Europe Tour Fall 2011

 Europe Tour Fall 2011.

To Bob Dylan’s old-man-sitter Barron Tabura.
(Known as the NINJA or 'the last of the Samourai')

Dublin and the U.K.
Hello I'm back on the road,

So I started my adventure again for this European Tour Fall (October/November) 2011.
First show in Dublin, and I'm a little bit deceived.
First Bob didn't play with Marc Knopfler, not a song, not even a guitar solo.
The show started at 7.30 p.m. with Knopfler and a bunch of musicians. Though the set was excellent technically I found myself a little bit bored. I didn't know the songs except maybe one that I recognized from Dire Straits.
So, one hour of Knopfler and then they changed the equipment: rolling stage. This took slightly more than 15 minutes.
My seat is not the best but the 'scalpers' didn't give me any chance to have a spare ticket. I had to buy one at the box office for 70€, a bit expensive.
The sound is not so good; I don't even hear what Marc is talking about. The instruments are a bit too loud. The O2 is full, some usher told me the capacity is 10 000. The public is mixed: old (about my age) and young (in their 20's).
I could not see any buses or trucks; the parking lot is inside, completely closed. I don't know if they had had a sound check.

"Ladies and Gentlemen..."
Here HE is: same outfit, same musicians. Charley being the lead guitar and not Knopfler as I had thought.
"Leopard skin pill box hat", really fast and inaudible, the music is loud and covers his voice.
He seems fit but I don't see his face from where I am.
"Don't think twice", "Tangled up in blue", "Things have changed", "Desolation row".
He missed the keyboard solo and wandered on stage, looking at his musicians playing. He doesn't want to play or there is a problem with the keyboard? Strange! He looks detached from the GAME.
"Beyond here lies nothing", "Forgetful heart", "Highway 61" ...
The show is rushed out, no spirit. He doesn't feel comfortable and play few on the battered keyboard, leaving the lead to Charley. Only a good harmonica solo on "Forgetful heart": blowing until his eyes bleed.
The public is good but not over doing it. No request. No dancing in the front. Polite. They, too, came to see the Living Legend.
I move to the back stage gates but they are already loading the big trucks.
I return to my Youth Hostel a bit down spirited. I checked in there on the 5th of October. I had been able to find a cheap flight on RyanAir and two nights in a dormitory of 18 people (not a quiet sleep).
I took a chance to sight seeing Dublin: very nice city and warm inhabitants though the weather is terrible; cold and rainy. Plenty of things to do and for cheap, often free for the museums' entrance. I'm now queuing for the boat to Holyhead U.K. No show tonight. I'm expecting some BobCats following the 6 shows in the U.K.

The sea crossing went all right. Arriving in Holyhead on time. I catch a train to Glasgow, change in Chester and change in Crewe.
Arriving in Glasgow on time 5:14 p.m.
Then I’m surprised how crowded the station is. Glasgow is in fact a big city. I take some steps outside and I find myself completely lost and confused. The tourist information center is closed.
I ask people for a cheap hotel but they direct me to the Holiday Inn or so. I know it’s expensive and I need three nights for Bob will be playing two nights on the 8th and 9th and tonight there is no show but I need to rest some place safe. There is no way to sleep outside in Scotland; everything is wet.
After few hours of wandering I finally find the Euro Hostel and book a bed for 18€ + breakfast. It’s clean and central. Unfortunately they have no room for the next night so after a good night sleep and an excellent shower I pack up for another Backpackers located by the University, less central but more quiet. There is bus n°747 going to the Braehead Arena where the shows will take place.

I’m wondering where Bob is and if He’s fasting for it's Yom Kippur ending tonight at sun down. Maybe He went to a synagogue, but which one?
I will go early to the Arena to check around and try to get some information. According to the forum “Expecting rain” some BobCats will follow but not all the six shows and some will go to Germany. A certain Ryan will be around. I feel isolated and hope for some fans out tonight after the show.

I take the bus 747 to Braehead Arena expecting to have to wait outside for more than three hours. So I put on my only sweatshirt. The bus is on time.
To my big surprise the Arena is inside a shopping mall. I go immediately to the Box Office to find out the show tonight is Sold Out but not tomorrow. So I buy a ticket for the 9th for the two shows are General Admission: a chance to be in the front for 60€.
I go down the first level of the mall to find some fans already queuing at the General Entrance. I start to queue and at the same time look for a ticket. A nice Lady sales me one for 60€. A lot of money but I want to be in the front.
I talk with a nice Lady next to me.
A girl is going around with a banner “Please, I need a free ticket”. I have the feeling she’s the Italian woman following the Tour like me. But I have no time to talk to her. At 6.30 p.m. they open the doors and we rush inside. I’m not exactly in the front but just behind a couple of people. I position myself to have a good view on the keyboard.
It’s stuffing inside, I take off my raincoat and my sweatshirt. I talk with some people: a Lady from Italy, a man from Island….

7:35 p.m. Mark Knopfler and his musicians are on. So close he looks old and fat!
But the music is pretty good. Obviously he knows the public is for Dylan.
Even if people are polite they get impatient and we can hear here and there “Bob!” “Bobby!”, “Dylan!”.
They change the instruments and... here He is. Same suit as in Dublin but black hat.
”Leopard skin pill box hat”.
So close He also looks fat; a ring of fat all around his waist. He might finally wear that long large jacket to cover that extra fat.
The lights are blinding him, his eyes are closed, he can’t see!
But tonight He doesn’t leave his keyboard and the mikes are functioning well.
The public is well responding so He’ll get excited ‘til the end: spiting in his mike and sweating like crazy on “Highway 61”.
The couple in front of me decide to leave the show, I move right in the front, singing with Bobby again like in Woodstock.
The set list is different from the one in Dublin but I know all the songs from the American Tour.
He will not do “Beyond here lies nothing” nor “Forgetful heart” but a splendid “A hard rain’s a gonna fall” with the public singing along.
resplendent and happy as much as He can be. Tony Garnier is smiling at him; he must be erratic on his keyboard. His voice is OK, clear and loud. He’s spiting and blowing in his harp until his eyes bleed!
After a bus ride back and a good night sleep we are Sunday the 9th. I just spend few hours inside the Fine Art Museum not far from the Backpackers. Now hoping for another excellent show. But we never know…

Be at the Braehead commercial center by 5.00 p.m. There are already 20 fans queuing.
My nice English friend from yesterday (not going to the show tonight) is waiting for me and kept some space in the front for me. I bought a book and start to read, as fans don’t communicate too much.
At 6.30 p.m. the gates open. I find myself in the same spot as yesterday: on the right side, where He’s playing the keyboard.
Mark and his Band are as good as usual but obviously the public is waiting for Dylan.
I’m still wondering why they have two groups on the same ticket. They should cut down the price and put only Dylan. But Business is business!
profitability !
“Ladies and gentlemen, ..."
“Leopard skin pill box hat” … and many songs from yesterday.
He’s good with the same detached appearance toward the public: like He’s playing for himself or … GOD!
The fans in the front are the same as yesterday: a mixed of old-ones and young-ones: two generations. Bob must know for his set list is a mixed of old songs from the 60’s and new songs from the 90’s, nothing from 70’s or 80’s.Except "Simple twist of fate and "Tangled up in blue"
I can see him really close: sweating and spiting in his mike. He’s less on the keyboard now and move more on the center stage, moving good on his sticky legs having their own will, like a dis-articulated puppet. The Besht would be proud of that erratic Jew! Head in Heaven and legs on Earth.
I leave the concert after the encore for I’m in the front. No way to leave on time to say bye to the bus. I take a city bus plus a walk to my dorm. I will sleep well and leave in the morning to the train station where I’m supposed to meet an English BobCat. We met but he has a reserved seat and not me so we split and don’t see each other again.
The train is  a slow train; three hours and a half to reach Manchester, again a big city, no way to step on Bob by a simple twist of fate.
I find rapidly the Youth Hostel and check in. On the streets I met the Italian girl following the Tour since 1998. She had been unfriendly in Glasgow and when I tried to talk to her in Manchester she clearly stated that she prefers to travel alone and not to share!?
She says she has “too many people around me», whatever that means!

In the afternoon I take a walk to the M.E.N., 15 minutes walk from the Hostel. The trucks are parked in an inside parking lot. I do a sight seeing tour of the downtown area, beautiful cathedrals and buildings.
Shortly before 5 p.m. I’m at the backstage gate. Two black buses are already parked inside but I figure that they are the Knopfler band buses.
The Italian woman is waiting so I ask her naively. She answers “you’ll find out by yourself”. I’m mad and call her a 'bitch'. She says she doesn’t answer questions. I hate her immediately. I believe she’s one of those crazy "nuts" after Dylan (for a night in bed!). We split. After little time she comes to me and says something like “ If the people of the Tour say something about me, don’t believe them”. I’m mad at her and answer that I know how it works for I’ve been following since 78. She starts to ague but I ask her to shut up. The war is declared!
After half an hour of waiting in the rain she leaves. I’m thinking that if the black bus is not the Dylan one it will be arriving between 6 and 7 p.m. (Dylan not always did the sound check in the Sates). So I wait in the rain, soaked wet, until a quarter to seven. Nothing happened.
I move to the entrance of the Arena and ask for a spare ticket. A scalper sales me one for 40€. Ok, I’m inside on the floor, far from the stage, but I will have the possibility of leaving before the end and find out about the Bus.
The show is good and fans are up to dance a little bit. No surprise. The sound is excellent.
I move out after “Ballad of a thin man”.
The two black buses are ready to go. The musicians pill up in the fist one. I see Mr X. running like crazy but no Barron. Two young guys are expecting an autograph. The first bus pulls out and it’s Bob’s bus (I believe).
Now I know He comes around 5.00 p.m. and stay in his bus until shortly after 9.00 p.m.
I say as usual “Bye Bye Bobby, good night!” and move rapidly to my bed. I had my “shot of love”.

I took an excellent breakfast. I’ll be living soon to Nottingham.
Arriving in Nottingham on time. Found a Hostel right next to the F.M. Arena. Took a walk in the city then passing by the Arena at 4.15 p.m. I see two black buses pulling in the parking lot. Could it be the sound check so early? And yes, I can hear some music. I still don’t know if Bob is doing the check or if He’s in his bus. But I wait, I wait until 5.30 p.m. Mr X. and Barron are coming out the Arena and yes Bobby is walking to his bus all covered up with hoods for it’s raining again. He looks so tiny next to his bodyguards. His legs are skinny, wrapped in black tight pants. I wish he could wear these ones on stage!
On the other side of the gate I can see the Italian woman waiting and screaming something like “I love you Bobby!”. I move to the other side to check around in the parking lot. Now five black buses looking alike are parked one next to the other, for in the afternoon, around 5.00 p.m. Mark and his musicians arrived. But Mark has no personal bus. So I guess two buses for the roadies, one bus for Mark and his Band, one for Bob’s Band and one for Bob himself. I still have to memorize the plate number. I believe I can recognise the drivers.
I talk to a nice man I’m supposed to meet tomorrow at noon for a tour of the city. He helps me to get a spare ticket for 40€, still a lot but I’m in. I start to plan my “escape” after “Like a rolling stone” to see the buses pulling out. But with Dylan you never know.
“Ladies and gentlemen …”.
“Leopard skin pill box hat”. Then surprisingly a series of songs I never heard on stage and that I have some difficulty to recognize.
He’s lot in the front mike not so much on the keyboard, moving from one side of the stage to the other, grabbing his mike in his hand and at time playing his guitar.
The public is not responding, I see many people leaving the hall; no one is standing up or dancing on the good Rock and Roll like “highway 61”.
The show is Rock and Roll and blues tonight. Many new songs. Maybe, maybe a bit too long. I don’t feel the MAGIC I’m used too with “Forgetful heart” and “Blind Willie Mc Tell”. My seat is far from the stage. I don’t see him sweating.
“Ballad of a thin man” and I’m sure of the break. But surprise! He’s doing right away “All along the watch tower”. Whoa! No break. So I move out quickly while I hear “Like a rolling stone”. The buses engines are running. The gates are open and the crazy Italian woman is around already. I see the musicians coming out and a security woman rushes suddenly towards the Italian woman (Frederica) and asks to talk to her. But she doesn’t want to talk. Frederica is arguing and arguing… and the buses pull out.
“Bye, bye Bobby, good night!»
I walk to my dorm to find in there an Israeli guy. We chat for a while about Eretz Israel and the relief of Gilat Shalit and then Bryan comes in. He had been to the Dylan show and in fact follows since Glasgow. We chat about Dylan. He knows a lot and can tell me what are the names of the songs I missed; “Watching the river flow”, “Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues”, “Love sick”.
We agree that Frederica is out of her mind. I have to remember to stay away from her and we agree that this show was surprising.
I’m looking forward for the Cardiff show. It will be General Admission. I want to be in the front. I decided to move to Cardiff today in the afternoon to find about the venue tomorrow morning and be on the line really, really early. I’m sure to find all the other BobCats and share about the already legendary Nottingham show.

