Bob Dylan – Tokyo 2023 4th Night (Zion-244)

Bob Dylan, ‘Tokyo 2023 4th Night’ (Zion-244)
Disk one: Intro / Watching The River Flow / Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine) / I Contain Multitudes / False Prophet / When I Paint My Masterpiece / Black Rider / My Own Version Of You / I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight / Crossing The Rubicon (54:37)
Disk two: To Be Alone With You / Key West (Philosopher Pirate) / Got To Serve Somebody / band introduction / I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You / Not Fade Away / Mother Of Muses / Goodbye Jimmy Reed / Every Grain Of Sand (53:06)

Tokyo Garden Theatre, Tokyo, Japan 15th April, 2023.

Typically after I wrote on my last Dylan review that Crystal Cat seemed to be the only label that was putting out new, new Dylan shows, this piece turns up. Having packed his cases and turned up in the Far East, Bob Dylan played 11 dates in Japan, Osaka, Tokyo and Nagoya were all treated to mini-residencies for the ‘Rough And Rowdy’ world tour. More surprising than Dylan still touring at this grand old age was that he used his appearances to sneak in a couple of songs that he had recently written about in ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song’. Both Buddy Holly and the Grateful Dead were represented in form. The songs usually appearing at the end of the set to give the Dylan Poolers a shock when they went to tally up their scores.

For anyone who has been following the recent reviews, tonight’s show, the first released on silver from this leg should be tightly anticipated. The concerts that Crystal Cat captured were some of Dylan’s recent best – Though for me, coming off of the back of the Tin Pan Alley tour, Dylan could have appeared, reprised his Christmas album and flipped his audience the bird, I’d have been brimming – terse, exciting, low slung, defiant affairs. Dylan has just turned in to Gran Tourino era Clint Eastwood – His heart stuck together with duct-tape, his voice worn rusty with bourbon. They’re thrillingly where Dylan is and needed to be.
The sound of this recording is a shadow less than a CC recording but that’s hardly throwing out the baby with the bath water talk, it still sounds good – The venue adding an acoustic comfortability to it, to me this is vinyl as opposed to CD. Tape to the MP3, a car cassette that’s worn in. The show itself is of a standard – BUT – as always with Dylan, there’s a kink. The tempo is slower, for sure – there’s an energy that’s apparent, but while it’s not pressing at the bar, it’s gripping the wheel, rubbing it’s chin with the other hand, tapping out a tune with the heel of it’s snakeskin boot. Like Dylan is playing it slower so the audience can keep up with his pace.
Standouts this time are a dreamy, ‘You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)’ – Which both threatens to shuttle and doesn’t need to move at the same time either but it ends beautifully. A very different version of ‘When I Paint My Masterpiece’, Donny on Violin, Tony Garner on the stand-up bass, it’s simple jazz-cum-classical-like patter was almost made for it’s reinvention here in the East.
‘Black Rider’ is a delicate, looping rhyme here, far more placid than previous incarnations, less than threatening, Dylan twists the piece in to a ballad instead. The same goes for ‘My Own Version Of You’, it’s lazily, wilting stalk though enunciates the storytelling. The lyrics are easier, much easier to scan, the menace of the Frankensteinian horror still remains though.
A certain thrill in three parts runs through ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’, starting with a brass-bed-bare introduction, running through the first line a chorus, the pace picks up for a rough, samba-led groove that runs through the rest of the middle of the song before it flips again in to a copper-bottomed blues shuffle for the ending. It’s at turns eccentric and electric sounding.
‘Key West (Philosopher Pirate)’, Dylan’s current favourite this tour, is almost too quiet – while I appreciate the brittle glimmer of it’s rendering, there’s a lightness that doesn’t completely translate – It’s one of the only tracks that is greeted with a polite applause once it reaches it’s chorus however, it’s obviously a fan fave too.
The beginning of ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ elicits af least one whoop from the audience, the title engenders a little more – As standard for the evening, it starts off spartan but rises in volume to become a stockier beast – Although marginally slower than the rest of the performances we’ve heard this year. It’s a terrific change and worthy of having been struck differently.
As is typical, wordlessly, ‘Not Fade Away’ warms up from silence after, ‘I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You’, from the opening beats, it’s obvious what it is, what is curious is as though the crowd seem to have been expecting it somewhat. Their cheers are ones of recognition, though obviously, it’s not this artist who they’d have heard that from. Bob, of course, knows all the words, every-single-one. It’s like him to sing it as he would rather than trying anything like aping Buddy’s style.
Finally, ‘Every Grain Of Sand’, the tours closer, makes its appearance as a marginalised classic. One that we know but may mean less to the everyman, this has Dylan reach in to his breast pocket for his harp when closing out the set. It hasn’t sounded sweeter for a long while and ends on a very placid note.
The recording bows out with the taper capturing the classical music that’s played through the PA as the rest of the audience leave.
The artwork is nice if simple – Both “Rough And Rowdy” and “Shadow Kingdom” promo shuffle alongside each other with a couple of stage shots from different nights in Japan. Less expansive than CC’s sets maybe but another style on this setlist, the sound and the fleeting Buddy Holly tune make this a must have piece.

Share This Post

Like This Post


Related Posts


    Leave a Reply

    Thanks for submitting your comment!

    Recent Comments

    Editor Picks