Bob Dylan – Amsterdam First Evening (Crystal Cat CC 922 -923)

Amsterdam First Evening (Crystal Cat CC 922 -923)

The Amsterdam Box

Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam, The Netherlands – April 10th, 2009 

Disc 1 (55:12):  Intro., Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Watching The River Flow, Boots Of Spanish Leather, Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Po’ Boy, Honest With Me, Workingman’s Blues #2, High Water (For Charley Patton)

Disc 2 (79:38):  Love Sick, Highway 61 Revisited, Nettie Moore, Summer Days, Like A Rolling Stone, All Along The Watchtower, Spirit On The Water, band introduction, Blowin’ In The Wind.  Bonus tracks:  If You Ever Go To Houston (5/5), Something (1/5), One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below) (4/4), This Wheel’s On Fire (21/4)

The Crystal Cat label can always be counted on to produce a handsome looking Bob Dylan boxset whenever he tours Europe.  For the latest tour, instead of focusing upon the London shows as they’ve done in the past, the label focuses upon the three Amserdam shows over the Holy TriduumAmsterdam First Evening is a unique tape source, different from the one used by Rattle Snake.  Crystal Cat is very sharp, loud, and has an in-your-face quality which the label likes.  What is lacks in atmosphere (so well captured on Rattle Snake) it makes up for in sheer volume.

There is a strong emphasis in the Good Friday show of songs that speak about human frailty, especially in the first half of the show beginning with “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.”  It is good to hear him play “When I Paint  My Masterpiece,” his Europe travelogue which had made more frequent appearances on this tour.  The only song of the night where he play guitar instead of keyboard is “Watching The River Flow.”

Donnie Herron plays either a tune-up or a unique violin introduction to “Boots Of Spanish Leather,” but it sounds gorgeous regardless.  “Po’ Boy”  makes a very rare appearance in the set, being played for the third out of fifteen times in Europe and serves as a counterpoint to “Workingman’s Blues #2,” which has more meaning attached in the past year in the current economic environment. 

“Nettie Moore” is the first song off of Modern Times to achieve a high level of sublimity in performance which has been lacking the past couple of years.  The Good Friday performance captures some of the sensibilty of the older renditions.  “Summer Days”  breaks the tension nicely, being one of the more fun number played in the set.  Denny Freeman does his best Bill Haley interpretation and there is a great instrumental passage in the middle where the rhythm section of Garnier and Recile play off of one another. 

“Like A Rolling Stone” is the final song played in the set before the encore section, which begins with the expected “All Along The Watchtower.”  “Spirit On The Water” is a new addition to this part of the show and serves as an introduction to the gentle “lullaby” arrangement of “Blowin’ In The Wind.”

Crystal Cat include many bonus tracks to fill out the second discs, presenting rarities from the tour.  The first bonus track is “If I Ever Go To Houston” from the May 5th Dublin show, Europe’s penultimate gig.  This is the first song to be played live from the new album Together Through Life and was played as the second encore that night.   “Something” is a cover of the George Harrison tune played (where else) in Liverpool on May 1st.  Unlike McCartney’s cover, which begins on the ukulele, Dylan’s is actually quite faithful to the original.  

“One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below)” comes from the April 4th show in Munich and is only the second of two times played this year.  It hadn’t been played in almost two years, since the September 20th, 2007 show in Tennessee (the show which was the live debut of “Outlaw Blues.”)  Finally “This Wheel’s On Fire” dates from the April 21st show in Stasbourg, France.  Crystal Cat package this title in a double slimline jewel case with a thick insert with photographs and and interview with Dylan about the new album and is available either individually or as part of The Amsterdam Box.    

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