Tempodrom 1996 (Mercury Dam Music MDM-003/004)
Tempodrom, Berlin, Germany – June 17th, 1996
Disc 1 (64:46): Drifter’s Escape, Shake Sugaree, All Along The Watchtower, Positively Fourth Street, Watching The River Flow, Silvio, Tangled Up In Blue, Love Minus Zero/No Limit, Friend Of The Devil
Disc 2 (77:30): Seeing The Real You At Last, Queen Jane Approximately, Maggie’s Farm, Alabama Getaway, My Back Pages, Rainy Day Women #12 & 35. Tears Of Rage, Seven Days, Pretty Peggy-O, Shelter From The Storm
Tempodrom 1996 is the second release on the new Mercury Dam Music. Much like their first, this is the label’s way of reissuing a classic Bob Dylan performance for newer collectors. Berlin first surfaced in late 1996 on Soul (Kiss 021/22), and MDM write in their liner notes: “We have issued this show in a more elaborate format, honoring this concert for the tour de force that it is. The Kiss label and, of course, the original taper(s), did such a wonderful job in preserving and transferring the music, that we did not meddle with the audio at all, aside from filling out disc two with bonus tracks.”
The sound quality of the Berlin show is outstanding. It’s very close to the stage and picks up very well every nuance of the vocals and instrumentals. The Euopean summer NET began on June 15th at the Århus Festival in Denmark where Dylan played an abbreviated set. Berlin is the first show with the complete two hour show.
It was on this tour where Dylan began to re-emphasize the performance dimension of his music, taking the stage with only a microphone and fashioning himself as a crooner. As such, there is such a wide display of emotional intonation in his delivery.
“Drifter’s Escape,” which would be the most common opener, starts off the show. The Elizabeth Cotton cover “Shake Sugaree” follows, making its live debut.
“Positively 4th Street” is played in a gentle arrangement standing as a foil to the viciousness of the words. “Watching The River Flow” is played as a fast country and western honky tonk number to the surprise of the audience.
“Tangled Up In Blue” starts off a three song mini acoustic set. The lyrics are close to the Blood On The Tracks recording, but the arrangement is very deliberate and slow, as is “Love Minus Zero/No Limit.” The first of two tributes to the late Jerry Garcia, “Friend Of The Devil,” closes out this portion of the set. Dylan adopts the slower arrangement the Grateful Dead played live onstage instead of the quicker American Beauty arrangement.
Second half begins with a nice version of “Seeing The Real You At Last” from Empire Burlesque. A very long “Maggie’s Farm” closes the show. “Alabama Getaway” is the first encore and the second tribute to Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead. “My Back Pages,” played acoustically with the band follows and the show ends with a loud “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.”
The four bonus tracks are taken from Exclusive Series ’96 (Osa/Bong ES 004), a compilation of the tour. “Tears Of Rage” dates from July 10th Tambach. “Seven Days,” played in an identical arrangement as i was written in 1976 and recorded by Ron Wood in 1979, comes from the June 19th Frankfurt show as does “Pretty Peggy-O.” And finally “Shelter From The Storm” is comes from the July 3rd Konstanz tape.
Mercury Dam Music promised good packaging for the tape and they don’t disappoint. The include a multiple page color booklet with liner notes and many photographs from the tour. Tempodrom 1996 is a great release worth having for those who never obtained Soul.