Dylan as ever full of surprises
Bill Graham Civic, San Francisco
Tuesday, October 17 2006
Dylan starts with “Maggie’s Farm”, follows it with “She Belongs To Me”, “Lonesome Day Blues”, “Simple Twist Of Fate” and “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” and your first thought is that as brilliant as these songs are being played, tonight’s set is going to be a shuffling of the pack. Songs you’ve heard, that is, over the last four shows, simply played in another order, the tour repertoire pretty much what’s been performed so far.
Which is when, of course, Dylan starts lobbing in even more surprises.
Like a fantastic version of “Boots Of Spanish Leather” almost too beautiful for words, with Donnie Herron’s violin to the fore and a guitar solo from Donny Freeman that sounds like something made of crystal cracking in slow motion. Dylan’s voice, meanwhile, fully recovered and showing none of the occasional fatigue of last night’s show, is a vehicle of profound and wavering loss, a postcard home from some outpost of love and longing that’s way off the map, too much aching grief in what he’s singing to easily accommodate, tears in the eyes of many.
Next is a brusing bluesy “Till I Fell In Love With You”, a blistering thing. It’s hotly pursued by a radiant “I Shall Be Released” – the audience finding a voice of its own. Bob giving it everything, which is a lot, and then some more.
Then there’s the best version yet on this tour of “Highway 61 Revisited” – played for five shows straight, but more searing tonight than ever, with a Doug Sahm-style keyboard solo from Dylan I swear wasn’t there the last time I looked.
The venerable anti-war lament “John Brown” is next – as scarily appropriate as the version of “Masters Of War” played in Portland, Dylan finding another way of reminding us of the dismaying repetition of history, a fuming anger burning within it at what continues to happen to too many people in too many places, bullets flying everywhere and bombs going off in every direction. Donnie Herron’s stirring mandolin and George Recelli’s military drums make you want to march down the nearest street under a banner or blow up the White House and whoever’s in it.
This is followed by a chiming “Most Likely You Go You’re Way (And I’ll Go Mine)”, keening pedal steel giving it a driving edge.
From here, we’re into another tremendous reading of “Workingman’s Blues”, Dylan finding new ways to sing a song that like “Highway 61” we’ve heard at five consecutive shows, but which Dylan continues to invest with subtle new shadings.
The closing jamboree of “Summer Days” and the three-song encore are the only things that are predictable, but when those three songs are “Thunder On The Mountain”, “Like A Rolling Stone” and “All Along The Watchtower”, hell, who’s complaining?
San Francisco, California Bill Graham Civic Auditorium October 17, 2006
1. Maggie’s Farm
2. She Belongs To Me
3. Lonesome Day Blues
4. Simple Twist Of Fate
5. Rollin’ And Tumblin’
6. Boots Of Spanish Leather
7. ‘Til I Fell In Love With You
8. I Shall Be Released
9. Highway 61 Revisited
10. John Brown
11. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)
12. Workingman’s Blues #2
13. Summer Days
14. Thunder On The Mountain
15. Like A Rolling Stone
16. All Along The Watchtower