Bob Dylan, “Carre, Amsterdam 2015” (Rattlesnake RS 297/98)
Recorded live at the Koninklijk theatre, Carré, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, November 7th, 2015
Intro / Things Have Changed / She Belongs To Me / Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ / What’ll I Do / Duquesne Whistle / Melancholy Mood / Pay In Blood / I’m A Fool To Want You / Tangled Up In Blue (43:25)
High Water (For Charley Patton) / Why Try To Change Me Now / Early Roman Kings / The Night We Called It A Day / Spirit On The Water / Scarlet Town / All Or Nothing At All / Long And Wasted Years / Autumn Leaves / Blowin’ In the Wind / Love Sick (57:31)
I’m no fan of Frank Sinatra. There, I said it. His style of crooning annoys me, much more than classical music or jazz, two pillars of the foundation of modern musics neither of which I tend to listen to as often as I listen to anything else. Frank’s style of croon and swing holds no trust with me. It was to no excitement or breathlessness that, when it was announced that Dylan was recording an album of these songs in the voice that was an affliction between his ’Nashville Skyline’ croon and ‘Tempest’s’ gravity timbre, I though, “Well, this will be GREAT then!”. I just resigned myself to the fact that I’d buy it and just like ‘Christmas in the Heart’, file it away against the rest of the official releases and tour bootlegs.
When I found out these songs had crept in to the setlist, I nearly gave up all hopes of going to see Dylan in concert. Reaction from friends who had gone to see him was flacid at best. Good for the rock tracks, boring and uneventful for the rest. Most of them Dylan fans for years but what do they know? Upon my listen to Crystal Cat’s latest release, recorded around a month earlier, I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, some of the slower songs missed the mark and missed it badly but that’s only my opinion of it all, there are more than likely many listeners for whom these tracks would be bliss personified.
Rattlesnakes version of the shows, recorded at the beautiful Carre Theatre in Amsterdam, located right next to the flea markets where any kind of Dutch paraphinalea can be found (Along with a lot of exported goods like Russian video recorders or Chinese coats), might be considered a suitable metaphor for the nights concert. Dylan, used to throwing all kind of things in the air come concert time, can be relied on for throwing out the unexpected.
Upon first listen, he does too, Stu Kimball’s precluding acoustic instrumental greets us once again before a hopsack ‘Things Have Changed’, Dylan fronting out his belligerence to opinions – Something that he’s certainly doing, something that he wants you to know about. Dylan moving forward is still the name of the game and this shows under ’She Belongs To Me’, gracefully sweeping and grand, it has changed since Stockholm, Bob’s harp playing, short but sweet sounds more playful and easier than the outing there, between the first part of there so, George patters in a tremendous break allowing for pause before the band ramp up again. It’s unexpected to hear and oddly thrilling.
Now, those Sinatra songs, ‘What’ll I Do’, forever known to my ears as the theme tune to a blandly humorous 1980’s television show in the UK would generally have me breaking out in a cold sweat. The connotations alone send shivers up my spine but I’ve found myself singing it as I plod around the house sometimes, caught upon Dylan’s version as a frame, I find his rendition to take away from the disparaging image of the previous. Tonight, Dylan sounds like he’s enjoying it too his voice finding more space to slide around the track, holding notes and singing with the hit of a wistful smile.
‘Duquesne Whistle’ carries on the fun, jump-jiving with creased up eyes, Dylan’s playful piano skirts are a lot less ‘experimental’ than before, concentrating specifically on keeping the groove alive, his words nice and concise and loud enough to hear are superb. A great version to hear.
A little something different next, ‘Melancholy Mood’ was relatively new to the set having only been premiered in Brunswick, Germany on the 15th of October, slinky, burlesqueish, it’s the kind of style that you might most associate with Marlene Dietrich as opposed to Dylan. Bob also seems to whip through it all, the lyrics are tossed around haphazardly as he seems to fail to remember at what point he’s at. Somewhat failingly for a man who can remember the words to ‘Pay In Blood’ but to jumble the words to a song that you might have thought ingrained in his mind seems a little strange. Given it’s rather new to the set list however, it’s not that much of a surprise.
‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ follows, suiting the scene of the venue, no doubt, but listening to it through headphones, especially with this quality of recording, is a treat. Another spark from the night comes from the songs endings it slumbers in to a halt but from the swoon, the opening chords of ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ appear almost seamlessly and this is another fantastic version, the lyrics once again get a small re-write and they are sung rather than uttered. Dylan’s piano playing, atonally rhythmic as usual, is thankfully sparse. After, Dylan delivers his half-time farewell to the crowd and they leave for their Dutch waffles.
Upon the bands return, Stu brings his blues preamble before ‘High Water (For Charly Patton)’ and the theme continues from there. A strong rendition of this concert staple gives the start of the set a fantastic start and whips up quite a bit of applause. ‘Why Try To Change Me Now’ sidles in quietly behind, the crowd no doubt psyched for the opener would appreciate a slighter track entering over behind.
Bob heads back to the piano for ‘Early Roman Kings’, it has the benefit of sounding rather jazzish against the rest of the set, shuffling and scraping feather beats against Dylan’s chiming piano lines are sublimely done. It aches and pounds towards a heaving conclusion.
Back to centerstage for ‘Scarlet Town’ and it fits in well with the slower tempos of the “Shadows ..” tracks. Another beautiful rendition of a song that rarely seems to change it’s skin. Maybe it’s because of this you can hear a cat call of applause in the middle, very quietly. Charlie’s moderate soloing whispers in quietly but closely – Maybe this is why it has become an audience favourite – certainly more than some of the other tracks that we might dare to mention.
‘All Or Nothing At All’ is much better here than in Stockholm, a shrugging, pulsive tempo shimmies it along as it seems to have gained a little more muscle since it first appeared. ‘Autumn Leaves’ is a ghostly final to the set before the encore break and it does it’s job perfectly. Our Dutch friends don’t seem to appreciate it as much as the Swedish did though and it receives it’s only applause at the end – Even then, you get the feeling that because they know what’s coming next, it’s the applause that will get them there.
The encores follow the plan specifically – A stunning ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ descends to great us, each verse is created with a wealth of applause, deservedly so too as Dylan has crafted another beautiful structure around the song, as he’ll more than likely never play it acoustically again, this is the bed that it needs. More vigorous applause greets ‘Love Sick’, Dylan stands alongside the disenfranchised and bereft with this track, despite his protestations that he’d rather not have people believe that theres much of him in there, people are happy to listen to these tales of woe and those young protesters who looked to him then for the answer now look to him again to let them know that any kind of beef you have with flames previous is justified. The song had a real bite about it too, slow burning but ample, it’s a great closer to the concert.
If you’re looking for two good shows from this end of the tour, I’d be split between telling you to go for for this release or the Crystal Cat Stockholm show. This tape, while not quite as soundboardish as the CC release has the margin over Stockholm’s second night (And first if you’re after performance, really). A sound investment definitely – If you’re tight on space or funds for the Crystal Cat box, this a very good show to get and a very tight decision to make.