Santa Cruz, California
June 23, 2022
Review by Erik Nelson,
Greetings from the People’s Republic of Santa Cruz! First show here
since March of 2000, at (I believe) the smallest venue he’s played in
quite a while, 2000 seats.
Great old WPA era Civic Center, reserved seats, packed, very appreciative
crowd, with no murmers of dissatisfaction about low light, loud music and
no “hits.” “A Friend Of The Devil” might have been TOO on the
nose for this crowd, but I am sure it would have been appreciated! Bet
some great tapes will emerge as Deadicated Tapers abide here, and security
was very loose.
Notes based on two shows I saw in last few weeks, and maybe 15 or so tapes
of shows from this tour that I have “collected” and obsessed over.
In comparison with the Oakland show I saw on June 9th, I’d say better
sound, tighter, and, dare I say, a more “professional" show, but
perhaps, Oakland has a touch more soul. But obviously, miles vary. A
one-two punch of “Masterpiece” and “Baby Tonight” surprised me,
but otherwise everything tonight seemed sharper, and dare I say it, a more
intimate performance than the one I saw a couple of weeks ago.
Dylan’s piano playing was a real highlight all night, with emphatic,
driving solos, especially at the end of “Jimmy Reed” — and it seemed
the band looked for directions in every note he pecked out.
Harmonica intro to “Masterpiece” — very rhythmic and something I
wish could have gone on forever.
Great new arrangement of “Baby Tonight” with a great gear shifting
slow blues rave up at the end.
“Key West” has mutated into some weird tropical fusion of
“Desolation Row” if Jimmy Buffett happened to live there, but it's
heading to a great place, though I am partial to many of the last few
months excursions and evolutions that this song has been through.
A beautifully SUNG night too — hitting and sustaining some amazing highs
during “Give Myself To You”, among others.
He was a bit wobbly during the letter perfect “Melancholy Mood” —
and a friend wondered if he had been sampling one of his whisky blends —
but I was reminded of 60 years ago, when his act was referred to as
Big picture, he’s the master painter jazz blues king, improvising beat
poetry with subtle, wonderful phrasing and diction, where you feel like
you are witnessing a private rehearsal, but we are all his fellow
The idea that he played with this kind of intensity in Santa Barbara last
night, and, did what I just saw him do here tonight is inspiring to say
If you haven’t seen a show yet, well, to coin a phrase, “Don’t you
dare miss it!”
Review by Pete Shanks,
The Santa Cruz Civic is a friendly, low-key kind of venue for Dylan. He
did a very much loved pair of shows here in 2020 (which I missed, being
out of the country, alas) during which he talked with the audience and
made it clear he knew exactly where he was. This time, it was all
business, and good business at that.
The by-now standard set, which I also saw two weeks ago in Oakland, and
I’m trying to express the difference because I think there was one but
I’m having trouble putting my finger on it. For substantial stretches of
this one he almost seemed to be reciting over the extremely tasteful
backing, The musicians always follow Bob, of course, and the recitations
were excellent, though if I have to choose I prefer the more raucous
performances when he seems to be completely inside the music, not floating
above it, and you can feel the joy in the band.
I thought Key West was outstanding tonight. And of course he’s always
great at numbers like Serve Somebody or Jimmy Reed, where he can growl and
spit the words out over and through the music. Actually, my favorite bit
was probably the opening, the long instrumental intro to Watching the
River Flow, featuring Bob on guitar wrestling the song into submission and
then practically laughing through the lyric.
He seemed a little shaky when he stood at the mike, but lordy can his
voice still fill a hall. If he’s coming anywhere near you, don’t miss
it. And go twice if you can.
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