Well, it has been a little while since we last reviewed some of the shows. You know how it is Ė things get in the way when youíre trying to do whatís right. Seriously it has been ultra busy for a long time now but never mind Ė here goes nothing.
Tulsa 28th February 2004
The tours keep on coming relentlessly. Dylanís voice gets more gruff. His vocal range continues to contract but there is always magic. Not necessarily every show but often enough to remind you of why we are all writing here. This show is one of a number of what be called standard shows. In other words a decent, if not outstanding, performance, a set list with some interesting variation but not a lot and a high spot here and there. This shows takes off at song 4 which is Hattie Carroll and the highlight is a really mobile version of Tweedle Dee and an enjoyable Saving Grace.
St Louis 1st March 2004
The first of a set of three shows in this city, this one catches Dylan warming up just a little to the tour but not yet in full swing. Hattie Carroll is great once again, Saving Grace is lovely once again and Make You Feel My Love is well done.
St Louis 2nd March 2004
Second night and things are moving forward. The opener, Down Along The Cove is most infectious and works well in that slot and is followed by a new arrangement of Baby Blue which lends the song a little more urgency. The show hits a high spot with a great version of Canít Wait. The biggest disappointment is Shooting Star. This is a song which benefits from an economical reading and is spoilt here by being over-extended.
St Louis 3rd March 2004
Third night and itís pretty much as you were. An unremarkable show featuring a charming Tell Me That It Isnít True. Not much else to say.
Chicago 5th March 2004
After three nights in St. Louis, itís now four nights in Chicago. Tonight, itís not that great. The start is fine as Dylan digs out a great vocal performance for Drifterís Escape but the very next song, Baby Blue, is ruined by a poor vocal. Nice to hear You Ainít Goiní Nowhere but this is balanced by a disappointing Like A Rolling Stone. Indeed itís fair to say that the last section of most of the shows on this tour was disappointing in its predictability.
Chicago 6th March 2004
A much better show tonight. Cry Awhile is low-down and mean, Hattie Carroll is beautifully understated, Down along The Cove, now song 7 moves along like fury and It Ainít Me, Babe has a splendid new arrangement.
Chicago 7th March 2004
So-so tonight buta nice arrangement of Moonlight is unveiled and there is a great Blind Willie McTell.
Chicago 8th March 2004
Last night in the Windy City is a gooduní. Dylan turns the set list on itís head tonight starting off with Tangled Up In Blue, sticking High Water in at song 3, pulling out a superb Silvio and so on. Even a tired old pot-boiler like Watching The River Flow is full of life tonight and he even makes a decent stab at Shooting Star. Also plays two encores tonight.
St. Paul 10th March 2004
Getting closer to his early stomping grounds, Dylan pulls out a decent show tonight. Baby Blue works well, Love Sick is pretty good and even Mobile is good. He introduces Floater as an autobiographical song and then follows that up by describing the very next song, Honest With Me, as another. This time around Shooting Star really is good.
Milwaukee 12th March 2004
An all-round good show whose highlights are Make You Feel My Love and Hattie Carroll. On the other hand, Boots is real dreary.
Milwaukee 13th March 2004
Next night in the same city and itís not bad at all. It is a rare thing but tonight Just Like A Woman is actually very good. It is a different arrangement featuring a good vocal. Wow! Down Along The Cove is brilliant but Like A Rolling Stone has a poor vocal and yet the crowd loudly cheer. Rock audiences!!!!
Detroit 15th March 2004
The first of three consecutive shows in the Motor City. Yet again the stand out songs are Hattie Carroll, Willie McTell and Saving Grace. Otherwise as normal.
Detroit 17th March 2004
Canít quite locate the notes for the Detroit show on 16th but this show the next night is superb. This is one to track down. Itís a very good recording, which helps, but he really is on top form. Right from the start (The Wicked Messenger) the vocals are right up there. Next up, Baby Blue is so tight and then Tweedle Dee is just irresistible. One of Dylanís maligned songs is next Ė Under The Red Sky Ė and it is really good. So many highlights! But listen out for a superb Long Black Coat with well-articulated vocals and a real air of tension about the song. The only real downer is Moonlight Ė the new arrangement seems to suck the life from the song tonight.
Toronto 19th March 2004
So itís on to Canada for three nights in Toronto (Keith Donít Go). Our notes reveal that there is little to say about this first show. The recorded highlight is Thin Man.
Toronto 20th March 2004
Now tonight itís a different story. There is a rollicking start with To Be Alone With You, a fantastic guitar episode on Tangled, a really low-down Million Miles featuring some real dirty, beefy guitar and lovely piano. If You See Her is beautifully rhythmic and just drives along.
Toronto 21st March 2004
Again, not a bad show. Nice to hear a good stab at Lay,Lady,Lay with particularly good instrumental backing. Lonesome Day Blues features a gravelly vocal which actually adds a lot to this energy-packed effort. Likewise Cold Irons Bound. There is also a really tasty version of Tom Thumbís Blues.
Boston 24th March 2004
So itís on to Boston for three nights. Listen out for a spot-on Things Have Changed, an excellent High Water (once again there is superb instrumental work on this) and a very dramatic It Ainít Me, Babe.
Boston 25th March 2004
Nothing much to say here.. Nothing outstanding but there is a good version of Floater.
Boston 26th March 2004
Again, a relatively nondescript show the major highlight of which is Hattie Carroll.
Upper Darby 29th March 2004
This recording is a little thin and too trebly for good listening and perhaps that unfairly helps the listener to form the impression that this is nothing more than a routine outing for our man.
Philadelphia 30th March 2004
Featuring a pleasing arrangement of If Not For You and a lovely, lyrical Under The Red Sky this is a decent enough show. Definitely spoiled by the tedium of an over-wrought Times, which drags and drones.
Washington 2nd April 2004
Three nights in DC this time around and oh it is so good to hear Hazel. A pity that the vocal is so strained, perhaps too earnest at times but also sometimes fine. Weird but absolutely the real thing. Also If Dogs Run Free which features a pretty nifty harp solo.
Washington 3rd April 2004
Ring Them Bells was much welcomed but this time it seemed to have lost some of the dynamics of the original. Similarly Hollis Brown which promised much but in truth was dull.
Washington 4th April 2004
Really nice to hear God Knows in this very muscular form. Also a spirited Tangled and a really nice reading of Willie McTell.
There are a lot more reports sitting on the desk but the clock on the wall says that they will now have to wait until next time.
Restless Farewell for now.
Mike and John
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