CORK 2006

JUNE 25, 2006





1. Maggie's Farm

2. She Belongs To Me

3. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum

4. Just Like A Woman

5. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again

6. Blind Willie McTell

7. Watching The River

8. Ballad Of A Thin Man

9. Absolutely Sweet Marie

10. Boots Of Spanish Leather

11. Cold Irons Bound

12. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

13. Summer Days

14. Like A Rolling Stone

15. All Along The Watchtower

Having seen the Kilkenny show from the grand stand, far away from the
stage, my wife and I experienced the Bob Dylan concert in Cork much closer
to the action, at the rail, our favorite spot for watching the greatest
living artist re-creating his songs. This 55th Bob date of mine was very
special for me, not only because sickness had forced him to cancel both
previous appointments with a County Cork audience in 1997 and 2003, both
of which we planned to be a part of; but mainly because for almost seven
years now the countryside outside of Cork City is our residence of choice,
after having moved here to this beautiful part of Europe from our native
Germany in 1999.

So when it was announced that Dylan would play "Live at the Marquee" (a
huge tent where several artists perform over the course of two weeks), a
dream came true. Bob Dylan in Cork City, for the very first time, and
then, after standing in a not so long line only from 5pm on, ending up at
the rail for this event, just in front of the left of two speakers put up
in front of the stage (for those who would not hear much from the main
speakers), we enjoyed a perfect sight and sound last Sunday, witnessing
Bob and his band perform fifteen songs, including ten repeats from the
previous show, but not one boring minute.

Bob's voice was even stronger and even more focused during this second
show of the tour, but it was also much easier to focus as a listener with
less distractions, and up close to the stage. Even my favorite standard
songs like "Tweedle" become even more enjoyable, and to watch Bob and the
band jam from a few yards away during "River Flow" and during the closing
trio of songs is a special treat. The repetitions from the Kilkenny show I
did not mind at all (it's Bob's show after all, and he can play what he
wants), some of them were indeed welcome to my ears, not only the always
welcome "Tweedle", but also "Thin Man", with great guitar work by Denny
and harp ending by Bob, and "Sweet Marie", with Donnie on fiddle and bow.

Denny (yes, I like his hat) also shone on "Memphis Blues" (which featured
nice organ playing by Bob), and on the new fine and rocking arrangement of
"Cold Irons Bound", which I heard already on some spring recordings. Some
other beautiful songs were a focused "She Belongs To Me", with more harp
playing, and one of those great 2006 versions of "Don't Think Twice", also
with fine harp and organ playing by Bob, and more skillful parts from
Denny and Donnie. Those two as well as Tony and George are always fun to
watch in action, as well as in the interaction with their band leader, who
nodded and pointed to his boys a lot in Cork, making them deliver many a
fine contribution to the show.

Three songs from the fifteen songs we heard in Cork, all of which were not
performed on the previous night, stand out for me. The first peak was song
number four, "Just Like A Woman", already recognized with a cheer from the
audience during the second half of the long instrumental intro. What
happened as Bob sung this song, can only be described as one of the
coolest concert experiences one can hope for. In July 2001 I had been in
front of the stage during Bob's first show in Kilkenny, when this song was
last performed on Irish soil, and I had experienced a "festival crowd,
which, presented with greatest hits, tried (!) to sing along, in a way
they know the songs, which is, as we know, not the way Bob sings them.
This had an interesting (not necessarily nice) effect" [quote from my
review back then]

Not so in Cork 2006, for unlike Kilkenny 2001, where his response to the
crowd was simply to sing the way he sings the song, and ignore the
sing-along, he chose to interact with the audience this time around, but
that choice was made on the spur of the moment. For he was as surprised as
I was at the rail, when the crowd sang along during the chorus, and a loud
"juuuust liiike a womaaaan" landed on the stage, just in front of the drum
riser. Already the next one he let the audience sing alone, and subsequent
ones were simply repeated by Bob in an almost speaking manner, or
commented upon with "argghh", "yeah", or "that's right". The fine harp
solo played by Bob to end the song was a fitting response as well. I had
the feeling he enjoyed those few minutes as much as we did.

The next high point of the show was the first ever Irish appearance of one
of Dylan's masterpieces, the sublime 'Infidels' outtake "Blind Willie
McTell". I had seen this gem five times before, from 1998 to 2005, but
never before from the first row. The fresh arrangement of this song with
Donnie on banjo, combined with the new "organic" treatment, great drumming
by George, and a very focused vocal performance by Bob, made this one all
the more enjoyable. More nodding and pointing by Bob lead to another fine
guitar solo by Denny. Bob's phrasing was brilliant during this song,
especially during "God is in his heaven, and we all want what's his, but
power and greed, and corruptible seed, seem to be all that there is".

Another peak of the Cork concert for me was the very beautiful rendition
of "Boots Of Spanish Leather", complete with great singing, very fitting
organ playing, acoustic Stu, fiddle and bow by Donnie, and Tony on standup
bass, ending with a harp and fiddle combination. I have seen many a great
version of this gem, and in recent years Bob seems to add a fresh one
every time he comes to Europe. Stuff like this is one of the main reasons
why I keep attending multiple shows during a tour, if I have the
opportunity. So there is no doubt that I am looking forward to see
whatever the greatest living artist chooses to re-create in
Gelsenkirchen's Amphitheater next Sunday.

Gelsenkirchen, Germany