Can’t Save A Dime (Tambourine Man Records TMR 144/145)
Metro Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada – May 21st, 2008
Disc 1 (61:27): Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, It Ain’t Me Babe, Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Positively 4th Street, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, High Water (For Charley Patton), Moonlight, The Levee’s Gonna Break, Nettie Moore, Highway 61 Revisited
Disc 2 (46:45): Workingman’s Blues #2, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), Spirit On The Water, Summer Days, All Along The Watchtower, Thunder On The Mountain, Like A Rolling Stone
Can’t Save A Dime contains the complete show from the Metro Centre in Halifax, the fifth show of the spring tour in 2008. TMR use the best tape in circulation which is very clear, detailed and powerful capturing all of the dynamics of the performance and the response from the rather involved audience. A review of this show in the Metro Halifax states: “It was only heard a few times reverberating through the Metro Centre last night, but even a passing music lover could have identified who was behind that harmonica. It might have been because of the distinctive sound of the chords, but more likely from the vibrant applause that came after Bob Dylan began to blow into the instrument. A major music figure for the last five decades, the recent Pulitzer Prize recipient gave his audience of more than 7,000 a performance that sounded more blues club than arena venue. He stepped on stage without uttering a word, taking his place in front of his keyboards and playing the opening notes of ‘Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35.’
“Dylan – born Robert Allen Zimmerman – stood near his keyboards the entire night. As he played, the soon to be 67-year-old (his birthday is Saturday) shuffled his feet and grooved along with the music. Warm applause after each song was not enough to break the aloofness he showed throughout the evening though. He stood sideways to the audience for most of his two hour performance. It was not until he finished his first encore that Dylan finally addressed his fans. ‘Thank you friends,’ he said, before the band ventured into the opening notes of his final song, ‘Like A Rolling Stone.’ It was a performance nothing like that of another legend from the same generation who entertained Halifax earlier this month. While Leonard Cohen shared stories during his five nights at the Rebecca Cohn, Dylan avoided the chit-chat. Instead, the warble and muffle-voiced singer let his music to speak for him, as he and his five accompanists charted their way through his songbook. (“Bob Dylan keeps it simple on stage,” Dean List)
The tape begins in the middle of the orchestral prelude, before the opening announcement. It is remarkable the the amount of energy and excitement building up in so short of time with a small explosion when Recile kicks in the opening of “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” a song that has been alternating with “Cat’s In The Well” as the set opener the past year. “Positively 4th Street” is played early in the set. After being played only four times the previous year, has been a more regular inclusion in the set list. “Moonlight” is another scarcely played song making its tour debut this night. The Halifax “Nettie Moore” is simply spectacular. Dylan slides the intonation to bring a hint of irony to the meditation and even changes some lyrics, singing “everything thing that I thought was wrong has been proven…more.”
“It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” is not as heavy and bombastic as past versions, but rather has a gentle banjo accompaniment throughout the piece. “Spirit On The Water” oozes sincerity as he sings “I won’t be with you in paradise, and it seems so unfair.” He sounds very hurt throughout. “Summer Days” also lacks much of the swing of other versions. Freeman gets into his Bill Haley solo and then abruptly changes direction, playing something much more soft for some bizarre reason. Kimball comes in to save him and resurrect the energy. After “Thunder On The Mountain” Dylan introduces the band, saying that Freeman is from Austin Texas where he is a “criminal attorney” and Herron on the steel guitar is “from Brazil…doesn’t speak a word of English but he communicates very well without having to.” Given the sound quality and the performance, Can’t Save A Dime is another strong TMR release. They continue using the high quality paper and graphics and the only minor quibble is the lack of bonus material. However this is highly recommended.