Bob Dylan: 5 Brilliant live performances from the year 1979

The importance of identifying Bob Dylan as a performing artist, as distinct from the popular perception that he’s a songwriter and recording artist, is immediately clear when one has a chance to hear his fall 1979 concerts. “What Can I Do for You?,” “Solid Rock,” “Saving Grace,” “Covenant Woman” and “In the Garden” as performed at these shows are some of the finest works in Dylan’s oeuvre, but you’d never know that from listening to Saved, the 1980 studio album that features these compositions.
-Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

Bob Dylan only played 26 concerts in 1979. 14 of them were @ Fox Warfield Theatre (San Francisco, California) from November 1 – 16.

The tour lineup consisted of

  • Bob Dylan (guitar, piano, harmonica, vocals)
  • Spooner Oldham (keyboards, vocals)
  • Terry Young (keyboards, vocals)
  • Fred Tackett (guitar)
  • Tim Drummond (bass)
  • Jim Keltner (drums)
  • Regina Havis (vocals), Helena Springs (vocals), and Mona Lisa Young (vocals)

This first leg of the “Gospel Tour” is astonishing. There are so many brilliant live performances – it´s utterly painful to only pick five.

Please use the Comments section to  post your personal favourites from 1979.

Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted
Can’t help but wonder what’s happenin’ to my companions
Are they lost or are they found
Have they counted the cost it’ll take to bring down
All their earthly principles they’re gonna have to abandon?
There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend

Slow Train @ Fox Warfield Theatre, San Francisco – Nov 7

One of Dylan’s finest shows ends a two-week engagement in San Francisco. The shows have been well received by the majority of people attending. Both Dylan’s and the band’s performances have improved every night. This last night, Dylan includes an extra song at the end of the first half, a terrific ver- sion of the Slow Train Coming outtake, “No Man Righteous (No Not One).” In the second half, the new songs take on a life of their own. The crowd seems to be enthralled by the virtuosity of the band and the versatility in Dylan’s voice. They are not even taken aback when Dylan starts preaching that, “Christ will [indeed} set up his kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand years, where the lion will lie down with the lamb.” Dylan is in a most talkative mood throughout tonight’s show.
-Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995)

The iron hand it ain’t no match for the iron rod
The strongest wall will crumble and fall to a mighty God
For all those who have eyes and all those who have ears
It is only He who can reduce me to tears
Don’t you cry and don’t you die and don’t you burn
For like a thief in the night, He’ll replace wrong with right
When He returns

When He Returns – Fox Warfield Theatre, San Francisco – Nov 16

When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?
When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?
Did they know He was the Son of God, did they know that He was Lord?
Did they hear when He told Peter, “Peter, put up your sword”?
When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?
When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?

In The Garden – Fox Warfield Theatre, San Francisco – Nov 16

They ask me how I feel
And if my love is real
And how I know I’ll make it through
And they, they look at me and frown
They’d like to drive me from this town
They don’t want me around
’Cause I believe in you

I Believe In You – Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica – Nov 18

Covenant woman got a contract with the Lord
Way up yonder, great will be her reward
Covenant woman, shining like a morning star
I know I can trust you to stay where you are

Covenant Woman – Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica – Nov 19

Some recommended shows:

  • Fox Warfield Theatre, San Francisco – Nov 7
  • Fox Warfield Theatre, San Francisco – Nov 14
  • Fox Warfield Theatre, San Francisco – Nov 16
  • Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica – Nov 18
  • Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica – Nov 19
  • Kiva Auditorium Convention Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dec 5





-Egil

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *