27/9/1997 - Concert for the Pope

Read more on: ABC and CNN (they quoted my site!)
Many thanks to Vittorio Colombo for soundcheck info

SOUNDCHECK 26/9 Bologna Bob+Band

First of all the soundcheck songs:
Maggie's farm
Rank Strangers to me
Stone walls and iron bars
Hard rain
Hard Rain (again)
God on our side
God on our side (again)
Desolation row
Forever young
The soundcheck started at 9 pm with a long strumming and drumming of the band. Then Bob came on stage. He has arrived one hour earlier by car. Black dress. All the song where played electric. Hard rain was stopped and then started much faster, the second time. Same happened with God. Maggie's farm at the beginning was difficult to recognise, and Bob's voice was very low. But then the soundcheck started to be a real show; probably much more real then tomorrow's one. The highlight of the night was: Desolation row (for mr.andrea orlandi) and Rank strangers to me (for myself). At this soundcheck,as incredibile as it can appear, were only four persons + one italian newspaper man (La Repubblica): we two and Claudio and his wife. The place looks like Pittsburgh in winter, with two stages one near the other and this huge white cross in between them. In the distance every once in a while you can hear and see a slow train coming (not joking!). Seems like the group of Queen Esther Marrow is also scheduled to sing tomorrow and it's probably her and part of her group that sang with Bob in Hard Rain and Released. Quite a huge time jump back! At the end of Desolation Bob just pushed forward to Queen Esther(?) and kissed her. He just kissed a black woman; not sure about who she was. The Guy is now staying at the Hotel Baglioni in downtown Bologna and so are the band members. He seems to be in very good health and the soundcheck a very very good concert! Hope you find this interesting. Bye, vittorio colombo/andrea orlandi.

The Show 27/9

27 Sep 97 by Giulio Molfese

another review from Andrea Orlandi

just got back from Bologna. First impressions there, were of bitterness and disappointment.

Not for Bob set itself (he was tight and passionate) but because of the general atmosphere of the event itself. We got the fear it could have been bad. Our fears, unfortunately, on our opinion, came through.

Part of it, to tell the truth, comes from having attented a wonderful show Bob play in a huge emptiness the night before (soundcheck) and then waiting standing in the crowd for hours just to see three songs.

But the sense of disappointment comes mainly from the way Bob was used to convey the message they wanted to convey, besides the too much preconceivedes "tributes" to him from youngs standing close to the Pope podium lecturing his songs (Forever Young and Blowin in the wind) in italian before his set.

27 Sep 97 by Giulio Molfese Our feeling is that they wanted him just to draw all the media attentions to this meeting which featured a big turn on Vatican attitude towards the so called rock music young culture (if this means anything to anybody) Not at all to draw people (everywhere the Pope goes, millions show up) that actually was almost unaware of who Bob Dylan really is, and that for the most part of them was not relevant and by any means a reason to be there, but only to get the BIG MEDIA attention.

They did not wanted anybody to call it a show or a concert. It was a "Veglia" (wakefulness (?))

Call it a "veglia", call it a show, call it anything you like: many times it resembled to a convention of the kind that only big corporate companies can organize to fidelize their employees and to attract more customers.

The wind as the breath of the Spirit, as the Pope called it, in that moments was blowin far away in distant shores. At least, listening to my heart not only to my brain.

The site was few kilometers outside Bologna in a huge agriculture market area in the country. Two stages: on the left the music stage, on the right the Pope stage for the sunday Service, with a huge white lighted iron cross behind it. Pope podium was between the two stages: three wood chairs. Dylan set was supposed to last half an hour with five songs, scheduled at 10.07 pm. The Pope had to arrive at 9 and at 9.30 he had to give a speech, commenting some Bob lyric, after a set of five people playing two songs each. It ended that this people went on a little too much. Then at 10.10 pm they wanted to introduce Bob set with Blowing the wind and Forever Young lecturing, asking to the Pope where the answer is. And the Pope did answer it: there is only one answer and this is Jesus Christ. In the meantime Bob was standing at the side of the stage in the shadow since 10.07 pm ready to begin his set. Cowboy hat on, dark brown suit with silver stripes, he was dancing on his foot, shaking his head, never standing still, apparently getting nervous as the minutes went by.

