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Bob Dylan November 2014

November 22, 2014

Dylan Mpls Nov 2014

November of 2014 has been Dylan month from me: Dylan live at the Orpheum in Minneapolis, The Basement Tapes Complete (Bootleg Series Vol. 11) and The New Basements Tapes.

I was pretty excited late this summer when it was announced that Dylan was doing a theater tour and that he would be doing a three-night stand at his old real estate the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.  I had attended a couple of his shows at the five-night stand he did at the Orpheum in 1992 and those were the finest Dylan performances I have ever have witnessed (I have seen Dylan about 20 times over the years) and those 1992 shows would be on my all-time top-5 concert list.

My wife and I decided this would be a family affair if we could get tickets.  My daughter was able to secure 10th row center for night number one (November 4th 2014).  My son lives in Chicago and I was tempted catch one of the Chicago shows (Dylan headed there next after Minneapolis) with him.  But 4 tickets, flying my son home and a pre-show dinner was plenty to spend on Bob – in the end that was a good decision (more about that later).

The show was great – especially if you are a fan of Dylan’s post Time Out of Mind renaissance.  Most of the show was from this era and he played half of his most recent album Tempest.  I am sure this was maddening for the casual Dylan fan, but I loved it. The best part of the show was that my wife, son and daughter were there with me – as my wife has commented to questions as to how was the show: “I like the concept of the show – our family together with Bob in a smaller venue.”

I was disappointed with the sound – I expect a theater show should sound great – these old venues are designed for musical performance.  However Dylan’s sound crew missed the mark – it sounded like the PA was aimed at the balcony.  Now that I have a live sound reference (the recent Ryan Adams show at the recently renovated Northrop Auditorium which was the best sounding gig I have ever heard in my life), I am particularly annoyed when you pay top dollar for poor sound.  This hurt even more because Dylan’s voice sounded better than it has in years.  Another mild annoyance was the instance of the main floor crowd to stand for the whole show.  This was no a ruckus rock show – but Dylan at his most contemplative and jazzy.  Great sound and my butt in the seat and this would have rivaled the 1992 shows.  I guess I am getting old an curmudgeonly.

But don’t let my whining get in the way – this was a great show:  Dylan in fine voice, a super cool set list, great arrangements, tremendous lighting and Dylan’s crack band playing their asses off. Again for a true Dylan fan the set list could not be beat.

I was savoring the aftertaste of the show that night when I started Googling the set list – it was not yet available, but other shows on the tour were – the set lists for the last several shows were identical.  Turns out Dylan would play the exact same set the next two nights and that continued on in Chicago with the same set list – glad I did not follow him down there – it was great once – but part of the charm of Dylan is that he usually mixes up the set list (and back in the day the arrangements).  See The Current Blog for a well done review of the 3-night stand in Minneapolis.

Here is a play list based on the set list:

Since the show I have been listening to this playlist and it reminded me what a masterpiece Time Out of Mind is.

Bob_Dylan_-_Time_Out_of_Mind

This is on my top-5 Dylan albums of all time.  Every few years since Dylan has released a similarly great album and this tour celebrates the great material he has released over that last nearly 20 years.  Not bad for a guy “past his prime.”

basement tapes

Coinciding with the November 4th 2014 show, was thee release of the 6 CD collection The Basement Tapes Complete (Bootleg Series Vol. 11).  So November 4th was the single most expensive day in my 35 years of being a Dylan fan.  I have been working through this definitive collection and it is a total treat to be a fly-on-the-wall of a 1967 Dylan, in hiding and on the lam, from the burden of being the voice of his generation.

As a long time Dylan fan I have heard so much about this collection over the years it is great to finally hear this not so secret stash (the 1975 version was highly doctored – this is the real and raw deal).  This new release in the Bootleg Series is well documented – so I don’t feel any need to repeat the story here.  The quality of the recording is terrible at times, but the underlying material is so amazing you don’t really care.  In fact the CD 6 is the worst recording quality in the collection and yet the most magical.  Dylan never intended these recordings to see the light of day and they have a relaxed rehearsal feel – but who wouldn’t want to peek through a knothole to watch a Dylan rehearsal?   This collection is not for the casual fan (or the impoverished fan at $140 after taxes/shipping or from purchase from you local independent – PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR INDIE RECORD STORE!),  For the curious and the impoverished,  Spotify has a nice little taste where you can learn to believe the hype:

Finally there is The New Basement Tapes (a super group) with their Lost on the River album which also came out in November.  If 6 CDs of Dylan is not enough for you there is a pile of Dylan Basement Tapes era lyrics that was recently handed over to T Bone Burnett who then assembled a super group to write music to the lyrics and perform them.  This is a well hyped and documented release that does not need any further explanation by me.  But I can speak to the final result – it is magnificent!  Some of my favorite artists assembled and inspired by Bob: Elvis Costello, Mumford guy, Dawes guy, My Morning Jacket guy, etc. And who the hell is Rhiannon Giddens?  She steals the show with her version of Spanish Mary.

It is going to take me weeks to fully digest the two Basement Tapes releases and the Dylan show has me digging back into the Dylan archive of the last 20 years of renaissance material.  Oh the responsibility is overwhelming!

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2 Comments
  1. Some good stuff in this piece. I too dig Time Out of Mind and all the music he’s been doing around that and since.

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  1. Catchgroove’s Best of 2014 (Music) | Axl's Catch Groove

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