Bob Dylan – Then Came The Warnin’ (Thinman-143/144)

Then Came The Warnin’ (Thinman-143/144)

First Union Center, Philadelphia, PA – November 15th, 2002

Disc 1 (68:55):  Intro., Maggie’s Farm, In The Summertime, Tombstone Blues, End Of The Innocence, Things Have Changed, Brown Sugar, Positively Fourth Street, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), Shelter From The Storm, Drifter’s Escape, Masters Of War 

Disc 2 (79:28):  Don’t Think Twice, Honest With Me, Times They Are A-Changin’, High Water, Mutineer, Po’ Boy, Summer Days, Blowin’ In The Wind, All Along The Watchtower.  Bonus discs:  Boom Boom Mancini (October 4th), Lawyers Guns And Money (October 5th), One Too Many Mornings, Mutineer (October 7th), Carrying A Torch (October 19)

Bob Dylan ended 2002 with a two month long series of shows, beginning in Seattle and ending in Fairfax, Virgina right before the Thanksgiving holiday.  On November 15th he played his first show at the massive First Union Center in Philadelphia.  Then Came The Warnin’ is the first pressed title of this show utilizing an excellent stereo audience recording.

I lived in southern New Jersey at the time, right across the river from Philadelphia.  Several of my teenage confirmands attended this show.  I was surprised and wondered what the appeal Dylan would have to several teenagers.  Hearing the set reveals several characteristics which could explain why.  From the very outset there is an intensity which rarely lightens. 

Each song contains some level of drama and pathos absent from most music which starts after the introduction with the first song “Maggie’s Farm.”  This is when this song was installed as the set opener for several years.  On this tour it sounds fresh, heralding Dylan’s appearance as did “Subterranean Homesick Blues” did back in 1988.  It rocks hard and had the same feel as it did in the famous performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.   

“In The Summertime” from Shot Of Love was a surprise inclusion in the setlist.  It was played eight times with this being the final performance to date.  Campbell plays mandolin and sings harmony in an intense vocal performance by Dylan.

A cover of Don Henley’s “The End Of Innocence” was added to the set for this tour and was played nine times.  The original track was released in 1989 and has heavy political overtones.  Dylan seems to sing it as a social commentary at the time with special emphasis upon the lyric “beautiful for spacious skies.”  It’s followed by “Things Have Changed” with surprising clear intonation of such lines as “feel like falling in love with the first woman I meet.”

A nice surprise is a faithful rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar.”  Added perhaps for the Stones’ massive Licks tour, it was added in the October 4th show in Seattle and would be played in the rest of the tour.  Only once would it be played in 2003, however.

Campbell plays cittern on “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” the night’s most unique instrumentation.  “Shelter From The Storm” is given a quasi-bluegrass arrangement reminiscent of the music found in the film O Brother Where Art Thou? whose soundtrack won a Grammy the previous year.

Dylan returns to the piano for “Honest With Me.”  He also plays his only harp solo of the set in “Times They Are A-Changin.” 

It was about this time when Warren Zevon announced that he had terminal mesothelioma.  He appeared on Late Night With David Letterman for the entire show on October 30th, talking about his illness.  When the announcement was made the previous month Dylan included one of Zevon’s songs in the setlist.  On this night he plays “Mutineer.”  Thinman include several other Zevon covers as bonus tracks including “Lawyers Guns And Money” and “Boom Boom Mancini.” 

A special for the night is a performance of “Po Boy.”  Since the release of Love And Theft the previous September, it was only played once before.  “Summer Days” from the same album closes the show and there are two encores, “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “All Along The Watchtower.”

Overall Then Came The Warnin’ is a fantastic sounding and packaged document from Dylan’s fall 2002 tour of the U.S.  It has unusual intensity and many social references in the song selection. 

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