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The W - Music - Bob Dylan Concert Review - May 22, 2008, Halifax Metro Centre
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tarnish
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Since: 13.2.02
From: Back in the Heart of Hali

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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.00

Others have done this, so I thought I'd take a stab at one.

We heard Dylan was coming about two weeks before tickets went on sale. I totally forgot about it, but one of my managers is possibly an even bigger Dylan fan than I and furnished me with a code for fan club pre-release tickets. We were in the lower bowl, front of the stage was in the "slot" and we were at the opposite blueline.

Tickets said 7:30pm, due to the slow lines we didn't get in until about 7:40 and we didn't smell the incense until more like ten to eight. They immediately launched into "Rainy Day Women" which, of course, led to plenty of other smells floating around, a theme that repeated itself a couple of times over the course of the night.

There was no intermission, they just played straight through until about 9:30, ending on the Hendrix version of "All Along the Watchtower". We got them out for a single encore of "Thunder on the Mountain" and "Like a Rolling Stone".

The set list contained a few classics beyond the aforementioned two, including "Highway 61", "It Ain't Me, Babe", "It's Alright, Ma", and "Positively 4th Street", the last being the one he chose to confuse the crowd with by completely changing the arrangement and singing around the melody.

The rest of the set was pulled almost entirely from his last two studio albums: Love & Theft and Modern Times. "Working Man's Blues #2" was a standout, with a tight arrangement and some new verses that easily equaled those on the album. "Spirit on the Water" had some excellent lead guitar with a classic round and bright Strat-through-a-Fender-Tweed tone.

To my chagrin, there was no "Po' Boy", "Mississippi", or "Sugar Baby", but they did hit "Rollin' and Tumblin'", "Nettie Moore", "Levee's Gonna Break", "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum", "High Water", "Moonlight", and probably another track or two that I can't recall at this point.

The band took a couple of tracks to warm up, especially the lead guitarist, but once they got going they made up for it with some excellent play towards the end of the concert. Dylan stuck to the keys for the whole show, putting in some solid solos of his own; there was a downstage mike in evidence, but except for a couple walks across the stage to commiserate with Tony Garnier on bass, he never did switch to it with a guitar. Speaking of Tony Garnier, he's a monster on bass, but he was a little light in the mix; he pulled out an upright for a few tracks that was a nice treat.

George G. Receli on drums was probably the standout musician of the night, playing some fills and syncopations that didn't sound like they could possibly resolve in time, until they did.

I saw Dylan in the same place in 1997, and though I was 13th row, it wasn't great (at that point in time, though, he could have got up on stage, played two songs and fallen over in a puddle his own vomit and I would have been happy). His voice is strong, he looks way more comfortable, and he's definitely hit his stride on the keyboard.

I had a pretty realistic expectation going in; I know I'm not going to hear some of the songs I desperately would like to, like "Brownsville Girl", "Sad-eyed Lady of the Lowlands", "Desolation Row", "Up to me", or anything from Blood on the Tracks. Having two very strong recent albums seems to have breathed some new life into Bob's performance, especially compared to '97. The band was generally tight, with some nice arrangements and a decent mix (again, would have loved a little more bass). More importantly, it looked like they were all having fun up there and the crowd was certainly enjoying themselves. I feel like I got my money's worth, and that's what matters most.
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kingleo
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Since: 26.11.04
From: Logan, UT

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#2 Posted on
    Originally posted by tarnish

    "Positively 4th Street", the last being the one he chose to confuse the crowd with by completely changing the arrangement and singing around the melody.


Is he still doing the slowed-down version?

    Originally posted by tarnish


    I had a pretty realistic expectation going in; I know I'm not going to hear some of the songs I desperately would like to, like "Brownsville Girl", "Sad-eyed Lady of the Lowlands", "Desolation Row", "Up to me", or anything from Blood on the Tracks.


It looks like you just caught him on an uninteresting night. He'd done a song from Blood On The Tracks every night of the tour up until your show except Monday when he sang Desolation Row and Visions of Johanna.
tarnish
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Since: 13.2.02
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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.00
    Originally posted by kingleo

    Is he still doing the slowed-down version?



Somewhat plodding and dirgelike? That's the one. His keyboard sound was pretty much organ all night (I kind've wished he'd gone with piano for, say, "Working Man's Blues #2"), but he didn't play the classic organ riff.

When he was here in 1997 "Just Like a Woman" was the nigh-unrecognizable one. I appreciate what he's doing musically, but I there were definitely some confused faces around me in the crowd both times. In retrospect, "It Ain't Me, Babe" was another one with a drastically different arrangement and melody. "Thunder on the Mountain", on the other hand, was pretty close to dead-on the album version.



    It looks like you just caught him on an uninteresting night. He'd done a song from Blood On The Tracks every night of the tour up until your show except Monday when he sang Desolation Row and Visions of Johanna.



D'oh.

I would have loved something from Blood on the Tracks or Blonde on Blonde. But with that catalog to pull from, it's a crapshoot and I'll just be happy with what I did get
JustinShapiro
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Since: 12.12.01
From: Pittsburgh, PA

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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.34
Thx 4 the writeup. I haven't heard any recent shows but word on THE STREET is that he's in good voice these a-days.

I saw him twice last year and the Modern Times stuff is real fun live. Thunder on the Mountain is perfect for the Watchtower/Like a Rolling Stone encore spot. Workingman's Blues and Beyond the Horizon have new lyrics already.

I've always liked the new arrangement of It Ain't Me Babe -- the Positively 4th Street dirge can be more hit or miss, it's kind of depends on him landing on the right incantation.
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