Asbury Park In Summer (Stringman Record CDR SR-010-011)
Convention Hall, Asbury Park, New Jersey, August 13th 2008
Disk 1 : Introduction / Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35 / It Ain’t Me Babe / Rollin’ & Tumblin’ / Spirit On The Water / High Water ( For Charley Patton ) / Tryin’ To Get To Heaven / Honest With Me / Tangled Up In Blue / It’s Alright, Ma ( I’m Only Bleeding ) / Beyond The Horizon / Highway 61 Revisited. ( 74:12 )
Disk 2 : Nettie Moore / Summer Days / Ain’t Talkin’ – Encore – Like A Rolling Stone / band introduction / Thunder On The Mountain / Blowin’ In The Wind. ( 48:54 )
Opting to present us with more recordings from 2008, Stringman Records gives us the Asbury Park show – Dylan’s first visit to New Jersey on this leg of the N.E.T. – A As opposed to the brother release to this recording – “Zaragoza 2008” – this show relies heavily on the later end of Dylan’s career featuring a full 9 songs from 17 from his post 2000 albums although no without a nod to the obvious first.
The tape itself is a distant, audience infused ( I’d say drenched but that’s a little unfair – the music is clear enough to be heard but the singalongs by the audience can be heard a little more clearly than the Zaragoza tape ) & bassy recording. It’s certainly CDR material at best so what was the ulterior motive for choosing this recording for release? From the favorite concert opener of “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” which draws the concert goers to their feet for the first time through “Rollin’ & Tumblin'” the skipping reel of rhyme that Dylan first played us in 2001 and taking us swimming through a walloping “High Water ( For Charly Patton )” – which tonight has a slower drum beat running through it rather than the screamingly driven fulcrum that we’re used to – and in to a racing, chopped out “Honest With Me” it’s clear that this is more than just a average night with Dylan. The band sound proposed to running through the stops & driving tonight’s entertainment onwards & upwards.
This evenings version of “Tangled Up In Blue” is one of the best I’ve heard for a while. Even the dippy, pretending – to – walk – down – the – back – of – the – stairs – behind – the – sofa style of recitation can’t spoil a generally happy rendition of this song. The soloing is exquisite – in fact Dylan enjoys himself that much he pushes the band on in to playing a 9 minute version quickly followed by a four to the floor, ringing version of “It’s Alright, Ma .. ” that features more of a riff than a solo in it’s middle that is until Freeman joins the melee & brings up a sharp blast of guitar that brings the song back up to speed again.
The version of “Highway 61 Revisited” sounds tame by comparison for it’s first 30 seconds before lunging to a more spirited speed. Dylan’s showy, Vegas styled recital is strange to hear at first but soon becomes warmly familial & then he decides to stop & sings the lines a little more straight through before gracing us with his organ recital ( Which is almost inaudible due to the bass on the recording .. ) before the grand, showy ending. George Recile takes up most of the slack during this version anyways & it becomes painfully obvious who’s making the most of this tonight. A delicate “Nettie Moore” allows the crowd the chance of a rest.
There’s still enough atmosphere surrounding the tape but it’s more likely it’s the sound of orders at the refreshment kiosk. Not to say that this is a bad rendition – it is perfectly suited & aimed towards the devotees of ‘Love & Theft’ or ‘Modern Times’ but most of the audience seem more receptive to the harder rock songs. In this case they’ll end up missing the elegant & well poised working of this song. “Summer Days” will bring them back though with it’s immediate jive. It’s far too early through it’s lifespan to be reinvented but with a fixing like this it doesn’t need it & gives the band a chance to spar. Dylan on organ & Denny Freeman throwing out shapes on the guitar makes for an indecently good time. The band encore to the reflective & reorganised “Like A Rolling Stone”.
The perfect chance for the audience to sing back their love to Bob. It’s a good version too – It hits all the right notes ( If you’ll excuse the pun .. ) & serves it’s purpose as the song to hear if you were going to see Dylan in concert. The mighty “Thunder On The Mountain” comes after a standard band introduction & gives the audience their last chance to boogie. It’s calamitous introduction is the perfect warm up announcing it’s arrival by a county mile before it actually turns up but by this point the masses must be wondering ( unless they checked the stars or the charts quite which classic Dylan will pull from the bag for his final hurrah. “Blowin’ In The Wind” is the lucky choice tonight ( As it had been the night before but would be dropped for “All Along The Watchtower” the following evening. )
The full band rendition must be strong enough to carry an encore & send the attendees on their way happy and it doesn’t fail. A dabble at the organ gives way to a grand exit on a small scale where Dylan reaches for his harp & blows a wayfaring goodbye & good night to all. Neat little cheers as the band reach the end of the verse & play a comforting solo or two in the middle while small gusts of harmonies breeze through the venue as the crowd reverently sing along. The final answer to the question then would be that it was one of Dylan’s better evenings. Maybe no battle won than small victory. I wouldn’t chose it over Stringman’s other release this time but it is a good show that represents another under represented tour.