Monday, April 14, 2014


It's been a long time since you could see this fine concert, originally broadcast back in 1992, 30 years after Dylan's debut hit the shelves.  Had they known he'd still be cranking them out 22 years later, they might have waited, but even then Dylan was the acknowledged king of them all, country, rock, folk, soul, everybody ready to pay homage.  The line-up is as impressive today as it was then:  Johnny and June Carter Cash, George Harrison, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Willie Nelson, Lou Reed, Roger McGuinn, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and on and on.  Surprisingly for such a mash-up, the performances themselves were top notch as well, ranging from professional to inspired.

Given the star power, it's interesting that some of the very best moments come from unexpected performers.  Johnny Winter rips into Highway 61 Revisited, giving the other guitar heroes a lesson in roadhouse blues.  Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam were new upstarts at the time, and showed how the already-old chestnut Masters Of War was still very much relevant.  Ron Wood won the Dylan sound-alike contest, and delivered a smashing Seven Days, a cast-off Bob had given him for a solo album.  The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem were there as old Greenwich Village comrades, and took Madison Square Garden down to coffee house size with a rousing When The Ship Comes In.

The stars did their part too, especially a boisterous Petty and company, already well-versed in Dylan rock after serving as his touring band in part of the 80's.  They rocked the place with Rainy Day Women #12 and 35 before joining Roger McGuinn for the required Mr. Tambourine Man, still sounding fresh and world-changing.  Neil Young was in great spirits, relishing playing All Along The Watchtower, with the mighty house band of Booker T. and the MG's cranked up.  The controversial appearance by Sinead O'Connor is here, nearly booed off stage for her recent Pope-slamming antics on Saturday Night Live, as she responds with an impromptu version of Bob Marley's War.  You'd feel sorry for her, except that during the encore she was still pouting, standing cross-armed and frowning, clearly trying to make her point at the expense of Bob's night.

As for the man himself, well, it was typical mumbling Dylan of those days, a little clearer than the awful Grammy appearance but less than riveting.  For this DVD, we finally get to see him do a solo Girl From The North Country, which had been done as a final encore after the broadcast ended.  There are also some interesting bonuses, including three songs cuts from the broadcast:  John Mellancamp doing Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat (yawn), Nancy Griffith with Carolyn Hester, singing Boots Of Spanish Leather (subdued, okay), and Booker T and the gang with Gotta Serve Somebody (right on).  The 30-plus minute behind-the-scenes documentary is the best bonus, with rehearsal footage, interviews, Sinead singing I Believe In You, the song that was scheduled, and a good sense of the awe that was going around with all these luminaries in one place.  Pretty much a must-own if you like any of the above.

No comments:

Post a Comment