Düsseldorf 2007 (Crystal Cat CC 828-829)
Phillipshalle, Düsseldorf, Germany – April 19th, 2007
Disc 1: Intro., Cat’s In The Well, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right, Watching The River Flow, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), Just Like A Woman, The Levee’s Gonna Break, When The Deal Goes Down, High Water (For Charley Patton), I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met), Spirit On The Water, Desolation Row
Disc 2: Highway 61 Revisited, Nettie Moore, Summer Days, Like A Rolling Stone, Thunder On The Mountain, All Along The Watchtower. Bonus tracks: I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, Masters Of War (Colorline Arena, Hamburg, Germany – April 4th, 2007), ‘Till I Fell In Love With You, Simple Twist Of Fate (Halle Münsterland, Münster, Germany – April 5th, 2007), Sugar Baby (Porsche Arena, Stuttgart, Germany – April 20th, 2007), My Back Pages (Max Schmeling Halle, Berlin, Germany – May 3rd, 2007)
Crystal Cat uses a very good to excellent DAT tape for the concert in Düsseldorf. It is not as detailed as the others utilized for this series of releases since it has a slightly flat quality, but it is still a great listening experience. The concert itself is rather uneven for this point in the tour. After the spoken introduction “Cat’s In The Well” is a fine opener. Things fall apart during the second song “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Bob sounds distracted, probably because of the tentative delivery of the band, and makes one wonder what kind of communication breakdown occurred on stage that night. They try to rescue the song by the end but the guitar solo sounds out of tune compared to the rest of the band and on the whole it is a forgettable performance.
“Just Like A Woman” is the final song performed by Dylan on the guitar this night. “Watching The River Flow” is a mark improvement as the band pound out the ancient blues rhythm. The fifth and final song of the opening “guitar set” is the first performance of “Just Like A Woman” of the year. This arrangement emphasizes the lullaby in the melody and is beautifully performed with a minimum of mistakes. The first two Modern Times songs follow, “The Levee’s Gonna Break” and “When The Deal Goes Down” and fare better than the other songs in the set so far.
“I Don’t Believe You” is played for the second time of the year and sounds very good, but is followed by a version of “Spirit On The Water” that is ruined by Freeman who flubs the solo mightily. Düsseldorf’s version of “Desolation Row” has drawn a divisive reaction in the reviews of the event. Some claim this track had “magic” while others felt it was horrible. The way Dylan sings the words, especially by the end, suggest a cheery giddiness by holding stretching the words out as far as possible over the measure which is at odds with the images in the lyrics themselves.
It is nevertheless fascinating to hear and the band performs the song flawlessly. After the obligatory “Highway 61 Revisited” the band play a sublime version of “Nettie Moore.” This sounds slightly faster in tempo that other versions played and “Summer Days” returns as the final song of the regular set. Also returning in this show is the three-song encore beginning with “Like A Rolling Stone” and including the band introduction before “All Along The Watchtower.” Reviewers have rightly pointed out that this version is a shambles and is a sad way to end what is one of the more uneven concerts Dylan had in Europe.
The six bonus tracks all come from dates from Germany before and after the show in Düsseldorf beginning with two tracks, “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” and “Masters Of War” from Hamburg. The sound quality of the tape is very good but a little distant from the stage and not the same tape used by Godfather for their release Heart Burnin’ Still Yearning (GR-198/199). The latter of the two Hamburg songs, “Masters Of War,” is played as a slow, deliberate dirge with the occasional dramatic flourish by the rhythm section. The two songs from Münster, “‘Till I Fell In Love With You” and “Simple Twist Of Fate” come from a fantastic sounding tape, deserving it’s own release.
“Simple Twist Of Fate” is a standout track with the harp carrying the initial melody. The only performance of “Sugar Baby” this year from Stuttgart is in excellent sound quality. This version is slowed down from the versions two years ago with the band pounding on the rhythms. The final song on this set is “My Back Pages” from Berlin. Like all Crystal Cat releases Düsseldorf 2007 is printed on picture discs and includes a thick booklet with many photos of the band and arena. Overall the tape used for the main show on this release is very good (but not the best available) of an uneven show. (GS)