Ancient Footprints (Tambourine Man Records TMR 164/165)
Spektrum, Oslo, Norway – March 25th, 2009
Disc 1 (76:29): Introduction, Watching The River Flow, When I Paint My Masterpiece, You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere, It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), Just Like A Woman, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Ballad Of A Thin Man, I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met), The Levee’s Gonna Break, When The Deal Goes Down, Highway 61 Revisited, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Disc 2 (78:08): Thunder On The Mountain, Like A Rolling Stone, crowd applause, All Along The Watchtower, Spirit On The Water, Blowin’ In The Wind. Bonus tracks, Berns Salonger, Stockholm, Sweden – March 22nd, 2009: Most Likely You Go Your Own Way, Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power), Trying To Get To Heaven, Blind Willie McTell, I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met), I Believe In You, Billy 4
In the past two years Bob Dylan began touring of Europe with dates in Scandinavia and Tambourine Man Records follows suite by focusing their releases on these shows. Ancient Footprints captures the entire show at the Spektrum in Oslo, Norway from an excellent sounding DAT audience recording.
The tape begins with the spoken introduction and the first two songs, “Watching The River Flow” and “When I Paint My Masterpiece” (with Bob in the center of the stage with his harp), date from his writer’s block period in the early seventies. And with “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” he completes the three new songs released on Greatest Hits Vol. 2 in 1971. The bulk of the rest of the numbers come from his early to mid sixties output with only a few exceptions.
“It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” is dominated by Donnie Herron’s banjo weaving in and around the main melody. Dylan begins “Just Like A Woman” in the center of the stage before moving to keyboard in the middle of the song and is very touching with the normally reserved Norwegian crowd singing along on the chorus. “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” is played in the same arrangement he’s used for years.
“I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)” is a song scarcely played in recent years (averaging about seven performances) but has been in the set list much more frequently this year and is one of the rare songs where Bob plays guitar instead of keyboards. Three Modern Times songs are played the final six songs of the main set. “When The Deal Goes Down” is delivered with a lot of passion.
As a bonus TMR include seven songs from the opening night of the tour, March 22nd in Stockholm. Again the sound quality of the tape is excellent although is slightly distant from the stage when compared to the Oslo tape. The first two tracks are the opening two songs, “Most Likely You Go Your Own Way (And I Go Mine)” (with the Swedish audience shouting when he sings the title), “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power).” A nice version of “Trying To Get To Heaven” is included, a song that has been reintroduced into the live repertoire after being absent for several years.
But the shocker is the performance of “Billy 4” from the soundtrack to Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid. Other than “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” nothing from the album has ever been played live until now. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason why Dylan pulls out this obscurities, but it is great when he does.
The audience doesn’t recognize the song until the final line in the first stanza “Billy, they don’t like you to be so free.” He sings all of the verses and the arrangement is close to the recorded version. This is simply a treat to hear and a great bonus track by TMR. Ancient Footprints is packaged in a double slimline jewel case and the label uses, for the first time, an obi strip.