Voyage To The Sun (Tambourine Man Records TMR 191/192)
University Of South Florida Sun Dome, Tampa, FL – October 7th 2010
Disk 1 [ 60:21 ] Introduction / Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat / Lay, Lady, Lay / Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again / Just Like A Woman / Rollin’ & Tumblin’ / Tangled Up In Blue / Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum / Simple Twist Of Fate / High Water ( For Charley Patton ) / Love Sick.
Disk 2 [ 48:38 ] Highway 61 Revisited / A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall / Thunder On The Mountain / Ballad Of A Thin Man / Jolene / Like A Rolling Stone / All Along The Watchtower.
From The fraternity from the East comes another brilliant Summer 2010 tour edition from Bob Dylan. Sean Daly, Tampa Bay Times Pop Music Critic, described his night as being thus :
“O n a good night, Bob Dylan sings as if he were gargling with lit cherry bombs. On a bad night, the 69-year-old sings as if he were gargling with lit cherry bombs while wearing a thick, furry Chewbacca mask.
“On Thursday, in front of a few thousand faithful at the USF Sun Dome, it was a very good night – for all sorts of reasons.
“Despite his taciturn rep and reluctance to smile – and, of course, his standoffish bullfrog croak – Dylan has aged into a genial, giving performer. Don’t believe the cliche rips on him. Credit his age or the fact that he has nothing more to prove, but the Prickly Poet Laureate throws a likable, rousing gig nowadays.
“I’ve seen Dylan perform seven or eight times, and this show was one of my flat-out faves. There have been times when I left a Bobfest scratching my dome at his crotchety, clipped approach; this time, I departed the intimate college venue picking air licks and humming the refrain of Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again, one of 16 full-throttle burners he packed into his near-two-hour set.”
Tonight’s set is a nicely recorded, audience quiet edition of Dylan’s show but, as with a lot of his recent shows, is tempered by a low bass sound that no home EQ-ing can quite smooth out & so while it’s not messy & unlistenable then it could have been swopped for a Highway CDR release.
Late of the naughties Dylan has embraced his choice of crooner mannerisms & tends to stand center-stage microphone or harp in hand. His voice is pushed to the fore by the mixing desk so everyone gets to grab on to the notes that he sings as opposed to the notes that they ( his band ) play.
This tours band, consisting of Stu Kimball, Charlie Sexton, Donnie Herron, Tony Garnier & George Receli are good to Bob although there are times when Bobby will decide, spur of the moment, to jump on to & use an instrument that is close & pound out an almost ludicrous one note theme between the middle of everything else.
Of course, this being Dylan no one is any frame of mind to catch his fingers & to twist him towards the front again but one has to wonder what one earth he’s thinking as he tries this diversions to madness. The same thing happens tonight part way in to “Stuck Inside of Mobile .. ” He weedles in an alarming keyboard prance that ruins a serviceable rendition but that’s only one flub from a roundly enjoyable evening.
Kicking off with two new, different songs from the previous evening, the jumping “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” sets a good precedent but it’ll never be the animal that it once was under this new style. Instead it’s closer in tempo and feel to the following track ( “Lay Lady Lay” ) even though the lyrics are poles apart from each other. The biggest thing that Dylan brings to the table this evening is his now ever ready harp. Shead of his guitar then it’s sprung as a form of defence as his band take control around him.
“Rollin’ & Tumblin'” is the first real ‘let loose’ moment – A lesson in skittering amusement & combustible joy. A lot of the guitar work here twirls out like fireworks like a counterpoint to Dylan’s giddy harmonica bursts although Bobby’s having so much fun he forgets to sing out & most of his delivery is muttered & only half remembered.
“Tangled Up In Blue” is wonderful though. Driven at mid-pace which allows Dylan to get a clear grip on his enunciation – The lyrics are poured out like sand through fingers – but buoyed by this it’s easy to go too far too fast & he ends up slipping on his words at least once [ “He used a little .. WAY too much force.” ]
Regardless, the full sound of the track is near over charming. A warm soak in the glistening rays of a story on a relationship that crumbles then reignites after a time. If there’s ever a song that has been as wrong-footed before then it’s “Tangled .. ” but tonight it fits so well into it’s new space it’s luxurious.
“High Water ( For Charley Patton )” has sunk it’s teeth in to Dylan’s new millennium set list almost by accident. As the world continues to tip on it’s unfortunate axis then it’s near apocalyptic lyrics steal the mood of the crowd & pin point where they think Dylan should be right now. Instead of pouring out his old lyrics like cream he should be stood at the doors readying people for the coming of the four horsemen & giving out a life line. The banjo part by Donnie adds that precision to a ‘rushing towards the end’ fevour & gets right to the roots.
The storming “Highway 61 Revisited” joins us to get the circulation running further still. As ever these days within it’s eye it folds down to a sparse jam before rushing back for a second shot at brutality. Tonight’s rendition is none so more hammering at the Dome’s walls with a mighty ballast.
“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” slows down the shaking & extends it’s hand out so the audience can get hold & sing along. Towards the end Dylan starts to shutter out the lyrics like an Instamatic camera. It’s an effective way to work things & reinvigorates those lyrics so it’s like they’re being heard fresh again.
For the end of the set Dylan throws “Ballad Of A Thin Man” out for the temptation of the audience. A thematic, lonely vamp on an old favourite.
For the Encore we’re given new favourite “Jolene” & old standard “Like A Rolling Stone” – “Jolene” allows Dylan a little more time rolling out a rhythm on his keyboards “Like A Rolling Stone” gives the crowd what they want of sorts.
Once again one of Dylan’s songs is slowed down to a softer pace & loses the push that it had in the 60’s but the song is what it is & no matter what it has developed in to then in the ears & minds of the converted then it will always stand as a staple. Charlie throws in a line from the old nursery rhyme “Ring O’ Roses” to the soloing in the middle of the song.
The 2nd encore is the 2nd of 6 this tour from a possible 39 shows. Tampa must have been blessed tonight or showed enough positive reaction or maybe Dylan just wanted to do something different. A rollicking “All Along The Watchtower” is quickly whipped up & shipped out.
Possibly owing to time constraints it’s only a brief sojourn out in to the great wilds of the song. More & more these days Dylan seems to be forsaking the Hendrix style of the song for a thumping, whirling stab at it instead. Quieter in places but using it’s builds wisely to best effect it doesn’t always capture the intensity of the Hendrix reworking but as a closer it’s always worth waiting for.