page by Bill Pagel
Review by Willy Gissen
History was made at the Hammerstein Ballroom tonight. For the Dylan fan,
it was the equivalent of when the New York Rangers fan held up the sign,
"Now I can die in peace," when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup after 30
years. I've never seen anything like it. Several moments that would make
any concert memorable were strung together one after the other. "The
Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," which I've never heard in concert
before. A show-stopping "Mr. Tambourine Man." A rearrangement of "Just
Like Tom Thumb's Blues," which was nothing short of brilliant. A staccato
version of "Cold Irons Bound" and an interesting reinterpretation of
"Watching the River Flow." Plus good versions of the staple songs "Highway
61," "Things Have Changed" and "Honest with Me." Dylan opened with a
one-two punch of "Maggie's Farm" and "Senor," and continued with knockouts
the entire night. Anyone who was there could you tell you what a great
concert it was. You really don't need this review.
It was a really up Dylan crowd the whole night, though I'm not sure of
what came first the chicken or the egg (an up crowd leads to a great
Dylan, or a great Dylan leads to an up crowd). One fan boasted that she
was going to Prague to see Dylan and yelped enthusiastically
throughout. A whole section sat on the floor, unable to see the entire
opening act, in order to preserve their spot for the main show. I spoke
to a guy who looked like he had walked out of the 60's, and we reminisced
about Dylan experiences from the past.
At the end of the show, roses and other congratulatory items were thrown
onto the stage. After Dylan did a superb encore ("Like a Rolling Stone"
and "All Along the Watchtower" were carried to a "whole other level"), the
place erupted so much that even Dylan had to relent and do a third song,
which I don't think has happened in his entire current tour. (It was
"Rainy Day Women.")
I'm really still breathless from the whole thing.
Review by Cary Krosinsky
Sorry folks, but I've seen one too many shows.
So I don't feel in a position to be a good judge of tonight's proceedings.
My eyes must have been doing tricks, seeing the Hammerstein barely half
full at show time - how many didn't make it, or didn't know of the
resched? But maybe it was me.
I also don't feel in a position to tell you that Senor was just great, Bob
snarling and rasping away.
Or that even Tweedle Dee sounded great, Tony finding a really cool new
bass riff now that's giving life to this.
Or that a guest guitarist (who I think Bob later introduced as Chuck
Leavell, but you know Bob, who could understand what he said?) joined for
the next 2 songs and added life to WTRF and THC.
Or that the guitarist then left for Highway 61 so the band could jam away
I also won't mention that This Wheel's On Fire was quite nice indeed, and
You Ain't Going Nowhere was just exactly perfect.
Was it my eyes playing tricks, or was it a DIFFERENT guest guitarist then
for Tom Thumb's Blues - a fabulous version at that (no idea who this guy
is - when Bob intro'ed him later, it was like manny somehting).
And it must have been an illusion, for that second guest left, for Cold
Irons Bound, band alone again.
And, of course, I didn't see the return of ol' Hattie Carroll, and just
like Boots the day before, featured almost entirely Bob only on vocals and
piano - another major work of art this was, as Boots was the night before
- but don't trust me - I'm burned toast.
Honest With Me was great - honestly. I mean it.
Mr. Tambourine Man, then, and the return of the first guitarist.
Summer Days was jam city - fabulous indeed. They seemed intent on rocking
out tonight, pent up from the mellow Northampton, energised by good ol'
New York City. Energy and NYC - right.
Rolling Stone was rollicking - Freddy soaring. Bob and Freddy again
tonight have this great repore.
Watchtower, and midway the first guitarist joins - it's an okay version.
And about out the door, when it's a 3rd encore!
Good ol' RDW - so Bob can have the 2nd guitarist join for an encore - and
it's a great version. An extra encore for NYC, for the Hammerstein and for
the Blackout, and for the guests.
And for me, or so I choose to take it, as this is my last show of the
year. 6 of the last 8 - it's been a great run.
