Keyboard Bob
in Munich

by Paula K. V. Radice




I had a great half term week. Monica and I went to Munich, primarily of course to see Bob, but also to spend a few days in the city, sightseeing and shopping. I knew Munich quite well up to around twenty years ago: as a teenager, I had a penfriend there, and I visited her and her extraordinarily kind family several times (I enjoyed the winter visits more than the summer ones. In the winter, there was a fantastic Christmas market, and there were none of the exhausting summer mountain hikes up very steep hills that my tall, fit German hosts loved so much, and I totally loathed).

Munich was just as pretty as I remembered - but loads cheaper. When did Germany get so much cheaper than England? I was staggered by the difference in the cost of Cds, books, food (all the essentials of life, in other words). I hadn't quite believed all the fuss about "Rip-off Britain" before, but I do now. Which is a long-winded way of saying that I did all of my Christmas shopping, and had to buy an extra suitcase in which to bring it all home.

Seeing Bob out there was great, too. Initially, the plan had been to use half term as an opportunity to see another concert, as I thought I would only be able to get to one British show this year (Wembley being the only weekend show announced at that time). Then came the extra London shows, and so it turned out that I wouldn't be so hard-done-by after all...but I'm glad it worked out the way it did, because Munich was a real treat.

Monica and I feel the same about getting to shows early and enjoying the atmosphere, but we rather overdid it this time, and ended up at the empty Olympic Park some five hours before the show, with nothing possible to do except go up the Olympic Tower and sit in the cafe there. While we were tucking into wurst and chips, someone kindly put early Dylan "greatest hits" on as background music, which was completely surreal but very welcome.

The crowd at the show itself was rather strange. We counted less than half a dozen wearers of Dylan t-shirts the whole evening, and recognised no-one that we knew: very different to any other European show I've ever been to. The crowd was very middle-aged, too, and there was a perceptible feel of "duty nostalgia" over the whole event. Having said that though, they were very appreciative of Dylan's performance (despite the hall being about a third empty) and there was a scramble for merchandise at the end of the show. 

The only thing that marred the evening - or could have done - was the incessant chattering of two women seated behind us. Well, I say incessant, but it only went on for two songs before I'd had enough and told them very forcibly to "Shut up". Now, I'm not naturally a rude or aggressive person (I hope; others may choose to differ) but people talking through the songs drives me crazy. It isn't just in Germany it happens, of course; I've had to get annoyed with plenty of British idiots as well, and the live Cds I've heard make it clear that American audiences are much the same. What does anyone else think about it? I'm not suggesting that we should all sit in a hushed reverential silence through the whole thing, but isn't it reasonable to expect a bit of respect for the artist, and for those who might actually be at a concert to listen to the music? Or am I just getting cranky in my advanced years? Let me know. It won't make any difference to the vehemence with which I shut people up, but it would be interesting to know others' perceptions.

Anyway, the show served as a very good introduction to Keyboard Bob, and I thought he was looking and singing great. It was nice to see him hatless for once, without his face shadowed by the huge brim of a stetson. And I love the way he just leaves the keyboard mid-song and wanders, apparently aimlessly, around the stage; sometimes it looks as if some kind nurse should come from the wings and guide him gently but firmly back to the right place. "Now come along, Mr. Dylan, you know you should still be over here, playing this thing." He looked like he was enjoying himself, anyway, and that's good enough for me.

See you at Wembley, Hammersmith, Brixton and Shepherd's Bush!


P.S. Have just found on eBay an auction for a litre bag full of air from the Munich concert. Breathe the same air that Bob Dylan breathed during the performance of Like a Rolling Stone! (My German isn't brilliant, but I think the seller is also encouraging you to purchase because, you never know, it could be one of Dylan's last breaths). I kid you not...unfortunately.