DVDylan ID: D917
Recording type: ProShot
City/Venue: The Whitehouse, Washington D.C.
Date: Tuesday, 9th February 2010

I think that Napbon has made some very good points in his review below. Given his valid concerns and criticisms, this was still a very special event for those of us who care to try to keep the work and memory of the civil rights movement in the US in the 1950's and 60's alive.

As usual on these occasions, Bernice Johnson Reagon steals the show, this time with her Y2K version of the Freedom Singers. Also noteworthy performances by the Blind Boys of Alabama, Smokey Robinson, and Dylan does rise to the occasion this time.

I won't presume to educate you regarding Dylan's relationship to freedom movements, nor Washington DC performances, nor to his ongoing and brilliant project of exploring questions of race, ethnicity, history, and identity in his work. You may do your own google searches if you care to.

Finally, I must recommend the JTT transfer of this show, as it is captured in true widescreen format.

Reviewed by jman on 11th December 2010

Bob's choice of song, 'George Jackson' having gone down a storm, Morgan Freeman takes the stage, and as the back shot slowly changes from MLK to Malcom X and back again, he starts reading a passage from 'Soul On Ice'. John Mellencamp wanders on next, alone with his guitar, and the soft words of Och's 'Here's To the State Of Mississippi' fill the White House Concert Hall. The applause dies just in time to hear Arlo's opening '"The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting,.." [Ooops, sorry - wrong Race, better not open that particular can of worms]. The evening ends with Barack and his missus leading the crowd in a stirring rendition of 'We Shall Overcome', their right gloved fists clenched high above their heads...
No, doubt I must've been dreamin'.
Whoever it was that said "Only Historians can rewrite History" should have added Politicians to the quote. Here we have a nice, safe, sanitised, Disneyesque version of the Civil Rights Struggle, all the grotesqueness edited out. It's all a peacefull fight, all non-violent, MLK kept his head, [for a while anyway], and lo, the Promised Land was reached. It's not that violence didn't win, couldn't win, but it's not even acknowledged as having happened. Airbrushed from history, it's all Ghandi and no INLA.
[Can it be that long before we have the 'Civil Rights Experience Theme Park', The Freedom Riders'll hit town every day at 2pm sharp, Lynchings at 4pm and 6pm, Crosses will be lit at 8pm before the barbeque and closing sing-song ? (and please don't tell me it's here already)]
No, non-offensive viewing this, hell, you half expect the Blind Boys Of Alabama to be backed by a chorus of retired white Alabaman Cops, sharing reminiscences of their '60's 'meetings'. No, nothing to scare Whitey here, got to keep them on board for now, [there's too many of them armed for one thing], and as for the Black voters, well we can always cover up their disappointments by a "Don't forget I'm Black, And I'm in the White House" display. He wouldn't stoop so low would he ?, like the Politician who professes to be "unconcerned about the, no doubt baseless, rumours of his opponent's weird sexual preferences".

And the performances ? just as bland and inoffensive as the program. [Offensive in their inoffensiveness] Normaly a 'People Get Ready' will grab my attention, but I missed it 'n' had to go back, shouldn't have bothered, Smokey [ a walking tribute to the embalmers craft] and Jennifer turn it into an instantly forgettable dirge, so it fitted in well with the rest of the evening anyway.
Perhaps we should pity Obama. The widely held view this side of the water is that our [don't laugh] Queen must think the World has a 'New-Paint' smell, with all the redecorating that precedes her peregrinations round Her Realm. So do Obama and all past Presidents come to believe that the bland fare continually trotted out for them, is the High Art of the nation, as good as it gets ?
The surprise, and it was a surprise, was Bob. He managed to put in one of his great performances. [I'll overlook his 'Senior Moment'] Well worth a second, third , fourth viewing, which is just as well as there's enough versions here to make even the most devoted wife yell "STOP".
For that reason, and that reason alone, I'll give it 5 Stars, unmissable, an essential.

Next week the White House Concert will focus on current and on-going Civil Rights Issues, Barack'll lay his head on the line as he highlights....no, dreamin' again.
But then, would Bob be invited ?

Reviewed by napbon on 04th April 2010