Tomorrow, I'll leave New York City, because I do believe I've had enough.
Review by Jeffrey Johnson
Back in burgundy for the best of three Hammerstein shows. In an act of
unparalleled kindness, He returns for the post-blackout, re-rescheduled
TicketMaster foiled for once!
Reined in by the grim realities of the blackout, uncertain rescheduling
and plane reservations, the most deserving did not witness the grand
After the Maestro's Hammerstein three-night home stand, New Yorkers now
have the answer, to that perpetual, rhetorical question:
"Why in the world would you live in that dreadful city?"
Perhaps movies are better suited for other "musicians" like Jennifer
Lopez, I wouldn't know. But this Masked & Pseudonymous Movie Star
delivered a third night of brilliance from the Hammerstein stage again
tonight (as it He has again and again and again).
Incidentally, M&A is as enigmatic and brilliant as the Maestro Himself.
You cannot leave without being hit by some aspect of the multifaceted
message. Impressions may vary based on viewer intellect, Dylanology and
social conscience, but one aspect of the message is seems clear:
According to Him (as perceived by me), the answer is STILL and will
forever be blowin' in the wind. (Things Have Changed and the Times have
changed; still, simultaneously nothing has changed.) The title suggests
that this status quo will forever remain so long as mankind is masked and
anonymous, i.e., hiding behind governments, agendas, etc.).
The "answer" remains blowin' or more aptly twisting in the wind
because only the dimension of issues, particularly those involving war and
injustice, have changed. Thus, the world's Fate appears sealed: the
answer will forever remain unanswered, simply blowin' in the wind, whist
president after president "stands naked" and the writer/critic prophesies
with his pen, criticizing what he so obviously can't understand.
At any rate, in one guy's opinion, far from being "inert self
indulgence," M&A is the Maestro potentially at His most thought
provoking moment. But, if the message escapes you, congratulations, you
have just earned a degree in journalism. A job awaits you at the
prestigious New York newspaper.
Once again tonight, No Banjo and No Highwater (Anywhere). But show 3 out
of 3 was reminiscent of the 2001 Madison Square Garden gem:
Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power) - as before a performance capable of
jamming the mobile phone lines from the Midlands to Manchester.
Things Have Changed - He's right, He should in Hollywood, but where ever
He roams it's Never Never Land.
Highway 61: First line, second verse; could He be immortalizing His
revered drummer in verse: "George Ricile had a bloody nose."
Watching The River Flow - the first of two excellent guest guitarists.
This Wheel's On Fire - started out slow, but surged into the hook.
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere - the momentary show stopper, but not for
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - can't not do it in New York.
Watching His performances night after night, sometimes it is not obvious
when the Maestro's been holding back, soaring at high altitude on auto
pilot. Then, He lets loose. This was the case with this years second
Atlantic City show. Similarly, He cruised through the 2002 UK
tour until Manchester. Tonight was another night when He let loose,
beginning with Cold Irons Bound. In particular, the vocals and drums
kicked in big time from this point on.
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll and Mr. Tambourine Man showcased nice
vocals, which were not as booming as before.
Veterans immediately sensed the rare-of-late second encore and
repositioned as others exited. Rainy Day Women was a nifty bonus track.
This Maestro, He holds not grudge. After last November's
sparsely-attended, two-night home stand with legendary performances, He
rewards us with three shows in the cozy Hammerstien Ballroom, the finale
being a blow away event.
So long from Hammerstien Ballroom, the re-rescheduled August 14, 2003 show
Review by Peter Stone Brown
It was not without some trepidation that I got in my car for the third
time to go to the third Hammerstein show. Would some denying the
responsibility inept power company in Ohio miss an alarm again? Would
there be a massive 20 miles backup on the Jersey Turnpike? What could
possibly happen? For once it wasn't raining. It was in fact a beautiful,
though oppressively humid day. So I breezed up the Jersey turnpike in
possibly record time, sailed through the Holland Tunnel and found myself a
free place to park my car. Grabbed a cab to the Upper East Side, well
Midtown actually to sell an extra ticket to a friend who treated me to
what I like to call "inspiration" and played me the SACD bonus tracks from
the "Masked & Annonymous" soundtrack on a super duper sound system and
grabbed a cab to the show. All seemed right with the world. Got in the
same place in line I was in the other days with just about the same
people, old and new friends and even got the seats I wanted.
