Düsseldorf, Germany
November 8, 2003

[Tobias Freimueller], [Joop Bekkema], [Sascha Krieger], [Markus Prieur], [Brian Reid]

Review by Tobias Freimueller

Well, what can I say? This show was a blast! It was better than Frankfurt,
better than both Hamburg-shows. I have not heard any other Euro shows than
these, so I can’t compare but… if this is the standard of this tour it is
a great one, no doubt.

The Philipshalle is an old and ugly venue holding about 7000 people I
guess, sound-quality was good though and from where I stood the place
looked quite full, too. Band came out 15 minutes late and started 

DOWN ALONG THE COVE again. Second try after Frankfurt, and it was better
from the start. Not as long as the night before, but everybody on stage
was quite sure now how to play it. Great start again. When Larry sat down
at the pedal steel I was expecting Baby Blue, but it was

I’LL REMEMBER YOU instead. Solid, sounded exactly like previous versions.
Bob’s voice was a bit rusty here and there, but obviously he was as
concentrated as in Frankfurt, singing very carefully.

TWEEDLE DEE & TWEEDLE DUM has really changed it’s arrangement slightly.
There are quiter parts now during the verses and harder rocking
instrumental passages. Pretty good version.

LOVE MINUS ZERO was closer to the well known arrangement tonight than it
was in Frankfurt. Bob now leaves at least a little room for Larry to play
the signature melody between the single lines. Great singing again,
extremely carefully and tender, sometimes slowed down to a whisper. People
around me were very impressed (“Wunderschön!!”)

IT’S ALRIGHT MA was the song that brought people up their feet. A few
major lyric flubs near the end only forced Bob to concentrate even more on
his singing afterwards. An unknown Intro followed, and yes! It was the new

GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY. As I have not heard the Freiburg-version I
can’t compare, but this was breathtaking. Everybody stood banned in
silence for these five minutes. Impossible to describe the arrangement (I
wish I could), this is a completely different song now! Different tempo,
different melody, different phrasing (Bob is stretching the last word of
each line), new interplays between verses too. Bob is singing parts of it
with his new “old-man-speaking”-voice, other parts he switches back into
the old higher singing voice. It has lost much of the sweetness it has had
in the old fingerpickin’ arrangement, but it is truly great. Much better
than the Boots-rearrangement for me.

COLD IRONS BOUND made two men in business-suits in front of me nodding
their heads perfectly synchronized – well, they were kinda headbanging
really ;-) The Band made their only big mistake of the show towards the
end. Can’t say who was playing wrong but they somehow got out of synch
once. Bob looked up from his keys and even had to stop singing. He would
try hard to get them together again with loud banging on the piano, what
finally works.

MAN IN THE LONG BLACK COAT was once again perfect. Bob was playing the
chords before the Band started the song, and he played them perfectly.
Tony even tried to play along with him but the others were not ready to
start. Would have been a nice start. Song was another highlight of the
night anyway.

HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED rocked as hard as always. It was at this point when I
finally noticed that Freddy was not the Michael Stipe-lookalike he has
been in Frankfurt, but played without hat. He looked much more like Didi
Hallervorden tonight (one of stupid bullshit-comedians Germany is so
famous for). His playing was good again, but I can’t help still missing
Charlie. Freddy has his shining moments, but he never creates the wall of
sound that is needed on some songs (Cold Irons Bound for example) and his
solos sounds pretty much the same on different songs. At least the way he
starts a solo is kind of boring (to me at least); he would search the
right groove with a one-note-“bing, bing, bing, bing, bing”-thingy before
finally he cuts loose. 

