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PostPosted: Sat November 25th, 2017, 10:02 GMT 

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This thread is fascinating, its interesting to hear which phases of the NET people prefer. Most of what I think is based on listening to shows (I went to my first one this year and hope to go to many more!) and I've grown to like almost every incarnation of the tour, especially the early GE Smith years and Larry Campbell's tenure.

The only period I haven't warmed to are the Denny Freeman years, but I'm hoping to get into them eventually. I think the current band is one of Bob's best.


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PostPosted: Sun November 26th, 2017, 08:14 GMT 
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Firstly I have to agree with whoever brought up the subject of Larry Campbell, I think when he left things definitely went downward. For anyone going to shows in 2000 and 2002 one of the things that impressed me was the choice of material and the fact that Larry and Charlie were harmonising on the vocals. I liked all the versions of songs from John Wesley Harding that made it into the set and also the openers - things like Searching for a Soldiers Grave. I have all the C/C discs from the UK 2000 tour and most from the 2002 tour. The playing is excellent throughout and on the 2002 tour Bob even did a second encore at some gigs, I was at the Bournemouth show that year and have to say that it was probably my favourite Dylan show ever. I think the end of 2002 was probably the end of my favourite years from the period noted above. The sets always embodied a few changes and this also made the period memorable for me.


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PostPosted: Sun November 26th, 2017, 08:25 GMT 
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TimEdgeworth1 wrote:
The only period I haven't warmed to are the Denny Freeman years, but I'm hoping to get into them eventually. I think the current band is one of Bob's best.

I agree 100% that the current band is probably the best that Dylan has played with since I've been going to see him. It's just unfortunate that Bob is barking from behind a piano, seems to have given up playing harmonica and guitar and doesn't want others harmonising on a few numbers which would improve the overall performance of certain songs.
Coupled with this we have a static set list and the inclusion of all these American songbook songs. It's just a shame that the band is touring with the maestro on some of his less inspirational shows. I was hoping against hope that at The Beacon he would do something different, even up to the last night. How brilliant would it have been if he had dropped all the Sinatra stuff and included five of the more popular songs from BS13? He could have left the stage with a wry smile on his face knowing he still had a few surprises up his sleeve if he needed them. And that's from someone who's not the Gospel era's biggest fan!


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PostPosted: Mon November 27th, 2017, 02:11 GMT 
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Although my favourite NET years are 1999-2002 i don't dislike the ensuing years.
I really liked 2006, and 2009.
My only gripe is the crooning material, whilst i understand how close those songs
are to him, i think he may be over estimating the importance of Sinatra material
to his audience.
It's been 8 years since his last album of original material so i'd like to see where
he is now as a creative artist. 'Pay In Blood' showed Dylan hasn't lost his wit and
scathing social commentary, but 5 discs worth of crooning standards is enough.
So for that reason, shows from 2015 on-wards are of less interest to me.


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PostPosted: Mon November 27th, 2017, 13:50 GMT 

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Kevin Davis wrote:
RichardW wrote:
For me it is the departure of Larry Campbell. Since Campbell left the band has been pedestrian in many different ways but always pedestrian.

Concerning Stu Kimball - there are some shows in the summer of 2004 which I really enjoy. I think it's a shame the Campbell-Kimball line-up didn't last longer. Kimball was fine on lead with Campbell playing everything else.

Dylan's decision to replace Campbell with three people was ill-considered. The band has never really recovered. The rhythmic flexibility was lost and the sound became too muddy.


This is my answer as well, though I think for me it has less to do with strict performance quality and more to do with the fact that this moment just feels like such a deliberately drawn line in the sand. 1988 is a far cry from 2004 but when you follow the gradual evolution of the performances year by year, despite the various vocal tics that came and went and the inevitable rises and falls in performance quality, the whole thing feels like a naturally evolving organism -- it covers a lot of ground but is ultimately part of one creative arc. With the personnel change in 2005, it felt like Bob abruptly decided on a very specific stylistic vision that he's been tinkering with and refining ever since. Weirdly inasmuch as the original sound felt so rooted in traditional country-and-western, the Sinatra stuff feels like a sort of endgame for this vision, a final realization of this configuration of his band's strengths. Either way, I've never really been able to fully absorb the post-2004 NET years into my regular listening routine; the music just feels very unexciting to me, totally devoid of that sense that fire could catch at a moment's notice and send the whole thing rocketing into the stratosphere. The years from 1988 to 2004, for all their differences, have that in common -- that feeling, even in weak shows, that Bob was always on the precipice of something that, if he'd just decide to lean into it, could blow your mind.