Mary Lee Kortes and her band Mary Lee's Corvette came on. Strangely she
introduced herself as if she was someone else, saying something like "The
Hammerstein Ballroom is excited to present.. " that was both amusing and
strange at the same time. They were okay, and probably would be a lot
more effective in a smaller room.
The stage was quickly resent for Dylan with an extra microphone stand that
was there for the first Hammerstein shows, but not for the second one or
Dylan took the stage wearing the same red suit he wore the first night at
Hammerstein and rocked "Maggie's Farm" with a lot of energy. "Senor"
followed with a harp solo at the beginning and then a couple of more. The
show was off to a good start. Tommy Morrongiello was playing guitar from
the beginning of the show. "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" came next and I
thought it was the best version I'd heard on the tour so far. It seemed
more than the walk through of the previous shows.
"Watching The River Flow" came next with a harp intro and suddenly Tommy
wasn't the guitarist, it was some other guy, but no one seemed to know who
it was. He wasn't bad at all, got in some hot solos, but did not have the
excitement of Nils Lofgren the previous week. The mystery guitarist (who
unlike everyone else on stage was wearing jeans and sneakers) stayed on
for "Things Have Changed," and then vanished for "Highway 61 Revisited
which featured a very hot guitar solo from Larry Campbell.
The guitarist reappeared for the next song, "This Wheel's On Fire." Now
this happens to be one of my all-time favorite Bob Dylan songs, and I was
at the Madison, New Jersey show where he debuted it totally blowing my
mind. The band ran through an entire verse with Dylan blowing fine harp
before he started singing. However it was the way he sang it that made
this version special, doing some sort of weird staccato-like enunciation
throughout but really emphasizing the "If your memory serves you well"
part of the verse. The mystery guitarist disappeared again and the
familiar into to "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" started and my friend who might
be known as Luke Einstein said, "Two 'Basement Tapes' songs in a row, is
this a first?" This was easily the best version of the three I'd heard on
this tour with Dylan taking an extra long, very wild harp solo that seemed
to last at least two verses and choruses and maybe more.
Another guitarist, in fact the guitarist from the opening band, Andy York
appeared on stage and the band went into "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues."
York took a very good if not spectacular solo and of course the crowed
erupted at the "Goin' back to New York City" line.
York disappeared and the sonic noises that can only mean "Cold Irons
Bound" emanated from the stage and Freddie Koella, yes, Freddie Koella
took a great solo.
Dylan then pulled a surprise by pulling out "The Lonesome Death of Hattie
Carroll," with Larry and Freddie on acoustics. And while Dylan blew the
key line on the last chorus (easy to do) it still was a good reading and
brought me way back to the first time I heard this song a few months short
of 40 years ago maybe 20 miles to the east in the next (sort of) big city
across the Hudson.
Tommy was back on guitar for "Honest With Me' and then came "Mr.
Tambourine Man" with Larry and Freddie on acoustics and the mystery
guitarist playing subtle electric. This version of this song just doesn't
do it for me, and again it took Dylan till the last verse to really start
singing the way he can.
Bob then introduced the band and both guitarists, the mystery one being
Chuck Loeb and the band went into a strong "Summer Days" with Tommy back
They returned for a not bad at all "Like A Rolling Stone" with Bob really
playing around with the vocal and then "Watchtower" with both Chuck Loeb
The audience, which seemed a bit smaller than the other two Hammerstein
shows refused to leave and the lights stayed down, and after a short break
the band returned to the stage. I was hoping that Dylan would pull out a
real surprise like say, "Million Dollar Bash," but it wasn't to be and
instead we got "Rainy Day Women" which as usual was more of a jam than
anything else, but it was okay.
I don't know if this show was the equal of the other two Hammerstein
shows, but there was no way for Dylan (or any performer for that matter)
to regain the momentum of a three-night stand almost a week later. The
show had none of the weirdness reported at the intervening concerts.
I liked the Hammerstein a lot and thought it was the perfect place to see
Dylan, though the security staff could be slightly less efficient about
rushing people out of there. Closing the bathrooms before the end of a
three hour concert that people paid a lot of money to see is not a decent
way to treat your customers.
If this review doesn't generate the enthusiasm I would like it to have,
let me just say that I got home about 12 hours later than I wanted to with
very little sleep and whatever you do, never break down on the New Jersey
Turnpike after midnight.
Peter Stone Brown
Review by Brian Slattery
Where were you when the lights went out? This is a question that
anyone from NYC or Northern Jersey has been hearing a lot this week.
Tonight, at the rescheduled Hammerstein show, that question was asked
several times. When the lights went out last week, I was just getting
ready to cross the Hudson to see the last of what was shaping up to be a
historic three night run at Hammerstein for Bob and the boys. Thinking
that it was only a local power outage, as are prone to happen, even in the
advanced society that is Jersey City, I thought at most that I would have
to change my mode of transportation to PATH from the Hudson Bergen Light
Rail to a city bus. However, I soon found out that the power outage
spread beyond my little corner of the world. Stepping out onto my front
porch, looking over to Manhattan, talking to a friend who had power and
who was giving me what little information was available at that early
time, I saw smoke rising from the sky-line, in about the same place where
I had seen it rise (much higher) almost two years ago, on a day that
should have only been significant as my mother's birthday and the release
date for "Love and Theft." However, unlike that day in early September,
the smoke was a result of a small fire, and the emergency situation
unfolding in Manhattan was the result of lightning, a power surge, or the
Canadians, depending on who you ask.
When I realized that the situation was serious, but not on the level
of that fateful September morning, my mind turned to the Dylan concert.
While I found little sympathy from those I spoke to that day, my main
inconvenience (having regained power before 9 p.m.) was the postponing of
the 3rd and final Hammerstein show, I continued to share my 'personal
pain' at said inconvenience. While barbecuing with friends later that
night, I read that the show was simply moved up a night, and since we had
power, and I hadn't sat down to watch the news, I thought the show would
happen Friday. Of course, as you know, those unfortunate to be stuck
there, and those watching from home, NYC didn't get back their power as
early as many parts of Jersey, so now, we fast forward almost a week, and
finally Bob and the boys are doing the final night at Hammerstein.
Given the circumstances surrounding this concert, I was wondering what
was in store. Would this be just another night for Bob, a night that was
supposed to be a night off before his final three shows of this leg of his
tour, or would it be like so many of his NYC appearances, where something
special happens? After the opening act, and the stage was set for Bob,
the same question from earlier in the evening came back to me. Where were
you when the lights went out? This time, the question didn't refer to the
blackout, but rather the dimming of house lights, the blaring of "Rodeo"
and the introduction of the 'poet laureate of his generation.' I was
standing at the railing on Larry's side when the lights went out this
time. Unlike last Thursday, however, there was no lack of energy tonight.
I won't give you the play by play. Here are just some thoughts on
various songs. Bob delivered a great "Senor" and with Chuck Loeb, the
first guest guitarist tonight, an amazing "River Flow," with some good
harp work too. "Things" and "Highway" were well done, but I wasn't
feeling that this was a 'special' show yet. It was a great show, but I
didn't feel like it was reaching the level of November 2001 at MSG. I
only include that here, not to try to even justify critiquing one show
against another like that, but to illustrate how foolish it is to even
think like that at all. "This Wheel's On Fire," with Loeb again on
guitar, was, pardon the lack of creativity on my part, smoking. First
time hearing it live for me, and Bob gave it a new energy, adding nice
harp into the mix. "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" is always a nice treat.