10/13 Cardiff .
I had found a bunkhouse in the center town, five-minute walk from the Motorpoint Arena.  I checked in on the 12th. The five buses are already all parked in the Arena parking lot.
After a boring day off in Cardiff, just walking around I’m impatient to know how I can get myself in the front row.
I go to the Box Office early morning and buy myself a General Admission ticket, just to be sure.
I meet two BobCats following since Glasgow. They tell me about a ticket plus: one buys a show-plus for 10€, it provides a meal but most of all the possibility to be in the arena before the throng. I buy that extra ticket that will make the ticket price at 70€. A lot, but a chance to be in the front.
I go by the back stage door at 4.00 p.m. Around 4.30 p.m. the two black buses are pulling in; sound check time. Then shortly later the Mark Knopfler bus is pulling in. Frederica is already around with her sign “Please, I need a free ticket”, which she shows to the …bus!?
I chat with the security guard and a young fellow who wants an autograph on an original poster from Island of white 1969. He won’t get it.
In fact I don’t even see Bob getting of his bus. The front curtain is not pull down. He might be with the musicians.
I wait until a quarter to six, my meal is supposed to be at 5.30 p.m. I seat with another guy for the meal but it takes forever to get the chicken, so we forget about it. I move out strait to the lounge waiting with anxiety for the doors to open, hopefully before the throng.
And yes we all rush in front and I hold tight on the rail, right in front the keyboard.
Mark is as good as ever, predictable.
“Ladies and gentlemen …”
Here He is again with his white hat.
“Leopard skin” and surprise! "The man in a long black coat”. Sung in a staccato deep voice. A wonder!
“Watching the river flow” again and then more 'classic ones'; “Things have changed”, “A hard rain’s a-gonna fall”, “Thunder on the mountain”.
He’s again enjoying himself, grinning a lot. Though I can’t say that He’s actually smiling.
I look carefully at his face. I’m not sure if He’s looking at the public or deliberately avoiding looking. He’s more on the center sage than in the States where He was stuck at his keyboard.
His jacket is tight on him. Again my question is if yes or no he’s wearing something underneath or if He’s just fat!?

Bournemouth is a nice little city by the sea. Unfortunately I have no time to enjoy. Tonight again it’s a standing Entrance. If I get early enough on the line I might be in the front.
First I have to look for a room. There is a Backpackers Hostel. After more than an hour walk I find myself in front of a “closed” sign. They will open at 5.30 p.m.  Too late for me. I walk back to down town. I check the backstage of the Arena. A black bus is parked but the front shutter is not down. It might not be the Dylan’s bus.
I find a room for 41€, really expensive but private. So I will have time to rest well. I’ve got a cold and fever. I start coughing. I’m not comfortable but in good spirit.
By 4.30 p.m. I go by the backstage door and also by the front door where I meet the U.K. BobCats. The same ones for six shows now are queuing in the front. I say hello and stick to them to make sure to be in the front for I don’t have a ticket yet. It’s Sold Out. The scalpers promised me a ticket for 60€, a lot money. I will explode my budget today but I’ll have a chance to be in the front, which is the best.
I move from the front door to the back door and miss Bob just walking down the ramp with his guards. Somebody around said that he saw a small man with a hood on his head surrounded by two big guys. That was He! But again no way to approach him.
Frederica is hanging around waiting for a free ticket.
I start queuing at 5.00 p.m. not to loose my spot on the line. I talk to BobCats around: one from Switzerland, the guy from Norway and the others from U.K.
Some have seen Bob all over Europe at some time or another since the 90’s. Even some went to the States: N.Y (The Village), Hibbing, Duluth, Point Dume; the classic Pilgrimage.
I’m not the only crazy-one but none of them will hang around the bus (anymore) but I supposed they tried in the early 90s? Receiving harsh answers from the security they renounce to approach Dylan?
I still can’t reconcile with His attitude. A young Fan wants an autograph on the album “Blood on the tracks”. Did he get it? I truly doubt.
After one more hour wait by the rail right in front of the Dylan keyboard (or where it will be) Mark is on.
As good and boring sometimes as usual.
Then we all expect Bob for half an hour. He’s late and I’m tired. My back is killing me.
“Ladies and gentlemen…”
“Leopard skin”
A surprise “Wheel's on fire” staccato voice.
The lights are off and I spot Mark moving on stage. Then the first notes of “Beyond here lies nothing”, my favorite live song at the moment. With Mark and Charley and Stu and Bob on guitars. Fantastic!
The MAGIC works once again. Then more “classic” ones.
Already, so soon, “The ballad of a thin man” followed immediately by “All along the watch tower” and “Like a rolling stone” sang along by the public.
I return exhausted to my Hostel for a good night sleep and a good morning breakfast.
Tonight was the last U.K. show.
Another adventure will start tomorrow. I’m looking forward to meeting Claude Angele and share with her.
I found the BobCats a bit too “polite”. We never met after the show to share or never talk about each other objective. But still it was a more pleasant Tour than in the U.S.A.

II The north of Europe

In the train to London Waterloo.
The sun is shining. My fever is gone. I still cough a bit, nothing too bad.
Don’t know yet if I’m going to stay in London overnight or reach Lille immediately, it will depend on my feelings. Quite confused at the moment.
I’m still mad at Bob’s security, not knowing what to make of it. Last night Barron came in the front gap between the stage and the front row and flashed with his torch someone behind me taking photos. He argued with the security guard who was gentle and polite with us but apparently not efficient enough. That “big circus” about not taking photos is getting on my nerves for I see Bob standing 4 meters from me on his keyboard.
What about being on diet or doing some work on your face, Bobby, if you don’t like your IMAGE? Truly the Fans love you JUST like you are. You look beautiful to us all!
Over the time the angle of the lights on stage will change and less and less we’ll be able to see his face; the hat will make a shadow over his so beautiful blue eyes.
The brutality of security with fans paying big money for a ticket is out of place.
(In one concert a young boy will be brutally thrown out of the Hall … for taking photos).
WE pay for your salary Barron! Do your work with decency!
Please, Bob Dylan, explain to US why you don’t want the stage photos.
The show will now start at 9.15 p.m. for not even one hour and a half and only 14 songs.
My question is again: what is HIS motivation?

In the EuroStar going to Lille. A couple next to me is following the whole Tour: a couple of U.K. BobCats. Didn’t talk too much yet. Wondering what is their motivation. Never saw them by the Buses.
I’m hoping to find a Hostel in Lille.

10/16 Lille
Found the Youth Hostel. Checked in for two nights. Central and close to the Zenith; five minutes walk.
Good night, nice shower, full breakfast.
I go to the Fine Art Museum and stay in there until 3.00 p.m. Nice Atmosphere.
I then go back to the Hostel make myself a strong cup of coffee and walk to the Zenith.
At my surprise there is already a line. There is a General Admission but without a ticket I can’t get on the line. Nobody here that I know to let me stay in the front.
I walk around the Zenith to find black buses already parked in an inside parking lot. No chance to spot anybody there.
I move back to the front and start looking for a ticket. Five scalpers are making things a bit difficult. They start at 150€ and up!?
I see the two black Dylan buses arriving at the venue, passing in front of me. 4.45 p.m. As the show time is 8.00 p.m. tonight the sound check is later.
I search for a ticket for hours. People selling no less than 63€ for General Admission.
But I know that by now I won’t be able to be in front so I don’t want to pay that much. I won’t be able to see the stage anyway.
The scalpers are making things extremely difficult. The English couple is also looking for tickets, no more than 20/25 € (they say) plus 4 or 5 more BobCats.
At 8.00 p.m. the line is still stretching outside the venue and I can hear Mark on stage.
I start being desperate. I can’t believe I won’t be able to get in Lille France!
I freak out while the English couple is confident. They always have been able to get in.
Even Frederica always make it inside (not necessarily the regular way though, for what I read on the Forums). I’m not that bold.
A quarter to nine the last scalper is selling his two last tickets to “friends”. He screwed me. I’m mad and exhausted. Am I the only one left outside?
It’s break time and smokers are smoking in a security area outside the Hall. I get close to them and suddenly realize one security gate is not locked. I silently open it making sure not to be seen by the ushers and sneak in. YES! Finally I’m IN!
Bob will be on stage in five minutes, but the MAGIC is not falling on me. It had been too much painful this time. Fighting with the scalpers and some stupid French people: three times they have been individuals with extra tickets but they refused my 20€ preferring going inside with these extras and losing the benefit of 20€. How stupid!
I’ve seen Hugues Aufray getting in, but I’ve said nothing.
I’m now faraway on the floor. Of course I don’t see anything.
It’s packed and stuffing. The crowd next to me is young, a lot in their 20’s.
“Leopard skin ..”
And nothing too new. The songs are coming one next to the other, no time to breath and no WAY to breathe.
The sound is great: loud and clear.
The public doesn’t move to much, static.
Observing, judging the LEGEND, the Old Mad Man blowing out his lungs in his harp!
Expecting him to collapse any time?
Like in a circus where unconsciously people expect the trapezist to fall down and crash on the floor to have a rush of adrenaline?
It seems suddenly also a BIG CIRCUS.
Even the staccato “A hard rain’s agonna fall” doesn’t bring any sound from the throng (from where I stand). Only “Like a rolling stone” will awake the public.
The last note and I move out for fresh air, not leaving the venue for we never know.
And YES, beyond all expectation, here, in Lille France, He’s coming for an encore of “Forever young”. 15 songs including “Jolene”.
Whoa! I can’t believe it, moving out with my brain in haze, stoned.
Too much pressure, too much anxiety.
I seat on a bench observing the Zenith vomiting is throng: 10 000 of anonymous faces.
A Lady next to me came from the east part of France. She doesn’t stop praising Charley Sexton. She seems to be suddenly in Love with him!? Whoa!
Some comments about the change in Mark Knopfler style. Not so much appreciated here than in the U.K. Celtic music is not the style of the Northern population.
Hugues Aufray passes in front of me. I move. Present myself (a month ago we had had a pleasant conversation on the phone about … Bob Dylan). But he’s not “with” me. He just shakes hand with me, like I were a  Hugues Aufray’s fan!!??
I chat with some English followers. Two are selling posters. One of them has been to 600 shows all over Europe. The best record after Frederica. She has a record of some 800 shows all over the world including Asia. Great! She can be in the Quiz!
And I thought I was a "nuts"?
I will meet all of them later on the Road for sure.
Those two are OK, nice chatting to them.
The English couple is satisfied. They agree that the sound was good. I exchange few words with the woman and ask if they have ever met Bob personally.
They have been following the Tours since 1978, totally or partially.
Not exactly, she says. One time, she explains passionately, her voice quivering, HE had sent her a butterfly kiss from the stage, recognizing her in the front. -  definitively he did something to his eyes and now can see without correcting glasses.
She has seen him checking in a Marriott Hotel, once, but he had returned quickly to his bus as soon as He had recognized her. Even for so dedicated, un-harmful Fans, no contact what so ever!?

10/17 PARIS
Arriving in Paris by train at 11:06 a.m.
I’m supposed to meet my friend Claude Angele Boni with her friend Roberto from Italy. They’re coming from the South of France for two shows in the North.
We all check in at the Novotel next to Bercy Hall where Claude booked a room.
With Claude, who is an Artist (one of her paintings is exposed at the Hibbing Museum), we go to visit the Paul Cézanne exhibit in Musée du Luxembourg. Expecting, secretly, to step on our “good artist friend” Bob Dylan!?  A lover of Cézanne.
We scan thoroughly all the faces. Except if He’s disguised into some kind of “worldly old woman of good society”, we don’t spot him.
The Cézanne paintings are exceptional though. Nice feeling discussing painting technics with Claude.
After a quick lunch in a café next to Bercy, we go by the parking lot. But at a quarter to five we missed the arriving of Bob and his Band. They’re already making the sound check.
The view from the security rail to the Dylan’s bus is clear.
Claude doesn’t mind missing Mark Knopfler set. She wants to join me and be part of my “Dylan world” for a little while.
She’s met Bob in the past but her approach has been different from mine. Using her contacts with the Show Business World thanks to her beautiful way of relating with people.
In 1981 it took me stake and pain to be able to approach Bob. She just had to say few words to Howard Alk to be able to end up in Bob’s room Hotel in Avignon and spent some time with him sketching his hands and feet.
And here we are in this fall of 2011 waiting and waiting by the bus, using MY way.
It’s not efficient, making me suspicious in the eyes of the security staff.
But what kind of conversation should I have with Barron or Mr X.?

We chat of course about our sweet Bobby who’s right in front of us, mocking us
“I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range”.
In that  black-gold-prison-cell.
We are only us two and I’m wondering if Bob will walk the 20 meters or so from his bus to the back stage door in front of us or not.
What kind of trick they're going to play?
Shortly before ten they are some movements from the security staff; Barron moves by the bus and Mr X. is keeping an eye on us.
Bob steps out all dressed for the stage, spots us and moves back behind the bus. He speaks to Mr X.who moves now towards us.
I instinctively open both my hands up, showing I’m not holding any camera.
“What’s your name?”
To Claude
“What’s your name?”
“Claude Boni”.
I can’t believe it! This guy actually TALKED to me!!?? Sweet voice too.
He moves back to Bob for his report.
And to my astonishment Bob Dylan decides to walk in front of us with no hood, no “protection”. And He looks at us with insistence. I send him a butterfly kiss. Claude has the nerve to shout, “We love you Bobby” as an echo I shout, “We love you Bobby”.
Whoa! Incredible!

