He’s Getting Ready For The Show (Dandelion DL 045)
Bob Dylan “He’s Getting Ready For The Show” Dandelion DL 045 – 1998
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat / You Ain’t Going Nowhere / Cold Irons Bound / Just Like A Woman / Silvio / Desolation Row / The Times They Are A Changin’ / Tangled Up In Blue / Can’t Wait / Make You Feel My Love / Highway 61 Revisited / It Ain’t Me Babe / Love Sick / Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
Recorded ive at the Sportpaleis, Ahoy, Rotterdam in the Netherlands on June 15th, 1998 around 10 years to the day of the start of the Never Ending Tour – as it had already been dubbed – Dandelion present this excellent audience tape for the collectors.
The Sportpaleis in Ahoy, Rotterdam was refurbished in 1998 & can hold around 9,500 people at concert times. This particular concert was a double bill with Van Morrison & utilizes Dylan’s 11th NET band although the tape used here only records Dylan’s portion of the concert & is incomplete due to restrictions of CD length although you do get to hear the lions share of the set list.
Beginning with a raucous Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat the band pummel the air & break out the streamers for a party atmosphere. Bobby’s in a fine fettle with his voice tonight & enunciates, twists & wrings the life through his words.”You Ain’t Going Nowhere” one of Bobby’s legendary basement tracks was a surprise to most that were present although the set lists from the time seem to note that a surprise was awarded to all that attended on the night at each concert be it a long lost Dylan album track, a folk song or other ( indeed another Basement track “This Wheels On Fire” would appear by the ime Dylan & Band reached Dublin on the 19th).”You Ain’t .. ” is very warmly received though, country styled & topped off nicely by a fireside styled acapella ending.
“Cold Irons Bound” from Dylan’s recent Time Out Of Mind album is preceded by the sound of the band gearing up as it is on the album anyway. it’s pushed along by a menacing riff & the pulsating beat of David Kemper’s drumming. Bobby’s obviously in a good mood tonight & is enjoying taking the lead. His voice is clear & his words are unfuddled. “Just Like A Woman” swings softly, Bob showing a softer side to his acumen despite the songs perceived misogynistic undertones. Bucky Baxter adds a sweet pedal steel guitar line to the track & it augments the delicacy of this track nicely. “Silvio” from ‘Down In The Groove’, a Grateful Dead collaboration & one of the most fondly remembered tracks from a widely rubbished album is given the heavy rock treatment tonight – the original is harmony & mandolin heavy but this version has a lot more ballast about it & a certain kind of thump – especially mesmerizing is Larry Campbell’s solo – fast & sharp, smooth & gliding. For the next three songs we switch to acoustic guitar – this is where Dylan the solo artist can usually excel & “Desolation Row” doesn’t disappoint.
It isn’t strictly acoustic in the One-Man-And-His-Guitar sense but to fill an enormous stadium such as this then Dylan would need a little something extra to feed the sound. Given a little push along by Kemper’s drumming & the heartbeat of Tony Garnier’s bass the song takes an easy flow along a dreamish state which seems to last a lot quicker than it’s 9 minute running time. “The Times They Are A-Changin'” has changed from it’s pared down & simple style to become a little more augmented. It’s clarion call still exists beneath the mandolin & drums but it has a less foreboding stance than before & is more a song for Swingin’ Lovers than Marchin’ Brothers.
“Tangled Up In Blue” starts with a simple jangle only to open up to multi colour surround sound. Bob has a little bit of fun on this tour spinning round the words on the third verse although he has a little trouble catching up & while trying something out on the line ‘Where I Happened to Be Employed’ flubs & stumbles over his words. it was a nice idea at least but sometimes, when the song has a faster pace, doesn’t work quite so well. “Can’t Wait” is the second track from ‘Time Out Of Mind’ Tonight & the band are back to electric. Again, following the theme of the album, this follows in a deep & slow fashion & is central to the albums second story about a wasted love. Dylan certainly sounds pained throughout & the balance of the tape changes as his voice becomes clearer – although this might be something to do with the fact that this is again a slower paced track & Dylan is given precious time to think about his lyrics.
“Make You Feel My Love” is another song from ‘Time Out Of Mind’ & again centers around that old story love but this time it’s Bob the Gentleman, the Lover & Protector. Another classic is thrown in to the ring with the arrival of “Highway 61 Revisited” as usual this track has a lot of steam in it’s pistons & fires up immediately. It’s mentioned that there is usually a rush to the front of the stage at the beginning of “Tangled up In Blue” but tonight due to the security it didn’t happen – this was rectified by this track where Dylan & Campbell pull out the stops & dash out a few manic solos to exemplify the manic urgency in the song. Due to the nature of the recording then once everyone gets pumped the recording becomes brighter & more detailed as if the taper forgets himself & hoists his recorder to the sky to capture the excitement in the crowd.
“It Ain’t Me Babe” continues the hype & while it may be acoustically based then the crowd are still in their element & are happy to bellow along at the chorus & clap through every so often. Back to ‘Time Out Of Mind’ with “Love Sick” – the song that caused outrage in Dylan Circles when it was used, along with it’s writer in a Victoria’s Secret lingerie commercial in the United States – it has a lot of presence here with Bucky using his steel pedal to eek out a mournful guitar line that attests to some kind of depression in the protagonist.
The audience have respectfully quietened now & are drinking it all in. Finally a busy little “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”. This would be the last track played tonight with “Blowin’ In The Wind” snipped from the end of the show – maybe Bob had had enough of the security & wanted to hasten a retreat or Van had over played that night but most people would have expected a set encompassing 90 minutes & thats all they got. “Rainy Day Women .. ” is, as mentioned, shortened to fit on to the CD but it’s a very clever edit & is certainly not noticeable as is the fact that Dylan’s thank yous & usual band introductions are all missing.
The artwork is a usual Dandelion fare with a moody Dylan portrait on the front bathed in an orange glow, another guitar playing portrait on the back & a simple 4 page fold out cover in the middle. The CD itself features a white & black ink drawing of a “Wayfaring Stranger”
It’s a definitive collectors tape, note just one for those that were there but one that you could throw on for fun although newer listeners wanting a brighter, louder soundboard experience are advised to look a little further then it’s still not without it’s fun & would be recommended as a nice addition to start your 1998 collection.