Onwards In My Journey (Tambourine Man Records TMR 193/194)
University of Central Florida UCF Arena, Orlando, FL – October 10, 2010.
Disk 1 : Introduction / Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat / Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright / Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again / Just Like A Woman / Rollin’ & Tumblin’ / Tangled Up In Blue / High Water ( For Charley Patton ) / Tryin’ To Get To Heaven / Cold Irons Bound / Every Grain Of Sand. ( 62:24 )
Disk 2 : Highway 61 Revisited / Not Dark Yet / Thunder On The Mountain / Ballad Of A Thin Man / [ Encore ] Jolene / Like A Rolling Stone. ( 40:29 )
Tambourine Man continue the never ending quest to add to their catalogue pretty much every other of Bobby Dylan’s NET shows for better or for worse. The night & the tape they’ve chosen for tonight is a very well recorded audience taping that’s clean & well balanced rather than close & boomy.
The fourth show of Dylan’s Autumn / fall schedule finds him back in Florida – A state he first toured around in 1976 with the second pass of his Rolling Thunder revue & a return to the UCF Arena in Orlando a venue that he have last graced 15 years previous.
Tonight’s a centenary of sorts as this is the 100th show ( On 10 / 10 / 10 .. ) featuring the 21st NET band but it’s business as usual for them all with no pace let up to celebrate & back slap or at least not on stage.
Tonight is all about mixing up the set list again – Displacing 7 songs played the night before & throwing in a smidgen of new songs for the tour for that variety that would keep the collected guessing minute by minute. For all the people who remember spinning his LPs the first time round & would rather remember the way he was then the set doesn’t throw too many songs from Autumn years Bobby as it’s all about the nostalgia this evening.
Dylan firstly leads his band through four songs from his spring era beginning with a workman like “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”. Maybe it’s the fact that this song generally crops up first at Dylan’s show & despite the rotation of opening tracks then it feels all too familiar & rather than being inspired to throw something new in to the mix then the band shuffle in to auto pilot.
“Don’t Think Twice .. ” is much better. A staccato beat tremors behind a quirky guitar line which frames a clear lyric by Dylan. Despite attendance comments of some of the shows being too loud then it’s certainly not here & the smoother & softer Dylan plays the more the soulful & warmer efforts stand out.
“Rollin’ And Tumblin'” the first “Modern Times” track springs straight out from the traps & pins out a beat as steady flowing as molten lava. For a man approaching 70 years old then for the nearly seven minute duration of the song Dylan never loses sight or falters but keeps going as strongly as his band do.
“Tangled Up In Blue” follows & takes back it’s role as one of the expected staples of the night. While the drum beat thunders around the venue Dylan playfully scatters his lyrics around like crumbs but rather than the scattershot way that he has done recently he allows them just to flow, pinching the pace at points for effect. Once we meet the middle stages Dylan reaches for the harp & blows a sweet but wobbly melody. It works but not just because that’s what people are expecting to hear. It works because of the frame of mind the song puts them in.
“High Water ( For Charley Patton )” has successively become another set staple if not only because of it’s 60’s brought to the 00’s Dylan lyrical touches but also for it’s imposing & all encompassing charge.
Same goes for “Cold Irons Bound” since its appearance in 1997 it’s stature has grown & it’s restless thump is expected at pretty much every concert. Its a certain crowd pleaser as is “Highway 61 Revisited” which goes through it’s own fits & starts – Powerful & heavy some nights, not quite up to par on others, although tonight it’s in the former style. A rampant drum roll kicks everything off & the action only rests almost 7 minutes later as the band come to a wilting halt.
“Not Dark Yet” makes it’s first appearance of a sporadic 6 on this leg of the tour. Most of Dylan’s founding fans & the musicians who grew up around him had taken this song to their hearts in they way they “Forever Young” back in the 1970’s – Although Dylan had distanced himself from most of the over eager fans in the late 1960’s – the hippies who would invade his home at Woodstock, et al – he was apparently mindful of the fans who would leave him the heck alone & in the way John Lennon would in 1980 wrote indirectly about his feelings towards life & the way it was going. Dylan seemed to sense that these next few years could see him finally settling back & not recording so much or being pulled around for record companies benefits at a whim but doing what he wanted & enjoyed the most.
A mild “Ballad Of A Thin Man” rounds off the first part of the set. Less anger fueled than the best of it’s outings as of recent. Maybe Dylan’s energy was spent in the earlier portions of the show or this was a deliberate effort to change things around again. it’s not to say it’s a bad or lackluster effort but it hardly makes the air wobble than blows the roof off.
“Jolene” & “Like A Rolling Stone” are our encores tonight following the routine 3 minutes of waiting. The rest makes for a good excuse as “Jolene” brings a little more mood back to Dylan’s organ playing & while it’s hardly Little Richard-esque then it’s excitable enough to know Dylan’s pleased with the way things have gone. Following a brief band introduction “Like A Rolling Stone” takes the same route. Perfectly workable but sluggish towards the end. One has half a mind to wonder if Dylan has something else picking at his brains this evening.
So at the end while the show itself has a spirited enough beginning the effort to entertain tonight seems too much for Dylan & towards the end the shape of his enthusiasm begins to wain. A commendable first half but one of the shows for the completists only.