Night Of The Grand Rex (Mainstream MAST-109/110)
Theatre De Grand Rex, Paris, France – January 30, 1990
Disc 1: Subterranean Homesick Blues, I Want You, Maggie’s Farm, All Along The Watchtower, I Believe In You, Where Teardrops Fall, What Was It You Wanted?, Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, The Times They Are A-Changin’, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, Boots Of Spanish Leather
Disc 2: Seeing The Real You At Last, Political World, Man In The Long Black Coat, Tight Connection To My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love), Simple Twist Of Fate, Masters Of War, I Shall Be Released, Like A Rolling Stone, Forever Young, Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35. Bonus tracks: Man Gave Names To All The Animals (Jan. 29th, 1990), To Be Alone With You (Jan. 31st, 1990), Visions Of Johanna (Feb.1st, 1990)
Bob Dylan’s 1990 European tour for Oh Mercy was only ten dates long in two cities, Paris and London. The shows at the Hammersmith Odeon have received most of the attention in terms of bootleg releases although this year on the whole has been unfairly neglected. Night Of The Grand Rex is the first release of this particular concert and the first from Paris in a decade. Mainstream claim to use the master cassette of the common audience tape. It is very good to excellent capturing a very dynamic performance. There is some unwanted echo and could be a bit more clear but it is free from hiss and other blemishes and there is nothing to prevent this from being highly recommended. The acoustic numbers in the middle of the show sound much better than the electric and the bonus material also comes from similar tape sources as this.
This is the second of four nights in Paris and the seventh concert overall in 1990. Oh Mercy was released the previous September and was considered to be his strongest LP since Infidels. What is most striking about this show is how slick, professional and well thought out of the set list and arrangements. The opening “Subterranean Homesick Blues” is played in the same arrangement as at the beginning of the NET. “I Want You” is again given a full band treatment but completely recognizable from the first note. “Maggie’s Farm” is played in disco tempo followed by a heavy metal version of “All Along The Watchtower”. It isn’t until “I Believe In You” (with a beautiful solo by G.E. Smith) from the gospel period where he plays anything remotely risky. “Where Teardrops Fall” and ” What Was It You Wanted?” are the first two of four songs from Oh Mercy played and are received well. The acoustic set in the middle of the show is a great move by Dylan and consists of four songs: “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”, and “Boots Of Spanish Leather”.
Two songs from 1985’s Empire Burlesque “Seeing The Real You At Last” and “Tight Connection To My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love)” are played around two from Oh Mercy “Political World” and “Man In The Long Black Coat”. G.E. Smith delivers an amazing solo is “Tight Connection” it is unfortunate that he left Dylan later in the year (Dylan really should have made him a full partner). The concerts where he was part of this band are truly phenomenal. The latter part of the show returns to the burning classics ending with a rollicking version of “Like A Rolling Stone” before the two encores “Forever Young” and “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35″. The bonus tracks are filler from the other Paris shows and are good enough to make me wish Mainstream would release them all in full. “Man Gave Names To All The Animals” from the previous night is interesting since it hadn’t been played since the gospel years. The cover art is simple yet effective and makes this overall a wonderful release. (GS)If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)