Bob Dylan & Paul Simon – Live In Denver 1999 (Zeus Z-901001/2/3)

Live In Denver 1999 (Zeus Z-901001/2/3)

McNichols Arena, Denver, CO – June 7th, 1999

Disc 1 (63:39):  Cocaine Blues, Mr. Tambourine  Man, Masters Of War, It Ain’t Me Babe, Tangled Up In Blue, All Along The Watchtower, Simple Twist Of Fate, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Make You Feel My Love, Highway 61 Revisited

Disc 2 (34:05):  Love Sick, Like A Rolling Stone, Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, The Sound Of Silence, I Walk The Line/Blue Moon Of Kentucky, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Disc 3 (74:27):  Bridge Over Troubled Water, Can’t Run But, The Boy In The Bubble, The Coast, Trailways Bus (from ‘Capeman’), Mrs. Robinson, Me And Julio Down By The School Yard, Further To Fly, Graceland, The Cool Cool River, Slip Sliding Away, Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes, You Can Call Me Al, Late In The Evening, Still Crazy After All These Years

Bob Dylan and Paul Simon toured together for thirty-two dates in the summer of 1999 for the first and only time.  For Simon, this was his first group of live shows in seven years since he was occupied with his Broadway flop “The Capeman” for much of the nineties.  For Dylan, this was a continuation of his career shifting gears after the release of Time Out Of Mind.  

The tour began with a Dylan warm-up gig on June 5th at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, Colorado.  Simon joined Dylan and the band for the encore set.  

On the following night at the World Arena in Colorado Springs the tour began.  Simon and Dylan would alternate opening and closing spots and would play a three song duet section in the middle.  

The second stop was a return to Denver, this time at the much larger McNichol Arena with Dylan opening and Simon closing.  Live In Denver 1999 is the first of two titles released by Zeus which document this era (the second release has the final show in Jones Beach in New York).  The label uses an excellent stereo audience recording of the entire gig.  

Zeus also reprint a review of the show from the Bob’s Links website on the inside of the gate fold sleeve.  Titled “The PROPHET & The PRIEST:  Bob Dylan & Paul Simon’s ‘Two Wandering Jews tour,” radio personality and founder of Emu Consulting Douglas Gertner observes “Rav Aqua pointed out to me after the show how these two performers embody the distinct Jewish archetypes of the Prophet (Dylan) and the Priest (Simon). The wise one of words, enigmatic, understated; both heralded and scorned, elusive and omnipresent, I’ve long applied the label of Prophet to Dylan.”

Dylan’s set continues in form from the preceding NET shows by starting off with several acoustic with band numbers including a cover tune.  In Denver he begins with “Cocaine Blues,” but on other nights he would play “Hallelujah, I’m Ready To Go,” “Fried Of The Devil” or the Elizabeth Cotten tune “Oh Baby It Ain’t No Lie.”

The rest of the set is slanted in favor of the oldies with particular attention to his sixties output.  Only “Make You Feel My Love” and “Love Sick” are played from the new album and two songs from Blood On The Tracks, “Tangled Up In Blue” and “Simple Twist Of Fate,” come from the seventies.

When the band hit the electric numbers they truly rock hard.  Standout performances include the Hendrix arrangement of “All Along The Watchtower,” a razor sharp “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” and the apocalyptic blues of “Highway 61 Revisited.”  Dylan’s set ends with a solo performance of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.”  

Paul Simon joins Dylan’s band onstage for the duet section beginning with the Simon & Garfunkel tune “Sounds Of Silence.”  Dylan takes Garfunkel’s place in the song, but it sound rather restrained and shy.  The Gertner review points out that “the duet was dominated by Simon yet Dylan’s low-end vocals gave the song a dark, meaningful tone.”

They follow with a spirited medley with cover versions of Johnny Cash’s “Walk The Line” and Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon Of Kentucky.”  Finally, they duet on Dylan’s own “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”  

The third disc contains Simon’s complete set.  According to the above quoted review, Dylan is the prophet but “Simon, like the Priests of old, remains visible, accessible, a consummate showman offering near studio versions of our favorite tunes for sing-along the way a Priest teaches and leads prayers and songs.  Although neither actively embraces his Jewish roots, both artists reflect their common heritage in their work and in their personas.”

This is true to an extent, but Simon engages in rearrangements of his classic melodies himself.  “Like A Bridge Over Trouble Waters,” the serene hymnic tune, is transformed into an excersize of world music with the injection of the South African drums and “Mrs Robinson” sounds much more rock than folk.  Simon’s mention of Joe DiMaggio in the song elicits a loud cheer from the audience in recongition of the baseball legend’s recent passing (March 8th, 1999).    

The rest of the set is great, ending with “You Can Call Me Al.”  Simon plays two encores, “Late In The Evening” and a serene version of “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

Live In Denver 1999 is a high quality title on the Zeus label and is worth having.  The gate fold cardboard sleeve is printed on glossy paper with various photographs from the tour and the Gertner review printed in full with interesting observations about the show in Denver.  

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