TRYING TO GET TO HEAVEN followed. Wow! Maybe the song of the night! Bob
leads the Band with his prominent (and competent) piano playing. Gone is
the Jazz-arrangement and we are back at the original sound. He even sung
the “Sugar down” part tonight that I never heard before. And his voice
fell about 7 octaves lower than I thought it would be possible. He sounded
like a 150-year-old-tale-teller – but without the hoarse croaking Amazing

HONEST WITH ME featured the usual Bobwalk. People around we were talking
whether he was drunk or ill, and I must say it looks strange (to say the
least) when he staggers around aimlessly. Honest with me rocked as always.
I think there was some more interaction on stage but I can’t comment on
that because I was too far from stage and a Basketball-team has placed
itself just in front of me, so I could not see that good…

THE LONESOME DEATH OF HATTIE CAROLL filled the last surprise-slot. And
what a version it was! Bob was more speaking the verses than singing them
what made a wonderful contrast to the refrains when he sung extremely
well. Crowd was standing in shock and awe. Thunderous applause after every

SUMMER DAYS closed the set. I was already in the train on my way back when
I realized that this was a 13-song mainset only. Summer days was
especially powerful tonight, when the song built and built the audience
really went wild. Bob was looking all around and smiled broadly.

CATS IN THE WELL was much better than in Frankfurt. Bob was still not into
the barking-modus but nailed the song. Again no break when they started

LIKE A ROLLING STONE. Great. I have not enjoyed this song as much as
tonight for a long time. Freddy played a good solo, too. Band-Intros
without jokes again, but we got a “Thank you, friends!” from Bob instead
of the usual “Ladies and Gentlemen”. Have not heard that ever before.

ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER had Bob playing very loud piano-chords during the
slow passages. He really was on fire now! Two harp-solos also helped to
made this version one of the best I’ve heard. After Watchtower there was
the usual second formation, but soon Bob cruised back to his Keyboard
again. I can’t say if this was planned but at least the Band had to run to
get their instruments for

FOREVER YOUNG. A more or less electric arrangement by now, Freddy played
another solo that sounded very similar to some he had played before, but
well, it was good though. Good singing by Bob again, even without the

Great great show! I’d rank it among the 3 best I’ve seen. This Band has
found it’s sound now! Wish I could attend some more shows, but… 


Review by Joop Bekkema

After waiting for a long time, finally the entrances to the Philipshalle
opened. The huge crowd then was confronted with security checks on each
individual. It took ages before you could enter. Typical German
grundlichkeit? I thought it was ridiculous. After visiting Dylan concerts
starting in 1978 in Rotterdam, and taking every opportunity since then to
see the legend when he is around, I most certainly state this was the best
concert I have ever witnessed. Dylan had set up his piano at the left side
of the stage and perpendicular to the rest of the band, enabling him to
direct the band throughout the concert. Dylan was singing great, good
articulation and seldomly using his monotone style with raising his voice
at the end of the line. I was very happy about that. I was hoping for
"Down along the cove" as the opener, and there it was. An increadible
arrangement. One of the many highlights of the show. "I remember you" was
next. Very nice and thender version. "Tweedle dee" showed to what level
this band was growing. With Freddy Koella starting to warm up. I had never
seen this guitarist play before, but what a winner he is. How on earth is
it possible that Dylan is able to contract such fine players each and
every time. "Love minus zero" was next. A version that could bring tears
to your eyes. Magnificent. It's allright ma for me was the best. It is
hard to believe one can still find other ways of playing this song after
having rearranged the song a million times. This version is absolutely a
treasure to your ears. The next song was hard to identify, but after a few
lines it appeared to be Girl of the North country. Again a brilliant new
composition. Cold Irons Bound, although a little bit altered from earlier
versions, is a song Dylan can leave out as far as I am concerned. It was
beautifully played, but I have never liked the song that much. Man in the
long black coat was a stunner. Highway 61 was  fantastic Rock and Roll
with great solo's from Larry and Freddy. Dylan left his piano and really
danced to the other side of the stage to do something and than danced back
to his piano. Trying to get to heaven was again  very nice. Lovely
arrangement. Honest with me has been one of my favorites since L&T. I am
glad it appears on almost every setlist. The lonesome death of Hattie
Caroll was an amazing version beatifully sung by Bob. Summer days, another
incredible highlight. Since this song is performed so often, the band
seems to be getting better every time on this one. Amazing solo's by
Freddy, who really takes the stage when performing his solo's. Larry is
not the guy to come up and play in the center of the stage, but I hope he
will do the same in the future. The crowd really liked it. The band paused
after only 13 songs. After that came a great Cat's in the well, Like a
rolling stone with another incredible solo from Freddy, All along the
watchtower and the best Forever young I have ever heard and seen. Crystal
Cat, Kiss the Stone and all the others, come on and put this concert on a
cd. It will be the greatest you have ever produced. No fillers needed, the
17 songs are all we need. Or, maybe, a nice version of Every grain of sand
can be added. The only thing I missed on this memorable evening. I hope I
can again say IT'S UNBELIEVABLE after his concerts in Amsterdam monday and
tuesday. Don't you dare miss it. 

