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Dylan in Berlin 2002 - Bootlegcover


Berlin 2002
MTV News
von
Teri van Horn


Bob Dylan Shows Berlin Who The Man Is

Folk-rock icon animated, playful during two-hour-plus concert.
Nearly 40 years after he wrote the lyric "He not busy being born is busy dying," Bob Dylan clearly still believes that estimation is right on the mark.

Looking snazzy in a black cowboy hat and old-school Western suit, 
the 60-year-old folk-rock icon was tireless, fearless and masterful 
throughout his 140-minute show Thursday at the Arena.
Within shouting range of Treptow Park, where he played in 1987 
when the area was still communist East Germany, the Arena is a onetime bus depot and hangar that now serves as one of the city's largest music venues.

The 7500-capacity, standing - room - only space served Dylan well, 
its acoustics keeping his grizzly voice  and the 100 miles of rough 
road it carries right out front where it belongs. The singer
deserves most of the credit, however, especially since he opts to 
enunciate these days instead of mumbling along as he's
sometimes done in the past.

The former Robert Allen Zimmerman and his band weren't onstage 
more than five seconds before he proclaimed, I Am the Man, Thomas
covering the old Stanley Brothers bluegrass number. 
Never mind the 43 albums of his own material he had to choose from 
this was the statement Dylan chose to launch with, and though it wasn't
really his song, the man made it all his own.

Although shy with new material, Dylan relished in the songs from the 
Grammy - winning Love and Theft, released in September. 
He kicked, wiggled and eventually dropped to his knees during the 
encore rendition of  Honest With Me, while seizing the chance to do 
some lead guitar noodling on Lonesome Day Blues, only to
later conclude in the song's final verse, "You can't make love all by 
yourself."

He approached Summer Days as though it were pure fun in the sun,
at one point lifting his guitar away from his abdomen to show 
off a Chubby Checker-like twist. For the Western romp's raucous
finale, Dylan stepped back from the mic and nestled in with his 
bandmembers to jam. Relieved of the spotlight, he embraced the
opportunity to just be a player in the band. He and the musicians 
exchanged glances like card partners anticipating each other's next 
move, but they couldn't hold their poker faces for long. With the game
so clearly belonging to them, they couldn't help but grin.

It was the highlight of the show for fan Franz Zaborowski, who since 
1981 has seen Dylan perform live more than 100 times and who drove
across the country to catch Thursday's show. "I loved the joy in their 
playing," he said.

Dylan's satisfaction with his band guitarists Charlie Sexton and 
Larry Campbell, bassist Tony Garnier and drummer David Kemper 
was obvious. When he glanced back, it was invariably with a look of 
pride, not scrutiny. The only time he bothered to speak to the crowd was
to introduce the band, toward the end of a powerful rendition of 
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.

During Solid Rock, Dylan again showed how much fun he's
having this time around. Twitching his leg like he could hardly 
handle his excitement and shaking his head back and forth in time, 
Dylan appeared fully engrossed in the music. But he wasn't so 
preoccupied that he didn't notice the women's red undergarment
thrown onstage, a perfectly solid rock gesture.

While the only other excerpt from Love and Theft was Moonlight,
Dylan was thinner on material from 1998's career-revitalizing 
Time Out of Mind, playing only the album's futile cry to give romance
the permanent boot, Love Sick.

But he remained true to his reputation for making new material out 
of his old, deconstructing and rebuilding such classics as 
Blowin' in the Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin' 
in unexpected ways. Judging from the suspended cheers, audience 
members were sometimes so thrown off by the new arrangements and
Dylan's modified vocals that they didn't recognize the tune until 
the chorus. Like several songs during the concert, "Times" began with 
Dylan playing harmonica and careening through unlikely twists and 
turns before slowly morphing into a familiar melody. He took the same 
approach for Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, which,
with its subtle beauty, proved to be one of the night's most chilling 
moments. On the opposite extreme, an explosive rendition of 
All Along the Watchtower brought a midshow climax, leaving the 
crowd reeling for several minutes.

Among the rare treats were a vivacious cover of Buddy Holly's 
Not Fade Away and a strange but genius interweaving of 
Visions of Johanna and Masters of War. Though his set lists often 
differ drastically from night to night, classics like 
Knockin' on Heaven's Door, Blowin' in the Wind, and 
Like a Rolling Stone have been fairly standard encores on this 
tour. During the chorus of Rolling Stone," the stage lights flooded 
the crowd so Dylan could look directly into his fans' lit-up faces as if
he genuinely wanted to know "How does it feel?"

Perhaps the strongest and most collective applause of the night came 
in the midst of Blowin' in the Wind, when Dylan sang, 

"How many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?" 

A boom of cheers erupted from a crowd that included many who 
have known great oppression.

For the first time since the tour kicked off in Stockholm, Sweden, 
on April 5, Dylan and company returned for a second encore,
choosing Highway 61 Revisited." Appearing just as  lively as he did 
when he first took the stage more than two hours before, the old 
codger ended the show driving home the same point he started off
with. Yep, Thomas, he is the man. 


Dylan in Berlin 2002 - Bootlegcover