Tsongas Center 2010 (Highway HW-041/42)
Tsongas Center, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA – November 20th, 2010
Disc 1 (59:47): Intro., Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking, It Ain’t Me Babe, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Love Sick, Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Simple Twist Of Fate, Honest With Me, Visions Of Johanna, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
Disc 2 (44:33): Tangled Up In Blue, Highway 61 Revisited, Not Dark Yet, Thunder On The Mountain, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Jolene, band intro., Like A Rolling Stone
Tsongas Center 2010 documents one of the final shows from the 2010 NET, taped at the University Of Massachusetts in Lowell. Highway is a professionally produced CDR title utilizing an excellent stereo audience recording capturing all the dynamics of the performance perfectly. Even the audience comments close to the recorder add to the wonderful live feel for this release (“New England loves you” and “you’re my best friend” are two of the strangest).
He starts off the show with “Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking” which virtually replaced “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” as the opener in the final week of concerts, followed by “It Ain’t Me, Babe” for the fourteenth time this year.
The concert has several excellent, scarcely played songs throughout its duration such as a tragic “Love Sick,” a haunting “Visions Of Johanna” (played for only the ninth time in 2010), and an amazing version of “Not Dark Yet.”
The Boston Globe reviewed the show and much like the Binghamton student news paper complained about the arrangements and vocals. James Reed, in an article entitled “Dylan’s singing, but what’s he saying?” writes: “Dylan’s concerts are frustrating — not just for the state of his voice, but rather his inability (or perhaps refusal) to communicate his message all that well. And if you’re not seeing him in a theater, where the sound isn’t as diffused, you spend half the show nudging the stranger next to you: ‘What’s he saying?”
“What he’s singing isn’t nearly as crucial as what he’s conveying. At the Tsongas Center, the sound mix was predictably not on Dylan’s side, but that might not have mattered, really. His voice — so grizzled and garbled that it’s now approaching Tom Waits’s timbre — was hard to parse not only for the lyrics but also Dylan’s connection to them.…He delivered on a few songs, particularly with emotive renditions of ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ and ‘Not Dark Yet.’ It was telling that for both songs Dylan stepped up to a microphone front and center of the stage and played nothing more than a showman.”
What Reed seems to miss, and what followers of Dylan would argue, is the importance to appreciate how Dylan is singing a song. His early material was marked by a hint of precociousness in his vocals, as if he were extremely wise beyond his years. Now, his vocals lends the weight of both wisdom and experience. Experienced fans know what the words are, but it’s important to note how he sings them.
Tsongas Center 2010 is packaged in a double slimline jewel case. The graphics on both front and back inserts are also very pleasing to the eye. It is a shame Highway uses such cheap paper. If this were a silver pressed release with normal inserts, this would rank as one of the best Dylan releases.