Can't really compare it to last week's Hammerstein airing, but, on its
own, was well played and enjoyed by both Bob and the audience. Then,
expecting Drifter's/Messenger/Cold Irons, as I think many were in the next
spot, Bob brings out another guitarist and a nice surprise (although most
people knew he'd do it) with "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." The applause
as this one began were mostly for the end of the song. I'm not saying we
wished it to be over. In my opinion, it was an excellent performance,
with Andy York, the second guest guitarist, adding a nice touch to the
song. However, everyone knows that last line, and everyone was waiting
for it, and, when he got to it, Bob knew, and Bob delivered it perfectly,
and we cheered, and Bob smiled. The harp at the end of this was just
icing on an all-ready satisfying cake. (God, that is really cheesy
imagery. I apologize, but it's almost 5:30 a.m. and I'm really tired.)
This was about the time I fully realized the foolishness of thinking the
show wasn't 'special.'
A slightly re-arranged "Cold Irons Bound" fit in nicely in the next slot,
and a powerful "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" raised the collective
consciousness and conscience of the audience. "Honest With Me" was well
done, with Bob delivering the lyrics in a completely different fashion
than even last week's shows. For some, that may have detracted from the
song. I'd be curious to hear opinions about that. For me, it was
puzzling, but didn't take away from the performance. "Mr. Tambourine
Man," with a little harp at the beginning, and an interesting addition of
Loeb and his 'Alembic electric guitar' at the end, was well received by
the crowd, and deservedly so. I don't know if Bob did the verses in
order, it seemed that he took lines from different verses and meshed them
together, but that is nothing new, and anytime he performs this one it
reminds me of what an amazing song-writer he was, is, and ever shall be,
Bob without end, amen. (Again, my apologies, but the hour is only getting
later and I am only getting more and more tired.)
After the usual set closer, Bob and company returned for LARS and AATW,
both expertly played. Bob really seemed into LARS especially, delivering
it in a very staccato-like voice, laughing as he did so, and really
nailing the chorus. AATW featured Loeb again, and was done well. Bob
seemed to cut it short before repeating the verse to end it. Something
was in the air, and while a few people began to make their way out,
including the irritating woman from Holmdel, many of us, myself and the
very pleasant and friendly woman from Boston included, felt that it wasn't
over yet. From my vantage point, I saw Larry open the door near the sound
board, and before that I didn't think Bob had taken his hat and coat from
the drum riser where he left it before the encores. Sure enough, we were
treated to another encore, the rollicking "Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35,"
with Andy York on guitar. After an enjoyable run through of this old
standard, Bob and the boys were done for the night, and we poured out into
the streets of a well-lighted New York City.
Just a note, Tommy Morrongiello also played on several songs tonight, as
he is been doing of late. With the two guest guitarists tonight, I think
Bob has the makings of a new reality show, "Making the Dylan Band." Who's
with me? Each night, bring someone out, see what they have, if they can
hack it, and Bob can vote on who can swing the axe and who gets the axe.
(For that one, my deepest apologies. Only adding some levity to these
proceedings, but I h ave to wonder, is Bob looking for replacements? And,
if so, is it because of p eople voluntarily leaving or Bob being
I don't usually enter into this type speculation, although I've been
hearing a lot of it lately. Just curious though as to what, if anything,
might be going on with the band, a band I happen to think is a pretty
tight unit, all members included. Some may disagree, and long for the
days of Charlie or G.E. or Robbie, but those days are gone my friends.
And, in the end, who are any of us to criticize and pretend we know what's
best for Bob and his band? Me, I'm just a fan. I don't assume that I
have any greater connection to Dylan or his music because I've attended 26
shows, or because I own all his albums and numerous bootlegs, or because I
read about him. I simply like his music. It affects me on some level. I
might know more than some casual fans, and definitely know less than many
others, about the man, the myth, the legend that is Bob Dylan. But,
whatever the case, I don't give a damn.