My feeling as well. I always felt the band with Denny Freeman never had any license to improvise and that's become far worse since Freeman left. There was a brief moment when Duke Robillard attempted to free things up, but he pretty quickly got sacked. After Campbell, Dylan seems to have taken complete control and seems to give his band no freedom. This has led to very dull performances for over a decade now.


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PostPosted: Mon November 27th, 2017, 15:01 GMT 

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I agree about the concerts of the late 2000s; to me Bob didn't seem particularly engaged, and the band looked unsure of what Dylan wanted from them and tended to hang back. However, I think things have gradually improved ever since Charlie returned. The sets don't change like they used to, but but Bob looks like he really cares about and enjoys what he's doing, and I get the impression that a lot of thought has gone into how the set is presented and paced, and to the individual roles of the band members. I like the standards too; at the show I went to they were real highlights, and as recently as five years ago I would never have thought that Bob would be able to sing that well again. The NET has definitely changed, but I think its in a good place right now.


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PostPosted: Mon November 27th, 2017, 17:34 GMT 

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I totally give Bob a pass regardless of my thoughts on his current shows. The guy's amazingly energetic for his age! Honestly I don't listen to recent stuff enough to form an opinion that's worth much. I haven't seen him live in a dozen years and most likely never will again.


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PostPosted: Mon November 27th, 2017, 17:47 GMT 
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Surely Modern Times and Tempest are as much products of a golden era as Time Out Of Mind and "Love & Theft"?


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PostPosted: Mon November 27th, 2017, 20:55 GMT 

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gibsona07 wrote:
Surely Modern Times and Tempest are as much products of a golden era as Time Out Of Mind and "Love & Theft"?

Not really, no.

Modern Times sounds like a pale imitation of "Love and Theft", and it hasn't worn well. The dull stuff has got duller, and the profound stuff just seems cliched.

And Tempest is another step down again.

Sadly - other than Christmas in the Heart - Dylan hasn't released a decent album since "Love and Theft".


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PostPosted: Mon November 27th, 2017, 21:59 GMT 
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RichardW wrote:
- other than Christmas in the Heart -

What???
"I used to think you were crazy, but now I can see you're nuts!"
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3J6iKRn7Sj0


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PostPosted: Mon November 27th, 2017, 22:52 GMT 

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Tempest is his finest 21st century work in my book - a late period classic.


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PostPosted: Tue November 28th, 2017, 07:01 GMT 
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I think Tempest is a great album as well, I just hope that it's not his last album of original material. Modern Times is OKish but I prefer TOOM and L&T. Together Through Life has it's moments but I don't play it that much. Christmas In The Heart - I may play a couple of tracks nearer the day. Thinks, he could have ended his New York run with a second encore and played Must Be Santa before wishing all the assembled a very Happy Christmas. But he didn't!


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PostPosted: Tue November 28th, 2017, 19:26 GMT 

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Still Go Barefoot wrote:
RichardW wrote:
- other than Christmas in the Heart -

What???
"I used to think you were crazy, but now I can see you're nuts!"
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3J6iKRn7Sj0


This opinion is slightly tongue in cheek, but I certainly listen to Christmas in the Heart more often than any other post "Love and Theft" Dylan album. And I listen to it a few times a year in December time.

Dylan performs some songs he likes without trying very hard and the songs are, in the main, pretty good songs (not just Tin Pan alley dreck). It is affectionate and sincere without being solemn - which is a hard trick to pull off. Listing US Presidents as Santa's reindeer makes me laugh - something that never happens on any of the other post L&T albums.

It sounds like Dylan had fun making it and, as long as you don't take it at all seriously, it is fun to have at Christmas.


