Bob Dylan – Winter Day In New York (Highway HW 045/46)

Winter Day In New York (Highway HW 045/46)

Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie, NY – November 16th, 2010

Disc 1 (56:45):  Intro., Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, This Wheel’s On Fire, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Just Like A Woman, Beyond Here Lies Nothin’, Simple Twist Of Fate, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, Visions Of Johanna, Honest With Me

Disc 2 (47:46):  Masters Of War, Summer Days, Nettie Moore, Thunder On The Mountain, Ballad Of A Thin Man, audience, Jolene, band intro., Like A Rolling Stone

The CDR Highway label have been covering Bob Dylan’s New York shows quite extensively of late.  Winter Day In New York documents the November 16th, 2010 concert in the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie.  Highway utilize an excellent, full-bodied stereo audience recording of the entire concert.

Even though there is a basic setlist, he manages to throw in a couple of rarities.  It’s great to hear “This Wheel’s On Fire,” “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” and “Nettie Moore.”  The press review of the concert follows a theme common from the reviews for the Binghamton and other upstate New York shows, questioning his singing voice and choice of material.  Timothy Malcolm in the Times Herald-Record writes:

During much of Bob Dylan’s Tuesday night show at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, the man’s shadow was projected on the screen behind the band. The thing was larger than life, towering over endless frontier scenes and calm mountainsides. It was at first amusing, but then he cranked into ‘Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum.’

“See, Bob Dylan tours a lot. This tour (going on 23 years) is called ‘The Never Ending Tour,’ for one. And his fans, which are obviously many, understand and accept that the 69-year-old troubadour doesn’t quite sing anymore. He mumbles, rambles, jerks his lyrics to the back of every bar. For a newcomer it’s frustrating – why the heck is the greatest songwriter of modern Western music, Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll Poet Laureate, acting so darn ignorant? Some people chuckle, others curse – way to waste a couple twenties.

“Dylan performed old favorites ‘Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat’ and ‘Ballad of a Thin Man.’ He threw in modern regulars ‘Thunder on the Mountain’ and ‘Nettie Moore.’ As always, they were played with gusto by Dylan’s band, a quality batch of professionals who wail at a tight but electric level.

“Just like every other show, Dylan mumbled and rambled. He mostly stood at the organ, sometimes up front with the harmonica, wearing the suit and cowboy hat, resembling Salvador Dali in a Dusty Bottoms costume. He didn’t speak to the audience. When it ended, he and the band took a well-deserved bow. End scene.

“After most Dylan concerts, reviewers will complain that Dylan mumbled, that he didn’t say ‘It’s great to be back in Poughkeepsie!’ – generally, the gist is Bobby didn’t look like he cared out there.

“Back to ‘Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum.’ Dylan and the band chugged it at warp speed, not straying far from the 2001 original. A flatland road song evoking the simple grit of Oklahoma. And it grew hot – the orange punch of the lights seemed to blast on everyone in the building, as if the Civic Center had been transported to the flatland.

“That’s the Bob Dylan of today, the 69-year-old legend who helped bring rock ‘n’ roll to America, who has survived every weird and wacky slider thrown his way. And he’s still performing. We really curse when he doesn’t give us what we think he should?

“Really, the Bob Dylan show – epitomized Tuesday – is a top-down cruise through biblical America. It’s the soft and swaying ‘Just Like a Woman’ and the peacefully ruminating ‘Visions of Johanna.’ It’s the whining country of ‘Simple Twist of Fate’ and the sombrero grit of ‘Beyond Here Lies Nothin’.’ It’s grounded in familiarity but skewed to fit a strict template, and despite what you might think of Dylan’s voice, it’s forever enjoyable.

“That’s because, to the average person, Dylan the man has always been bigger than Dylan the voice. That boastful introduction given by a stagehand isn’t Dylan telling us he’s great, it’s a newspaper article describing Dylan’s life in phases. That’s how most of us know Dylan, not by the wicked yarns he spins in songs like ‘This Wheel’s on Fire,’ which he performed Tuesday to the appreciative Band-friendly crowd, but by the folk era, the Woodstock era, the drug era, the religion era and the rebirth era. We forget the words behind the profile.

“It’s only appropriate, then, that Dylan barely registers familiarity with his lyrics – though it’s just enough to usually pick out the song within a minute. And it’s only appropriate that Dylan’s shadow towered over his backdrop, like a man slyly glancing down at the earth, and the people who still haven’t quite learned that words are more powerful than images.

“Then again, none of this could actually mean anything, and that would make complete sense, too. That’s just how Bob Dylan lives – outside of the common sense.”

Winter Day In New York is a solid release on professionally printed CDR and is worth having. 

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