page by Bill Pagel
Review by Peter Murano
I arrived at the Beacon Theatre not knowing what to expect. At all. I
had never heard Bob's new band and, as usual, did not know what he would
play. Let me start off by saying that Mr. Dylan's voice was so good, so
on point and so precise tonight that it really amazed me. Lonesome Day
Blues, Don't Think Twice It's Alright, Shooting Star and every other song
he played saw Dylan playing with his vocals; hesitating, syncopating,
launching a word out at full force and holding the damn note until my
soul was lighting up and I had a big, wide grin on my face. The Beacon's
sound system was so-so. Not always clear but usually just fine.
1. Tombstone Blues: At the very beginning I could not get quite what Bob
was singing (that darned Beacon sound system). Thought it was Drifter's
Escape from the opening few notes, then Maggie's Farm until the line about
"the ghost of Belle Star". Then the vocals were a lot clearer.
Excellent rocking version of a classic song. Played well by the band and
sung well by Bob. Set the tone for the evening.
2. Love Minus Zero/No Limit: Absolutely gorgeous. Similar to the MTV
Unplugged version. Sung to perfection with the band low key but
immaculately beautiful. Really wanted to hear this song live, too!
Thanks, Bob for making it such a special performance!
3. Lonesome Day Blues: Wow. The band was on fire on this scorching blues
stomp number. Hard and clean. You can tell Bob Dylan and His Band have
a blast playing this one. The guy sitting next to me said jubilantly
"he's singing his ass off!" Amen to that.
4. This Wheel's on Fire: Another tremendous performance by Bob and crew.
The band defintely had the Basement Tapes vibe down pat on this one.
Bob played with the phrasing of the vocals, throwing off a couple of
people trying to sing along. Great stuff.
5. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum: A lot of people complain when the opening
riff starts up and I will admit that Bob plays this one a lot. But it is
a fun song. Perfect for a concert perfromance with that jam style
playing that gets everybody moving. The lyrics amaze me more and more
every time I hear it. Bob sings this song with a haunting voice and
really sings and plays along to the beat.
6. John Brown: Based on Bob's previous Tuesday setlists, I kind of knew he
was going to play this one. What I din't expect was how great and
captivating this song live really is. I hung on every word. Band
chugging along nicely to Bob Dylan's singing of these very relevant and
7. Under the Red Sky: I know a lot of people don't like this album
execpt for maybe Born in Time. But this performance was special. The
band played beautifully and the Beacon sound system was at it's best on
this song. Unbelievable how Bob can pull these rare songs out of his hat
and make them work so well!
8. Highway 61 Revisited: Scorching. The band was like a racecar that
will not settle for second place on this song. Everyone was on their feet
moving to this one. The band was really swinging with Bob shaking and
moving at his keyboard. Sung well with a gritty, hard nosed style that
worked so well with the playing. Excellent.
9. Bye and Bye: A lovely treat. Played like the band was floating on a
breeze and they took us with them. Bob sang softly, jabbing some words
out at key times. A remarkable song performed with grace.
10. Shooting Star: Ok, I REALLY wanted to hear this one. Superb singing
and playing. Similar to the album version. A beautiful performance of a
great song. The sound system came up great on this one too.
11. Honest With Me: A stoned guy sitting behind me kept yelling weird
crap. "This is awesome!" "Light up a doobie, Bob" mimicing the songs beats
as they were playing. Yes, my friend, that is VERY annoying. But Bob
suprised the hell out of me by leaning into the mic and saying "I'm gonna
knock you out, man". I was laughing so hard. Then right after that a
great, hard rocking version of another song that people complain Bob
plays too much. People complain but last night everyone was moving to
this. Bob really is the master.
12. Masters of War: played with John Brown on the same night? It seemed as
though anti-war Bob was showing his face. Brilliantly performed by all.
Bob was really feeling the words here. Contempt, anger and frustration
all came pouring through his voice on this. A great set closer.
13. Don't Think Twice, It's Alright: Waiting for this one since the first
time I saw Bob. How beautiful was this? I almost cried. Chills up and
down my spine. One of the most beautiful things Bob has done live that I
have seen. The whole song, everything about it was just mind blowing.
14. All Along the Watchtower: Great, rocking, awesome version. George
was destroying the drums, Bob's singing was great, making you feel and
envision every line. Putting you in the middle of this no-way-out
situation with jokers and thieves and wildcats growling and two
approaching riders. I never tire of hearing this song close a show. A
superb ending to a magical show.
Can't wait for Friday and Saturday!
Review by Toby Richards-Carpenter
‘BAKED IN A PIE’
Bob Dylan is not big on repeating himself. Anyone wondering if there is a
point in seeing the same act five nights running should try him some time.
Just two songs were repeated from the opening night’s performance, but
more than that, there was a whole other mood to the show.