Report from my friend Claude Angele Boni

Yes, I saw him... I saw Bob a little bit more than everyone else.
I paid for myself to go, it was still difficult. When one wants to be a Dylan fan, you should swallow your pride. As in "Like a Rolling Stone", you are invisible and have no secrets to hide ... "You're invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal"
You want to know how it feels? "How Does It Feel?" you truly feel little!
The first time I saw him this year was with my friend Laurette who travels by train, with her backpack and has done this dozens of times. I wanted to share the experience with her because I admire her. I admire the courage she has to get free tickets to concerts and to bargain until she finds a price she can afford.
In front of the Bercy Hall in Paris on October 18, by 4:30 p.m. the scalpers were there. It is always the same. They had grabbed all the tickets for resale at double the regular price.
As one would expect the prices to fall, we went and placed ourselves by the fence where Bob's bus would be parking, watched closely by two Bercy security guys and later Bob's men. To make ourselves a little more invisible we started a conversation with them which managed to last six hours.
There was no Bob for a long time, then, on the stroke of 21H he finally came down smoking his cigarette, tucked away in the small gap between two buses, with one of the musicians and another person.

We didn't see anything of him except his two skinny ankles in black boots from below and then we realized. We saw that he hesitated, walking in circles, and then he went back.
There was still half an hour until it was time for him to go on stage. Knopfler's equipment was being cleared and replaced by Bob's.
This was the hardest time because it was dark and cold for a while. At 9:50pm something finally happened. The second bodyguard for Bob, not Tabura Barron, the other large "Mr X.".
He approached us in no hurry, with a clenched jaw and steady gaze, and asked us our names. He spoke to Laurette and me in a kind of 'cop interrogation' style while Bob - all dressed and ready to go on stage - leaned out from behind the bus to see us from afar.
Then Mr X. returned to tell him our names, and Bob agreed to walk the twenty yards that separated him from the stage door, looking in our eyes ... without fear.
Sometimes there are too many fans at the gate; it is twenty feet from the car!
The satisfaction of a fan ... we were the last two people to have seen Bob before he took the stage. We still managed to be the last two people outside his circle to be seen by him before he goes to play.
He crossed to the stage door when he heard the hoarse voice of Laurette screaming and my broken voice shout, "We love you Bob."
The satisfaction of a fan ... If Bob does not care about us, US, it concerns us. We were delighted to have diverted him from his course for a moment ... "When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to loose ".

Now waking up from my dream and back into the reality of time I have to find a way to get myself a ticket.
I move to the entrance of Bercy but everything is empty, no more scalpers. Few more people are looking for tickets. With a young man from India we go by the A entrance just in case the security guard would be nice. But no luck! I can hear Bob on stage and I feel like crying.
Not in Paris! Not after having caught his attention and look!? I can’t be OUT?!
People move out, leaving the venue. I ask why. They dislike the show, the sound, not to their expectation … I ask for their tickets but as they are already scanned the ushers are not allowing a re-entrance. By chance (thanks GOD!) a nice Lady passes me a V.I.P. ticket still unused. I rush in and seat anywhere I can, at the top of the “bowl” but I’m IN.
The Hall is huge, the sound is effectively bad but never before I have felt so HAPPY; Bob Dylan is on stage representing so much for so many of these 16 000 individuals; the Living LEGEND, the ICON, the Rock and Roll Poet, the REBEL, the Untouchable, the Unapproachable, the Hermit, the Recluse …
I, have seen him so close just few minutes ago!

I’m at the train station waiting for the 11:00 a.m. train to Rotterdam.
My mood took a 360° angle turn.
My friend Claude will join one of her Dylan contacts in Antwerp so we splitted.
I checked in a Youth Hostel in center town. New and clean. Washed my laundry in the shower room and let it dry by the heater. Then as usual took a walk in the City.
I stepped on Mr X. not far from the Hilton, so I guess that’s where they are staying.
I walk and walk the streets around, scrutinizing each and every face, expecting to see Barron, and if you see Barron make sure Bob is not far. So much for his invisibility!
By 8:00 p.m. tired and cold I decide to give up and move to my room. No luck!
Next morning after a good breakfast (the breakfasts are my only descent meals of my days so excuse me if I insist on them) I went to visit Ruben’s House. A beautiful mansion decorated with exquisite test for Art. A wonder for the eyes and the soul.
Bought myself a second hand book: the memoirs of Elie Wiesel.
At 4.00 p.m. I decide to check the Hilton entrance. I meet there Claude and three of her friends.
The two black buses are being loaded, one slightly away from the entrance. The one I believe being the Dylan’s bus. They load a bicycle and a guitar.
I wait by the side of THIS bus, being the only one when then Claude decides to join with me.
Four or five Fans are by the main entrance of the Hilton.
Wait half an hour with the engine of the bus running and the font door wide open. The driver being nervous, looking here and there.
I expect to see Bob walking with his two guards by a side little street on my left. But what do we know about God’s plan?
The bus suddenly pulls back, Barron (who was IN the bus) steps out running to the musicians' bus parked at the main entrance of the Hilton, jumps in it and the two buses pull away.
Where is BOB?
I figure that he also jumped in the musicians’ bus avoiding passing in front of Claude and me.
I can’t believe it! That paranoia again?!
Claude tells me stories from yesterday:
Her friends and herself found out Bob was staying at the Hilton (not too hard in Antwerp!). By 9:00 p.m. they went in the lobby wanting for Bob to come back from his walk out.
How they knew he was out? Intuition? Information?
At 10:00 p.m. Anneke sees Bob dressed casual (“like a young Turk” will say Claude) accompanied by Barron. He’s trying to avoid the few Fans by the entrance but Anneke trapped him by a side door and confronts him; “Hi! Bob Dylan may I check your hand?” and …
He gave her a kiss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She had met him in 1992. She had attracted his attention ‘cause she was wearing around her neck the Jewish sign called ‘haim’ (LIFE). He had then agreed to sit with her for a 30 minutes conversation about Judaism: comparison between Judaism in U.S.A. and Europe.
Did he remember her from then?
Anneke will tell me later that she has contact with Jesse Dylan, Bob’s oldest son: a movie producer in Hollywood.
At that exact moment Claude also approached him to say hello. Telling me later that he does look pretty fit, sparks of life shining from his beautiful blue eyes.

Report from Claude Boni:

This time I was with my friend Anneke. Another fan, another style.
When she arrives to meet with Bob it happens in places as chic as she is herself - a distinguished woman, large and imposing, with piercing blue eyes and persuasive manner.
As she had predicted we would see him, I followed along.
After a short walk around the Cathedral in the middle of a demonstration by students in lab coats, we went to take Art Nouveau seats in the lobby of the Hilton, in the warmth under the yellow lights, to begin our wait for Bob.
There was already another woman at table, discrete, in a strategic position, who confirmed that Bob was there and he was going to leave at 23H.
Anneke was like a lioness hunting, scenting prey, and she moved back and forth outside.
Going for a cigarette, she came upon some musicians and road managers, there was no doubt something would happen - she only wanted to see Bob.
Finally to 10:30 she wanted to go out again and this time I followed her.
It all happened very quickly, as I watched the demonstration of the students take a more hysterical turn, she saw Bob go.
"Claude come quickly, it's Bob."
Bob ..?
I saw only two rappers who walked side by side in no hurry..
"Anneke it's not Bob, it's a young Turk.. You're wrong." This small figure in white jogging pants and grey sweatshirt with hood with a visor cap? Is that Bob?
I did not believe it; to me it was a Turk.. Anneke started running and then Bob and Barron Tabur went to the second door to the left of the place. Anneke ran to the front door and disappeared into the Hilton in seconds.
Intrigued, I still accelerated my pace. Arriving in the room I saw that she spoke with the little Turk who was fixed, fascinated before her ... and I thought I recognized a bodyguard.
I approached the scene slowly, as if I was trying to do a number as a tamer in the circus.. Still doubtful.
Coming to within one meter of Bob I recognized his profile ... Anneke was still animatedly talking to him but I was so enthralled that I forget what she was saying.
I went within 50 inches of him and I faced him, ignoring the presence of the Barron and then came out of my ridiculous mouth ... two words. I spoke to him in French, with round eyes, I said, "Hello Bob "as if I was speaking to someone familiar.
He looked at me blankly, eyes filled with Modigliani blue, and he did not answer. Barron took the opportunity to say something like, "We gotta go now" at least I think so, because I felt like I was in a dream.
I saw Bob in black and white, I was amazed at his complexion so clear, his faded eyes, they were almost transparent, inconsistent, like an apparition, a ghost.
I had already met Bob several times before and in much better conditions. But the fact of being a fan, being forced to behave like a complete unknown "a complete unknown, Like a Rolling Stone", had plunged me into a trance.
Barron and Bob walked away with hurried steps through the corridors of the Hilton and I kept saying, "It's not possible, it was really Bob and I did not believe it!"
Outside in the dark and without my glasses I could not distinguish the features of Bob that I recognize from many of the photos. That is to say, Bob on stage, the star made up with rosy cheeks, the heavy costumes black and heavy ...
This little chap who walked before me with a run that made him bow-legged, I took for a Turk because Bob would be in his uniform of 'Lord-of-all-the World'.
Anneke told me she shook hands and he held out his cheek ... Anneke has powers, she has a sixth sense, if you really want to see Bob, follow Anneke closely...

(But Anneke will tell me at the concert hall that it will be her last attended show. She also had been following for years all around Europe, with a better style than mine I believe. She will explain to me with disdain that she doesn’t like THIS,  pointing to the crowd; thousands of Fans packed in a huge “bowl”. She also wants Bob for herself?!)
That was last night.
Now I start to feel bad; jealousy I guess. He just refused to see me by playing this game of “cat and mouse”.
We talk and talk with Claude (who had decided to stay with me rather than following Anneke). We’re balancing between Love and Hatred; two extremes of a same feeling?
We start to “sheet” on Dylan, bringing out all his bad ‘facets’.
We catch a tram to the concert hall and since Claude doesn’t want to spoil her pleasure with Mark Knopfler set, we go to a bar. We have a drink (Tea for me, never any alcohol on the Road). And we talk a bit more about … Bobby.
It’s easy talk with Claude for she’s no ‘nuts’ - she DID meet Bob - she’s smart, human, sensible, sensitive and with that integrity I like so much in people, including Bob Dylan.
Even if we don’t have the same approach we’re finally looking for the same result: a little bit of attention and consideration from someone we admire so much as an Artist as well as a Man. Someone who inspires us both in our drawings and paintings.
But he gave a kiss to Anneke.
Claude says she’s a wealthy Jew. I found her snobbish and arrogant, the kind that of course will be Bob Dylan social class, a courtesan.  All to please him.
Who are we? Two poor little girls running after the Charming Prince in a far far away country!
So ridiculous for we’re no girls anymore. So what?
Of course that kind of mood will influence my reaction to the show.

Found a ticket at a reasonable price (25€). Get in and try to shit the security by moving close to the stage. No luck! They push me back. I can see well for the public is politely seated in the front, not even standing when He appears on the right of the stage. The Hall is huge (16000) but quiet and polite.
Bob is equal to himself, me, I don’t feel the Magic. I feel like crying specifically that he will do “Forgetful heart” tonight.
Anneke told me He’s doing all that Touring for money
-“to provide for his 4 wives and 9 children”- !!??
That kiss turned her head?!
Or as a Jew does she know better than me? M
oney and the power of money to ward off the oppression of the Jews. Money and the power of money to ward off the appearance of a complexed fragile Jewish man.
As for the so many wives and so many children, they’re well provided for with his Royalties alone.
All night and all day I’ll call him a “Chatzuf” ; an arrogant little Jew.
I feel like screaming at him :
”You’re not GOD, you’re just a Rock and Roll super star, just Bob Dylan!”
But who  am I to judge? I have to stop playing Dr Freud.

At the end of the show I meet the English couple who just found the security tough. Tim and his friend Kevin are selling posters (still don’t know what are their motivations for seing so many shows). Frederica is bitter or over excited. What does she expect? How will she end? Can’t Dylan tell her to go home and live a real life?  How cruel?
I’ve seen that auburn-haired woman again in the bus. His girl friend, his hidden wife? Someone said she’s just his secretary. That person doesn’t know to much about the womanizer part of Dylan. A beautiful lady being JUST a secretary? Bob Dylan is sick?
Since weeks and even months I have not dreamed any Dylan dream, nothing coming back spontaneously to my mind in the morning. I believe in my dreams, many come true as a premonition. But my subconsciousness is apparently not focused on Dylan. No strong and deep feelings moving me deep inside. I even “fear” meeting him. Like if I meet him that will be the end of all. Waking up from a 37 years old dream could be deathly painful.
Claude told me that she had that feeling the night she spent with Bob. In the morning she run away. Freaking out!

21/10 In the train to Esch sur Alzette (where ever it is!).
I will be arriving at 4.00 p.m. so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to the front row tonight. Again it is standing like last night in ...

