LIVE: Old Crow Medicine Show @ Brewery Ommegang, 5/28/17
Review by Steven Stock
Under grey skies threatening a deluge that thankfully was never delivered, Old Crow Medicine Show played Bob Dylan’s classic 1966 double-album Blonde on Blonde in its entirety to an appreciative audience sprawled across the hillside behind Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown.
Although they followed the sequence of the album, part of what made the show so appealing was the band’s willingness to mess with Dylan’s arrangements (just as Dylan himself has done through the years). Former Ithaca College student Ketch Secor handled most of the lead vocals (and banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica and mandolin), with Critter Fuqua (accordion, banjo, dobro, drums, guitar) taking over on “One Of Us Must Know,” “I Want You” and “Temporary Like Achilles.” With other members doubling those instruments as well as contributing backing vocals and bass, guitjo, kazoo, keyboards, pedal steel and whistle, the orchestrations were lush and varied.
“Visions of Johanna” was an early highlight, with Secor’s fiddle and the pedal steel of Joe Andrews (the latter brought in to augment what’s normally a sextet expressly for this album and tour) meshing beautifully to create a wistful, melancholy soundscape. The same pair shone on an up-tempo ramble through “Absolutely Sweet Marie,” Secor playing banjo rather than fiddle.
Good as the Blonde on Blonde set was, the band’s five-song encore was perhaps even better. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” may have been an obvious selection, but OCMS played their gorgeous version with verve and passion. Next up was “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” a country song from Dylan’s Basement Tapes period in 1967, memorably covered a year later by the Byrds on Sweetheart of the Rodeo.
Setting the Dylan songbook aside momentarily, OCMS ventured a tribute to the recently-deceased Gregg Allman with a taut, simmering version of “Midnight Rider,” from 1970’s Idlewild South, the Allman Brothers’ second album. Then it was back to Dylan for a moving rendition of “Tangled Up in Blue” and the fitting celebratory finale of “Wagon Wheel,” a song whose chorus was written by Dylan in 1973 with verses completed by Secor some 25 years later.
OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW SET LIST
Blonde on Blonde
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
Pledging My Time
Visions of Johanna
One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)
I Want You
Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Just Like a Woman
Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine
Temporary like Achilles
Absolutely Sweet Marie
4th Time Around
Obviously 5 Believers
Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
Tangled Up In Blue