Bob Dylan – Circus In Palette Town (Tambourine Man Records TMR 187/188)

Circus In Palette Town (Tambourine Man Records TMR 187/188)

Zepp Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan – March 24th, 2010

Disc 1 (74:02):  Intro., Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, It Ain’t Me Babe, Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Mr. Tambourine Man, Cold Irons Bound, Sugar Baby, Desolation Row, Blind Willie McTell, Most Likely You Go Your Own Way (And I’ll Go Mine), Can’t Wait, Highway 61 Revisited

Disc 2 (76:25):  If You Ever Go To Houston, Thunder On The Mountain, Ballad Of A Thinman, Like A Rolling Stone, Jolene, band intro., All Along The Watchtower.  Bonus: Zepp Tokyo, Japan – March 25th, 2010:  Just Like A Woman, Things Have Changed, Girl Of The North Country, High Water (For Charley Patton), A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met), Love Sick

Dylan has toured Japan five times since his first arrival in 1978, performing at large halls and arenas.  But on this tour he played in three cities at the Zepp arenas which have standing room for just 1,700 to 2,700 people.  Fans were given a intimate look at Dylan during the performances for the first and, has been rumored in the Japanese press, the last time.

Circus In Palette Town utilizes a very sharp and detailed stereo audience recording which isn’t as bass heavy as other Dylan tapes that have been booted of late.  The title refers to the location of the venue.  Zepp Tokyo is in a part of Tokyo called Palette Town, which is a shopping and entertainment complex.

The show starts off with “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again,” the fourth time it’s been played in Japan so far and second as the first number and is followed by a dour rock version of “It Ain’t Me Babe.”  

“Mr Tambourine Man” makes a rare appearance in the set.  And like many of the older songs in the set of late one can discern the ancient melody in the arrangement.  Charlie Sexton’s return to the band lends more creativity.  But also there is a more basic attitude in the arrangements, what one reviewer calls a “stripped down” feeling.  It is refreshing to hear the classic song in a recognizable setting, lending familiarity.

Two epics appear in the middle of the show.  “Desolation Row” conveys the gloom of the narrative it presents, but Dylan’s elastic voice is able to reinterpret some of the verses to emphasize that feeling which comes to a crescendo in the final verses.  “Blind Willie McTell” is another masterpiece of performance.  Dylan performs this piece standing in the middle of the stage armed only with the harp and weaves the tale around Sexton’s guitar. 

The closing songs form a strange group.  “Highway 61 Revisited” is the most consistently played hard rocker of the repertoire.  It’s very aggressive this night, but is followed by a lame performance of “If You Ever Go To Houston.”  “Thunder On The Mountain” is then followed by “Ballad Of A Thinman” with Dylan at the center of the stage.  The encore are the expected three of “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Jolene” and “All Along The Watchtower.”

The bonus tracks are a generous seven songs from the following night at the same venue.  The sound quality is also very good and clear, much like the other night.  These songs were performed consectatively in the middle of the show. 

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