Bob Dylan – Walkin’ By The Promenade (Tambourine Man Records TMR 195/196)

 Walkin’ By The Promenade (Tambourine Man Records TMR 195/196)

Marina Promenade, Singapore – April 15th, 2011

Disc 1 (75:02): Introduction, Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking, It Ain’t Me Babe, Beyond Here Lies Nothin’, Tangled Up In Blue, Honest With Me, Simple Twist Of Fate, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Highway 61 Revisited, Love Sick, Thunder On The Mountain, Ballad Of A Thin Man

Disc 2 (67:30):  Like A Rolling Stone, band introduction, Forever Young.  Bonus, Star Hall – KITEC, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong – April 12th, 2011:  Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking, Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power), Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Blind Willie McTell, Desolation Row, Spirit On The Water, Forever Young

Bob Dylan began touring relatively late in 2011, waiting until April to hit the road.  After waiting for months to play live, he chose to tour the far east, making his live debuts in Taiwan, China and Vietnam.  The shows in Beijing and Shanghai drew controversy for accusations of censorship and high ticket prices.  Both charges, in a rare public defense, were denied by Dylan.  

The tour continued with shows in Hong Kong and Singapore, of which drew any controversy.  Unlike the other stops, there were no comment or controversy surrounding these dates.  

His final Asian date was on April 15th at The Timbre Rock & Roots Festival in Singapore.  It had an impressive line up with Imogen Heap, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Toots & The Maytals and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.  Bob Dylan, playing in Singapore for the first time since 1994, was the biggest draw.  

Walkin’ By The Promenade contains a very good to excellent stereo audience recording of the complete event.  Like many Dylan tapes, it perfectly captures the atmosphere of the live event with good balance between performer and audience.

The setlist is drawn from the same repertoire as the other shows this year.  A review of the Taiwan show noted how dark Dylan’s material was.  Singapore seems to be quite opposite.  Instead of heavy, introspective numbers, Dylan and the band give the material levity and wit.

It isn’t meant to say that there is no seriousness.  All of Dylan’s material is demanding in that way.  But the band sound like they’re having much fun onstage, playing with much enthusiasm.   

“Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking” was resurrected several years ago and is one of the more popular openers, and is followed by a (strangely joyful) “It Ain’t Me, Babe.”     

“Beyond Here Lies Nothin'” is the only song from Together Through Life in the set.  It rocks hard, and still retains the trumpet in the arrangement, something which would be changed by the summer.  After “Tangled Up In Blue” the band play a fast tempo “Honest With Me,” much improved over the darker versions of the past.

“Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” is heavily arranged with the famous Bo Diddley beat and at times threatens to turn into a cover of The Strangeloves’ “I Want Candy.”  

“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” is a seven minute lullaby, and “Highway 61 Revisited” is used as a vehicle for a long duet between Dylan on the organ and Charlie Sexton on the guitar, going back and forth before the final crashing blues chord ends the piece.

Perhaps only “Love Sick” is the only case for umbrosity, but even this arrangement has an entertaining organ underlining the words. “Ballad Of A Thin Man” closes the set, and Singapore gets the two encore set of “Like A Rolling Stone” and “Forever Young.”   

TMR include a fair portion of the April 12th show in Hong Kong.  It was the first of two shows in the city and was his first show there since 1994, just like Singapore.  It is a very good to excellent stereo audience tape that has only a two song overlap with the main tape, “Gotta Change My Way Of Thinking” and “Forever Young.”

The tenor of Hong Kong is much like that described for Taiwan.  It is a very serious, contemplative show judging by the selection.  It is also interesting for having four of his most dense compositions with surreal imagery coming from different decades he’s been writing like “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)” in an arrangement used throughout the years from the under rated 1978 LP Street Legal, “Blind Willie McTell” (written in 1983 but not released until 1991), “Desolation Row” from the sixties and “Spirit On The Water” from 2006’s Modern Times.

The bonus tracks are great in lieu of having the complete show on disc.  It certainly shows the diversity of songs and moods in the first two weeks of touring in 2011.  

Walkin’ By The Promenade has very nicely printed artwork inserts for the jewel case with current photographs of the tour.  TMR aren’t as active as they were in the middle part of the decade.  But their silvers are always very well produced and are worth having.    

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