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Bob Dylan – Paris Modern Times (Tambourine Man Records TMR-126/127)

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Paris Modern Times (Tambourine Man Records TMR-126/127)

Palais Omnisports de Bercy, Paris, France – April 23rd, 2007 
Disc 1: Introduction, Cat’s In The Well, It Ain’t Me Babe, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), Under The Red Sky, The Levee’s Gonna Break, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, Rollin’ And Tumblin’, recess

Disc 2: Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, When The Deal Goes Down, Things Have Changed, Spirit On The Water, Highway 61 Revisited, Nettie Moore, Summer Days, Like A Rolling Stone, Thunder On The Mountain, All Along The Watchtower

Paris Modern Times in another release in TMR’s chronicle of the last European tour. They use an excellent, very clear and detailed audience DAT tape that captures the entirty of a concert which received mixed reviews. Many say that Dylan looked animated throughout the show, while others complained that the band were not as tight as on previous visits to Paris. Like many things, there is some truth to both. The band is certainly tighter than they were in Scandinavia but there are still some moments that make one cringe. However, any faults can be easily overlooked by the passion of the performance. After the opening introduction the band hit “Cat’s In The Well” with fury. This song, which effectively replaces “Maggie’s Farm” as the opener, has the band attacking the chords with Dylan spitting out “The world’s being slaughtered and it’s such a terrible disgrace.” The following “It Ain’t Me Babe” is another more common song and normally occupies the second slot. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” is scarce; having been played only nine times and features a good guitar solo. “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” is played at all but two shows on this tour. The reoccurring riff is very effective as Dylan sings the words which Donnie Herron augments with splashes of violin.

The final song to feature Dylan on the guitar is the first of three relatively scarce songs for the tour. “Under The Red Sky” is found in Paris and the April 8th show in Amsterdam. Dylan mixes the first line of the third and fourth verses, singing “Let the bird sing, let the bird fly / One day the little boy and the little girl were both baked in a pie.” The appearance of this song leads one observer to comment, “the real surprise was ‘Under The Red Sky’, it seems that he’s revisiting his back catalogue and nothing’s off limits.” “The Levee’s Gonna Break,” despite being a new song, is played in about a third of the shows on this tour, appearing in ten. “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” is played for only the third and final time on the European tour (it appears in the April 5th show in Münster and April 16th in London). In this mellow arrangement, the song is changed from a “finger pointing protest song” denouncing the bigotry of upper middle class Baltimore society into a strange, gentle lullaby for the poor Hattie. “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” is a standard inclusion in the set and the band play with particular spirit. It is with glee that Dylan screams out the lines, “I got up this morning to see the rising sun return / some day you too will burn!!!” Afterwards there is an unexpected, unexplained intermission. The taper turns his machine off, but those who were present say there was a malfunction with the PA and it took from ten to twenty minutes to fix.

The intermission effectively kills off the momentum gathered by the band and it takes a while before they get back on track. “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” sounds tentative, but “When The Deal Goes Down” is much better. “Things Have Changed” is played for the third time on this tour. It will be played again two more times, in Turin on April 26th and in Zürich on April 29th (and can be heard on Zürich Modern Times (TMR-128/129)). “Highway 61 Revisited” restores much of the intensity lost in the intermission with Dylan stretching the words to their breaking point (“highway sixteeeeeeyyy ONE!”) Garnier makes his presence heard on bass during the solo as Freeman lays down an amazing solo. “Nettie Moore” is the favorite off of the new album and is received well here, but the standout track is “Summer Days.” This song has been in the set list almost constantly since its release on 2001′s Love And Theft, but in Paris the band plays perhaps the most ferocious version on record. By the end of the song it sounds as if they are going to flatten the first ten rows! Although this song is the normal set closer, it is so intense the band couldn’t just leave the Parisians there but end with “Like A Rolling Stone.” “Thunder On The Mountain” is the first encore followed by Dylan’s band introduction and the final song of the night, “All Along The Watchtower.” Paris Modern Times comes with the same high class inserts as the other titles in this batch of releases and is worth having. (GS)

Addendum:
The problem with the section of the review above is a simple one, it’s wrong nothing was wrong with the PA. It is a local Paris by law with regards intermissions in concert or shows, and the fact that a show must have at least a 20 minute intermission. If you look at all recent Dylan shows in Paris you will see half way through you get a intermission. So no PA problem, just a local by law. Just in case you’re wondering, this effects Bob Dylan shows in this way because he doesn’t have a support band. As other shows tend to have a support group you get a 20 to 30 minute gap between them and the main group. Thus the by law is fulfiled. (SB)

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