10/20 Rotterdam
I went to the Ahoy after checking in at the Youth Hostel. At 2.30 p.m. there is already a handful of people. I buy myself a ticket for 82€ (contributing to provide the alimonies of Bob Dylan’s  4 wives and nine children!!).
And the waiting starts … Too long. I’m sick of it.
Gates open at 6.15 p.m. and we all run in the front. But some 20 “shmucks” are already camping in the front : V.I.P. package.
Frederica is on the left side, hanging on the rail (as if it’s gonna fly away in a tornado!).
Two Italian BobCats, Rita and her cousin, are nice enough to let me move front.
One more hour to wait for Mark and one hour and a half more for Bob. It’s a folly that wasting of time!
Rita doesn’t even bother to stand up for Mark and his band: she’s sited down the floor, her back to the rail. So is Frederica most of the time. It doesn’t seem to disturb Mark a bit.
I stand up for I don’t dislike the set.
Then in a deafening roar and a movement of the wave crushing the front row to the rails He’s on his keyboard. “Leopard skin pill box hat”.
Equal to himself: banging on that battered keyboard and sweating in his heavy suit.
Tonight he’ll do “Mississippi” immediately recognized by some Fans next to me, BobCats for sure, some have been in the U.K.
Frederica is acting enthusiastic at first, then I see her being static with a nostalgic attitude
”you look so fine at first

But left looking just like a ghost.”

800 shows or more have some effect on you!
Bobby being so close and still without reach.
I don’t believe her stories though there might be some truth at times. After so many hopes and frustrations we mix up reality and dream: I know the effect.
”You’re a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds
Manipulator of crowds, you’re a dream twister”

I don’t believe I could do what I do now for the next 13 years.
But my experiences are different. Bob in the “past” was approachable and there was some real hope to meet with him. Now I don’t believe that will happen and I’m tired to think and try.
Talking with BobCats on the line I found that each person has his own story, own knowledge, own image of Bob Dylan ; “he’s like this or like that. He wants this or he wants that. He will hate you if you go by the bus … bla bla bla”.
What I was apparently the only one and first one doing in 1981 (according to Howard Alk)     - that is following a whole Tour without asking anything to the Staff member – is done now by a bunch of Fans from the 90’s, since the beginning of the “never ending Tour” (give us a better word for it Bob). It’s not the Dead Head “family” though. The BobCats being individualist. We can feel jealousy and fear.
I recovered now from that kiss he gave to Anneke. The wound is closed. There is a scar.

10/21 Esch Sur Alzette
It was a long way to reach Esch/Alzette in Luxembourg. Some 8 hours of walking, riding on train, waiting, riding again.
I started to read the Memoirs of Elie Wiesel and time passed faster and spirit rised up again.
Wiesel is a true Humanitarian, a Tzadikk.
I reach Esch at 5.30 p.m. with no hope to be able to stand at the front row. So I decide to take my time and just buy a seat ticket for 20€ or so. Hang around the buses.
But what do we know about God’s plan?
I reach the Rockhal after checking in a really expensive Hotel (no other choice in Esch).
Rita and her cousin are queuing in first spot on the line. I say hello. I start my search for a ticket. Buy a standing for 75€ (expensive day since  I paid 82€ for my room). I join Rita and her cousin and I’m right in the front of the line. My luck of the day!
We run, run, run and we all are at the exact same position as yesterday. The same old Cats on my left and right.
A little girl of 10 or 12 came to see Mark Knopfler so I move slightly back to allow her to appreciate the Knopfler Band. A young fellow is a Dire Straits Fan, taking photos like crazy. He’s lucky it’s not Bob on stage and Barron is not in the pit yet!
He will leave right after Knopfler set. It’s pretty rare. The crowd is all standing for there is no seat!!?? All standing for Dylan.
”Ladies and gentlemen…”
And guess what? Mark Knopfler is on stage, jamming three songs with Bob. The little girl is happy.
Bob is happy too, that is, as much as he allows himself to show.
I’m not mad at him anymore. For now He’s wearing his Bob Dylan mask.
With Rita and Frederica we dance and sing and scream and secretly pray and encourage him; Bobby our sweet Love.
It hurts me when he’s blowing in his harp. He’s blowing his lungs out. He’s dripping sweat!
The show is splendid! The public well responding. The Magic is back.
The solos of Mark were unexpected in that specific RockHal (with no seats!). Why here? But Dylan has no logic. Does he know where he is? Which date today?
Frederica left at “The ballad of a thin man”, going to wait for the leaving of the bus. I’ve done it so many times but tonight I prefer to enjoy Bob on stage until the end. After all he’s right in front of me, even if I have to share him with 10 000 “anonymous”.
It seems that at the ending-salute he sees me! Big illusion! Poor me!

I take a train back to the Hotel and sleep well until morning.
If I dreamed of Bob, I don’t remember.
At 70 he has still the attention and Love of many women. A lot in the front row last night.
But he has been seen alone walking the streets of Anvers. Alone?  No. With Barron: the oldmansitter.

In Oberhausen (Germany) I will see Rita and her cousin and Frederica (can’t escape her!) and Tim and Kevin and the “ tall Man with the grey moustache” and the three women from Holland and more from the U.K. and The Fan Club from Germany. Is there any Fan who has not seen Dylan yet?
Bob Dylan broke so many records. He might have the record of the longest and most dedicated Fans all around the world.

Bob Dylan is a phenomenon, so huge … but so fragile when you see him close.

-I heard that they liberated Gilat Shalit in exchange for 1000 terrorists.
-I heard they shot down Khadafi.
-I heard the economy is bad
-I heard people rioting
We live in a “Political world”.
I feel detached from it. So Bob Dylan certainly. He’s looking at the world through a hole in his bubble. A distorted reality of life.

I will write from my Elie Wiesel book :
”Do we write because we are happy or because we are not? A midrashic legend tells that King Salomon wore a ring that has the power to make him happy when he was sad and sad when he was happy. Question: why should he want to be sad when he had the luck of being happy?
Salomon was Jewish and a writer: never content.
Should we laugh or cry?
Crying is sowing, said the Maharal of Prague, laughing is harvesting. Writing is at the same time sowing and harvesting.”

Bob Dylan, who are you? A King Salomon?

10/23 Oberhausen
I’m now all alone in that youth Hostel in Oberhausen. I’m reading Elie Wiesel. His life has been so full. I’m wondering what I’m doing here in Germany, waiting for a Dylan show?
Can’t I use my life and my time and my energy (and my money) for a more useful project? Saving children’s life in Africa? Praying in an Ashram in India for the souls of the wretched? Investing myself in an Ecologic movement to save Mother Earth? Join a protest movement to fight the injustices of this gloomy world?
Bob Dylan songs have no impact anymore: “Masters of war” doesn’t bring throngs of protesters in the streets to bring Peace in Afghanistan or Irak or Israel. How could when he also wrote “Neighborhood bully”, justifying the use of arms against Iran? There are some bad wars and there are some good wars? Who decides? Who separates the Good from the Bad?

And what to make of “Like a rolling stone “ ;
Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out”

Three quarter of his public is that Doll (middle class Yuppies). At what level they feel involved in the meaning of these words?
And himself? Could he imagine being
”with no direction home
A complete unknown
A rolling stone”
All except ‘A complete unknown’.
I wish he could erase that song from his set list.

I go to the Arena slightly before 4.00 p.m. See Frederica waiting at the gates. The two buses are pulling in. Sound check time.The parking lot is closed. No way to have a glimpse of him.
I take a walk around the Arena. It’s some kind of recreational area. It’s sunday. The families are enjoying themselves in a relative nice day, cool but sunny.
The scalpers are not making the finding of a cheap ticket easy. Nonetheless a young chap sells me one for 25€. Also the English couple will get two for 50€. We go together for a bite before the Dylan set. They also skip Knopfler when ever possible.
Our seats are far away so we sneak in a bit closer to the stage. Bob is small but the sound is clear and I can dance, standing up. They want to seat, not me.
They finally present each other: the man is Che, American from California but living in England and the woman Siobhain, Irish living in England. Nice, decent BobCats.
My stories about Bob don’t impress them so much. Either they don’t believe me, either they’re jalous for they never really met Bob in person. And opposite to what most of the BobCats say they all want secretly to meet him. Some will pay the price like Frederica and some will hide behind some pseudo-philosophic explanation, trying to give themselves a good consciousness and make me feel guilty (for hanging around the bus).
Mark in on stage with Bob now for three or four songs.
A young man told me that one of the Knopfler’s musician is writing a Blog. He wrote that in Esch-Sur-Alzette Bob and Mark had had a half hour conversation in the buses parking lot. Deciding to play together?
This show is good, Bob and the musicians trying to “torch the night” but the public is not responding. Even “highway 61” doesn’t move the crowd.
They’re a static old bunch of Yuppies! Even some are leaving! Shame on you!
Tonight I want to say goodbye to Bob so I get out before the end (shame on me!).
I position myself on the side of the road. The two buses pass in front of me. Mr X. has a good look at me. Big deal! I say my ritual “ bye bye Bobby, good night”.

Move to my Youth Hostel bed.
Get up at 6.00 a.m. and quickly pack up. Catch the first train to Mannheim. No show tonight.
Mannheim is packed with amateurs of Theater. I have to check in the Youth Hostel in Eidelberg. Easy ride by train and beautiful Hostel. I take a chance to do my laundry: washer and dryer (what a luxury!).

10/25 Mannheim
I go to Mannheim. Visit the Castle of Philippe something. Roccoco style (my favourite in Art, in paintings [the three Roccco ; Fragonard, Watteau, Boucher] as well as in Architecture and classical music [Bach, Vivaldi, Haendel]).
At 3.00 p.m. I move towards the SAP Arena. Find myself with Frederica on the train. Not exchange a word. I will stay away from her for in Oberhausen Barron called the parking lot security police on her. They asked her to move away from the back stage gates. As well as after the show. She screamed after Barron! Funny because that guy seems to me more sympathetic than before. I like his look. Though I’m not sure to be able to have a long conversation with him in the near future!? He’s been with Dylan since at least 1994. He must be good! But what kind of life is that? I haven’t seen so many girls around!
Here in Mannheim, again the parking lot is closed. The buses arrive at 3.45 p.m. So soon!
At 5.00 p.m. I see Bob walking back to his bus all covered up in a grey sweater.
Now the waiting again, the search for a ticket.
Someone sells me a comp ticket for 20€, on the floor.
Good seat but the Magic doesn’t work. The public is cold, polite, not moving.
Mark will be on stage for five songs including a splendid “John Brown” after “Mississippi”.
It will take a magnificent “Thunder on the mountain” to see people standing up or bobbing their head. At the first note of “Ballad of a thin man” we hear finally a big roar and some Fans rush from the back.  I join happily!
Three security guards stop us in our impulse. Never mind I’m mixed with a bunch of joyous fellows. Finally my “Shot of love”.

Waiting for the train to München.
I will have to go back home on the 1st of November. Business affairs. I will skip the three shows in the up North. Will I have the spirit to come back?
I would like to do the Italian leg. Never been to Italy. I’d like to visit the museums.
I meet the English couple at the train station; Che and Siobhain. They’re not willing to share with me so much. BobCats are individualists, following their own dreams. They’re a couple sustaining one another.

10/26  München
München is a crazy town. Too much noise and movement. Too much poverty too. I didn’t have the time to visit Dachau. But I didn’t really want to go there. Too many ghosts are haunting the place. What do they care about my compassion.
My own ‘ghost’ arrived at the Olympiahalle in the early afternoon. The buses are parked in an open parking lot. I hang around. At 5.00 p.m. a brown van pulls by the Dylan bus.
My Bobby gets off the van, all dressed in brown leather suit (with hood on his head) and steps in his bus. Then steps in the van again which pulls away. Visit a friend? So Dandy!
I keep my stand by the bus. 30 to 45 minutes later the van comes back. Bob steps in his bus again with a Lady (can’t figure out if she’s the Lady from the bus or someone else).
Barron takes position. Nothing will happen before show time.
The search for a ticket is tough, many people awaiting for a spare-one. The prices are high. Close to 9.00 p.m. someone tells me they’re still selling at the box office. At the last minute I buy myself a standing for 67€ (my contribution for the buying of another brown-leather-suit, so Dandy!). My hostel booking was modestly a 15€ bunk in a shared-room.
Shortly before 9.00 p.m.
I hide from the security. As soon as the bus door opens I move closer to the ramp leading to the back stage door. Bob walks to the stage all dressed up with a white hat. I make a sign to Barron. The security is poor! Any sniper could have reach him. What kind of SECURITY is that? Is he wearing that bullet-proof jacket?
I move inside the hall and find myself standing at the top of the bowl, on the side of the stage. I’m in. I’m wondering if Che and Siobhain got tickets tonight.
(later they will tell me that they sneaked in through the smoking area, curiously outside the venue). Frederica is in. She’s playing a little game with her sign “Please, I need a free ticket”. I doubt she got a free ticket tonight.
Mark is in for three songs then … “Man in a long black coat”.
Funny for I was day-dreaming in the afternoon :
”I was approaching Bob just before the show and saying “Bobby ‘Man in the long black coat’, please Bobby”.
Did he hear me in HIS dream?
The public is cold until “Thunder on the mountain” and like last night a movement from the throng awaken the whole hall, fans rush in the front, screaming.
Bob is happy (how do I know? feelings). He moves to Tony and says something in his ear ”Forever young” (how do I know? I know that’s all!).
I’m out waiting for the buses to pull away.
”Bye bye Bobby, good night”.
MY night is short. Up at 5.45 a.m. to catch a train to Leipzig. I hope being able to sleep in that train (Bound for Glory! Woody you’ve been on my mind).