I'm just glad to be so lucky to be alive at the same time as Bob Dylan.
I know that I'll carry my love for his music with me always. I think
every Dylan show is special, tonight's amazing performance, and the shows
I've almost forgotten, simply because I got the chance to see him. While
some shows may have not been his greatest outings, the experience of
seeing him, while not making the performance better, made the experience
Tonight, we were blessed with an inspired performance by Bob Dylan.
More importantly, I feel, we were blessed with Bob Dylan. One day, he will
tour no more, and that will be a very sad day. However, until that day, I
know I'll be there every chance I get. If you see me, say hello, and tell
me what you think. I'll be the guy smiling, content just to be at a
Dylan show. Come to think of it though, it'll be hard to pick me out of
So, if you have any questions about my review, or just want to talk
"Bob," drop me a line at email@example.com.
Keep On Keepin' On,
Brian J. Slattery
Review by S.D. Walter
Don't have the strength to sit down and write another review, but I have
to agree with those who thought last night at Hammerstein wasn't up to the
previous week's level. Pretty good show, solid, but out of last
Wednesday's 8 carburetors I'd say he was using only about 5 or 6. Yes,
ladies and gents, the new Dylan concert-rating scale.
Can't believe how comparatively empty the floor was. Until I looked up at
the frescoed ceiling, then back at the mezzanine sections, for a moment I
could be forgiven for thinking I was at a high school battle-of-the-bands.
Sometimes, perhaps when pounding on his keyboard and belting out his
five-hundredth "Watching the River Flow," Dylan might have felt that way
too. Mix was terrible tonight, incidentally, vastly inferior to the last
time, with poor separation and some kind of insistent fluttering that they
never seemed able to stamp out completely. By the way, anyone know why the
sound people decamped from the middle-right section of the floor, where I
had stood near them and the happy incense-Buddha on Wednesday?
After seeing Northampton's setlist -- with its inclusion of more acoustic
songs than usual of late -- I'll confess I was a little disappointed in
last night's choice of songs: several of the repeats ("Senor," "Wheel's on
Fire") had been performed just as well, or better, at Wallingford and
Bushkill. The major exception was a coruscating "Tom Thumb's" with
extended harp work at the end. Great harmonica throughout, in fact -- that
will become a signature of this tour, I think, as people begin to hear
more and reflect on it. On the other hand, the single unique choice,
"Hattie Carroll," was everything I'd hoped for in one song: slow, almost
meditative, and with only a whisper of musical backing outside of Dylan's
keyboard, but with the choruses deeply-stressed, wrenchingly, beautifully
sung. This one was not quite but almost on a par with the stunning "Hard
Rain" from Wallingford, and in some ways very similar to it. That he blew
the ending seems insignificant in light of what had come before. We all
know how it ends.
Nothing really wrong with the performance -- no evident "weirdness,"
people, you can come out from under your beds now -- with Dylan and the
band sustaining a focused interplay broken slightly by the guitarist
"tryouts" (or merely guest spots), which, despite a few interesting solos,
I found more distracting than enjoyable. Maybe they plateaued too early;
the show just didn't have that sense of lift-off or momentum common to the
best ones I've seen this leg. Outside of a "Tambourine Man" that lacked
even the loopy charm of the Bushkill version, there was nothing abysmal or
even badly-botched. It was just kind of ... well ... you know ... meh. I'd
expected more from the triumphant Hammerstein return, but that's a lesson
I should have learned many times over already. As much as he clearly loves
New York and was determined to pull off this final date, Dylan doesn't do
predictable, commemorative, group-huggy stuff very well, and you're just
as likely to hear a great show in Gilford, Syracuse or Niagra.
