did. The arrangement more or less works this way: the minor part of
each verse comes on a different point now and as the last line of each
verse gets near its end, they slow everything down and Dylan finally
stretches the last word (mine, winds, best, day) almost into eternity
(without singing up!). Between verses there´s a most astonishing and
unfamiliar interlude, with Larry somehow making his guitar (fingerpicking)
sound like almost like a spinet, giving the song a completely different
feeling. The starting of each verse is much like the turning of a page
from a very ancient book, one that Dylan isn´t necessarily the writer of,
but the narra After this reading from another time and place, the
apocalyptic intro of

“Cold Irons Bound”

was heard and as soong as Dylan started to sing, it was clear that the
“North Country” experience apparently enabled him to maintain the
tremendous creational power, since he delivered the by far most convincing
(playfully ferocious and sharpe edged) vocal I ever heard him do on this
song (which he usually sings somewhat on auto-pilot in my opinion). Again
he “at random” took certain words out of lines and did amazing things with
them (stretching, kneading, belting them out). He even gesticluated on
some points, as on “the walls or pride are high and wide”, when he held
one hand up to some height as if to show HOW high … A major performance.

“Don´t Think Twice”

was a welcome occasion to relax a bit, for Dylan as for the audience. A
warm, leaned back and well sung version …

“Highway 61”

then rocked again in it´s best ever incarnation (that of this and the last
US tour) and made me completely happy again. Amazing – I really love this
song meanwhile. The two brilliant guitar breaks (after the second verse
and again near the end), with Larry doing his AWESOME “badab adadab
adadab” riff on the lower strings, became something of an instrumental
apotheosis of these shows, a major focal point of my wandering around the
blooming garden they present for me. Freddie played terrific slide on a
strange and slightly “Flying V” shaped “Danelectro” guitar here and added
yet another glamerous touch to the song.

“Every Grain of Sand”

then was a bit early as song # 10 this evening, and quickly turned out to
be a bit rougher and harsher than usual, which worked well. Bob found a
(for my ears) pretty satisfying way here to get the confession-like
statements and images of the song across. The arrangement (as on almost
all versions) still lacks a necessary power for me though, it´s somewhat
blurred, which finally gets apparent when Dylan stops singing – the
instrumental verse always makes me look at my watch (if only in my mind) …

Then Freddie surprisingly got handed a violin and I had no idea what to
expect. The “trademark” intro of


then made a welcome guest appearance (it wasn´t played since May), though
it didn´t do much for me this night (on the other hand it´s hard to
experience every song of an evening on the same level, and I guess I took
a time out here). The only exceptional detail (= that I noticed) was that
Bob somehow “knowingly” repeated “too much to ask!” over the last notes of
the song.

“Honest with Me” 

the partner in crime of “Highway 61” – was next and was as completely
enjoyable as his “brother”, most of all Larry´s thundering “slide back”
into first position after the riff, made me shook my head in wonder again.
I haven´t heard a “weak” version of this song recently – after two years
they finally have a tremendously high level established on which certain
things can start to take off on certain nights. This was one of them.
Dylan growled and spited out the words in finest style and was so animated
and carried away by the sheer force the song displayed, that he
hilariously went center stage during the instrumental verse, almost
collided with Freddie (who didn´t expect his boss there) and, standing
with his back to the audience, made some wonderfully awkward getures with
his arms – as if to conduct a parade, but then his “courage” left him and
he went back to the keyboard … Anyway, I have nothing but the biggest
respect for this song and am always immensely pleased to witness another
version of it.

“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”

was the song in the “last surprise slot of the evening” then and I had the
chance to hear its new arrangement for the first time. Even though I find
it a bit too “mellow”, it´s Dylan´s vocals that play the lead role here
anyway and as the song progressed his phrasing got more and more assured
of itself and during the last verse he delivered a most splendid staccato
singing (while tieing together two words at a certain point on each verse)
that created a kind of real sacredness wrapped around the content of the
lyrics that contradicted them without being a (morally higher positioned)
stranger to them. Another terrific statement that glowed in the dar …

Then it was time to dance with

“Summer Days”

and the perfect closer of the main set it was again, mostly due to a
KILLER instrumental verse courtesy of Freddie, who stepped into the light
one more time.

“Cat´s in the Well”

was the usual first encore song and worked again very satisfying, though I
didn´t notice anything special about it EXCEPT its most unusal,
non-existing ending, when it “blended” into

“Like a Rolling Stone”

(Dylan and G.E. Smith did the same trick in 88-89 with “Don´t Think Twice”
and “Heaven´s Door”), which to my surprise turned out to be terrific ride.
Dylan (though less willing to experiment than on most other songs of the
evening of course) leanded remarkably deep into the song and Freddie
finally did the best guitar solo I ever witnessed in person – the sounds
he produced were unbelievable, strong, biting, tender and somewhat NICE at
the same time. He literally carressed the strings while playing them,
which was a wonderful sight.

Dylan, being in a very good mood meanwhile (he smiled much at the band and
exchanged glances mostly with George the whole evening – they must have a
real good connection to each other), then introduced the band. When it
came to Freddie, Bob said “… he also played violin on one song, he´s an
excellent violin player and a mighty fine guitar player!” and laughed
brightly. George then looked at him with an expression on his face that
seemed to say “ok boss, what have you got for me? The worst, I expect” and
after a hilarious while Bob presented him with the notorious “the best
drummer (pause) on this stage … George Receli!” Then they launched into an

“All Along the Watchtower”

that was furious and somewhat wise again (a main characteristic of recent
versions) with its open visible structure: monster intro / sung verse /
solo Freddie / verse / solo Freddy / sung verse / solo Larry / song first
verse again + dramatic “outro”. The final of an evening full of magic and
splendour. Thank you.

Stefan Flach


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