Joop Bekkema


Review by Sascha Krieger

It was the last German show of the tour (and the last on the tour for me,
too) and what a way to end his stay here. At the beginning of the tour the
German press called for a boycot of the shows - at its end I doubt that
Bob Dylan has ever received such rave reviews. Reviews that everybody who
was there can only agree with.

The beginning, however, was less than promising. When the doors finally
opened half an hour late, there was a huge crowd waiting and it took ages
to get in - only two doors were open andd thorough searches of everyone
conducted. When people finally got in they saw a faceless recatangular
sports arena with stands erected on the sides and in the rear - a venue
not designed for a good atmosphere at all.

The crowd didn't care though and when Dylan came on stage in his black
suit with silver buttons about fifteen minutes lated he was met by a very
enthusiastic reception. People had high expectations and they were not
disappointed. First off, the second Down Along the Cove of the tour. Blues
rock of the finest kind and the band had it completely in their system by
now. Again fine blues licks by Larry Campbell and, a little surprisingly,
the hatless Freddie Koella. Bob was there right from the start, very fine
vocals on the opener again.

This was followed by a fine, quiet I'll Remember You, tenderly sung by
Dylan and featuring great pedal steel guitar from Larry and a nice harp
solo. Next up a great energetic Tweedle Dee with strong, raw vocals from
Bob, followed by another great countryesque, acoustic Love Minus Zero,
with Larry on pedal steel and Bob on harp. Bob carefully formed every word
before letting it out, heartfelt and truthful.

It's Alright, Ma, was as strong as ever. great vocals, excellent cittern
by Larry and another shining drum performance by George Receli. After
this, a pleasant surprise: a completely revamped Girl from the North
Country. It was reworked as a sort of country folk song. The cascading
chord changes are clearly inspired by the Grateful Dead's Friend of the
Devil (a song Bob has done live) and give the song a new, exciting edge.
Again, Bob has successfully reinvented one of his songs.

Then a vocal gunshot: A savage yell "I'm beginning to hear voices" led to
a great, rough Cold Irons Bound, featuring hard, relentless vocals by Bob.
Man in the Long Black Coat saw nice harp from Bob and a surprisingly
excellent solo from Freddie Koella. After giving up on acoustic solos,
Freddie has begun to find his groove and begins to shine not only with his
rhythmic, bluesy guitar work on the faster songs but also on the ballads,
especially this one. After this another brutally rocking Highway 61 (on
which Freddie struggled again a little as he took on a slide guitar but
which he also helped to structure with some of his best rhythm guitar

Bob was in his element now. His vocals were the strongest I've witnessed:
Pointed, rough, savage on the rock songs, tender, intense, flexible on the
ballads. Another thing that is quite interesting how much more rhythmic
variation is used in the songs these days - mainly owing to the
outstanding drummer that is George Receli - a man who can reinvent and
re-energize a song all by himself. Even rockers such as Tweedle dee or
Highway 61 featre breaks and slight rhythmic variations which help keep
them alive.

