Up And Down The Neon Block (Thinman-074/75/76)
Disc 1 (77:23): Club Rio Suite Hotel And Casino, Las Vegas, NV – March 1st, 1999: Watching The River Flow, Lay Lady Lay, Memphis Blues Again, Just Like A Woman, Silvio, It Ain’t Me Babe, Mr. Tambourine Man, Tangled Up In Blue, Friend Of the Devil, Make You Feel My Love, Highway 61 Revisited
Disc 2 (65:43): Love Sick, Don’t Think Twice, Not Fade Away. House Of Blues, Las Vegas, NV – March 2nd, 1999: Gotta Serve Somebody, Million Miles, Memphis Blues Again, Just Like A Woman, Silvio, It Ain’t Me Babe, To Ramona, Tangled Up In Blue
Disc 3 (77:42): Friend Of The Devil, Can’t Wait, Highway 61 Revisited, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door [w/Bono]; Not Fade Away. Jones Beach Arena, Wantaugh, NY – July 31st, 1999: My Back Pages, Masters Of War, Tangled Up In Blue, Forever Young, All Along The Watchtower, Positively Fourth Street, Watching The River Flow, Not Dark Yet
Up And Down The Neon Block is a three disc set documenting the final two shows of Bob Dylan’s US winter tour in early 1999 in Las Vegas, Nevada. March 1st was a private corporate show, not open to the public, sponsored by Lucky Brand Jeans with Dave Mason the opening act. Lucky always hosts a private concert exclusively for their customers at a fashion trade show. Clients were given a ticket for admission and the venue is very intimate, holding five hundred out of seven hundred capacity. Although it seems strange, this was the second time Dylan performed at a private corporate party and wouldn’t be the last. You too can book Dylan for your birthday party, wedding, or bar mitzvah. The sound quality of the tape is crystal clear, picking up every detail and nuance of the performance. Dylan seems to go to great lengths to articulate the lyrics in each song making the words very clear as well.
The Club Rio Suite gig begins with “Watching The River Flow” (still in the country arrangement but lacking the big blues cadence) and “Lay, Lady, Lay,” a change from the normal pattern of “Gotta Serve Somebody” and “Million Miles.” David Kemper augments “Silvio” with some impressive drum fills. “It Ain’t Me, Babe” begins the four song acoustic set in the middle of the show which ends with a hunting version of The Greateful Dead’s classic “Friend Of The Devil.” The clarity of Dylan’s singing punctuates the doom laden narrative and turns out to be the highlight of this set. Certainly the men by the tape are impressed and this version was released officially on Stolen Roses: Songs of The Grateful Dead (Arista GDCD 4073) in 2000.
The March 2nd show was the final date of the tour and a return to a more conventional setting. “Gotta Serve Somebody” and “Million Miles” were restored as the opening two numbers, and the set list remains similar except that “To Ramona” replaces “Make You Feel My Love” in the acoustic set. The encore set is truncated to two songs with the removal of the acoustic number. However, Bono of U2 joins the band for the only performance of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” of the tour. Their cover has been part of U2’s set list going back to 1982 and Bono sings back up and takes several lines in the second verse while accompanying himself on acoustic guitar.
The final eight tracks on disc three are bonus cuts from the July 31st show at Jones Beach on Long Island. This was the final date of the summer tour with Paul Simon and the last of three at that particular venue. Sound quality of the tape is very good and clear despite the talking audience surrounding the taper. “My Back Pages” features violin accompaniment by Larry Campbell that works well with the acoustic guitar and harp. Charlie Sexton plays the dobro on “Masters Of War” to good effect. “Watching The River Flow” is played closer to the current heavy blues arrangement and sounds masterful. “Not Dark Yet” closes this collection. Thinman utilize the glossy thick paper for the inserts and a four page insert with track listing. The sound quality and performances included are excellent choices for a silver release.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)