Nice Hostel by the train station. Walking distance to the Leipzig Arena. Walk there in the afternoon. The 5 buses are already parked in an enclosed parking lot but I doubt Bob is in there. No security around the bus. Ironically his personal security (Barron and Mr X.) are giving him up. No Barron, no Bob. We might not recognize Bob in the streets (disguised as a young Turk) but Barron is not invisible. A Samouraï and a young Turk! What a strange couple!
At 3.30 p.m. the buses left to pick them up. By 4.45 p.m. the buses are unloading Bob and his Band strait by the stage door.
Shortly before five Bob is stepping inside his bus, all hooded up. That stupid Frederica  screams after him. Immediately they turn the bus over so we don’t even see the door.
I will see him walking to the stage door between the buses and the trucks, all dressed up with his white hat, shortly after 9.00 p.m. for his 16th show on that European Fall Tour.
I bought myself a seat on the floor for 50€ hoping for a movement of the crowd (I can’t initiate that movement, it has to come from more than one person. But I will be part of it. For God sake it’s a Rock and Roll show, not a philharmonic orchestra!).
The rush to the stage will happen before “Thunder on the mountain”. I move quickly forcing the security guards. We had had a surprising “Girl of the north country” at the beginning with Mark on guitar.
Now we are crushed against the rails, some youngsters are hysterical but Bobby is right in front of me. I’m front row, looking intensely at his face. He looks younger and thinner. Did he loose some weight? Good Bobby, we don’t want you to look like an old fatty! I have a glimpse at his clear blue eyes,
Azurin blue, translucent. He’s beautiful. Not greening, almost serene, like a Buddha. Hoops! not so for he’s screaming out the lyrics of his songs. And he’s dripping on his battered keyboard all the liquid of his frele body.
Though we tried hard to encourage him, no “Forever young” tonight.
The lights are on, the cloudy vapors of a dream are vanishing.

The Ghost has disappeared and has taken with him all his Magic and all the mystery embedded in his clear blue eyes.
I had my “shot of Love” after a gloomy day, playing Cat and Mouse with Barron (the Last Samouraï). 

I meet in the front ALL the BobCats, they have their way: my English couple, Ryan, two girls following since Luxembourg, a grey-hair-man I also spotted in Luxembourg and many more I recognize at glance. We’ll all be in Berlin in two days from now.

10/28 BERLIN
I checked in an A.O. Hostel in Berlin., a kind of Youth Hostel Chain.
I walked from the central train station, surprised and astonished to see so many huge buildings. The streets were packed with tourists. I heard French speaking, might be the Fall break in France, Fall Holidays. I don’t even know which day of the week we are, might be also week-end. I joined the throng in the afternoon, walking and walking (but I “ain’t talkin’”! I love that song). In the evening bought myself some dinner and watched C.N.N. (T.V. in the room, supreme luxury).
-Lybia is in chao.
-Tunisia is rioting.
-Syria not doing much better.
The Muslim world is in Anarchy. Good or Bad?
will Democracy take precedence over religious fanaticism?
- Campuchea is under water
- water is failing in Africa
- Turkia was checked out by an Earth Quake
- Spain is un-employed
- Greece is bankrupt (How a whole country can be Bankrupt?).
I feel detached as if I don’t belong to this Chaotic mess.

I hate the days off. Nothing to do in the evening. No waiting by Bob bus, no search for a ticket, no anxiety before the show, no rush of adrenaline when Bob appears on stage.
No “trip on the Magic swirling ship”, no “Tambourine man”, no “Shot of Love”.
I fall asleep to be awaken at 9.00 p.m. by a young Lady checking in, for as usual I’m in a dorm (6 beds). It’s less expensive but also less private. Her old father helps her to make her bed. So sweet.
I hope that Bob was able to visit peacefully Berlin, got lost in the throng of tourists.
Or did he miss the standing ovation as much as I missed his rough voice?

10/30 in the train to HAMBOURG
I’m leaving Berlin with mixed feelings.
On the 29th I went to the Fine Art Museum. Nice paintings, mainly from German painters I never heard about. I recognized some style: Italian Renaissance, Romantic, Impressionist. I’m truly impressed by the technique of Preyer, his fruits and flowers look more real than reality. I bought myself a post card to remember his name.
As I was walking back to my Hostel I spotted the 3 black buses (2 Dylan’s and one Knopfler) at 3.00 p.m. They’re going to pick up the Bands. I moved quickly to the O2 World for they’ll be back for the sound check at 4.00 p.m. I positioned myself at the gate just in time to see them entering the parking lot. It seems that Bob is stepping out the musicians’ bus, but he’s so far. It’s hard to see. One guy is waiting to get an autograph from Mark Knopfler. Not the right time/not the right place. Since I have nothing better to do I wait until 5.00 p.m.. He’s walking his “drunkard's walk” to his bus with his hood on his head.
I have the sensation that he’s looking in my direction, so stupidly I clap my hands. Don’t ask me to be rational anymore: I’m exhausted beyond reason. I start talking to a Lady who’s pretty negative about finding a spare ticket but I just think that she doesn’t know. She’s also negative about the security, extremely tough she says. I start looking for a ticket. The scalpers are doing their work. It’s sold out and the prices are high. To make it worst a lot of people are looking for spare tickets. A young fellow came from Pragues and he’s playing Bob Dylan songs on his guitar to make some money. Then Che and Siobhain are joining the group and Frederica (who probably has already bought a ticket) and young couples … It’s getting cold and desperate. Right after Mark Knopfler set people are leaving the venue. We ask for their tickets and try to get in. The security is effectively tough. No way to re-enter, this is the rule, they say. We wait and wait and in my greatest despair I go by the bus spotting Mr X. and Barron but I don’t have the guts to call them and ask for an entry. Not the right persons.
Bob steps out of his bus by 9.00 p.m., all dressed up with his white hat. That will be the only image of Bob Dylan I will have in Berlin.
We are now only 5 fans waiting to get in, but noway to argue with the security. Two youngsters are thrown out the venue. Then a man is
expeled out violently. Six security guards are wrestling with hum, crushing him to the ground. Che and I approach the scene and we start yelling at them. We call them fascists and Nazis (maybe not appropriate). We yell that Germany is a terrible country. We yell that Bob Dylan should not be playing in Berlin. We are full of anger. At the same time more and more people are leaving the venue. I ask why. They raise their shoulders or they answer that the sound is bad, his voice is bad, the show is bad … bla bla bla.
I just scream in my anger “But We Love Him, we want to see Him, we want to get inside”.
One charitable Lady comes with me to the door with her ticket and argue in German that she’s willing to give me her seat, in vain. The main security guard is unbreakable. “it’s the rule” he says. I explain that I understand the rule but at this level it’s more a question of humanity: 5 fans want to get in a show, taking the seats of people leaving.The show is sold out, the tickets have been paid for and we are not drunk or anything. Until the last minute we will argue while more and more individuals are getting out, dissapointed. We can’t believe someone would pay 100€ for a seat and not stay until the end! A bunch of Yuppies!
The Tour in Germany is turning into a nightmare
’Their heart is as hard as leather”
The Berlin O2World should be banned from any Dylan Tour. Too much violence and hardship. It doesn’t fit the Dylan spirit.
I will read a review on the Internet saying that effectively the sound was bad. One more reason not to play at the O2 World in Berlin.
At 10.30 p.m. the show is almost over. First time in all my crazy following over the years that I had not been able to get in, one way or another. It’s a terrible feeling!
I go by the bus. A glimpse of Bob getting in his bus. “Bye bye Bobby, good night”.
Did he realize how many people were leaving the venue?
Does he make the difference between this or that public, this or that venue?
Does he have the power to make things easier for the dedicated Fans?
What about a “standing” everywhere: standing for the Fans and seating for the Yuppies?
The young Fan from Pragues didn’t make it in, he’s now singing Dylan’s songs for a left over of public hopefully satisfied with the show.
I’m deadly cold and bluesy. I walk to my room as a zombie. I sleep a tormented sleep.

10/30 Hamburg
At 9.00 a.m. a good breakfast (all you can eat) for 4€. I then walk as fast as my tired legs carry me to the Haupt Bannhof in Berlin. Catch a train at 11.00 a.m. to Hamburg. Check in the A.O. Hostel for 24€ for two nights. Best offer so far.
Though I’m tired I decide to take a walk in the area. I don’t regret it. The buildings are majestic, from the Prussian Empire? Heavily built from red bricks and copper (?). The city is divided by canals, the water is ubiquitous. It’s Sunday and the families are strolling along the canals, crossing the bridges, sipping a capuccino, chatting peacefully in a cool but sunny air. The trees
are dressed in their autumnal coats: yellow, brown, red and a tinge of green. I would like to sit down for hours and paint the changes of colors following the curve of the sun. Monet would have been fascinated by so much tint.
I recover from by bad mood. Get inside the most magnificent red-black bricks church I can find opened and say a little blessing for my dear Bobby. I hope he had the pleasure of a little walk in peace. If I see him, I promise, I won’t bother him.
I take a nice shower and finish to read my Elie Wiesel book. Ending by a marriage in an old synagogue, in old Jerusalem. Mazel tov!
I dream being back in Israël, in kibbutz Gazit with my good friend Ami or in kibbutz Mashabe Sade with my good friend Pushy. So far the country and people I find the most comfortable with. Dreaming to end my life in the Negev, where the silence is telling me so much. If there is a God, his kingdom is Zion. That’s where I will find the answers to my prayers. Thinking of joining a small farm, raising goats and fowls. Surviving on bread, olives, goats’ cheese, like the Bedouins. Forgetting but not forgiving the follies of men.

"It’s a new morning".
For me it’s the end of the first European Fall Tour.
“I don’t know when I’ll be comin’ back again
It depends on how I’m a-feelin’”
I take a U (underground) to reach the O2 World. I fear that it will be the same structure as in Berlin. I fear the nightmare from Berlin so I immediately buy a ticket at the Box Office. 69.67€ for a perch on the top of a bowl. Outrageous!
My contribution for Mr Bob Dylan to buy another one of his fancy properties he never lived in and never will!
At 4.30 p.m.the two black buses enter the parking lot, down below a walking path. I find myself right on top of Dylan bus. Weird!
At 5.30 p.m the auburn-haired Lady spots me, calls immediately Barron. Few seconds later Barron raises his eyes and has a good look at me. I don’t blink. Bob literally jumps in his bus, all hooded ; “the little hooded Bob”.
They figure out that the spot of the bus is not the most secured, as any “nuts” could jump on it.
But I don’t see any “nuts” around to the exception of me and of course Frederica. But paranoia has no reasonable logic. So they move the bus and the ‘crazy old man’ in it.
He’ll stay in his  black-gold-prison-cell until 9.00 p.m.
I move to the front of the Arena looking for Che. Sinhobain had to go back home for some days of work (yes, the BobCats have to work!). I meet there Tim, Kevin, Ryan, two girls following since Luxembourg, two more from Germany, the tall-english-grey-hair-man: the bunch of BobCats doing the German leg. The tall-english-grey-hair-man says that it’s his last concert on this Tour. He explains that he had spent more money on the half European Tour than on a whole U.S.A. Tour last Fall. The tickets’ budget in Europe is exploding the total budget: traveling, rooms, food .. It’s also my problem. We help Che to get a spare ticket for 25€ with success. We’re ALL IN tonight. Great!
I take my perch for the ‘Mark Knopfler and Band’ set. I don’t dislike it so much as Leon Russel set.
Mark will chat with the public: same remarks, same jokes. He’ll make a point of honor to give the name of the city where he’s playing.
Dylan probably doesn’t even know where he is or what day of the week we are or if he has a public in front of him. Or  am I completely wrong?
Barron and Mr X. will wonder
for two hours where I have been able to hide to watch Bob walking towards the stage (It would have been an easy one -except if they had planned to sneak him inside a car like in Nashville or Evansville-). Nowhere guys, I’m inside!
”Ladies and gentlemen…”
”Leopard-skin pill-box hat”. He must Love that hat!
And oh surprise! the first lines of “Boots of Spanish leather”. Whoa! It’s right into my spirit:
“I don’t know when I’ll be comin’ back again
It depends on how I’m a-feelin’”.

