Bob Dylan – One Yokahama Too Many Evenings (Stringman Records SR 101 – 102)

One Yokahama Too Many Evenings (Stringman Records SR 101 – 102)

Yokahama, Japan, Pacifico-Yokahama – March 2nd 2001

CD 1 : Duncan & Brady / To Ramona / It’s Alright Ma ( I’m Only Bleeding ) / If You See Her, Say Hello / Simple Twist of Fate / Silvio / A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall / Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright / Lay, Lady, Lay / Drifter’s Escape / One Too Many Mornings / Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat ( 70:32 )

CD 2 : Love Sick / Like A Rolling Stone / If Dogs Run Free / All Along The Watchtower / Forever Young / Highway 61 Revisited / Blowin’ In The Wind ( 40:28 )

The productive CDR label Stringman have been flying through a production rate almost as prodigious as the Godfather but using various different audience recordings of Dylan shows through the past couple of decades. This next group of 4 double CDRs ( each separately released ) center around Dylan’s far East tour of 2001. An age when Dylan was throwing out some superb & varied shows with songs appearing from across his star studded career. “One Yokahama Too Many Mornings” ( Yep, atrocious title isn’t it? ) is a good case in point.

A very clear audience recording from the forth show in Japan this year & as standard the Japanese audience are quiet & respectful towards the performer which certainly helps when capturing the mood of the show. The previous shows took the route of separating most of the set between acoustic & electric – tonight was the first show to start to scramble the set list between songs & dot things where they liked. Tonight’s outing is a very good Dylan performance – a few shades away from being classic maybe but much better than some of the shows we’ve heard from the latter years & studded with highlights. Long renditions seem to be the norm to as most tracks seem to span 7 minutes or so.

We begin tonight with an upbeat “Duncan & Brady” in which Dylan sounds assured. He glides through effortlessly & seems to be having a great time. Of course the band sound tight & propel the track along with a good pulse. “To Ramona” is preceded by a short warm up, the way it should be heard, & once the audience hear the first words, there is a small flutter of appreciation. The sound is akin to an old black & white movie & it’s romance is palpable.

“It’s Alright, Ma” slinks between quiet & loud, building a tension between verse & chorus although Dylan seems to run away with his words once or twice, getting to the end of a line before his band do & then knocking back the final word as a full stop. This excellent version powers down towards the end like a turntables motor as it’s slows to a halt. It’s a perfectly expressive way to do it & after the majestic force of the song feels like a good time to take a breath.

“Simple Twist Of Fate” is a little dreamy in quality. Again, it’s a lovers song rather than a song for the broken hearted. Strangly it’s only by the time the title is mentioned that the audience applause as if they recognize the title rather than the opening lyrics but, as I pointed out earlier, polite to a fault, the audience seem to lap up everything & maybe worry about applauding before they feel it’s time to do so.

“Silvio” might as well be heavy metal. Despite the loudness though the tape isn’t over stretched & loses none of its clarity while the band splinter through this rendition. Dylan’s words are either spat out or dragged out at length in this mesmerizing performance. The soloing is masterful & burns brightly in the middle.

Both “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall” & “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” are much slower paced. “Hard Rain” is set at waltz time while “Don’t Think Twice” steps it up slightly but still shows roots within traditional American music.

“Lay, Lady, Lay” sticks close to its original airing but things start to go wrong with Bobby’s tuning towards the end of the soloing – it’s well caught & reshaped but does damage the feel of the track towards the end as it’s almost painful to hear. The second thunderous song of the night arrives in the shape of “Drifters Escape”. While it might not be as brutal here then the song makes no concession in making the floor beneath you shake. It also features the first breath of Dylan’s harp & it’s surprisingly sharp, never once scrambling it’s way around but hitting the nail straight away & shooting from the hip.

The often opener “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” has Dylan singing again. Obviously by now he has warmed up, has gauged the crowd & is playing to this own contentment ( This shows within his guitar lines. ) It concludes with tonight’s band introductions which are just bountifully playful – Charlie plays a short piece of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” as his introduction – which just leads straight in to the kind of Letterman band jamming that the band would usually play when the song swoops to a close.

“Love Sick” has the crowd cheering from the start, they all obviously recognize it’s haunting stabs & again Dylan’s happy that it’s arrival doesn’t go unnoticed so puts his full being behind it, especially towards the end when he really puts his all in to his words. “Like A Rolling Stone” wrong foots the listeners with a preamble that nowhere fits it’s crashing appearance. True, it has slowed down over the years but here it sounds beautiful & regal.

The jazz shuffle of “If Dogs Run Free” smoothes out the end of the main show brilliantly. No one would really expect it to come so close to the end of the night so it raises a wry smile to hear it. It may be a coy nod to the jazz loving Japanese audience too but it certainly goes down well.

“All Along The Watchtower” bookends it by springing out from the stalls. Once again Dylan puts in his part by theatrically pronouncing his words & on the line “The wind began to howl” forces  the band in to a climatic push.

The show ends tonight with a mercurial trio – “Forever Young”, “Highway 61 Revisited” & “Blowin’ In The Wind”. “Forever Young” grabs the heart, “Highway” the feet & “Blowin'” the mind of the audience as the songs systematically wear their strengths on their sleeves.

This could have made a very nice silver disk CD – as many of Stringman’s efforts could have done so – but, had it not been coupled with that abomination of a title ( Not easy if English isn’t your first language or the best titles have been taken, I know ), we still have a very attractive CDR here & one of which the label can be justifiably proud.

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