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PostPosted: Wed November 29th, 2017, 01:12 GMT 
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There's no doubting that 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and parts of 2003 were superb.
1998 I'm unsure about, I've not heard enough shows from that year, but if you haven't got lots from 1992,
go back a good few pages on the rare recordings page and you'll find some gems, its
a vintage year.
Going back to your post, when Dylan stopped playing guitar, and began playing keyboards
it wasn't as musically impressive to my ears. But i'll take a mediocre Dylan show over
the very best shows of most other songwriters (aside from maybe Tom Waits)


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PostPosted: Wed November 29th, 2017, 01:31 GMT 
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LibraChild1980 wrote:
But i'll take a mediocre Dylan show over
the very best shows of most other songwriters

This resonates and rings true. What the hell is it with us?


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PostPosted: Wed November 29th, 2017, 14:57 GMT 
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I remember that there was a thread on here somewhere that detailed all the various band line ups / changes in the history of the NET. Can someone link that here please? I can't find it!


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PostPosted: Wed November 29th, 2017, 16:50 GMT 
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The Bard wrote:
I remember that there was a thread on here somewhere that detailed all the various band line ups / changes in the history of the NET. Can someone link that here please? I can't find it!


This one?
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=81893


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PostPosted: Thu November 30th, 2017, 10:35 GMT 
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SirDogg wrote:
The Bard wrote:
I remember that there was a thread on here somewhere that detailed all the various band line ups / changes in the history of the NET. Can someone link that here please? I can't find it!


This one?
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=81893


Yes!
Many thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu November 30th, 2017, 16:04 GMT 
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walt359 wrote:
MY FAVOURIT PERIOD IS 1999-2001. THE GOLDEN ERA


Second the above. 2002 had some moments but it didn't measure up to the previous few years. I've never truly recovered from Charlie walking out the door in '02 and taking the harmony vocals with him. Not to say there hasn't been good stuff since, but . . .


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PostPosted: Thu November 30th, 2017, 21:20 GMT 

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So, my guess is Stirling Castle 2001 as the truly last golden greatest concert.

Maybe Atlantic City 2003 as the last truly NET concrert.

Special mention: Red Bluff 2002, NOLA Jazz Festival 2003, West Palm 2003.


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PostPosted: Thu December 7th, 2017, 01:35 GMT 
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I think I'd either say that it ended with the Summer 2002 tour, after which Dylan switched to keyboard (though I'd describe that era as 1999-2002), or the end of the Fall 2005 tour (the glorious Brixton residency, after which Dylan switched to organ and the setlists changed pretty dramatically). Were I to assign eras, here are my thoughts:

1988 (vocals have more in common with '86, shouty up-tempo arrangements and many '80s songs)
1989-1991 (major vocal shift after '88, similar setlists with varied originals and frequent covers)
1992-1993 (more expansive band with steel guitar, higher vocals)
1994-1996 (cohesive full-band sound, even on acoustic songs - professional, rehearsed sound)
1997-1998 (rougher arrangements with more multi-instrumentalist elements)
1999-Summer 2002 (country/blues roots sound, backing vocals)
Fall 2002-2005 (much deeper, throatier voice and keyboard)
2006-2011 (organ arrangements and barkier vocals, increasing emphasis on tighter arrangements without solos)
2012 (transitional year with varied setlists and rough vocals but full piano on stage)
2013-Spring 2015 (darker, more intimate piano-oriented sound)
Summer 2015-2017 (introduction of frequent pre-rock 'standard' ballads)

I wonder if we're headed into a new era with more weird, up-tempo rearrangements given the Fall 2017 Tour, but you never know.


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PostPosted: Thu December 7th, 2017, 05:28 GMT 
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belleseb32 wrote:
...I wonder if we're headed into a new era with more weird, up-tempo rearrangements given the Fall 2017 Tour...

Sounds good. Let’s hope so.
We’ll take whatever is dished out, of course.


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PostPosted: Sat December 9th, 2017, 18:58 GMT 
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I'd consider 2002 the end of this so called Golden Era myself. The 2003 shows don't do it for me the way the shows in the previous years had.

I'd say 1996-2002 is a more accurate depiction of "The Golden Era" if it has to be a 6 year window.


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