Live At Greek Theatre, Berkeley (Godfather Records GR462/463)
Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA – October 10th, 2009
Disc 1 (71:22): Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking, The Man In Me, Beyond Here Lies Nothin’, Mama You Been On My Mind, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, I Don’t Believe You, My Wife’s Hometown, Spirit On The Water, Cold Irons Bound, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, Highway 61 Revisited, I Feel A Change Comin’ On
Disc 2 (74:26): Thunder On The Mountain, Ballad Of A Thinman, Like A Rolling Stone, Jolene, All Along The Watchtower. Bonus, Greet Theatre, Berkeley, CA – October 11th, 2009: Lepoard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, This Dream Of You, Tryin’ To Get To Heaven, Highwater, Forgetful Heart. Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles, CA – October 13th, 2009: Shooting Star, Nettie Moore
On Live At Greek Theatre, Berkeley, Godfather use an excellent and dynamic stereo audience recording of this significant gig. On December 4th, 1965 he played one of his first electric gigs with the Hawks at the Greek Theatre and a PA tape of that set circulates. (That show is also significant for having the first performance of “Visions Of Johanna” in the acoustic set under its working title “Freeze Out.”)
A review in SFGate points out the significance, but goes on to observe: “But for Dylan, who has basically been on the road since around the time they erected the Easter Island statues, this was clearly just another stop on the way to the next state fair. While the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney have chosen the mercenary route – big tours jammed with big hits every few years – Dylan has chosen to do whatever the hell he wants. If that means dressing up like Jack White’s smarmy uncle, positioning himself behind the electric keyboards and leading his unruly band through a 100-minute show packed with songs seemingly pulled out of his flat-brimmed Spanish hat, so be it.
“Nothing much has changed since the last time Dylan was in the Bay Area, or the time before that. The encore once again saw his band burning through bludgeoning renditions of “Like a Rolling Stone” and “All Along the Watchtower,” while everything else – from 1964’s “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” all the way through to “Jolene,” from this year’s “Together Through Life” – was delivered as a lolloping death march wrapped up in loud guitars and abrasive horn blasts, with Dylan not so much singing the lyrics as coughing up the words through his nose.
His defiance is as invigorating as it is frustrating. The farcical blast of strings and booming voice that snidely introduced him as “the voice of 1960s counterculture” at the top of the show made it clear that Dylan wasn’t going to take the same nostalgia trip as his fans. As long as they sat through the sweet-natured love songs and stifled harmonica solos from his most recent work, though, then he seemed willing to indulge them – as long as it was on his terms.”
There are many surprises in the setlist starting with the first song “Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking.” The Slow Train Coming song hadn’t been performed live since 1980, but was resurrected on October 4th in Seattle to correspond with Charlie Sexton’s return to the band and was performed ten times. Dylan plays this and the following song “The Man In Me” on keyboard, but soon switched to guitar and spent most of the show in front of the stage, no longer depended upon the piano.
They play another great version of “Beyond Here Lie’s Nothin’.” In addition, “My Wife’s Hometown,” “I Feel A Change Comin’ On” and “Jolene” from Together Through Life are included. “Mama, You Been On My Mind” is played for the first time since February 18, 2003, in Newcastle, Australia and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” also makes it tour debut in the first Berkeley show.
The bonus tracks contains material from the second Berkeley show and from the following show in Hollywood. The sound quality of these songs are also excellent stereo and, by providing songs that were not played in the first Greek Theatre show, provide an excellent addition to the collection. It’s packaged in a trifold cardboard sleeve and is another excellent Bob Dylan release on Godfather.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)