JULY 02, 2006




1. Maggie's Farm

2. The Times They Are A-Changin'

3. Down Along The Cove

4. Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)

5. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again

6. Desolation Row

7. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight

8. Honest With Me

9. Mr. Tambourine Man

10. Highway 61 Revisited

11. New Morning

12. Forever Young

13. Summer Days

14. Like A Rolling Stone

15. All Along The Watchtower

Was the Bob Dylan concert in Gelsenkirchen worth "comin' down the road for
a country mile or two"? In our case it was about 130 miles, coming down
from Amsterdam, where my wife and I stayed for a night after flying in
from Cork. We had a Gelsenkirchen show on TV already in Amsterdam,
featuring a very good goal keeper from Portugal, and many sour faces from
England. Driving into Gelsenkirchen last Sunday we saw way too many German
flags on houses, cars, and bikes, but luckily that has changed by now too,
thanks to some talented Italians. But this review is not about soccer, but
about my 56th Bob Dylan concert, which took place in one of the finest
venues I can recall, a modern amphitheater located directly at a canal
(Rhein-Herne-Kanal), where boats, and kids and dogs run free.

Underneath the sky of blue, we could see Bob Dylan and his band perform
from our second row positions, with green trees located on the other side
of the canal behind Bob’s head and hat, and the sky above those trees
behind the heads of the band members. For the last two songs if the show I
went halfway up the half circle of the seating area, to get a full view,
with the canal behind the band, and the onlookers sitting behind the canal
on the green grass on the shore. Not a bad way to start our yearly week in
our native Germany visiting friends and relatives. Having seen both the
shows in Kilkenny and Cork a week earlier, I was not expecting many rare
or new songs for this year or tour, until I heard the band sound check,
which included three songs I had never heard live before, but none of
which made it into the show (Tough Mama, Queen Jane, and Waiting For You).

The fourth song sound checked made it however into the set as song number
six, ‘Desolation Row’, as gem which I had not seen since Dublin 2003. This
Gelsenkirchen version (only the second one in 2006, after the mighty fine
Jackson, Mississippi version, which I had heard on a recording) had this
year’s brilliant organic treatment, featured Donnie on mandolin, and was
sung very focused by Bob. It included six verses, plus four instrumental
ones (instr. / postcards / Cinderella / moon / Ophelia / instr. / across /
instr. / letter / instr.). I cherished every second of it. But this was
only one of ten songs not seen by me in Cork a week earlier (and only one
of those ten, H61, I had seen in Kilkenny), which leaves only the opener,
‘Maggie’s Farm’, ‘Memphis Blues’, and the three closing songs as every
night occurrences for me.

‘Memphis Blues’ had some nice organ playing, and featured Bob on harp.
Some of the other songs of the wonderful show included harp as well, for
example song number two, ‘Times’, and song number nine, ‘Tambourine’, and
also song number twelve, one of the biggest surprises of the night, the
first 2006 appearance of ‘Forever Young’, a song which I had heard last in
Dublin 2005, where it last was sung; but I also saw the previous German
performance of this song in Düsseldorf 2003 . Both of them had been extra
encores, but in Gelsenkirchen it preceded the closing trio of songs, which
showed Bob and the band in great form, smiling and rocking along. But
before that big finish there were some wonderful nuggets to behold in the
main set, starting with song number three, ‘Down Along The Cove’, a jumbo
jet of a song, which I had seen already in this form in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf,
and Erfurt (and these are just the German performances I have seen).
Hugely enjoyable stuff, as was song number seven, ‘Baby Tonight’.

The most interesting songs of the night however were two more first of the
year appearances, the first of which, ‘Señor’, was even more surprising
being performed by Dylan as the fourth song, as it usually appears as song
number two. It featured once more fine vocals and another strong harp solo
by Bob, and was performed for the 10th time in my native Germany during
the "never ending tour". Somehow my wife and I seem to be present more
often than not when this nugget gets presented on German soil. We saw both
German appearances of this gem in 1995 (Aschaffenburg in March and
Dortmund in July), both in 1998 (Nürburgring and Essen), and both in 2005
(Wetzlar and Erfurt). Only the three German appearances in 2003 we did not
see. But since we also saw performances in Brussels 1996, Manchester 2002,
and Dublin 2005, I am happy to say that the fine Gelsenkirchen version was
our 10th ‘Señor’.

The other new for this year event was song number eleven, a wonderful
“organic” ‘New Morning’, the slow long intro of which sounded quite
different with Bob on organ than it did on the piano versions from last
year. I had witnessed already one of the 17 European performances of it in
1991, but the appearance of "New Morning" I had seen in Wetzlar last fall
was the first one in Europe since then. I had seen it once more in Dublin
last November, but I did not mind at all hearing this one again in
Gelsenkirchen, “underneath the sky of blue”. For songs like these and as
long as Dylan keeps on creating performing art as fine and enjoyable as
this Sunday show it is definitely worth "comin' down the road for a
country mile or two", no matter if it is the road to Kilkenny, to Cork, or
to Gelsenkirchen. After all, in the arena of live entertainment for me
Dylans concerts alone can generally be described (to borrow his own words
from his ‘Theme Time Radio Hour’) as “consequential, meaningful, weighty,
basic, essential, and fundamental”.

concerts i've been to