Best wishes for that, and for Europe too in the fall. It's been a tour of
fascinating contrasts, for sure, some of them possibly traceable to a
sense of artistic indirection, with Dylan unsure of how best to develop,
fill in, extend his current sound. Dylan being Dylan, of course, we know
such phases can be hell on his touring band. As I've said, I happen to
think Koella fits in well with the harder-edged sound he's been
cultivating since the spring, and this rotating-guitarist game off to the
side is all a bit fussy and obsessive for my tastes; nor have we had much
chance to plumb Koella's versatility (so few acoustic songs until now, and
what happened to the violin?). Campbell's exit from the band would be even
more deeply saddening, but at this point, who could blame him; he strikes
me as being as under-utilized now as at any point in the past.
File under idle speculation. My advice, of course, would be: yes, you've
proven that you can rock out over 60, just like at Hibbing High; we all
know you can, okay?--you don't have to prove it anymore. Keep the
keyboard, add an organ, switch to a more subtle drummer, and otherwise
"unplug" with a full range of acoustic or semi-acoustic instruments; and,
please, bring back the high-lonesome harmonies. But then, my consulting
services aren't in high demand. Still, even should no changes whatsoever
arise next tour -- which something tells me is unlikely -- you should know
that the current lineup, however inchoate or unfocused at times, is
nonetheless a rough beast capable of beating your resistant brain into
submission and wreaking great swathes of delirious havoc in your mind. And
Dylan's singing in these later shows, while also inconsistent, has been
possessed of a quickness and intensity far, far in excess of my
expectations for it going in. The medicine show's still rolling.
Review by Brian Hassett
somebody spoke and we went into a dream . . .
You're somewhere seeing Bob,
he's playing some tiny place, like a private party or something,
except it's in some old historic gilded theater, with royal boxes and
opera glass binoculars, under this domed Sistine Chapel ceiling with
fleshy naked figures and winged angels reaching out to touch us. And
you're out there on a wide-open dance floor like a seatless Fillmore, and
it's some big party and all your friends are there . . . all these people
from your past, and people you recognize, or maybe they're just composites
of friends eternal.
And Bob's up there -- right in front of you -- playing this dream show
you've had before, except this time it's really happening! (or is it?)
And he's testifying this possessed Bush's Farm, all dressed in red, like
some Vegas Elvis cowboy devil. And you can see every syllabic phrasing
muscle in his face like he's on the giant Masked & Anonymous screen. But
for some reason he's not playing guitar, he's on piano. It's sort of this
Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard rock n roll piano thing, except it's Bob!
But then he all of a sudden he breaks into Highway 61 and it turns into
The Rolling Stones somehow! This ultimate rock band that you know he
dreamed in his head when he first played electric but just quite wasn't,
but then Now! Now -- suddenly the dream road is Really fast and that
Highway is some Whole New Place, and you're kinda gaspin' for air with
your head out the window in a car on prairies.
And you get dizzy and lie down on the back seat and sorta black-out for a
while, and suddenly you're on a street in New York City but all the lights
are out and it's totally dark, and cars are backed up in some lawless rush
hour parking lot hell, and somewhere in the background Bob starts singing
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere.
Then the horn honking or something wakes you up and you're back in the
tiny theater again, only it's like rock concerts in the sixties before a
zillion people started showing up and there's all this Room and you can
stand around and dance. And Dylan's right there, ten feet in front of
you, and he's playing songs (Cold Irons) like you always dreamed they
could be. There's breaks, subtleties, jazz, rock, drums, dreams,
everything he plays is just energized, articulate, over the top. Even
some song that's kinda "oh yeah, the boring bob song" (Honest With Me)
builds into this frenzy Chuck Berry dancing anthem.
And then somehow, in the middle of this rock 'n' roll orgy he plays Mister
Tambourine Man, the song that first got you into Dylan, and you're
standing beside the person who taught it to you! And every song there's
some different special guest guitar player wailin these incendiary
live-album gotta-have-it solos, and as you watch their fingers and listen
it's Clapton or McGuinn or Knopfler, but then when you look at their faces
it's not really them somehow.
