Chicago, Illinois

January 3, 1974

Hero Blues
Lay Lady Lay
Tough Mama
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Dylan on guitar)
Stage Fright (Dylan on guitar)
Share Your Love With Me (Dylan on harmonica)
It Ain't Me Babe
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
All Along The Watchtower
Holy Cow
King Harvest
Ballad Of A Thin Man
Up On Cripple Creek
I Don't Believe You
The Times They Are A-Changin'
Song To Woody
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carrol
Nobody 'Cept You
It's Alright, Ma
Life Is a Carnival
The Shape I'm In
When You Awake
Rag Mama Rag
Forever Young
Something There Is About You
Like A Rolling Stone
The Weight (Dylan on harmonica)
Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)
This concert has great historical significance because it was the first full concert in five years and the first tour in eight. After hearing the spectacular Philadelphia 1/6/74 afternoon concert and parts of the second Chicago concert 1/4/74, I was really expecting this one to be the best one of all. Although it's very good and there is much to recommend, I still consider the Philadelphia concert to be the best I've heard so far. Also, there are many things happening in this concert that make it unique.

What makes this concert so different from the others? For one thing, Dylan doesn't leave the stage when The Band launch into their first mini-set and he plays along with them on Old Dixie (rhythm guitar), Stage Fright (guitar again), and Share Your Love With Me (harmonica). At the end of the night, when The Band play their final number The Weight, Dylan stays to play harmonica. The effect is to affirm once and for all that Dylan and The Band are one complete group instead of "the star and his backup band". This spirit of collaboration is just one of the many pleasant things about this tape. It helps to know, for instance, that the stage setup was one of cluttered hominess - complete with couches and floorlamps - giving the impression of a group of old time friends getting together to sing a few tunes. This could be a deliberate allusion to the looseness of the "basement tapes" and an indication of how the tour was originally envisioned. The fact that the tour eventually ended up a cynical exercise in media hype and superstar power games shows just how much of a failure the tour actually was (see Isis for a detailed description of the tour and Dylan's reaction to it :-). Unfortunately, the cluttered stage and laidback approach were abandoned soon after Chicago, and along with it much of the charm.

Something else that was lost in later concerts was the unusual material. Here Dylan performs the relatively unknown Hero Blues as the opening song! Later he performs four new songs in addition to such "cult" tunes as I Don't Believe You and Song To Woody. The performances are all very low key as well. Lay Lady Lay is sung in a manner closer to the original, without all the rather goofy swoops and wails of the later versions, and songs like Ballad of a Thin Man are sung with much more feeling for the original and the lyrics tend to stand out more than usual.

Another thing that comes across on this tape is the idea that this is actually the final rehearsal for the tour itself. It's obvious that many of the songs were still being worked out. For instance, Dylan stops I Don't Believe You in the middle of the first verse and starts it over again at a faster tempo. You Go Your Way, the encore, is very tentative here, as if it were performed for the first time ever. Dylan messes up the words a bit at first, and the arrangement owes more to Blonde on Blonde than the later versions ever did, but even though I actually prefer the later versions myself, it's kind of nice to hear the song approached in this manner - before it became the screaming opener that it would later become.

The sound of the tape is not too bad, as audience recordings go, but it doesn't match up with the much better sounding Philadelphia tape. Still, for historical purposes this tape is indispensible. For musical purposes, this is one of the more interesting concerts of the 1974 tour.

CDs and LPs: none that I know of

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