Rollin’ And Righteous (Highway HW-035/36)
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston Salem, NC – October 16th, 2010
Disk One : 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’ And Tumblin’ / The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll / High Water ( For Charley Patton ) / Shelter From The Storm / Honest With Me / Tangled Up In Blue. ( 63:53 )
Disk Two : Highway 61 Revisited / Nettie Moore / Thunder On The Mountain / Ballad Of A Thin Man / “Crowd” / Jolene / “Bob introduces his band” / Like A Rolling Stone / “The crowd calls out for more ..” ( 45:42 )
The CDR label Highway continue to concrete the legacy of Bob Dylan by scooping up a mass of his American shows & releasing them quickly to a discerning audience. Because of this venture the usual risks still occur – A rushed schedule to press the artifact ( or in this case burn ), to compile the artwork ( These days they can be produced using a cheap cell phone but despite any artistic whims someone might have then there is still a certain skill required the method ) & to have that self same artwork printed in conjunction with the disks while getting the product out there before someone else does – They’re all very important if you want to keep your customer base coming back for more.
Unfortunately for Highway only one of three applies to this release. The artwork is discretely proud & quietly stylised featuring a simple, well shot Dylan on stage playing his guitar – an act that seems happens less these days but something that each attendee to Dylan’s concerts can quite proudly attest to have seen at least once a show nowadays – while the shot at the back features a pre show shot of an auditorium filling up to capacity.
The paper it’s printed on seems thin but, as mentioned, we’re dealing with an “Appearing tonight”, pressed next week kind of production so, nit picking aside, as long as it looks good then the quality is not really nothing to baulk at. The show itself even appears to to be a good one. Sure, there’s no real surprises to be be had from the set list – These are few nowadays & while you can still anticipate something, anything, happening if it doesn’t then all you can hope for is a good show.
Dylan has his nights when his mind is either on the ball ( or the women in the front row ) or it’s somewhere else entirely & he’s not thinking of appeasing anyone but himself. Tonight though all bets are on. The band that gives Bob his wings can only follow suit & keep out an eye for his next turn & tonight he’s fired up. Keeping the band on their toes & with fingers poised they’re ready to go. The show begins with the long announcement. A take some people are bored with but it’s still part of the repertoire & still a knowing wink from Bobby.
And we’re straight in to “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” A track that carried nearly every show beginning right up until the last few weeks when a change of heart & tastes pushed it aside. It’s appearance is taken keenly by the audience & the musicianship is second to none. Finely honed, souped up & ready – the band still make this songs sound reverent despite the amount of rotations they receive. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” lets the pace linger a little but it’s chimes are heartfelt & the tics & changes within as it crawls along are perfectly timed. The big band ending especially raises the hairs at the nape of your neck & tickles your musical funny bone.
The highlight of the evening though is an absolutely glorious & furious “Rollin’ & Tumblin'”. Like a band possessed they pummel in to the action with barely a breath taken. Bobby’s keyboard playing, while only sometimes inspired, is blistering tonight especially towards the end of the track as he somehow morphs channels his inner Jerry Lee Lewis & boogies with the best. George Receli tentatively spars with him adding choice ballast to the puncturing jabs at the ‘boards notes. So convincing is the rendition the taper, or someone besides him, commentates on the performance “Folks, that was righteous, right there!” heralding the title for the show then ..
“The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” makes a welcome return to the set & will be the first of only 4 outings on this leg. We see Bobby returning to harp for the end section – Another crowd pleasing motion that never fails to move.
It seems fair to say that a far as he’s come tonight so far Dylan can’t do any wrong – “High Water ( For Charley Patton )”, “Shelter From The Storm”, “Tangled Up In Blue” ( In particular for the way Dylan brings out the lyrics – No mumbling, fluffing or staggering here – Pretty much every word direct & clear ), a storming “Highway 61 Revisited”, “Thunder On The Mountain” and a deeply threatening & dark “Ballad Of A Thinman” – Each & everyone are powerful & bucolic.
The label have also decided to include the tape as full this includes the full near 5 minutes that the band made the audience wait between the main gig & the encore & also the near apoplexy of the audience as they call out for more after the encore ( & the taper nearly bashes the life out of his microphone. ) Not quite Mr. Peach proportions in length but there is enough to really get that feel.
All fair so far but, and it’s a big but, the choice of tape for this show is a dispiriting minus. Had we a soundboard for this show then each label & its dog would be falling over its feet to release it & unless something from Dylan’s vast back pages appears we’d be proclaiming this release of the year.
The tape used is nowhere near that though & is instead an over noisy, trebly, crunchy mess that even the virgin torrenter would be afraid to upload. True, it might be a wide stereo that fits everything in without squeezing the life out of anything but from the very announcement that proceeds the main set then the levels set are harsh to listen to & may induce listening fatigue almost immediately. Even Dylan’s band introduction is marred, ever so slightly, by the horrid crispy noises & this is just about audible at best.
It’s a real shame as I’d love to recommend this show as a specific one to have & had it have been without its faults then it would fall towards the top of the pile for Dylan shows for 2010 but as it stands it is a wasted opportunity & a sadly missed target.