Bob Dylan – San Francisco Bay Bridge (no label)

San Francisco Bay Bridge (no label)

Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA – December 4th, 1988

Bob Dylan (with G.E. Smith):  San Francisco Bay Blues, Pretty Boy Floyd, With God On Our Side, Girl From The North Country, Gates Of Eden, Forever Young
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers:  Intro., Even The Losers, Blue Moon Of Kentucky, The Wild One Forever, Refugee, Don’t Come Around Here No More, The Waiting

The soundboard for Bob Dylan’s set at the second Bridge School Benefit first surface as filler on Blown Out On The Trail on Moontunes (MOON 019/20) released a decade ago in 1996.  The quality of the recording was good but left room for improvement.  San Francisco Bay Bridge on the anonymous label that released This Old Bridge and Neil At Massey Hall presents a wonderful, detailed, well balanced soundboard recording that is one of the best titles released in the past couple months. 

It contains the complete Dylan set, where he is accompanied by the amazing G.E. Smith, but also includes Tom Petty’s set as well to give us a more complete document of the event.Dylan’s set is almost a throwback to his early days where he sings along with his acoustic guitar.  Further adding to the nostalgia is his set list.  He beings with “San Francisco Bay Blues” by Jesse Fuller, an old folk standard followed by Woody Guthrie’s Pretty Boy Floyd. 

This was his first performance of the piece since September 1961 at Gerde’s Folk City.  “With God On Our Side” from The Times They Are A- Changin’ also gets a rare outing which is a shame since the waltz track has a catchy melody.  The “newest” song in his entire set is “Forever Young” from 1974 which receives a very tender acoustic arrangement. 

G.E.  Smith adds his professional touch to the set with his tasteful fills playing off of Dylan’s guitar.  The Heartbreakers join Tom Petty on stage and his tunes receive a similar acoustic reading (as per the demands of the event).  His set is introduced by Neil Young saying he saw the Ohio Players when he was younger at the Oakland Coliseum.  Petty adds “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” because he was “dying to play it all day”. 

“You guys are nuts back here,” he says before “The Wild One Forever”.  “Refugee” sounds very Dylanesque and the set closes with an energetic version of “The Waiting”.  Since both Dylan and Petty at this time were involved with The Traveling Wilburys and whose first album was released two months before this show, it would have been great if they had given some of those songs a public performance. 

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