Chicago, August 19 (night two)
This show is something of a dark horse for those looking for one or two shows to buy. If you're just looking for one show, this probably wouldn't be it. True, there are some definite high points. The Chicago Jam, with Neil singing about the two days of rain and his trip to the Apple Store, is a lot of fun--not up to the standard of Winnipeg's Rush Up and Kiss You, perhaps, but definitely enjoyable. And How Will You Go gets an unrehearsed, slightly tentative, heartbreaking rendition; it's a highlight not just of the show but of the tour, as far as I'm concerned (the story of how the song came to be played that night is told here
--look for SueBee's post if the link doesn't take you directly there). That said, Neil's voice seems tired--it was the second straight very late night at the House of Blues, following the second straight day of crappy weather--and while most of the performances are strong, none of them really leaps out as being best-of-tour quality.
So this wouldn't be the choice if you're only buying one show. Ah, but what if you're buying two? This performance is an excellent companion-piece to the first Chicago show (which, for those who prize sound quality, is a must-have--it was recorded with special care for the subsequent webcast and really sounds terrific). The setlists complement each other nicely. You get a great selection of less-performed songs--Recurring Dream Hole in the River, Not the Girl You Think You Are, Throw Your Arms Around Me from night one; Nails in My Feet, Whispers and Moans, Italian Plastic, How Will You Go, an apparently impromptu Sister Madly on night two. You get a decent selection of interesting diversions (the post-clapping interlude in Weather With You on night one; the Chicago Jam and the impromptu Sister Madly leading, astonishingly, into A Day in the Life on night two, and oh, how I would love to hear the band take a semi-rehearsed crack at that song). You get the relatively straight-and-narrow approach of night one, the band seemingly kept in line by the cameras swirling before them, with the more relaxed, banter-filled atmosphere of night two. You get nine of the fourteen songs from Time on Earth (Nobody Wants To, Even a Child, A Sigh, Walked Her Way Down, and You Are the One to Make Me Cry are missing). You get relatively few repeats: fewer than half of the second night's 22 tracks were also played on the first night. And because these are consecutive nights in a single location, you definitely get a sense of time and place that would be absent, I think, if you just bought two unconnected shows.