Electric Blues Nite Crash (Tambourine Man Records TMR-138/139)
House Of Blues, Main Hall, Dallas, TX – February 23rd, 2008
Disc 1: Intro., Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, Lay Lady Lay, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power), The Levee’s Gonna Break, Spirit On The Water, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, ‘Til I Fell In Love With You, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, Honest With Me
Disc 2: When The Deal Goes Down, Highway 61 Revisited, Workingman’s Blues #2, Summer Days, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Thunder On The Mountain, All Along The Watchtower. Bonus tracks, House Of Blues, Main Hall, Dallas, TX – February 22nd, 2008: Cat’s In The Well, It Ain’t Me Babe, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, Blind Willie McTell, Rollin’ And Tumblin’
Bob Dylan’s first three shows this year were played in the Main Hall at the House Of Blues in Dallas and Electric Blues Nite Crash captures the complete third show. TMR use an excellent sounding audience recording capturing the fine performance. The vocals and instruments are upfront and loud. On the tape are short sporadic patches of dullness as if someone were passing their hand over the microphone. The audience reaction is pushed back but there are occasional conversations somewhat audible on the tape, but nothing intrusive or distracting.
These three shows served as a warm up for his tour of South America. A review of the first Dallas show in The Dallas Morning News, which can also apply to the third, states; “At his best, the 66-year-old legend was full of spit and venom – a grizzled blues master with a voice that bordered on the demonic. And even when the show wobbled, as it did for about a third of the 105-minute set, Mr. Dylan still gave it his all, bobbing his shoulders and pummeling his keyboard in ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ like he was Little Richard. Before the show, there was reason to believe Mr. Dylan might not be at his best. He hasn’t played live in four months, and his handlers were apparently so sure he’d be rusty that they issued a statement saying press wasn’t invited to his three sold-out House of Blues shows.”
Dylan plays guitar on the first three songs of the evening. His vocals on the sometime opener “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” are a bit rough, but improve considerably for the tender “Lay Lady Lady.” Two surprise numbers follow with “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” and “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power).” Two new songs from Modern Times follow “The Levee’s Gonna Break” and “Spirit On The Water.” Denny Freeman plays “Smokestack Lightening” in the solo to “Till I Fell In Love With You.” In “When The Deal Goes Down” Dylan continues a trend in this show by narrating the lyrics to the newer songs, as if he’s trying to expand them past their studio counterparts on stage by bring out different connotations in the words.
“Highway 61 Revisited” sees Freeman spitting out some heavy metal squeals during the guitar solo. Dylan sings “Summer Days” in a very cool, jazz-like beat intonation while Freeman does his best Bill Haley interpretation on the guitar. “Ballad Of A Thinman” is the set closer. “Thunder On The Mountain” is the first encore. After introducing the band Dylan sings “All Along The Watchtower” with a heavy echo on his vocals. As a bonus TMR include the first five songs from the February 22nd show in Dallas. The sound quality is great and none of them were played on the 23rd.
It might have been better though if TMR dropped two of the songs and included “Mississippi” from the February 22nd and “Can’t Wait” from the 21st, since both are the first live performances of the songs since 2005. But this is a minor quibble of a very good release. Electric Blues Nite Crash is packaged in a slim double jewel case with picture discs and glossy paper inserts with several of Dylan’s own paintings (on display in England at the moment) on the artwork.