'Infidels' in the '90s
1999-11-09, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Bob Dylan has not played a song from Infidels live in 20 years.
The most recent was “Jokerman,” which he played three times in 2003. Other than that, he’s barely touched Infidels in the entire 21st century.
In the ‘90s, though, Bob Dylan loved Infidels. He played five of its eight songs at various points across the decades. That’s more Infidels songs than he played in 1984, on the tour ostensibly promoting the album.
I started thinking about this while listening to this excellent reader-requested show in Philadelphia, November 9, 1999. One song from the set that jumped out at me was “Man of Peace.” Not one of my top ten Bob songs—not one of anyone’s top ten Bob songs, I’d hope—but absolutely killer here. It was the first time he’d performed it in three years. And then the next night in New Haven, he dusted off another Infidels tune, “I and I.” First time in over a year for that one.
So I thought I’d take a brief survey of Infidels in the ‘90s. Here are the five songs he played that decade, in album order. The other three (“Sweetheart Like You,” "Neighborhood Bully,” "Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight”) he’s never played. Not just in the ‘90s—ever. And he’s played an Infidels outtake, “Blind Willie McTell,” more recently and more often than any of the songs he didn’t cut from the album.
“Jokerman” is the most-played song from Infidels. This is almost entirely due to its mid-‘90s run. It opened almost every show in 1994 (including, notably, Woodstock). By that point he had five post-Infidels albums of original material, not to mention two covers records, not to mention, you know, the entire back catalog. Nevertheless, he stuck with “Jokerman” for the entire year. It was inevitably a raucous garage-rock opening number, a far cry from the slick original Knopfler production.
“Jokerman” trickled off fast after 1994, making just a few appearances a year until it took a five-year break from 1998 to the aforementioned 2003 trio. He resurrected it during a year-ending London run that saw him pull all sorts of deep cuts out of the hat, most notably “Romance in Durango.”
Post continues below the jump for paid subscribers. Also catch up on my recent concert dispatches from Montreal (“Dance Me to the End of Love”!) and Port Chester (the Dead’s “Stella Blue”! Merle Haggard’s “Footlights”!).
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