The opening song, ‘Tombstone Blues’, had a different feel to most of the
evening’s performances. It was a rip-roaring opener that had Bob twitching
away behind the keyboard, snarling out the words, pounding his ankles into
Although followed by a delicate and lyrical interpretation of ‘Love Minus
Zero/No Limit’, after twenty minutes of this show I still felt we’d be in
for a hard-rocking barn-stormer of a performance. Thank the fixed gaze and
lust for life of ‘Lonesome Day Blues’ in the number three slot for that.
But it was not to be. With the fourth song, ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’,
matters took a turn for the distinctly weirder, and this was the way the
show would continue. There was something creepy and insinuating about the
way Bob sang ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’, complete with an inquisitive
harmonica solo to round it off. Although the next number, ‘John Brown’,
was a different sort of song, the thought-provoking tone was broadly
As with the first Beacon show, Bob was virtually word-perfect last night,
and ‘John Brown’ was a showcase for Bob’s articulacy. It was also a sombre
news story, an allegory to contemporary America and confused values. The
audience was hushed and drawn into this one as the master laid out uneasy
truths patiently into the microphone. For some, this is the point of Bob
‘John Brown’, if you’re looking for such messages, could be seen as a the
flip-side of the closer to the main set, ‘Masters Of War’. This was played
in full and fiery electric mode tonight, a real frightener, portraying a
desolate wasteland of absent morals. “I’ll follow your casket by the pale
afternoon” was perhaps the least ambiguous statement Dylan made all
evening. Aside from these songs, however, this wasn’t a show of deep
messages. It was a show of dark messages.
‘Under The Red Sky’, with its images of moons and boys and girls baked in
pies, added to the crankiness. As did a jazzy, beautifully sung ‘Bye And
Bye’ and an undulating ‘Shooting Star’, which had a slightly revised
arrangement. There was more space, greater musical pauses, more time to
contemplate the strangeness of it all.
Who knows how many of the audience saw it this way. From my seat on the
first balcony, people seemed warm and receptive, if rather confounded by
many of the song choices. Down in front of the stage, it looked hysterical
and exciting. The differences in audience reaction are proof positive of
the depth of Bob’s commitment to these shows. How easy it would be to
acknowledge his homecoming to a city he loves and roll out the
crowd-pleasers. Then we’d all be cheering. He doesn’t care; he’s working
for the songs. The only significant parallel between this and the first
show at the Beacon is Bob’s commitment to the performance of the songs.
His approach is lean, structured and focused. The voice is strong, potent
and to the point. The integrity shines.
The band isn’t too shabby either. ‘Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum’, ‘Honest
With Me’ and ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ featured searing, scything guitar
work, and ‘Highwat 61’ especially benefited from the drama-filled,
bombastic efforts of drummer George Receli.
Also, perhaps because of the fact that Bob hasn’t been repeating songs
from one night to the next at these shows, even these performances of
much-heard rockers hit home last night. ‘Tweedle Dee’ was nuanced and
empathetic, the characters alive, and ‘Honest With Me’ had total urgency.
Not a note has yet been wasted in two shows.
The first encore, ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’, was perhaps the
closest Bob has come to a superfluous rendition. What salvaged it was its
very awkwardness. Bob refused to play it as a cosy crowd sway-along. He
sang the notes upwards at the end of each line. He twice feigned to play
instrumental verses using his harmonica, before backing out after a couple
of cursory puffs. This was supposed to be the encore, for God’s sake, yet
it was infuriating. It was odd.
After the bare-necessities band introductions, Bob and the boys swept into
‘All Along The Watchtwower’, and a blaze of powerchords from Stu Kimball
ensued. Bob squawked angrily into the microphone. The curtains closed. The
show had not only felt complete unto itself, but also a part of something
bigger. By Saturday night perhaps I’ll understand what that thing is. I’m
not counting on it, but either way, it’s shaping up to be one hell of a
Review by Jim Bishop
RELEASE THE BATS!
Release the bats because tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you the FEAR. We bring you the
UNEARTHLY, the downright SPOOKY. We bring you the man in the black hat - the kind used by judges
for pronouncing capital punishment. We bring you his undertaker-suited, pallbearer cohorts in
the Broadway extravaganza: 'BOB DYLAN SHOW - THE NIGHTMARE RETURNS!' Oh yes, on this second
night at the Beacon the accent is definitely on menace. After last night's stellar explosion my
predicted Shooting Star finally arrives, albeit a day late. It twinkles beautifully but what a
scene its light reveals, what creatures we see crouched in the darkness.
Tombstone Blues kicks us off: Bob, legs splayed as if playing some unholy pinball machine, leans
into the piano and rattles our teeth loose. It seems, for a while, as if we are to be rocked.
Not so. The mood shifts and a funereal, black reading of Love Minus Zero follows. I have
As the set unwinds a mighty, demonic This Wheel's On Fire draws eerie pedal steel from Donny.
Even the much-maligned Tweedle Dee sounds plain scary. It seems to grow fangs before us. The
fangs close, dripping with venom.
John Brown and Under The Red Sky give Bob a breather from his audience scaring duties as the full
reign of his storytelling genius is unleashed. John Brown's hard message of pride as a sin is
thrillingly realized. And Red Sky's old, old story: 'There was a little Boy, there was a little
girl' sounds both sweet and new.
