- This article continues from NET 2010 Part 2.1 Mostly Padova: Fires on the Moon
By Mike Johnson (Kiwipoet)
Net 2010 Part 2.1 concluded with a version of Cold Irons Bound. Good as that is, it might not, however, be the best performance of the year for that song. I’m leaning towards this one from Clemson, also number 9 on the setlist, as a suitable rival for the ‘best ever’ stamp I gave a 2009 performance (See NET, 2009 Part 2). It’s partly the harp break; the soaring opening few notes, starting at 3.19 mins. Also, the recording is sharper though the sound is not as rich as Padova.
Cold Irons Bound (B)
For the fourth song in a row, Dylan keeps the harp, which he plays with one hand while playing the organ with the other, for ‘Under the Red Sky.’ These duets between harp and keyboard characterize this era, running from 2003 to 2012, when Dylan switches to the grand piano. Somewhat more upbeat than most performances of this song, it skips along with a bit of a swing. A ‘best ever’? Must be pretty close.
Under the Red Sky
‘Highway 61 Revisited’ often comes about three quarters of the way through a concert and is always good for kicking the energy level up. In 2009 we saw how Dylan used these fast songs to take us back to the good ol’ days of rock n’ roll, at least in spirit, but here with that ripping organ, the song is pushed towards the jazzier end of rock.
As with ‘Levee’s Gonna Break’ we hear Dylan using a few organ notes and his exquisite timing to create a mighty eight and half minute epic. We’ve never heard the song done quite like this – hypnotic and ecstatic.
Highway 61 Revisited
Number 12 on the setlist is ‘Can’t Wait’ which I covered in the last post. For readers who didn’t catch that remarkable performance, I can only urge you to go back to part 1, 2010 and listen to it. It’s a kicker.
Number 13 on the Padova setlist is ‘Thunder on the Mountain’ the opening track from Modern Times. This upbeat song is a great outpouring of words and a celebration of Dylan’s eclectic lyric writing. It leaps about all over the place, wherever the music’s coming from – ‘there’s hot stuff here and everywhere I go.’
Thunder on the mountain, rolling like a drum Gonna sleep over there, that's where the music coming from I don't need any guide, I already know the way Remember this, I'm your servant both night and day
I can’t help thinking that that last line refers to us, his audience. Now fully in command of his material (‘I don’t need any guide’), he can serve us, as he’s always done, with this great storm of music. There’s a neat backing riff from Sexton and Kimball. Another enthusiastic vocal from Bob, but it pays to have the lyrics on hand. Note how the song quietens down in the middle for a minimal but rocking organ break. Dylan sounds more like Freddie Roach than ever here. Mr Jazz struttin’ his stuff. Try to keep your feet still!
Thunder on the Mountain
We swoop back to the sixties now to catch ‘Ballad of a Thin Man,’ a NET favourite. While few live performances have captured the eerie spookiness of the album version, this one comes close with a gutsy vocal and a gentle jazzy tooting harp. In 2011 Dylan will add an echo to his voice, but I think I prefer this heartfelt performance.
Ballad of a Thin Man
Perhaps in recognition of its iconic status, Dylan likes to present his famous ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ towards the end of a concert, usually the third to last, as in this case where it’s number 15 on the setlist. A rousing song sure to energize the faithful for a penultimate burst of enthusiasm. This is a solid performance, but a little too much of the old dumpty-dum for me; instead of swinging, it bounces, but that doesn’t seem to bother the enthusiastic audience.
Like a Rolling Stone
‘Jolene,’ one of the ‘slighter’ songs from Together Through Life, often turns up near the end, number 17 on the setlist, as it is a swinging, crowd-pleasing number with a good old fashioned rock ‘n roll feel to it. Some fancy guitar work from Sexton and some scintillating organ from Bob. The kind of performance that leaves the audience wanting more.
Before launching into his final number, ‘All Along the Watchtower,’ Dylan does an energetic introduction of the band. As it’s one of the few times he talks to the audience, it’s cool to listen to.
Finally, ‘Watchtower’ which hardly needs an intro from me at this stage. What is interesting here is that Dylan again moves to centre stage with the guitar. He ain’t no Jimi Hendrix, but the whole band have a lot of fun going out on this one. Wish I’d been there.
So we leave Padova behind, but not 2010. There’s plenty more to come. See you soon.