He heard me in His dream?
I sing along for I know that one by heart, and who cares if I’m not in tune.
The usual “Things have changed”. A statement for me and some Fans from the past.
”People are crazy and times are strange…” coming from the mouth of Dylan, I don’t know what to make of it. Does he include himself in People? He should. Being 70 years old, a multi-millionaire and looking like a Turkish-Rebel-Teenager is not exactly the norm. Escaping the ‘look’ of/from  Fans so dedicated that they travel the whole wold to SEE him, might be border line too.
A splendid “Man in a long black coat”. I will put it in equality in my preferred live songs at the moment with “Blind Willy Mc Tell”. My favorite being “Beyond here lies nothing”, not so much on the set list anymore.
I will definitively make a painting of “Man in a long black coat”. All the pictures are in my head.
”The levee’s gonna break”. I love it too.
”Highway 61”. I’m tired of. There is no ‘highway 61’ in Europe, Bobby, the public doesn’t respond so well as in the U.S.A.
”Thunder on the mountain” is the one that’s supposed to awaken the public. But tonight it’s not doing the trick. No moving in the front, no roaring, no dancing.
The sound might even be chaotic at times. The keyboard higher than any other instruments. Bobby, stop turning up that little button on the left side of your battered keyboard. We can hear it alright.
I’m glad he listened to me and he’s not anymore pulling up his pants on stage. He’s now using his hands to hold the mike to his mouth. A more appropriate gesture.
I reconciled with his stage outfit. Hidding his bullet-proof jacket or just his excess of weight?
I still prefer the Dandy in leather. So sexy!
“Like a rolling stone “. You know what I think of that song. But it makes the public stand up.
It’s too late for any Magic. Even his little bow at the end makes me smile.
He’s throwing himself in pasture to the lions? “Eat me raw, I’m happy “? “I’m yours “?
For one hour and a half show and 70€! Thanks Bobby.
My negativity is affecting my gravity. I’m down.

Back to my Hostel I check some news on the Web. Only 90 shows in 2011. Only 14 songs for each show now. Bob Dylan is getting old and tired?
watch out for  the rebound. What kind of rabbit he gonna pull out of his ‘leopard-skin pill-box hat’?

I compare the U.S.A. summer Tour with that first half of the European Fall Tour 2011.
- economically
Globally the same.
In the U.S.A. traveling was a lot harder. Distances between the cities being more important. The main problem was to access the venues and get out of the venues. No effective public transportation. The cars’ Lobby is efficient: the car is the Queen. In Europe, thanks to some kind of social system, the public transportation is working: trains, buses, trolleys, trams, undergrounds … are accessible for all, even free after the show. Also the venues in Europe are inside the cities, not miles away in the middle of nowhere!
Every night after the shows in Europe I had a room with relative comfort: hostels are accessible in any big cities at a reasonable price (between 12€ and 25€).
But what increased my budget in Europe was the tickets’ buying with most of the shows being sold Out and the scalpers taking advantage of it. No shows were Sold Out in the U.S.A. (except Nashville). The American public is tired of Bob Dylan?
-Talking about the Public.
I believe the european public is younger than the U.S.A. public. Some youngsters in Europe are truly Bob Dylan Fans (not just joining their old parents). Even the ‘old’ public is 10 or 15 years younger than the ‘old’ American public (being Dylan age or older). Still 100% white.
-The performance.
It seems indifferent to him where he plays. Bob Dylan is equal to himself. No “Neighborhood Bully” in Tel Aviv (for example). No contact with the public. Deliberately avoiding to look at the public.
I mark the difference with Mark Knopfler and Band. They seem to enjoy themselves on stage, showing a spirit of comradely, exchanging looks with the front row. They SMILE.
But … as crazy as this ‘old mad man’ is, the public was for
Bob Dylan: the Legend, the Icon, the Prophet, the Poet of Rock and Roll, … Every night he moved in and out  thousands of people.
What a remarkable exploit for a grumpy, Turkish-rebel-dressed, untouchable, unreachable, unapproachable, crazy old man.       A dream twister.

As to compare with 1981. same country Germany.
30 years make a huge difference. I changed, the world changed, Bob Dylan changed.
In 1981 not once I took a room in a Hostel. I was mainly sleeping outside (it was summer), in the train stations, invited to some Fans’ house whom I could (still) meet at the back stage door.
In Germany the shows were outdoor with standing in front of the stage. After proving to the Dylan Staff I was not a nuisance I had had contacts with Bob’s entourage: Jimmy (the sweet bodyguard) who let me in for free many times, Stan (Bob’s personal physician), Bob Meyers (the road manager), Howard Alk (who even invited me in Bob’s studio in Santa Monica. Did I miss my chance?).
The shows were longer (only Dylan on the ticket), mixed with old songs and gospel songs.
the Band was good (I loved the Girls adding a touch of femininity). I believe Bob was then truly happy on stage and off stage with Klydie King. He was then approachable and charitable (a tint of Christianity, the Jesus’ spirit?).
Today I have difficulty sorting the part of ART and the part of Business. Show business taking the step on Art as a pure human expression.
Dylan didn’t succeed over the years at keeping his image of a Rebel prophet/poet. Accepting without shame or afterthoughts to shake the hand of the Pope (the Catholics don’t have quite clean hands regarding Jewish persecution), accepting Awards, Grammies, Honors (‘la Légion d’Honneur’ from Sarkozy [that ‘Little Napoleon’]).
He’s diluting himself in that “Never ending Tour” taking the pace of a “Never ending Run”. 

The Prophet has turned into a Ghost with translucent eyes that look only in his internal vacuum.


        Thank you Mr Dylan.          
I Love you Bobby.
Thanks for taking me
’on a trip upon your magic swirling ship’

PART NINE ; Europe Tour Fall 2011. Last part.

I’m back on the road for the last part. I bought a Global Train pass for two weeks until the 21st. That could take me until the three London shows.

It took me 14 hours to reach Innsbruck with three changes. I arrive at 22h.00 p.m. on the 7th. I take a taxi and check in the Youth Hostel for two nights. Nice and quite as we are only two in a dorm of six. Get up at 7.00 a.m. for a breakfast and inquire for a map and the address of the venue;OlympiaHalle. I walk there in the morning and find the buses parked in a  public parking lot. I doubt Bob will walk all the way to the back stage door. There must be another entrance. I take a walk in the old city surrounded by mountains. The weather is warm and sunny, the atmosphere pleasant. I spend three hours in the Fine Art Museum, not so great.
I then start my walk to the venue. Around 3.30 p.m. the two black buses are leaving to pick up the band and Bob. I figure out that they are staying at the Hilton in the old city but I don’t want to go there, what for? I prefer a look at distance around the venue.
At 4.30 p.m. the buses are pulling in another inside parking lot. They all get out.  I don’t see Bob but I find a nice spot to observe on the other side of the parking away from Frederica who takes her watch as usual.
At 5.00 p.m. I spot two guys walking in the parking lot; a huge man who must be one of the venue security guard and a tiny man, dressed all in black with a ¾ coat with a hood. By his way of walking I recognize Bob. He takes few steps towards an ice-ring located in the middle of the parking lot while chatting with the guard. Asking him some technical details ? Frederica had been joined by a handful of fans, one screams “Bobby!”. But Bobby doesn’t notice. At this moment I agree with him to ignore this stupid one. He keeps on chatting and finally steps in his bus. Barron and Jim take position, end of the story. That was nice. I’m glad to see that he’s not completely mute and sad that he doesn’t address his fans anymore. I start my search for a ticket as people arrive slowly by bus, cars, or just walking. The young guy from Pragues is singing Dylan’s songs. He made it to Hannover last night. I spot a man with grey hair I’ve seen in Leipzig. Over there we had had an argument about Bob being able to see or not the front row. I was sure then than Bob was still near sighted and that he could not distinguish the faces. But this man had been sure that Bob recognized him at some show.
Now I agree that maybe Bob is wearing lenses or he had had an operation on his eyes and that he can see. I then say that I need a ticket and if by any chance he’s got any. He says yes, a 107€ price ticket. I ask how he wants from it and he generously gives it to me since I agree that Bob could have noticed him in front row. Thanks.
I wait for Che and Siobhain and Tim and Kevin. They all found a good price ticket, so we get in shortly before the end of Mark knopfler set. We all move front as it is the intermission. We chat by the front rail and find out there is a large gap between the rail and the front seat row. Che who had seen hundreds of shows think we have a good chance to stay where we are during the whole show. We pray for more fans to join us in the front, for the security to be cool and for Bob to be onstage as soon as possible. Once Bob is playing I believe they would not want to disturb the show.
And “ladies and gentlemen…” “Leopard skin …” all in Black.
The best show ever on that tour for me. All the BobCats are in front and I truly believe Bob feels it immediately. He looks at us and sing for the first row. We are all enthusiastic and respectful;none will take photos.
I secretly ask for “to Ramona” but he will do “Visions of Johanna”
No “Forgetful heart” or “Man in the long black coat” or “Blind Willy Mc Tell” but he’s smiling and looking at the public, so I’m happy.
At the ending salute the musicians are truly surprised at the good feeling from the front row. We salute all of them with hands movements. Bob looks at something on his right and frowns and murmurs something to Tony who answers him. I inquire about a sign a Fan was holding. It says “smokin’ Joe”  (Joe Frazier) who had been the last boxer fighting Muhammed Ali/Casus Clay and he had died this same evening.
So Bob can see but not perfectly!
What a great show! It worth all the traveling and pain of that Tour. What a wonderful feeling!
Thanks Bobby for having been with your public that specific night in Innsbruck.
A good night sleep, a good breakfast and on the road to Italy where I expect a lot.
But … !
The four shows in Italy are ‘standing’, a chance to be in the front, but I’ll have to queue for hours.

11/09 PADOVA
I arrive late in Padova (3.00 p.m.). I check in rapidly in the Youth Hostel and rush to the venue. There is already a bunch of fans waiting at the doors in complete chaos. I don’t have a ticket yet but I spot Rita, Dooddy and Simeon. I say hello.
I stay on this ‘line’ few hours(I make sure people have seen me) then move to look for a ticket. I buy one for 40€ from an old man and try to join the line again. By then the security has decided to organize the line and had move every one away to add some railings. The first ones are not the first ones anymore.
The show tonight will start at 9.00 p.m. like all the four shows in Italy. Far too late! There will be no more buses to bring me back to my Hostel. I’ll see. Now the priority is to keep in front of the line. We’ll wait until 7.30 p.m. Hours and hours of wasting time.
They open the doors, we all run.
By some kind of miracle I’m on the left side of the stage, front row next to Rita.
The public is not as ‘civilized’ as in Germany or the U.S.A. People push and push and the vital space is reducing. I find a way nonetheless to move my feet and legs on the good songs from Knopfler. Some un-respectful fools are screaming ‘Bob’, Bobby!’ on the nice violin solo. Mark looks sad!
Dylan is on at 10.30 p.m. I recognize BobCats in the front ; Ryan, Demetrios (the American fan I met in Nashville) Mat (another American Fan) the two girls from Germany, Rita, Dooddy. I know Che and Siobhain are in the crowd somewhere; the German ‘kid’ who came to Lille and Germany and more, Tim and Kevin will make it in later.
For some reason I don’t understand the cameras are allowed inside, no control. It’s a folly to see all those lights flashing at Dylan’s face. Even in the front some have sophisticated cameras with zoom. Security doesn’t care! I don’t see Barron or ‘Mr X.’ with their flashlights. Bob suddenly agrees for photos to be taken? Or he can’t help it? So what this fuss in all the other countries?
The show is good. Bob smiles, really smiles with Donny. He sticks his tongue out. I don’t know what to make of it. It looks senile.
The public is warm but ‘erratic’. Some one screams ’Bob, Bob!’ non stop. That’s a bit too much!
Because I’m tired from the waiting on the line and because we have few space to move, I don’t feel the Magic. Bob is not looking at the first row or at the public. It’s late, he might be tired.
No “Blowing in the wind”. “Desolation row” was well done. I fall asleep in my dorm with that song in my head. Demetrios had given me a ride after the show.
We’ll all be in Florence in two days from now.

