Zaragoza 2008 (Stringman Record CDR SR-012-013)
Zaragoza, Spain. Feria de Muestras. 23rd June, 2008
Disk 1 : Introduction / I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight / Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright / Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues / The Levee’s Gonna Break / Shelter From The Storm / Cry A While / Just Like A Woman / Things Have Changed / Beyond The Horizon / Honest With Me.
Disk 2 : When the Deal Goes Down / Highway 61 Revisited / A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall / Summer Days / All Along The Watchtower – Encore – Thunder On The Mountain / Like A Rolling Stone.
“Zaragoza 2008″ is the recording from Dylan’s first appearance in 2008 to Spain. The recording is a very good audience tape with not too much bass, a very clear vocal that is raised a little higher than the instrumentation & just the right amount of audience reaction. There seem to very few audience recordings from this year of note never mind from Spain so that condition alone makes for a considerable reason for owning the show.
Dylan would play 11 shows in Spain this time around right in the heart & heat of the holiday season. The fact that the weather is gradually cooling by this time though makes for a better reason to see Dylan & his band in their full pomp. Tonight’s show is a real barn stormer with the pace letting up only a couple of times. We begin with the charging, cowboy music & the long introduction before settling in to a bouncy & hyperactive “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” in to which Charlie Sexton seems to throw a couple of strange Christmas referencing lines – These may not be specifically intentional ( Maybe they’re an in-joke? ) but he does seem to have a knack for throwing them in.
A clattery “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” follows. Dylan sprouts some stylistic fun with his lyrics & they wobble around like a drunken bumble bee. Sometimes he sounds effete & campy like a pantomime rendition. Thankfully this doesn’t continue for too long & Dylan manages to get back on track for the next song. “The Levee’s Gonna Break” is one of the nights highlights – Punchy, heavy & robust you can feel the bass lines through the soles of your shoes.
At nearly 7 minutes long it’s bluster is just on the money & it only gets better with a galloping standard of guitar work towards the end. A mournful version of “Shelter From The Storm” is quite beguiling. Delicate guitar has the song pitched just correctly for a warm night under Spanish skies. “Things Have Changed” is imbibed with a wonderful violin thread strung right through. Sounding like a noir-ish classic, it’s incredible texture leaves a lot in it’s wake. The rumbling finale is a small triumph in itself. Another classic wheeled out tonight is “Highway 61 Revisited” – No matter how many times it’s played out it always seems to launch successfully & like the deal made on that stretch.
Dylan’s voice does seem to get a little overcast by the rollicking instrumentation on display but it’s not so much the words that seem to count these days, so much for this track & instead the battle to who plays loudest commences. The latter part of the track finds Dylan crossing to organ & playing the parts that would become his mainstay around a year later. “Summer Days” would be one of the last of the latest songs played in this set giving way to Dylan’s 60’s works & is followed by an eagerly waited “All Along The Watchtower”.
Sadly we don’t get to hear the full audience reaction until the end but for a brutal force the song gets it’s due rewards. For the encores, “Thunder On The Mountain” keeps the audience pleased as it jives & shakes along with a brilliant efficiency & several more maniacal guitar parts & “Like A Rolling Stone” is a slower rendition but with soaring guitar parts & a spirited sing along by the audience geed along, wordlessly, by Bob.
The show is one of Dylan’s better outings & is recorded wonderfully. As the market isn’t susceptible towards Dylan’s later era shows then we make do with a CDR this time but it is one that would be worthy of meriting it’s own silver pressed set. The transition from Highway to Stringman has seen the label change slightly with the covers meriting a different kind of paper used for the cover. While it’s a small change then the product is better placed for it as the overall feel is just a little nicer. Adding the Stringman records logo to the front cover wasn’t such a great idea though.