Bob Dylan – Next Bend In The Road (Tambourine Man Records TMR 201/202)

Next Bend In The Road (Tambourine Man Records TMR 201/202)

Mud Island Amphitheater, Memphis, TN – July 30th, 2011

Disc 1 (71:41):  Intro., Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right, Things Have Changed, Tangled Up In Blue, Beyond Here Lies Nothin’, Mississippi, The Levee’s Gonna Break, Sugar Baby, Highway 61 Revisited, Forgetful Heart, Thunder On The Mountain, Ballad Of A Thin Man

Disc 2 (74:30):  Like A Rolling Stone, band introduction, All Along The Watchtower, Blowin’ In The Wind.  Bonus tracks, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN – August 1st, 2011:  It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, Things Have Changed, Beyond Here Lies Nothin’, Mississippi, High Water (For Charley Patton), Sugar Baby, Forgetful Heart.  Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll (June 25th, 2011), I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) (June 26th, 2011), Visions Of Johanna (June 22nd, 2011)

Two weeks after the start of the summer US tour Bob Dylan visited the Mud Island Amphitheater in Memphis, Tennessee.  One of the birth places of rock and roll, Dylan gives one of the best shows from the summer.  Tambourine Man Records use an excellent stereo audience tape on Next Bend In The Road

A review in the Memphis Flyer states, “Words cannot express the greatness of this performance. Like the proverbial apples of gold delivered on a plate of silver. Some few people in life are able to give their very best all the time with no let down and Bob Dylan or Mr. Zimmerman or whatever he wants to be is one of those people. As I scanned the crowd of young, middle aged, and older folks some were dancing in their seats, others sat in awe with their jaw open, others tried to hide the tears by putting their head down.

“The thing about Mr. Dylan’s music is that it provides the common link that opens up the heart and puts all ages, all genders, all races on the same wave length and now suddenly you are connected to 5000 people at the thalamic level. This concert was an existential experience of the highest order. How can a 70 year old musician with a significant closed head injury from a motorbike accident years ago do all this every third night for months on end? The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

Hyperbole aside, Memphis is a very good performance for the tour.  It starts off with several common tunes “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and the new arrangement of “Things Have Changed.”  A review correctly points out “Tangled Up In Blue” as an early highlight, stating how it has “undergone another revision, with Dylan in the center of the stage focusing on his vocals and playing some really great harp solos.”

But the two greatest performances in Memphis come later in the show.  The first is “Sugar Baby.”  Although a more common show from the summer tour, having been played in most of the shows, he gives a surprisingly sweet and vulnerable vocal performance on this most delicate of tracks. 

The second is “Forgetful Heart.”  Dylan offers a plaintive, doom-laden performance over the sparse, minimalistic instrumental arrangement.  This is one of the performances that can truly be called “thalmac” per the above written review.  Even the audience, who are quite vocal and demonstrative, are quite as they follow very nuance in the narrative. 

The Memphis crowd are very animated throughout much of the performance.  They especially react to “Mississippi,” to “Highway 61 Revisited” (since the actual highway runs close to Memphis), and to the mention of Tennessee in “Thunder On The Mountain.”  They are a special audience and are rewarded with “Blowin’ In The Wind” as a third encore. 

For the bonus tracks, TMR offer seven songs from the following performance at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.  Taken from another excellent audience recording, many of the songs are duplicated from the Memphis show.   Only “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and “High Water (For Charley Patton)” are are unique.

“The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” is taken from the summer tour in Europe, the June 25th show in Mainz, Germany, from a good audience tape.  “I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)” is sourced from the June 26th Hamburg show, and “Visions Of Johanna” from the June 22nd show in Milan, Italy.

The sound quality for all the tracks are excellent and, except for the amount of duplication between the Memphis and Nashville shows, is a great release to have from the US summer tour. 

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