The tenth song was another surprise, a fine, tender Trying to get to
Heaven, fairly faithful to the original while stretching and slowing down
the title line. More pedal steel and harp on this one. Honest with Me has
really picked up steam again, it sounds as fresh and energetic as last
year with Freddie and Larry getting into it as they exchange brilliant
guitar duels, both standing at the front of the stage.

Hattie Carroll was very strong, with some of Bob's best and most intense
lyrics. It was also built up dramatically, aiming at a climax which came
eith the riveting last chorus ("Now's the time for your tears.")
Especially this line hasn't been performed with so much soul for a while.
Gone are the years of mumbling, these days, Bob forces you to listen and
he makes clear that he means what he sings. The regular set anded on
another wild Summer Days, featuring more fantastic guitar duelling by
Freddie and Larry. When Bob then took in the applause it was obvious how
energized he was, dancing around loosely, hinting at bows, just completely
incapable of standing still.

Then for the encores: Cat's in the Well rocked again and led, as in 
Frankfurt, directly into Like a Rolling Stone. Another rocking, sharp
version - this song keeps getting better and better. Then the big
question: Will we get an extra encore as the regular set had been a song
shorter than usual. The answer seemed to be no as Bob introduced the band
(again giving us a "Thanks, friends!") and the went tinto Watchtoewer -
easily the best version I've ever heard. The band rocked hard when it
should and took a back seat during the verses, Bob's vocal were so strong
it sometimes felt as if his voice could break. But what made this really
special was Bob's harp play: haunting, hard-edged, apocalyptic - it lifted
an already outstanding version to yet another level.

A perfect ending of a great show - or so we thought as Bob moved to the
front of the stage. But then the unexpected: Bob returned to his keyboards
and off they went into a very fine Forever Young - the first time on this
tour that Watchtower wasn't the closer. The version was close to last year
but the singing was better, no sing-song but a careful interpretation of
the lyrics. Although the song lacked the harmony vocals on the chorus,
this was a fine version indeed and a fitting end for an outstanding

What else can I say after this, my last show of the European tour? Bob is
more in his element on stage than he has been in years. His piano play has
become much better and confident, he is capable of driving and defining
songs with his piano now. His harp play has become better and less
redundant than earlier in the tour (Hamburg, for example). The band has
found its sound - tougher, harder, more rocking. And even Freddie Koella
has settled in - although there is still room for improvement. This is a
band - including Bob himself! - who clearly enjoy what they're doing, an
enthusiasm that translates to the adience, no matter what the venue is.

Right now, this may well be the best rock'n roll show there is to see.
Germany has carried him so far, it's time for the Benelux, France and
eventually the British Isles to take over and enjoy the energy as we have.
Rock on, Bob!



Review by Markus Prieur

Düsseldorf revisited, for me, not for Bob Dylan. Before November 8th 2003
it was the only one of the ten largest cities in Germany where Bob Dylan
had never played, this capital of North-Rhine-Westphalia, the state where
I have lived most of my life, my early childhood even 20 miles north of
Düsseldorf, and during my college years, as an intern, for 7 months in the
city itself.

The concert in Düsseldorf was the second consecutive show at the rail for
my wife and me, but our vantage point was quite different from the one we
had in Frankfurt. Standing this time at the far right facing the stage, we
had an unobstructed view over to the piano across the stage floor, which
was a brilliant sight to behold, as the man behind the piano was dancing
and pointing, smiling and playing. 

Freddy we could also see most of the time; but the other three musicians
were unfortunately out of sight for us, as huge stage monitors blocked our
view. It was quite a different concert experience to focus on Bob only
during some songs, as he was directing the others we could not see,
pounding on his piano, blowing his harp, and singing his songs to a quite
appreciative audience.

And a great time for appreciation it was, these two hours, as the set list
(even though it lacked “Every Grain Of Sand”) was one of the finest I was
honoured to witness in 44 shows since 1981. Every song was performed very
focused, and even the regulars for this tour were never boring, but
enjoyable throughout. 

