Bob Dylan – Sitting In The Bank Colisee (Look Back Records LBR-013/014)

Sitting In The Bank Colisee (Look Back Records LBR-013/014)

Androscoggin Bank Colisée, Lewiston, ME – May 17th, 2008

Disc 1 (67:24):  Introduction, Watching The River Flow, Lay Lady Lay, The Levee’s Gonna Break, Shelter From The Storm, Rollin’ And Tumblin’, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, Mississippi, Highway 61 Revisited, Workingman’s Blues #2, It’s Alright Ma 

Disc 2 (44:22):  Spirit On The Water, Ballad Of Hollis Brown, Summer Days, Ain’t Talkin’, Thunder On The Mountain, band intro., Blowin’ In The Wind

Sitting In The Bank Colisee is an excellent sounding recording from Bob Dylan’s second show from the summer 2008 tour, following the opening in Worcester, Massachusetts.  And unlike that show, which is a bit laid-back, the intensity returns in Maine with a tight, standout performance so early on.  A review the following day accurately states:  “Bob Dylan has always suggested that if people want insight into his thinking, they have to listen to his songs.  On Saturday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, Dylan and his band performed a searing 17-song set of apocalypse and catastrophe – songs that professed rising water, human misery and unimaginable doom.  Perhaps the master of musical philosophy was summing up the mood of the country as we head into a summer of discontent?  Maybe, maybe not.

Playing in front of an enthusiastic audience of 3,000 or so, the soon-to-be 67-year-old Dylan trotted out a bundle of songs from his very earliest days to the most recent, and many settled on harrowing themes.  Simmering along with an edgy acoustic backing, ‘The Levee’s Gonna Break’ offered salvation for those willing to take the plunge. A plaintive ‘Shelter from the Storm’ suggested a different kind of human cauldron, and a blistering ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ pointed the way of escape: ‘Just put some bleachers out in the sun,’ Dylan sang, punching the air for emphasis, ‘and have it out on Highway 61.’

“On just the second night of what is shaping up to be an extended spring and summer tour, which so far will play mostly overseas, Dylan and his band were in spectacular form.  Sounding fresh and full of energy and commitment, they performed what most Dylan fans would surely regard as one of his better Maine shows in recent years. He was in good voice, enunciating his lyrics and staying on mike most of the night, and the band sounded tight and focused.”

Of the songs used as openers perhaps the most effective is “Watching The River Flow.”  The pounding blues chords hammer into the audience his intent and “Lay, Lady, Lay” seals it.  The first suprise in the setlist is “Shelter From The Storm.”  It has been performed only 23 times in the past five years and he favors a soft, ballad arrangement similar to “Workingman’s Blues #2” from the latest album.  Another rarity is “Ballad Of Hollis Brown,” being infrequently included since it was a regular in 2005.  “Summer Days” returns to being the barnburner is frequntly is and the entire show reaches its apex with a sublime version of “Ain’t Talkin’.”  The complex tale of regret and redemption transforms the listener with its beauty.  The encore “Blowin’ In The Wind” sounds trite in comparison.  The recording captures the atmosphere of in the venue perfectly and one guy in particular shouts out requests like “Precious Angel” and “Love Minus Zero” and at one point shouts “come on Bob, I know you can hear me.”  Sitting In The Bank Colisee is limited to one hundred numbered copies and is a fascinating document to hear. 

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