Dylan & the Grateful Dead

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Times Are Strange 11-23-10



“A worried man got a worried mind.” With that garbled growl I got off my couch and began to shuffle around during Things Have Changed. It’s one of Dylan’s most powerful songs, and being that it’s from a motion picture soundtrack, I don’t listen to it enough. People are crazy and times are strange for sure. Then Mr. Dylan unleashed A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. Awesome. He wrote this in New York City forty-eight years earlier and now it sounds more apocalyptical than ever. With Masters of War two songs later, this segment of the show reflected the insanity of a world gone wrong. Unfortunately, these anthems never go out of style. Just today, North Korea bombed the South, and they’ve been flaunting their nuke facility.

For an authentic American blues experience, Dylan and his Cowboy Band raged through High Water, Highway 61 Revisited and Workingman’s Blues. I use to smile when Dylan sang “I can live on rice and beans,” but things have changed – that line is truth for the American workingman. Donnie’s banjo plucking on High Water was outstanding, and Dylan delivered his finest vocal of the night. Highway 61 – Ford tough. Thunder on the Mountain received better treatment than it did a week ago in Poughkeepsie. Ballad of a Thin Man always works as the closer. Bob’s harp playing was sharp, shrill and decisive. The band was professional and precise. Suggestion: more lead guitar.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t described any band visuals, it’s because I didn’t see the band. The floor was too packed to fight through. You couldn’t see the stage unless you were in the thick of the crowd or an NBA power forward. There are two viewing decks, but only the person in the front row can enjoy the sights. This is the worst NYC venue to see a band, and it was hot to boot. This dump, aka Terminal 5, has several long bars and cozy couches – great for a karaoke party. After trying to find a spot during a strong Change My Way of Thinking, I gave up and just grabbed a Heineken and some couch. The ceiling of Terminal Five looks like the Titanic capsized and covered in black. I carefully listened to the music. Dylan’s gnarled yelling of Just Like A Woman was oddly entertaining as the crowd sang the chorus in an effeminate manner. This presentation fell somewhere between art and amusement.

From Simple Twist of Fate onward, Dylan had IT going on. I’ve seen Dylan in that rarefied air before. I wish I could have seen him shimmy, shuffle across the stage, but I had to change my way of thinking. I just enjoyed the audio ride.

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