The travel itinerary (and bad wifi at the Hyatt Regency in Denver) played havoc with the Dylan schedule this week, so I’m posting some final thoughts on the 1984 tour on the first morning of 1985 – you’ll have to forgive me.
First and foremost, the 1984 tour is fairly well-captured on Real Live. That’s the easiest way to access this material, even if the album is too short to give a real sense of what the band was doing. But it’s a good start.
The tour was 27 dates across Europe with Carlos Santana, and, for a few dates, Joan Baez. Baez would open with about ten songs, and then Santana would play for about ninety minutes. Dylan’s set was pretty consistent: seven songs with his band (including Rolling Stone Mick Taylor on guitar), a song by bassist Gregg Sutton (most of the bootlegs I’ve listened to include Dylan’s introduction of Sutton then cut the song off. Tough to please those bootleggers!), a couple of acoustic songs, then the band returns for about six songs, Dylan introduces them during “Like a Rolling Stone”, they leave, and then a long encore – often up to eight songs, with Santana playing guitar on about half of them. As I mentioned before, lots of hits, lots of 1960s material. What they do is good, but it is also repetitive, so this is not a tour that benefits from having a large number of bootlegs.
A few shows of note: In Hamburg and Munich Baez sang with Dylan in the encore (“Blowin’ In the Wind” on the first show, that and “I Shall Be Released” on the second). It
At the Paris and London shows Van Morrison joined Dylan on “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. Here is a copy of that. I think that this is the Paris version – I don’t have that to hand. It’s definitely not Slane, which is the best Van performance (though Bob gets lost in the lyrics late).
Chrissie Hynde played harmonica and sang back-up on a few songs at the London show. Oh, and some guy named Clapton shows up to play guitar. That’s pretty good.
I think that the best show that I heard is the last one of the tour at Slane Castle in Ireland, where Dylan did 27 songs. Van the Man is back for a rollicking “Baby Blue” and also does “Tupelo Honey”. Later in the encore they are joined by “Bono from U2”, as Dylan introduces him, who sings back-up fills on “Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat”. The version that they do is sort of suggestive of the collaboration that Dylan will have with U2 during the Rattle and Hum period. U2 were recording The Unforgettable Fire at Slane at the time, so they were just about to break really big. It’s probably one of the last times someone would have needed to add “of U2” to Bono’s introduction. Sadly, that song is not that great – Van Morrison shows him how to jam with Dylan.
Here’s Dylan with Bono doing “Blowin’ In the Wind” at the end of Slane. This is one of the worst versions of this song that you will EVER hear. The Bono verse is just, god, I don’t even know what to say.