by The Two Riders

This time we need to play a little game of catch-up but first congratulations to all on the all-new FW on-line.  This really is most impressive and imaginative. Work is a real bitch at the moment with 25-hour days, eight days a week but never mind, the best is always yet to come.

Harry Belafonte session     2nd February 1962

What we get here is presumably the entire session for Midnight Special including all of the false starts, breakdowns and what little studio patter there was. There are basically five complete takes and 15 breakdowns, some of which last for a few seconds and others a minute or so. Since Dylan starts off every track with his harmonica intro he is there on all cuts and might fine wailiní he does too. About 30 minutes of collectorís only items. 

San Jose     12th October 2001 soundboard

By no means the best-sounding line recording you will ever hear. There is a constant hiss which is quite distracting. Unfortunately a fair bit of this show sounds dull and dreary Ė witness Times and Tweedle Dee and Standing In The Doorway. However, there are some glorious moments too particularly  a highly impassioned Masters of War, Sweet Marie and Things Have Changed.

Now a couple of outstanding Fall shows from 2002.

Kingston     20th  November

Listen out for a great version of You Ainít Goiní Nowhere, closely followed by an excellent End of  the Innocence. The show drags a bit once Tambourine Man hits but hits a peak with the restful, lush  Shelter From The Storm

Wilkes-Barre     21st  November

An excellent start to this show as Bob strides out on Maggieís, Iíll Remember You (works really well) and Highway 61. The rest of the show is very good, not outstanding. 

On now to the Antipodean tour of 2003. Unfortunately, this does not pick up where the Fall tour left off. Though it is still nice to hear the continued use of keyboards across most songs, the shows are more listless, duller and sometimes a little boring. Whether it is the quality of the recordings, which are often mediocre, or something else one does not know.

Brisbane     11th February

This show makes a slow start but finally takes off at song number four, You Ainít Goiní Nowhere which has a nice easy flow and a neat little harp solo. Unfortunately, after that a number of songs outstay their welcome because they are over-extended. Interestingly a couple of the acoustic numbers, Donít Think Twice and It Ainít Me, Babe come across best. Saving Grace is merely OK here in what is largely a spoken version, itís not really sung.

Adelaide     13th  February

This is a pretty good recording which helps the listener. Again some of the acoustic chestnuts come over best, this time around itís Girl Of The North Country and MamaItís Alright Ma breaks this mould nad is great in this new tour arrangement, full of drama and authenticity.

Perth     15th  February

Awful sound, noisy crowd, short show, nothing to write home about.

Sydney     17th   February

This time around Just Like A Woman comes over quite well, something which one rarely hears in recent tours. In fact the show has some strong performances in the main. Check out Things Have Changed with its lovely piano break, a truly exciting Cold Irons Bound followed by a very controlled Donít Think TwiceThe highlight, to these ears, is the lovely Bye And Bye, which is very relaxed, well performed and features some fine piano work.

Newcastle     18th  February

Not really much to say about this show. It  certainly does not have the energy or momentum of the previous night but does feature excellent readings of Boots and Itís Alright Ma.

Auckland     21st  February

The tour has moved to New Zealand but it takes Dylan quite a while to get going tonight. It is only really as song 8, Donít Think Twice, when things begin to happen. What follows is very good. Watching The River Flow moves along excellently and then things slow down for a mellow Simple Twist and a great Bye And Bye after which Dylan sings Happy Birthday to Larry Campbell.

Auckland     22nd  February

Same place, next night. Not bad at all. Cold Irons Bound continues to be hugely impressive and features great dynamics. Great versions of It Ainít Me, Babe and Masters of War. The spell is broken somewhat by a version of 4th Street which simply chugs along devoid of subtlety. But a driving version of Honest With Me restores the situation. The show end s on a real high with a super stab at Watchtower which is full of life and vigour featuring a good vocal and great guitar work.

Wellington     24th   February

This show, for some reason, seems to have a good vibe. There is nothing here which is truly outstanding but most is pretty good stuff. Although Desolation Row comes across well and Watchtower is once again excellent.

Christchurch     26th   February

Last night of the tour and a mixed bag of a show. H61 features great piano work which carries the song along really well and then it is straight back down to earth with Just Like A Woman Ė a very poor vocal, awful performance and far too long. Things never really pick up much and the tour ends with a bit of a whimper.

A couple of months later and Dylan is back on the road for a lengthy swing through the US. These shows picked up a bit from the previous tour but it still feels like it is harder for Dylan to hit the heights frequently. The band is great, of course, and this helps him enormously. The shows are shorter than we have come to expect, around 100 minutes.

Austin     19th April

This is the second show of the tour and itís not too bad. Tell Me That It Isnít True is patchy with a messy vocal but H61 which follows is good and then Saving Grace has now taken shape and sounds fine. Listen out for Standing In The Doorway featuring a new arrangement which sounds like Every Grain Of Sand.

Austin     20th  April

Nice funky start tonight with an infectious Watching The River Flow and later a very strong Tombstone Blues. Nice to hear Dignity which comes across as a sound performance. Filter out the poor vocal on Tonight Iíll Be Staying Here and itís a good all-round show.

Houston     23rd  April

Good sound recording enhances the listening experience. Click into H61 to hear an excellent reading and then stay there for a truly superb Blind Willie McTell. As you might imagine, the piano work makes this version so much more effective. 4th Street is good but almost spoken. Listen out for a great, great dirty, chunky arrangement of Canít Wait Ė so good youíll want to hear it over again.

Atlantic City     10th  April

This is a very good show and even includes an added bonus with a fire alarm announcement bringing H61 to a premature halt. Things Have Changed  is spot-on as is Bye And Bye but the whole show is good. 

Restless Farewell for now