Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bob Dylan
The Show

Trying to think of what to say but having as much trouble getting excited about the prospect as Bob was having getting excited about doing a live show. I have never seen such a dour bunch of guys loping through the songs like it was a penance. I've got to believe it's on purpose. There's no way 6 different guys could all look, in the words of Leonard Cohen, "like their father or their dog just died."

This is not hyperbole, to which I am prone.

Everything in this show, for good or bad, is highly choreographed and planned...from where you stand to what you wear to when you play. These guys have been paid to not smile. There were about 7 seconds total in the whole show where someone broke rank. Recile dropped a little triplet at the end of song and Bob smiled (1.5 seconds), Donny's eyes lit up a tad (2.0 seconds) and Stu breyed like a giddy donkey (3.5 seconds).

That was it.

Other than that we got a display of what 30 years of myopia will do to your facial expressions. Oh, and three droplets of sweat.

Bob's penchant for not engaging his audience is legend. He's elevated the art from the minimalist stage chatter, "Thank You, Friends", to turning his back on half the arena with his current keyboard configuration. That's well enough. Perhaps the sheer genius behind this, the deep underlying message which no doubt centers around who owns the artist, as opposed to the art, will become apparent in some distant year when the last Dylanologists are dissecting what's left of Bob.

However is there really a need to drag the other guys into this?

That being said, it's as hard to find fault with the performance as it is to point to moments of high art. While the band is never set free to express themselves outside the limited bounds Dylan has set for this revue, they are more than proficient and even excellent at times. Stu Kimball has been given a solo electric spot in High Water. Denny Freeman does some very nimble work with a slide sleeve on Rollin' and Tumblin'. Recile is hitting the skins and cymbals with more force and volume than over the past couple years. Tony is Tony. Bob is Bob. Donny is the most underused talent in any live band...which ain't an easy title to capture when you're in the same band as Stu.

Overall better than expected, not better than desired. This show probably cracks my top 100 all time, due mostly to my having seen a half dozen the past couple years.

So wha' happened?

4 MT songs...and if that's not bad enough, they were the highlights. When The Deal Goes Down is my favourite of the 'soft' songs on this record, and we didn't get anymore (read: Spirit, Horizon) Only my second Ain't Talkin' ever and it may have been the best song of the night. Rollin' and Tumblin' and Thunder On The Mountain, as a pair, were the equal of LARS and Watchtower as far as the band playing was concerned. All of them very good tonight.

I always enjoy Cat's In the Well so that was a decent opener. The delayed crowd recognition of It Ain't Me Babe was worth a chuckle. Both Mobile and GofNC have long since worn their welcome.

The crowd tried it's best to take over the chorus on Just Like A Woman, and Bob gave them a little space to vent before he jammed the lines into the last quarter-bar of music.

Highway 61 was revitalized from it's languid state of '06-' had a little punch, mostly from Recile on the drums. It's Alright Ma, in yet another 'new' arrangement, was also a stand-out, a pretty intense delivery.

Only a few times did Bob take liberty with the lyrics.

In High Water (for Charley Patton), at the penultimate biographical line, Bob buries, rather than emphasizes, a critical word. What should be his motto: "As great as you are man, you'll never be greater than yourself," which is followed by the derisive reply, "I don't really care," is done with a subtle alteration. In a new singing affectation he's picked up Bob just chokes the "yourself" into an unrecognizable mono-syllabic grunt, coming in hard with the reply. It ain't much, but it's something.

In Tryin' To Get To Heaven he playfully stangles the "Missouri/hurry" rhyme, at most end of lines, into something almost funny. Cuter still was revision in the 'pendulum swinging on chains' verse where instead of "When you think that you lost everything/
You find out you can always lose a little more,"
we get the more hopeful, "I tried to give you everything, everything you're little heart was longing for..."

Finally, Moonlight, which usually is to an uplifting concert experience what an unwanted pregnancy is to an illicit affair, has drastically modified lyrics. Now they might not make it a better song, but they certainly don't make it worse.

Original Verse:
Well, I'm preachin' peace and harmony
The blessings of tranquility
Yet I know when the time is right to strike
I'll take you 'cross the river dear
You've no need to linger here
I know the kinds of things you like

New Verse:
Well, I'm preachin' peace and harmony
The blessings of tranquility
I'm waitin' for that midnight bell to strike
I'll take you 'cross the river dear
You've no need to linger here
You know we think the same, we even dress alike."

And even more dramatic...

Original Verse:
The trailing moss and mystic glow
Purple blossoms soft as snow
My tears keep flowing to the sea
Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief
It takes a thief to catch a thief
For whom does the bell toll for, love? It tolls for you and me

New Verse:
The trailing moss and mystic glow
Purple blossoms soft as snow
Different routes(?) all through the countryside
Around the horn and over the hill
I don't wanna go but go I will
With you onboard I'll gladly take the ride.

We even get a harp break.

Now the best thing about a Dylan show, and it has been the best thing for years now, is touching base with friends old and new. Great to see Federica. Margery and Lori and Paul, the last of a dwindling number of Toronto-based Dylan-friends. Always Michey, even moreso when Rick's in tow. The kids from Windsor, who will be doing this and more when I'm just dust. And a handful of other familiar faces and names that pop up at various places.

Here's the setlist and some mp3's.

Bob Dylan and His Band
Copps Coliseum
Hamilton ON

Source:Church Audio Cardioids>CA STC-9000 Pre-Amp >Edirol R-09 at 24/48 >USB >Sonic Foundry 16bit wave> FlacFrontend

recorded by KreweChief
location Row 2 Center

Disc 1

Track 01 Intro
Track 02 Cat's In The Well
Track 03 It Ain't Me Babe
Track 04 Stuck Inside of Mobile (w/ the Memphis Blues Again)
Track 05 Girl of the North Country
Track 06 High Water (for Charley Patton)
Track 07 Just Like A Woman
Track 08 Rollin' and Tumblin'
Track 09 Tryin' To Get To Heaven
Track 10 Highway 61 Revisited

Disc 02

Track 01 Moonlight
Track 02 It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
Track 03 When The Deal Goes Down
Track 04 Thunder on the Mountain
Track 05 Ain't Talkin'
Track 06 encore/crowd
Track 07 Like A Rolling Stone
Track 08 Band Intro
Track 09 All Along the Watchtower

Complete show in FLAC format


LostChords said...

Thank you very much for the review & the recording!

Tim said...

Ah, how things have changed.,278719

Re: My Eastlake Take

Posted by: Marcel (

Date: June 27, 2005 04:58PM
great stuff nutopia...sounds like Cry A While has matured. i'm looking forward to this recording after a less than stellar week in front of it.
and just in case i'm at risk of losing the "Krewe Chief" label...i may have caught a sub-standard show (for my taste anyway, there were some moments at Little Falls) but night after night, month after month, this guy brings it out there and delivers. this doesn't even count the book, the projects away from touring, the movie...etc... the whole evening is the Bob Dylan Show...the songs, the band, the whole shebang. he puts more energy into shaping his show, tour after tour, than i do at my job, without a doubt.