West Long Branch 2010 (Highway HW-053/54)
MAC Center, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ – November 14th, 2010
Disc 1 (58:27): intro., Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, Just Like A Woman, The Levee’s Gonna Break, Tangled Up In Blue, Tweedle Dee And Tweedle Dum, Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall, Cold Irons Bound
Disc 2 (45:38): Forgetful Heart, Highway 61 Revisited, Not Dark Yet, Thunder On The Mountain, Ballad Of A Thinman, Jolene, band intro., Like A Rolling Stone
Before last November, Bob Dylan’s only other visit to Monmouth University in New Jersey was in April 1997. Before taking a sudden turn and producing some of his finest music, the setlist that night was drenched with the 1960’s classics.
In 2010, after the release of Time Out Of Mind, “Love & Theft,” Modern Times and Together Through Life, there is a strong nod to the past in the first half of the show, but the set rests heavy upon songs from the newer albums. West Long Branch 2010 is pressed by Highway onto professional CDR. They utilize and excellent sounding audience recording, full of depth and livliness which ranks it among their best releases.
After Al Santos’ introduction Dylan hits the stage with a percussion heavy “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” a rabble rousing number working well as a set opener. Although it is the opener for about a third of the shows, this is the last time, replaced by “Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking” for the rest of the tour.
They follow with winsome, breezy readings of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again.”
One of the constants of the setlist in 2010 is “Just Like A Woman” which turns into a sing-along at every stop in the tour. But it’s “The Levee’s Gonna Break” which injects the most energy and spirit into the show. It’s not only the thick rockabilly/blues beat, but the power of Dylan’s organ in the middle section that carries the number and gets the audience vocal in their appreciation.
While singing “Tangled Up In Blue” he amends the lyrics at the end, “me, I’m still on the road / tryin’ to stay out of the joint.” This is an oblique reference to the last time he visited Long Branch, New Jersey, in 2009. He was picked up by the police and, failing to produce an ID, was escorted to the venue in Lakewood.
“Hard Rain” is sung ironic intonations, and Charlie Sexton gives “Cold Iron Bound” several distant haunting shrieks on the guitar. After the song, someone by the taper requests “Hurricane” from Dylan (and of course he doesn’t get it).
“Forgetful Heart” from the latest album is given a rare performance (appearing in only eighteen shows throughout the entire year). Dylan pours his passion and heartbreak into this performance. The final verse, “Forgetful heart / Like a walking shadow in my brain / All night long / I lay awake and listen to the sound of pain / The door has closed forevermore / If indeed there ever was a door” is punctuated by a melancholy harp.
This serves as the show’s introspective ballast, and even “Not Dark Yet,” which follows after “Highway 61 Revisited,” sounds happy and upbeat by comparison.
West Long Branch 2010 is one of the better Highway productions this year. The artwork is similar to the others, featuring several photographs from the last tour printed on quality paper. It is good enough to be on silver disc. But as it is, this one is worth having.