DVDylan ID: D120.su
Recording type: Audience
City/Venue: Irving Plaza, New York, NY, USA
Date: Monday, 8th December 1997

As previous reviewers have mentioned, the audio and video quality here are top notch. If concerts were judged on steadiness alone, then this DVD would receive five stars hands down. In fact to my mind, I don't think I have seen a steadier audience-filmed concert of Mr D's to date.

Dylan and his band kick off the night with "Maggie's Farm" - a popular opening number in many a set. This version is pretty average - not his best but far from his worst. The band then launch into a gorgeous rendition of "Tonight, I'll be staying here with you", followed by "Cold Irons Bound", which has a very cool and impressionable intro. "You're a big girl now" features some very nice steel guitar. My biggest problem with this gig was the following two numbers. "Can't Wait" is great overall but Mr. D completely messes up the ending. I don't usually criticise much about his playing but one thing I have noticed on many occasions is his lack of interest in finishing songs well and in time with the band. (It's not that he is unable to - see for example how well he finishes songs with the band on the Rolling Thunder Revue for example). This inevitably and unfortunately gives an impression of sloppiness. I usually really love the song "Silvio", but one of the guitars (the lead guitar I think) is way out of tune on this song which is a shame. Then! we arrive at the magical part of the evening. A fantastic version of "Cocaine Blues". Here, Bob's singing, the back-up harmonies and acoustic guitar (goes without saying) blend very nicely. One of my all-time favourites, "To Ramona" is also a gem, as we can hear (but unfortunately can not see) the lovely strains of the accompanying mandolin gliding nicely over the top of Dylan's guitar playing. This is followed by a lovely version of "Tangled up in Blue". Lovely except for two things. Firstly, I am a strong believer of simple guitar solos and "less is more". However, Dylan's solos are sometimes too simple, to the point that they become tedious. Secondly, the tempo of the band changes significantly, slowing down almost to a halt. (Compare the tempo at the start of the song with that at then end).

The next song, "White Dove", sounds like a nicely understated country song you might hear on the radio late at night in some diner or while you are driving down the highway - great stuff! The way the harmonies combine with Dylan's voice recalls to mind some of the music by The Country Gentlemen. (Check out their version of "Driftin' Too Far From The Shore" just for an example). Then comes a nice version of "I & I" except Dylan's vocals are slightly low. "Till I Fell In Love With You" sounds great as always.

Then, on to the encores. The band press on with a great pumping version of "Highway 61", containing some great lead work by Larry Campbell. Then we are graced with a lovely version of "Don't Think Twice" with more lovely mandolin fills. Solid versions of "Love Sick" and "Rainy Day Women" bring the concert to a nice close. Overall, a very good performance considering Dylan almost met Elvis a short time before this concert. This is not Dylan's best performance of the 90s, not quite in the league of "Dancing Child With His American Suit" - D470.su (Rome, Italy [05-Jul-98]), but a very solid performance nonetheless. Overall, a solid four stars!

Thanks to pswets for providing me with a copy of this!

Reviewed by Blackburne on 23rd April 2007

I received this DVD last night and watched it right away. I was very curious to see it because the screen shots looked great, and the set list had me interested. Take heed to reviews being Subjective & Objective. The objective portion is nailed right on the head...great looking, better sounding.

Now, for the subjective..I found the concert to be right on target for the time frame (late '97)..if your memory serves you well, Mr. Dylan had been in the hospital only a matter of months prior, and in seeing him through this time frame, I have found that he seemed to just be getting his piss & viniger back at this point. With that being said, I found the setlist to be great, with quite a few highlights actually.

I&I=GREAT! Haven't heard that one live much at all, so it was a pleasant watch, and very well sung.

Cocaine Blues=EVEN BETTER! Here is where one can hear that Bob is finally what he always wanted to be, a Veteran Blues Singer with whiskey and gravel on the voice, and bad intentions on the mind..very compelling.

To Ramona=EXCELLENT..I do have to agree that it would have been nice to see Bucky Baxter playing that Mandolin, the song held up very well for me. Great singing, nice guitar interplay.

In summary, I found this DVD to be very enjoyable, very watchable, and the Watchtower Sound Upgrade made for a nice evening of Dylan.

Reviewed by bluesguy on 15th March 2006

Great filming from a very good close-up position, with the sound coming from the top-quality soundboard recording, so it's kind of like having a professional- sounding-audience-filmed show.

Reviewed by backfrom on 28th May 2005

Yes this DVD is a must have and im not just saying it because I made the soundupgrade, but its simple stunning, the filming is a 5 star and so is the sound.

Go get this one.

Reviewed by Jonathan on 25th May 2005

The filmer of this video is located at the very best spot for an audience video, namely on the balcony. The focus is on Bob but we get to see Larry Campbell and Tony Garnier quite alot too. And even some glimpses of Bucky Baxter. There is very clever use of zooming in and out and the view is practically unobstructed throughout the entire show.

As with any of Bob's concerts the setlist is very varied. From an up-tempo electric Maggie's Farm starting the show through the middle section with a high point of show consisting of an acoustic triple of Cocaine Blues, To Ramona, Tangled Up In Blue through to the encores with a blistering version of Highway 61 contrasted by an acoustic, heart-felt rendition of Don't Think Twice.

Both picture and sound is in stellar quality. The sound of this "Watchtower Sound Upgrade" is replaced by that of circulating soundboard recording. A very, very nice document of Bob's 1997 touring. A 5-star DVD and a must-have for anybody that can appreciate an audience film.

Reviewed by MisterClive on 25th May 2005