I was going to write one of my verse "essays" as a review of the Dylan concert (see my "essays on jazz" on Ron Carter and Dave Holland), but the verses I began writing took on a life of their own and have evolved into a poem in their own right (i.e., no longer a review of the concert) that I will have to do a bit of work on to get right. So these few words in prose will have to do as a review.
Dylan continues to blow the roof off with his live performances. This is a working band of the finest quality. I was especially struck by Denny Freeman, whose guitar work had never really caught my attention before (he joined the band in March, 2005, and I heard him with BD in Zurich in November of the same year, plus I've heard him on quite a few bootlegs). His playing was eye-opening, especially on the ballads, above all on a gorgeous rendition of "Visions of Johanna," where he played the sparsest, slowest of melodies, with a couple of slightly bent double-stops as climaxes.
1. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
2. The Times They Are A-Changin'
3. Watching The River Flow
4. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
I missed Larry Campbell's bouzuki here, but it was still a powerful version.
5. Girl Of The North Country
The current arrangement of this one is so poignant that it continues to bring tears to my eyes.
6. Rollin' And Tumblin'
7. Visions Of Johanna
I mentioned Freeman's soloing here; Dylan began the tune with a painfully beautiful harmonica solo, too.
8. Things Have Changed
9. When The Deal Goes Down
10. Highway 61 Revisited
11. Spirit On The Water
This was the one I was looking forward to from Modern Times. Great to hear it!
12. Tangled Up In Blue
Absolutely blew the house down. Freeman was brilliant here, too; again, nothing with virtuosic speed, just beautiful melodies, especially in the guitar's low range. "Some are mathematicians ..."
13. Nettie Moore
Even more haunting live than on the album.
14. Summer Days
Serious Dylan fans are sick of this one, but I hope they listened to it last night, because the band just took off with it. As powerful as Neil Young with Crazy Horse—and like CH, also threatening to lose control, but never quite doing so.
15. Blowin' In The Wind
An unusual, surprising almost rock-n-roll version. This one was for all those who complain about how Dylan rearranges his tunes, because this rearrangement was absolutely first-rate.
16. Thunder On The Mountain
Faster than on Modern Times, much more rock-n-roll drive.
17. Like A Rolling Stone
The first Dylan show I have ever attended where he did not play "All Along the Watchtower"!