Bob Dylan – Amsterdam Third Evening (Crystal Cat CC 926-927)

Amsterdam Third Evening (Crystal Cat CC 926-927)

Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam, The Netherlands – April 12th, 2009

Disc 1 (57:37):  Intro., Gotta Serve Somebody, Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, Most Likely You Go Your Own Way (And I Go Mine), Million Miles, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Sugar Baby, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, Beyond The Horizon, Desolation Row, Tough Mama, Highway 61 Revisited, Ain’t Talkin’

Disc 2 (57:19):  Thunder On The Mountain, Like A Rolling Stone, All Along The Watchtower, Spirit On The Water, band introduction, Blowin’ In The Wind.  Bonus tracks:  Visions Of Johanna (4/14), Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (3/31), Shooting Star (3/31), Blind Willie McTell (4/22), The Times They Are A-Changin’ (4/8), I Believe In You (4/5)

Amsterdam Third Evening on Crystal Cat is another up front, excellent sounding with the same atmosphere as the first two evenings.  It is always tempting to interpret the set list on any given night as a sign of Dylan’s current mood.  Although there is truth to that, especially when he pulls out obscure covers, this form of exegesis is difficult when there overtly Christian holidays or events.  Perhaps he’s still stung by the reaction to is conversion thirty years ago and something he’s never publicly renounced. 

The only concession he makes to the holiday is by beginning the set as he did for every show he performed between 1979 to 1981, with the single from Slow Train Coming “Gotta Serve Somebody.”  He performed this song for the first time in three years at the November 21st 2008 New York show and has been played several times since.  But its performance on Easter is especially poignant given the holiday and a great reminder of the great gospel shows.

The rest of the set draws from the current repertoire.  “Most Likely You Go Your Own Way” has been played more frequently this year and is one of the songs that escapes the country treatment the band has been doing and it retains the bounce in the melody.  “Sugar Baby” is again a more frequent addition to the setlist and is taken very slow and deliberate.  “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” is the only song of the night Dylan performs on center stage instead of the keyboard.

“Tough Mama,” played the previous night for the first time in four years, makes another appearance on the final night but the band end the song too early.  Dylan continues by singing the final verse of the song accompanying himself on keyboard until Recile leads the band back into the song.

But the weight of the show falls on the latter half of disc one when Dylan plays a series of thematically rich and heavy songs in succession.  “Beyond The Horizon” was the last song from Modern Timesto be performed live and it retains the “Red Sails In The Sunset” melody.  “Desolation Row” is played in an uptempo rocking arrangements with glorious flourishes at each mention of the title.  Finally “Ain’t Talkin’,” although still retaining the arrangement from the studio album, sounds epic in this performance.

The bonus tracks presents more rarities from tour.  “Visions Of Johanna” was played three times.  Crystal Cat include the song’s performance in Basel on April 14th from a good but distant audience recording.  “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” and “Shooting Star” are taken from the March 31st Hannover show in excellent sound quality.  “Blind Willie McTell” is from the April 22nd Brussels show in great sound quality. 

A big surprise on the tour is the performance of “The Times We’ve Known” by Charles Aznavour.  It was performed at the second Paris show and is the first time it was covered Dylan since New York on November 1st, 1998.  The final song of the set is “I Believe In You” from the April 5th show in Saarbrücken, Germany.  Amsterdam Third Evening is available as a separate title or as part of the entire box set and is an excellent release by Crystal Cat.   

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