It takes me a while to get to Florence for the information they gave me at the train station were wrong. I check in the Youth Hostel by the train station and go for a walk in the city. Magnificent cathedrals  and monuments. Tomorrow the Hostel organizes a free sight seeing tour from 10 to 12 a.m. Perfect. I offer myself the treat of an Italian ice cream and go to bed early.
I get up early for I want to see more of the city before the sight seeing Tour. I heard about a Box Office selling concert ticket so I run there, but there is no more standing ticket. I don’t want a seat, I want a front row. After the interesting tour I enter the Fine Art Museum to absorb myself with the paintings of Michael Angelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Tiepolo, Tintoret … and then it’s time to move to the venue for I’ll have to find a ticket and queue.
I have no luck with my search so I go to the Box Office. It takes forever for the Italians to open. Since they are no more standing I buy myself a seat with the hope of swapping it or anyway to get in. I have no luck swapping it. On the line Demetrios is holding some space for his girlfriend and myself. I meet with Rita, Dooddy and Simeone who bought V.I.P. packages. They’ll enter 10 minutes before the throng on the line for 120€ a ticket.
Now they open the doors and I get in with my seat ticket. I sneak around to get down the floor and join Rita and Dooddy right on the rail in the front. Frederica arrives a bit later, she was holding her ‘please, I need a free ticket’ few minutes earlier. She has her way!
We wait one hour and a half before Mark who seams more and more tired. His set is well organized now, always the same set list. The public is well responding to the Dire Straits songs. A boy of 10/12 years old is a fan, so we let him in the front. He’ll leave after Mark’s set. They change the equipment quickly now. Since the show starts at 9.00 p.m. Bob will be on at 10h30 p.m. much too late!
“Ladies and gentlemen…”
“Leopard skin …”
Then the first lines of “Girl of the north country” , so fast I can’t sing along. What’s the rush?
The first row is enthusiastic even though few BobCats made it to the front. Ryan is behind me and Demetrios , his girl friend and Mat, a young American guy following part of the Tour. Ryan will end the Tour in Florence. I don’t see the two German girls nor the two big men with white hair. Tim and Kevin will get in later for free. They don’t understand why I want to be in front, but , as I said, each BobCat has is reason and his own way. Rita wants to be in front (she’s going only to the standing shows) and Frederica and Mat. Mat will sell me his Rome’s ticket for he was upset not to have been first row tonight. He had been first in the line waiting but with the V.I.P. packages the first row was taken by rich people. After the show will chat. I ask him if he had met Bob. He says yes, that he had been backstage for few minutes in 2004. He had reach Bob through Bob’s manager. I tell him he’s lucky for it’s pretty rare to reach Bob in those days.
The show is good. Bob sweats a lot since the beginning and puts his hands on his chest. I’m wondering if he can breathe alright.
Tonight a great “The levee’s gonna break” and a always beautiful “Forgetful heart”.
His look is rapidly scanning the first row but if he recognizes someone he doesn’t show any notice. Barron is walking the gap, making sure no Fan takes any photo. Between Rita, Frederica and myself we make fuss in the front, but in vain. No personal look! Even at the salute. He looks tired and puffy again. But I enjoyed myself, singing along and ignoring the 10 000 fans behind me.
Mats tells me that when he’s in the front row he’s sure Bob and the band recognize him. I tell him that I have the strong feeling no one is actually looking at the public.
Mat, the grey-hair-man, Frederica, Rita and few more are dreaming being recognized. I was dreaming too. But not anymore.
They play for an anonymous crowd.
So many BobCats are so tired of so much pain for so few results (14 songs tonight) that they won’t make it any further.
Italy is a nice country but the opposite of Germany; chaotic and disorganized. Count on the trains to be late!
All the shows are standing, a chance to be front but with so much wasting of time and energy.
I’m glad I’ve been able to share with some followers. They all follow since the 90’s when Bob’s security was tough. They can’t understand my deception at not being able to see Bob or say hello or good night. The frustration is creeping on me.
Claude agreed to join me for the show in Sarrago [Milan]. We can share at another level. Our memories from the past.

I’m in the train to Rome. I was hoping to meet with Che and Siobhain. Last night after the show the three of us had a run to the downtown area towards our hotels. My Hostel has a curfew time at 2.00 a.m. Without anymore bus or train at this hour of the night we had to walk for more than an hour. Arriving at my Hostel  5 minutes after 2.00 a.m. I had been scolded out by the manager. My night had been tormented.
I remember now a small thing from the show:during the show Bob forgot the lyrics of one song and had mumbled something. The sign he was not ‘with’ us. Old and tired? He was wearing that flashy green shirt I don’t like!

11/12 ROME
I arrived in Roma Termini in early afternoon. After checking two Hostels I found out they’re full. So I decided to leave my luggage at the train station and took a chance to visit Roma. I lost myself in the narrow streets packed with tourists around the Coliseum, found the fountain of Trevi and moved back to the train station to catch the 714 bus to the Pallalottomatica.
Roma is a huge city, all spread out. I’m lucky Mat sold me his ticket for I meet on the line two BobCats and I move right in the front of the waiting line. I say hello to Rita and Dooddy who have V.I.P. packages. Rita says she might not be able to save me some space for she has 2 others friends coming tonight, plus Frederica.
They’re late opening the doors. It’s cold outside. They open just before 8.00 p.m. and we run, run, run. I meet with Rita at the rail. We chat for a while.I see a japanese woman who had been to Padova show. Except Rita and myself no BobCats that I recognize. I haven’t seen Che and Siobhain on the train from Florence, I don’t know if they made it.
Mark Knopfler is on and the public is responding well. Obviously the most Knopfler public of the Tour. They take photos like crazy. The guy next to me is a photo freak. Will he do that for Bob?
After a non surprising Knopfler show they roll the instruments. We notice that Bob’s keyboard is slightly turn aside towards the left side of the first row. Now he could see his public standing on his keyboard. Thank you Bobby!
“Ladies and gentlemen…”
With Rita we bet on the color of his hat; black or white? I say black for he had been wearing black in Italy. And yes it’s black but … a cow-boy hat! You look good Bobby in that black-cow-boy hat!

“But you know what we really love you for
It’s your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat”
I’m right in his line of vision. If he can see he has to see me! Maybe? And what?
He looks fit, not sweating so much.
“The lonesome death of Hattie Carole”, “Ballad Of Hollis Brown” clearly worded.
I don’t even notice the presence of Mark Knopfler anymore. I don’t know on how many songs he will play.
“Desolation row” is a little bit erratic, the end too much ‘staccato’.
And yes! He will do “Forgetful heart”, always so beautiful and so sad.
“The door has closed forevermore”
What does it mean? The door of his heart? No more Love, no more pain?
If the door is closed, Bobby, please open a window.
The public is flashing like crazy[cameras]. Barron and ‘Mr X.’ run in front to stop that craziness before Bob gets mad and stops singing. On my right the silly Italian guy has a big Canon with zoom. He’s trying hard to get a close up right in the face of Bob. I put my hand in front of his lens. He’s mad and I scream “Don’t do it, Bob doesn’t like it”. He’ll put his camera away for a while. I saved you Bobby! But behind me they flash.
Bobby is right in front of me for his standing songs but he doesn’t look or maybe with his a peripheral glance. He doesn’t avoid looking though, he’s with us tonight. His movements are more controlled, less des-articulated. Even “The ballad of a thin man” is more together. He’s responding to his own echo.
“Thunder on the mountain” is the pick, the public is wild.
Rita, her friend and myself are responding to Stu or Charley’s guitar solos. They’re moving in my back too. The Italian public doesn’t respect the vital space, they knock on each other, that’s adding to the ambiance.
“The ballad of a thin man” is coming too soon, I know it’s almost the end with the predictable “All along the watch tower” and “Like a rolling stone”. Though I wish he could change this one I join the public for a sing along.
He murmurs something at the ear of Tony. I scream “Blowing in the wind” just to have the feeling he will do it for me. He will do it. Thank you Bobby!
His salute is longer than usual but doesn’t look at the front row.
The lights are on, the Magic is gone, I must go on.
I have no room tonight. The venue is miles away from the train station. Five BobCats from Norway, Germany or England take me under their protection. After a beer we all move to the center in the last underground train. It’s one o’clock. The train station is closed. I can’t believe it! It was so busy during the day. It’s cold so I wander around trying to find a cheap Hotel. I find one for 39€/night. I check in for 5 hours of rest. It’s funky but warm and secure.
If I dreamed of Bob I don’t remember. But looking at him so close during the show I have the feeling he’s familiar, like a brother. It takes me some effort to realize I was actually staring at Bob Dylan.
I don’t go by the black buses anymore, I prefer to be first row. Last night however the two black buses were stuck in the traffic so I had the chance to say again “bye, bye Bobby, good night!” and praying the driver was good. He is, zigzagging between the cars.
I haven’t seen Che and Siobhain. That was supposed to be their last show before London.
[They’ll tell me later that they couldn’t get in]
At the train station early morning on the 13th I meet with Kevin who tells me that Tim and himself could not get in the previous night. The security was tough. Even Frederica didn’t make it!
I’m surprised about the Italians that I find rather tough, as I was expecting more gentleness. Is it the effect of globalization and the development of selfishness?
I want to get to Milan early, find a cheap Hostel for the first night and sight seeing.
It’s a day off, will I step on the young-dressed-hooded-Turk taking a walk with the last of the Samourai? By a simple twist of fate?
I have to check my bank account for my
My money comes and goes
My money comes and goes
My money comes and goes
And rolls and flows and rolls and flows
Through the holes in the pockets in my clothes”
I spent already too much. Will I make it to Switzerland, an expensive country?
I’m pretty sure not to make it to London, it will be impossible to get tickets.
We’ll see, God’s will!

My good friend and Dylan Fan Claude Boni sent me a mail informing she won’t be able to go to Milan. So I’m on my own with my thoughts and my Bob Dylan’s dreams.
I then check in for two nights at the Youth Hostel in Milan next to the beautiful white marble Cathedral: Duomo. I go there in the afternoon but spot no one having a connection with Dylan. I take a chance to cook myself some dinner and go to bed early by 8.00 p.m. I will sleep 12 hours non stop in a quiet room.
On the 14th. A simple breakfast and a walk again to the Duomo. In the early afternoon I spot Mark Knopfler’s drummer and bagpipe musician crossing the piazza, but no Samouraï!
I eat a lunch of pastas before taking the underground to the venue. In the train I meet with the Japanese girl[who also wants to be front row]. At the gates there is a line. I’ve got no ticket but find immediately a scalper. 100€ for a standing, normal price 48€. I say 80€. I want to be in front, all the BobCats want to be front. Some I recognise from Florence and Rome;
the tall man from Berlin, the white-hair-man from Norway, Rita, Dooddy, Simeon, their english friend (Romy) a woman from Norway (Eva)who was in Padova and Florence, a french woman (Cath), Mat who’s looking for a ticket and waiting for Demetrios and his girl friend.
Two french young men are standing next to me (Olivier and Claude). We chat for four hours. It’s foggy and cold but I’ve got on me three layers of sweatshirst and two pairs of socks, scarf, gloves. I gonna be dying of heat inside.
7.30 p.m. they open the gates and I’m so stiff with cold that I can hardly run. Mat is in front. I stick right behind him. At the right spot on the left for I believe Bob will have his keyboard aside again.
On my left and behind some really young people (16/17) are obviously Mark Knopfler’s Fans. Mark will have his night of glory, tonight. He will try a new song. Nice!
I hope secretly that some of thoses fans will leave after Mark’s set and let me move on the rail. They do after Mark had left the stage.
I’m right in Bob’s vision when he’s on his keyboard. He’s wearing a long black jacket. But tonight he’s again in his own world, ghostly.
At some point he’s looking for his harmonica and Tony reacts fast to hand it to him, even Charley makes a move.
The set is good, nothing special. None of my favorite songs. A nice “Simple twist of fate”.
Mat left earlier to try and catch the last train at 12.20 going downtown. I prefered to enjoy the show until the end and now I’m wondering if I gonna be stuck here in the cold fog, miles away from my warm and cosy bed.
I follow the throng to the Metro/tube and sensibly they add a train for the latecomers.
I step out at the Duomo and walk half an hour like a zomby. I reach my bunk at 2.00 a.m. and crash on it.

11/15 Geneva  Switzerland.
My train will be arriving at 4.00 p.m.. I don’t know if I’ll be able to be in the front. But truly I start to be tired of that ‘game’. I’m exhausted. I need some motivation; the Innsbruck show again?
Again talking in the line with the BobCats I find out we are all different;
the women want to be front row (center if possible), each one wants to be ‘special’ and be recognised by Bob (The Lover, the Father, the Brother … the Icon)
Rita will do only the ‘standing’ shows and make sure she’s in the front on the rail.
the men are more reserved and don’t mind to be two rows back (except the young ones like Mat or the tall kid from Germany or the blond english kid). Che and Siobhain prefer to save money on the ticket and eventually sneak in front. Tim and Kevin prefer to save money on the ticket and anyway to leave before the end because they have business to do.
Those last four are doing the whole Tour (expect few shows) and all the european tours since the late 80’s.
Saving money is a necessity.
The two french men (Olivier and Claude) told me that since 2005 Bob’s voice is lacking of quality. When in the past they expected a good show among some average shows now they are reduced to expect just a good song, some in a while.
I believe that as much as Bob’s performance is concerned it has nothing to do with the public but just depends on his mood. I have the sentiment he's living more and more in his own world, his own reality of time and space, waking up at times to realise with horror that people are staring at him, hoping to be able to detach his soul from his body. At times he will succeed, other times not.
As much as each Fan’s reception of the show will depend on this person feelings; the fatigue of the day, the good spot in the venue (the good view and good sound), the expectation from the show, the knowledge of the past performances, the expectation of this song or that song. For most of the fans Lille was a good show, for me (because of all the troubles getting in and my bad spot) it was the worst.
The relationship between Bob Dylan's audience and Bob Dylan was and will always be exceptionally complex, as complex as the Man and Artist: Bob Dylan.

At the train station waiting for my train to Geneva I’m reading a book by Paulo Coelho “the winner stands alone”. Much appropriate for Bob Dylan.

I arrive late in Geneva, 4.30 p.m. with few chance to be in front.
I check rapidly in the Youth Hostel by the train station and rush to the SEG Geneva Arena.
I meet there Tim, Kevin, Mat, Frederica. Not over friendly! Mat sells me a ticket for face value; 100 FCH. Demetrios and his girl friend are not coming, they’re sick so they handed their tickets to Mat.
Fortunatly on the front of the line I meet the tall Berlin Fan I helped put front yesterday. I sneak in next to him.
The line is not too long, not like in Italy. People are relatively old, older than the italian public.
The weather is warmer than in Milan but the atmosphere much more cold and disciplined. It’s already 6.00 p.m. and they’ll open the doors at 6.30 p.m. for a show at  8.00 p.m.
We run, run, run and I find myself next to Frederica and an Italian youngster who did the italian leg. I see Olivier and Claude and that’s it. No BobCats! Rita, Duddy, Simeon didn’t make it? [they had had business problems] Next to me some french fans came from Paris or other part of France. They have been to Paris, Lille, Antwerpe … They agree that Bercy was horrible; sound and atmosphere (one tells me that Dylan had been booed!).
So please, Bobby, don’t do anymore Bercy and the O2 World in Berlin.

