Teri van Horn
Bob Dylan Shows Berlin Who The Man Is
Folk-rock icon animated, playful during two-hour-plus
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
Looking snazzy in a black cowboy hat and old-school
the 60-year-old folk-rock icon was tireless, fearless
throughout his 140-minute show Thursday at the Arena.
Within shouting range of Treptow Park, where he played
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
its acoustics keeping his grizzly voice and the
100 miles of rough
road it carries — right out front where it belongs.
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
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
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
He kicked, wiggled and eventually dropped to his knees
encore rendition of Honest With Me, while
seizing the chance to do
some lead guitar noodling on Lonesome Day Blues,
later conclude in the song's final verse, "You
can't make love all by
He approached Summer Days as though it were
pure fun in the sun,
at one point lifting his guitar away from his abdomen
off a Chubby Checker-like twist. For the Western
finale, Dylan stepped back from the mic and nestled in
bandmembers to jam. Relieved of the spotlight, he
opportunity to just be a player in the band. He and
exchanged glances like card partners anticipating each
move, but they couldn't hold their poker faces for
long. With the game
so clearly belonging to them, they couldn't help but
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
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
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.
During Solid Rock, Dylan again showed how much
having this time around. Twitching his leg like he
handle his excitement and shaking his head back and
forth in time,
Dylan appeared fully engrossed in the music. But he
preoccupied that he didn't notice the women's red
thrown onstage, a perfectly solid rock gesture.
While the only other excerpt from Love and Theft was
Dylan was thinner on material from 1998's
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
of his old, deconstructing and rebuilding such
Blowin' in the Wind and The Times They Are
in unexpected ways. Judging from the suspended cheers,
members were sometimes so thrown off by the new
Dylan's modified vocals that they didn't recognize the
the chorus. Like several songs during the concert,
"Times" began with
Dylan playing harmonica and careening through unlikely
turns before slowly morphing into a familiar melody.
He took the same
approach for Don't Think Twice, It's All Right,
with its subtle beauty, proved to be one of the
night's most chilling
moments. On the opposite extreme, an explosive
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
Not Fade Away and a strange but genius
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,
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
"How many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?"
A boom of cheers erupted from a crowd that included
have known great oppression.
For the first time since the tour kicked off in
on April 5, Dylan and company returned for a second
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
with. Yep, Thomas, he is the man.