The Pope answer to the youngs who has asked him rethorically which and were the answer is, goes like this:

"On the road of music this evening Jesus meet you. Music help us to pray.Just before, a representative of yours said on your behalf that the answer is blowing in the wind. Yes . IT IS TRUE. But not on the wind that everything scatter in a whirlwind of nothing,but on the wind , yes, on the wind that is voice and breath of the Spirit, voice that calls and says : come. You asked me: how many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man. I answer you. Just ONE. One only.It is the road of a man. And this is Jesus Christ, who said "I am the road". He is the road of life the way for life. So I tell you. At the crossroads of your days, enquires yourself to the values of truth of every choice you make, that the decision be difficult and hard, and that temptation of giving up be persistent. It already happened to Jesus disceples, because world is full of easy and attractive roads that are in the shadow of the valley where the horizon narrows and chokes. Jesus is the answer!..." and much more then " To you the choice : be let you slip down the valley of a flat conformism or to take the hard road to climb the cliffs where you can breath pure air of truth and goodness of love. Master where do you live? Come and see. And so I say to you come and see where the Master lives. He lives in eucharisty. My hope is that you too with Simon Pietro and the other dispceples, to meet Christ to say: Master, you have words of eternal life. Yes Jesus has words of eternal life. With Him is possible to sing a new singing in this Veglia. In few minutes when night will be deep, music will leave space to the silent adoration of eucharisty, to the music will follow the prayer. Let Jesus talks to your hearts. Is Him the real answer to life, the one you are searching for. Him stay here with us. Find Him without to be tired. Wellcome Him without reservations love Him with no pauses, today tomorrow and forever. I thought about all these richness that are on the man, the voices , the answers, and other many talents. It requires a big gratitude for all these talents. And this gratitude means eucharisty. Thanking for all these talents and richness, we are more disposable to live all these talents, and moltiplicate all these talents, how has been able to do that good servant, "Il Vangelo". Praise the Lord"

Finally at 10.41 pm Bob came in with Heaven's door which had a very warm welcome. Hard rain was done electric and slow, closer to the "Hard rain" (the tv show I mean , in 76) version of Rolling thunder days than to the mystical Nara version. Only then I found out that on tv they put subtitles in italian just for the first song and not for Hard rain. When the song was over, Garnier whispered something to Bob ears. Bob took off the guitar and went walking towards the Pope podium on his left. On his way he had a ladder of 10/15 steps : he stumbled on his foot in the middle of his climbing, managed not to fall on the floor, fastened then his walk, and remembered to take off his hat just before reaching the Pope and shaking hands with him. Actually the Pope took Bob hand between his, and it seemed that Bob spoke to him more than the Pope did. But the Pope did hug him on the shoulder. Bob went back to his place (he did not kiss his hand and did not bend on his knees, just kindly bowed and had his head down) just to be there waiting standing that the Pope finished his second and final speech that lasted another 5 minutes . Bob was kindly listening standing and watching in Pope direction, guitar on. Pope said again which was the meaning of eucharisty and greeted the crowd. "I told you it takes eucharisty because it takes gratitude and thanksgiving for all these talents, but this thanksgiving has to be done with the sacrifice of the cross through the violent death of Christ. But if not for death it would be not even resurrection, not Easter mistery. Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando, dux vitae mortuus regnat vivus. (Looking at death and life dwelling, the conductor of life after death , reign alive)

You all know well latin. But somebody of more well known priests will translste you. This is what I wanted to tell you. This is what eucharisty means. Thank you for this meeting."

Then Bob, Pope gone, took off his hat and was allowed to sing Forever Young, not forgetting, before, to applaude the Pope way out along with Tony Garnier and the crowd. Just before the final song, Kramer went to talk with Bob, and my guess is he said to him that he had to do only one more song. There were a story on the press of today that on the set list there was God on our side, and that this was cut because of a request from the responsible of the event, after having read the lyrics. My guess is that this is not true. Possibly the song was cut because was too late for the Pope and for the tv broadcasting. Is beyond my understanding how they could thought of inviting Bob as the main act, and then let that the show went so far that the Pope ( who is old and not healthy) was so tired that he had to leave in middle of Bob show. Attending there live, this was like a cold shower.

I have to admit that seeing then on tv I got a slight different impression. But the doubt that this is was not very polite to Bob, it remains. After all he just crossed the ocean to be a this show ( i don't want to enter the area of money involved that nobody knows). It was like cutting his wings when he was ready to fly. And he was very into it. Committed. He just addressed the song to the Pope, it seem from the tv broadcast, looking on his direction, to follow his departure. Very beautiful. And Bob was lovely on this song.

When it was over, he just went out with no thanks from the plastic "Barbie" lady who conducted the tv programme, that soon drove the attention of the crowd to another song sang by a group of young people on the stage, mellow and awful. As this song was goin on, we made our fast escape from the front rows as faster as we could. I don't want to be blasphemous, but I tell you positively that I deeply feel that the soft breath of the wind of the Spirit of God was blowing more in any small theatre that Bob has played in recent years, than at this big rally.

The song which could sum up everything about this evening is "It's all rigth ma"

No, i ain't gonna go back to this farm no more and unfortunately or luckily neither Bob, I guess.


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