But the gems of this concert were also numerous, and made this a very
special event for me. Four songs we had not seen in the other three shows
we had attended this fall (Stockholm, Karlstad, and Frankfurt), but I
certainly do not complain about another version of “Down Along The Cove”,
the new fine opener introduced in Frankfurt; another “Love Minus Zero”,
which was delivered word perfect this time, and even more beautifully than
at the previous show; or another fine performance of “Man In The Long
Black Coat”. Great stuff.

Also I prefered “Tweedle” in the number three slot; and truly a fine
surprise to close this magnificent Düsseldorf show was another wonderful
version of “Forever Young”, two of which we saw already in Sweden in
October, but then it appeared before “All Along The Watchtower”, not
after. “Summer Days” and “Cat’s In The Well” were rocking the house as
well. This show was really good. And I have not yet even mentioned the
real nuggets, those four songs which we had not yet seen during this
“Leaves Are Starting To Fall – Tour”.

First of all there was the first appearance of “I’ll Remember You” for
this fall, at the “Baby Blue” spot after the opening gem. Then there was
the eighth performance of “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”, a song I
cherish a lot, and which I had last seen more than five years ago, in
Essen, some thirty miles north east of Düsseldorf. I am glad I got to hear
this nice new piano version. The second appearance of the new “Girl Of The
North Country” also was a real treat. This one is amazingly beautiful, a
truly new creation by this great performing artist.

But all these fine song performances are even overshadowed by the one most
outstanding performance of that night in Düsseldorf, which was the five
verse plus harp solo rendition of “Tryin’ To Get To Heaven”. Most sublime
singing by Bob during this masterpiece performance; and definitely one of
the high points of my concert going experience, ever, even surpassing the
first slow version of the same song in Dublin, which I had seen in
September 2000. Yes, this Düsseldorf version of “Tryin’ To Get To Heaven”
would be my new “desert island performance”. It really was that good.

Markus Prieur


Review by Brian Reid

Exciting, exhilarating and very beautiful performance. Extremely affecting
rendition of ballads and scintillating, focussed, explosive rock and
blues. As noted by previous reviewers, Bob seems to trust the band
implicitly with his muse and is enjoying his new found freedom pounding
keyboards and meandering aimlessly in an eccentric fashion cutting comic
shapes all over the stage. With the band less reliant on Bob's whimsical
notion of performance etiquette bordering on attention deficit disorder,
the show was the sleekest most professional of any of the Bob shows I've
seen. With Bob not playing guitar the band seemed to have a lot more
responsibility for the pace and quality of the sound which, surprising for
me to admit, was a very good thing. It allowed Bob to focus more on
interpreting the songs with an attention to detail that was evidently more
passionate and reflected the subtle intricacies of his songs that are
often lost at Bob gigs. To me it is in no little way due to the empathetic
playing of the band, who break down to a whisper reverentially during the
verses and unleash enormous power and energy at the essential moments,
giving strength and depth to the whole occasion. For me the low points
were: Like a Rolling Stone which was unaffecting and boring(drop it for a
year Bob!). Forever Young in all it's anti-climatic glory. In a concert of
unbelievable high points my choice moments were: Tryin' To get To Heaven
with it's soul crushing harmonica solo. Hattie Carroll which featured a
mischievous whispered vocal that intensified the effect of the song .
Summer Days(not one of my Bob favourites) was a high energy rocker whose
sound paid a lot of debts in full to early Sun and Chess stonkers. Totally
incredible soundscape. As exciting as anything I have ever heard live. All
Along The Watchtower, which was played with such gusto and belief it
sounded entirely fresh and vital.

The songs I would like to hear this band go for, as well as anything from
the last couple of albums, are Going Going Gone and some cuts from New
Morning(Man in Me for a start). This is the band to showcase the lesser
appreciated works and force all Bob fans to reconsider and re-evaluate his
or her collection.


page by Bill Pagel

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