If he's got any control on where he's playing?!
We chat about … Bob Dylan. All kind of rumors and gossips, hard to sort the rights from the wrongs.
“Oh a false clock tries to tick out my time
To disgrace, distract, and bother me
And the dirt of gossip blows into my face
And the dust of rumors covers me
But if the arrow is straight
And the point is slick
It can pierce through dust no matter how thick
So I’ll make my stand
And remain as I am
And bid farewell and not give a damn”

And Mark is on, really close to the front row. Because youngters are enthousiastic I try to enjoy myself but I almost fall asleep on the trio bluezy song. Boring. His voice is soporific.
We bet on the colour of Bob’s hat. Black cow-boy hat, red stripped suit.
“Leopard skin …” will start pretty good but the fire will extinguished. The public is good but not over doing it. Few fans on the front dance on “Summer days” and “Thunder on the mountain”.
I look intensely at his face. His expression is neutral. I even have the strange sensation (just my bad feelings) that he’s avoiding looking in my direction. His gaze is more on the right side of the first row. His eyes are not scanning like in Innsbruck. The sensation he’s playing only for himself (or God?).
“Highway 61” is too loud, deafening. Some leave the venue. The youngsters are gone. There is an empty space all around me. My strange feeling is that;
“Oh my God am I here all alone?”.
Somehow I had some eye contact respectivaly with Mark Knopfler, Tony and Charley (or is it my imagination?), but the sensation is bad! Hostile looks! Intuition or paranoïa? Hard to tell. But thoses feelings are scaring me. Am I loosing my sanity! If I ever had any.
Even Bob’s eyes appear dark, the Devil’s eyes! And I call him”the crazy old man”.
None of my favorite songs; “Forgetful heart”, “Man in the long black coat”, “Blind Willy Mc Tell”. He deliberately forgot my songs?
Looking at him sweating and blowing in his harp I try to picture him in his 20’s when he was the Rebel Prophet, the Philosopher, the hidden consciousness of a whole generation.
But I see in this performer just an old and tired man with a puffy face and a hoarse voice.
Tonight he didn’t put his Bob Dylan mask on. The Magic doesn’t work. Tonight he’s Zimmy, the gloomy clown.

Zurich will be only seats, no standing. I’ll check around the back-stage door, play ‘Cat and Mouse’ with Barron, be myself a clown in that big Circus.

The book I’m reading might have some influence on my mood
”The winner stands alone”, alone in his black-gold-prison-cell!

“People are never satisfied.If they have a little they want more. If they have a lot, they want still more. Once they have more, they wish they could be happy with little, but are incapable of making the slightest effort in that direction.”
Paulo Coelho.

Olivier told me that Dylan had just signed a contract for the release of “Cronicles II”. Let see what the MAN himself has to say.

11/116 ZURICH
I arrive in the early afternoon but the Backpackers is closed. I take a chance to read my book then check in and take a walk along the quai. I’m in the best part of the city, nice and clean.
I take the tram 11 to the Stadion. I arrive just in time to see the Musicians’ bus pulls in a closed parking lot, no visibility. No play ‘cat and mouse’ with Barron. I miss that Samouraï! If Bob’s security is his only job, that’s pretty cool. Except Frederica and myself no one never venture by the black-gold-prison-cell. I’m wondering if his fonctions are not also to help an old man who’s loosing his capacities! An old-man-sitter Barron?
I meet with a man in a wheel chair and we get in the bar of the Holyday Inn to keep warm. He’s a Bruce Springsteen fan, had seen him 12 times. He’s also a Dire Straits fan. He doesn’t know much of Dylan but he’s nice enough to pretend to be interested in my Dylan stories.
Later on the young Dylan singer from Pragues will show up, but doesn’t want to go to the show. He thinks Dylan’s voice is pretty bad. He’s just making money on Dylan’s back by singing his songs before and after the show! I’m nice enough not to tell him that his voice is not the best either. At least Bob Dylan WROTE his songs.
Kevin and Tim will join the small group. Of course Frederica is around, checking on the bus!
No more. The BobCats dropped out! They’re all tired and deceived. The shows repeat themselves. We’re always hoping for a surprise but it doesn’t worth the pain and the money!
Kevin is homesick, So am I.
I buy a ticket early for 40€ and get in for it’s getting cold.
My seat is all the way up in a big ‘bowl’. Mark is good and clear but small. I don’t want to see Bob from so far away. I check the floor. It’s packed. The crowd is more quiet than the italian one. During the intermission I sneak in the ‘parket’. Not too close but good enough.
“Ladies and gentlemen …”
Bob is wearing is white hat and that’s all I can see.
The sound seems terribly loud. “Leopard skin…” is not finished that some old chaps are leaving. And so during the whole show. Bob is growling more than singing.
“Thunder on the mountain” will be the pick.
From where I am I observe a strange phenomena: as soon as people leave the front rows people from the back are moving front. Finaly even if half the parket is empty all the Fans are packed in the front, up and dancing. Of course the Band will see only the enthousiastic crowd.
Tonight he will do “Jolene “ and “Man in the long black coat”. These two songs will do my night and worth my 40€. My “Shot of Love “in a gloomy day.
I leave the venue at the beginning of “Like a rolling stone”. I want to wish good night to Bob and a safe trip to London. I’m sure he’ll fly tonight.
The black buses are not running. He’ll take a car?
Frederica is also checking out.
I hear “Blowing in the wind”.
Few minutes later ‘Mr X.’ rushes out, jumps in a car.
A van with smoked-glass windows pulls by the back stage door.
The van rolls out, I’m sure with Bob inside. All by himself, no musicians. Strait to the airport?
I’m sure he’ll take a private plane. I don’t see how he could stand sitting next to ordinary people who could recognise him and stare at him. Or am I wrong?
“Bye, bye Bobby Good night. Have a safe trip!”

The young man from Pragues asks me the eternal question; why is he touring so much?
I don’t know
-money? But he agrees he can live on his royalties
-the pressure of the showBusiness? Bob Dylan is an industry. Thousands persons depend on his shows and selling tickets and selling posters, T-Shirts, albums …
-the need of being revered by the public? ( an anonymous public ).
-nothing else to do? Nothing better to do?

“He’s staring into space, as if hoping to make it clear he doesn’t want to be disturbed”.
Paulo Coelho

11/19 LONDON

From Zurich I go back home. There are two days off before the three last shows at the Hammersmith Theater in London.
I still don’t know if I’ll be able to go. Finding tickets will be the biggest problem. On the other hand I would like to see all the BobCats again and see if Bob will do something spectacular. He’s always good in London.
I arrive home on the evening of the 17th  after a whole day in the trains or train-stations.
On the 18th I take care of my business affairs. I check on the internet for train tickets and for a booking in a Youth Hostel in London. Everything goes well. I will go finaly.
I arrive at St Pancras train-station at 11.28 a.m. It’s too early to check in  so I leave my back at the Hostel and go strait to the Hammersmith Appolo Theater. There is already a line of 15 or 20 people. I say hello to all the BobCats I know and inquire for a ticket. I find one at face-value, 70£ (I will find one for every night). The doors will open at  6.00 p.m. for a show at  7.30 p.m. But as in Italy the tickets they sold through the Mark Knopfler Fan Club have a pre-entry. 20 to 25 people will be in front before the ones on the line even if some have been here since 10:00 a.m.
At 6.00 p.m. we run. Luckily for me Duddy is here with a Mark Knopfler ticket and in front. He saved me some space on the rail, slightly on the left.
A good spot since Bob will again turn his keyboard aside. We all expect a lot from these three nights. A changing in the set list. A big surprise? “Isis”?
It's a bad joke to ask this song that Bob doesn't do anymore on stage.
That song was written as a tentative of reconciliation with his first wife Sara, at a time when their marriage was in jeopardy. He will never do that song again!
The first show is average, nothing too new. The Venue is small, 3000 or so. The atmosphere is warm. The whole first row, on the rail, is filled up with BobCats. There will be no security problem.
The stage is low so we can see the musicians’ boots.
I haven’t seen Che and Siobhain, they should be in the back.
I’m glad I made it for now the atmosphere is friendly.
Bob is wearing his black hat and his white boots.
He’s really close but doesn’t seem to acknowledge the public.

11/20 LONDON
I arrive at the Theater at 2.30 a.m.after a bad night sleep in a dorm of 8 packed like sardines. The breakfast is a buffet; bread, cereals, coffee, orange juice (or substitute of). I ate all I could eat. My only meal of the day. We have to be carefull not to drink or eat too much.
I meet the same Fans; Johanna (first in line), two english old chaps, the tall young english boy, 2 german women (red hair and blond hair), one german girl (the other one could not come), Eilrick, the german young guy I met first in Lille, the two white-haired old men (from Germany or Norway or Sweden), a french lady (Cathy) an english woman (Romy), Rita, Duddy, Simeon, the man from Switzerland (who doesn’t like me too much!), Steve the english fan who had been to Duluth and Hibing,  Demetrios and his girl friend (Mat will not come they say), Eva from Norway with her mantor Becky, Roberto from Italy, the tall man from Berlin and his friends. Tim and Kevin will join later and of course Che and Siobhain. Of course Frederica. Probably more who don’t wish to be in the front. Altogether 30 to 35 BobCats.
We keep ourselves warm with coffee or beer until 6.00 p.m (not too much though). A bit chilly today but nothing bad. At least no rain. It’s Sunday. The line behind us is forming faster than yesterday.
At 6:00 p.m. we all run, run, run. Not so much solidarity anymore!  We’re all at the rail at the same spot as yesterday.
We’re so impatient that it’s difficult to concentrate on Mark Knopfler set. His jokes are no more funny!
“Ladies and gentlemen …”
Right away the first notes of “Leopard-skin pill-box hat” are perfectly executed by all the musicians. We ALL know that’s gonna be THE night. Bob is in his best. Professional, not at all erratic as he can be sometimes. I don’t realise when Mark leaves the stage. Stu and Charley are doing the trick.
The first notes of “Blind Willy Mc Tell”. I’m in Heaven!
But Eva, on my left has a nervous break-down. She’s hesterical and doesn’t want to go with the security. She falls on the ground and stays there for a while. I am torn between helping her or concentrating on the show. She doesn't respond to my help so I swap space with Becky who will take care of her. I go back to Bob. The show is fantastic! Great performance from all the Band. Even “Highway 61” and “The ballad of a thin man” recover their magic.
After “All along the watch tower” Bob moves to Tony and says something in his ear. One of the roadies brings a shit. Bob grabs it and puts it on the pile on his keyboard. The first lines of “Jolene”, what a surprise! Then “Like a rolling stone”, sang by 3000 voices.
All the BobCats are stoned. Best performance on that Tour.
But for me the Innsbruck show will still be the best for even tonight Bob didn’t look at the public like he did in Innsbruck. Though I don’t know how much he can see without looking.

I meet with Che and Siobhain at the end of the show. We go for a drink in a pub with Tim.
Siobhain would like to be front tomorrow so we agree to be on the line at 10:00 a.m.

11/21 LONDON
Johanna is already there with her sleeping bag, since 8:30 a.m. Plus the two english old chaps. They don’t share so much. Also the tall english young man, the two german women are joining soon. We complain about the fact that anyway the Mark Knopfler Fan Club buyers wil be in before us, no matter what. The tension is mounting. We all want to be front, and most of all the women. Suddenly I feel like being in a chicken coop, Bob being against his will the cock and the chicks fighting for his attention. The rush gonna be hard tonight, no more friendliness. Unfortunatly for me the scanner doesn’t work and I miss the adventage of my 6th position on the line. Fortunatly for me Duddy was on the rail and accepts to save me some space. But I find myself again next to Eva. I fear the worst. Her mentor Becky is insulting me, pretending I stole Eva’s space. I concentrate on the show, the last one of a long run.
I recite some mentra and breathe hard.
And Bobby in on. The chicks in the front are hysterical! Poor Bobby!

The show is not as together as last night, his voice is getting tired. But he’s doing his best.

In three days he will do;
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right/ It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
Things Have Changed
Mississippi/ Tryin' To Get To Heaven/ Spirit On The Water
Honest With Me
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll/ Tangled Up In Blue/ Forgetful Heart
Ballad Of Hollis Brown/ Summer Days/ The Levee's Gonna Break
Make You Feel My Love/ Blind Willie McTell/ Man In The Long Black Coat
Highway 61 Revisited
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall/ Desolation Row
Thunder On The Mountain
Ballad Of A Thin Man
All Along The Watchtower
Like A Rolling Stone
Forever Young

He did in three days all the regular songs from the Tour, exception of “Blowing in the wind” as an encore. With the presence of Mark Knopfler for “Forever Young”.
What a wonderful conclusion! 

May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young