Highway 61 is apocalyptic and we are back firmly in haunted territory. The main set closes with
an electric reading of Masters Of War. This is perhaps the performance of the night. Bob's focus
is so complete by this point that I fear for the physical safety of any band member who catches
First encore Don't Think Twice is a little muddled after all the gore. Bob does his best to wrest
it away from the would-be sing along crowd but he seems to forget, in the process, why he is
singing it in the first place. It is a perverse, unsatisfactory reading and the only false note
of the night.
No matter because Watchtower offers even more shock and awe than last night. It pounds and rages
like a demon as the two riders approach and the watchtower in question becomes a bat-infested
A middle-aged man in the seat next to me seems disconcerted. He explains that he saw Roger McGuinn
playing here at the Beacon. 'If you shut your eyes it could have been the '60s.' I bid him good
If you open your eyes it is 2005 and Bob Dylan sounds like the future and the present combined.
Tonight he is plain spooky. On Thursday he will doubtless be something else altogether. 'The
last radio is playing.' Tune in if you dare …
Review by G.V. Hamilton
There's nothing like a show at the Beacon. We have it down pat. Park in
the 74th St garage, drinks at the All State Cafe down on 72nd, dinner at
Shanghai 72 next door, and then breeze up a couple of blocks to the
Theater and walk right in. Never any security.
I've sat everywhere but the key is to be in the middle. Monday we were in
the third row Loge dead-center, just about my favorite spot, but tonight I
was worried because we were in the back row of the Loge (again in the
middle). However, I forgot to take one important thing into
consideration: in the last row you're against the wall with no one behind
you. You can get up and dance, as a couple of hot babes were doing
nearby. Jays can be passed. As long as there's no security, and as
mentioned there wasn't any, you can do just about anything back there.
Most importantly, the sound and sightlines (especially for this killer
stage) are still fine, unlike the last row of the floor where you're too
far away and the sound sucks.
I was with people who hadn't experienced a lot of live Bob, so when he and
the band busted out a smokin' Tombstone Blues, following it up with a
solid Love Minus Zero featuring a gorgeous center-stage harp solo, it was
like, "okay, so this is live Dylan..." Lonesome Days was average and This
Wheel's on Fire never caught fire until the ending harmonica break.
Tweedle Dee was pretty good, with my friends really enjoying it because we
had listened to L & T on the way down.
The crowd loved John Brown, being the first anti-war song of the evening
(but not the last), and I personally liked Under The Red Sky, probably
more than most. But then Highway 61 brought everyone to their feet. It
was incredible. A hard rockin' blues now, sort of ZZ Top-like in feel, it
built up to a screaming climax with Stu and Denny leading the way. Denny
just about dominated the proceedings tonight. Forget about the 2nd
guitarist role and the jazzy stuff he's been doing, tonight, on what
looked and sounded like a Fender solid body, he just ripped the rockers
apart. Absolutely ripped them up. Donnie Herron was more in a "fill"
role tonight, but still great. Of course, Stu, Tony and George are the
Bye and Bye, Shooting Star (that 'star' motif again) and Honest with Me
came and went, all well-done, and we arrived at what was for me the
highlight twosome: Masters of War and Don't Think Twice. How many times
have I seen Masters of War, by Dylan and others? Probably about 50. But
it's never been more haunting, powerful or poignant (I missed it in '65)
than last night. Enough said. And while we miss Bob strapping on the
acoustic himself to do Don't Think Twice, it was still stunning with every
word coming through crystal-clear.
Must admit we left just before the end of Watchtower, in order to get to
the garage and onto the West Side Highway, and home to CT in a half-hour.
That's the thing about the Beacon: the logistics are painless and the
music's always great. Unfortunately this is the last show for which I
have tickets; all of you coming the next three nights should hear lots of
great music and a few surprises. For the record, my fantasy Dylan set
would include Hattie Carroll, Hurricane, and Willie McTell (sort of an
African-American trilogy) plus my very favorite, Lily, Rosemary and the
Jack of Hearts, all on the same night. I'm afraid there are not enough
stars in the sky to set the odds of that happening. But I did notice
LDOHC and BWM were played together in Boston...
Review by Larry Kosofsky
Dylan came out firing and pretty much stayed that way
all night...the band sounded great, not taking many
chances, but very tight and effective...Elana did not
appear...so I believe that violin was used only on one
tune...the Beacon's sound being less than perfect,
Bob's vocals were not as clear as one might hope
(this from an upper balcony seat)...harmonica solos
were more effective than my previous show (at the
Chance, in Poughkeepsie)
Highlights of the set, for me, included a strong
"Love Minus Zero," an atmospheric "Wheel's On Fire,"
a gorgeous "Shooting Star," an inspiring "Masters of War,"
"Don't Think Twice" - which began with a fantastic
instrumental intro and evolved into a propulsive
semi-rocker, and an eerie "Watchtower." All in all, a
fine, solid concert with some extraordinary moments and
page by Bill Pagel
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