Then all of a sudden it's this insane skiffle band! Some sort of early
rock 'n' roll Dave Clark Five on speed closing the summer Alan Freed fair
and whipping us into a Summer Daze! It's like the Stones doing
Satisfaction, the Dead doing Lovelight, Chuck doin Bobby B. Goode - an
orgasmic climactic show-closing beat-crazy ever-ascending heart-thumping
And then everything Really starts to get jumbled and crazy and all of a
sudden it's the blackout again, and you're on Bleecker Street, the strip
of old folk clubs, people walking past in the dark carrying guitar cases,
club window's flickering with candlelight like Treasure Island taverns,
and you go in some sawdust-on-the-floor rebel café surrounded by a picket
fence in the middle of the city, and some young guitar player's up there,
candles reflecting off his acoustic, singing "How does it feel, to be on
your own, with no direction home?"
And you wish you were at Bob singing this and then all of sudden you Are!
You're back at the ornate ballroom, and it's really him singing! And
somewhere in your subconscious you're remembering the new Dead from last
week playing Watchtower in the sign-off show of their re-born tour, and so
signs a similarly triumphant Jack Fate.
You're swaying, like standing on a wobbling trampoline, in a surreal swirl
of friends dancing beneath the diamond sky, like a giant birthday party or
new year's eve, like confetti and balloons are falling at the closing of
Winterland, everyone hugging, smiles, faces, sweat, unblinking wide eyes,
shaking heads in disbelief, open space, beer cup dance floor, hoots across
the newly musicless air, excited plans for afterbars, song titles
repeated, then some voice says, "Oh sh*t he's coming back!" Spinaround.
No way! "This dream's never ending!" And suddenly you're in the
cleared-out Sunday-morning Woodstock crowd copping a buzz as the
last-standing possessed player sings so joyously, "Everybody must get
Or . . . maybe it really happened . . .
Review by Jeff Dellin
The blackout that hit the East coast last week caused the postponement of
the third Hammerstein gig by Bob Dylan and his band. While I truly feel
bad for those who came in from out of town and missed the show, it was
fortuitous for me because I wasn't able to attend last Thursday but I was
able to make it last night. As I sit here reflecting on the event, I can't
help but feel like I witnessed something truly special.
Having seen one show in the mezzanine and one show on the floor last week,
I opted for the first mezz again. If I was going to hang out for two
hours, I wanted to at least have a chair. Also, the sight lines are very
good in the mezzanine. Plus, once you "reserve" your chair, you can walk
around and relieve some of the boredom of waiting for the show to start.
One thing for sure, Bob Dylan must love having a guitar player behind his
left shoulder because he had a parade of them last night. Three different
players stepped in at various points in the evening. And while they
definitely added to the sound, the most memorable points for me were when
it was just the five of them on stage. I'm sure others can give details of
the three guitarists, but I cannot. All I know is that one of them was
Tommy Morrongiello, the man who has been sitting in with the band for most
of the summer. Larry is now so far away from Bob on stage and I can't help
but think there is something brewing with the band line-up. We'll see when
Bob hits Europe.
The show opened with Maggie's Farm, making it three different openers for
the New York run. I've had a lot of experience with Maggie's Farm so I
wasn't too excited to hear it, but it was clear after the first verse that
the band was on and that Bob was making an extra effort to make the lyrics
clear. This was a sign of great things to come.
Senor was next and it was one of the better versions I have heard. The
vocals were clear and again, the band was on. It was one of those nights
where it was easy to recognize the songs from the first notes. Senor came
in loud and clear. Nice job all around.
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum is this summer's constant in the three hole
which, when the band is not totally on, is often a bit if a snore. But
last night the song took on new meaning for me. Maybe it was where I was
sitting, but it just sounded excellent, there was clear separation of the
instruments. Even Bob's key board was clear in the mix. This was
definitely the best Tweedle Dee of the run if that means anything to
I'm not a huge fan of Watching The River Flow, but it was nice to hear
again. Here it seemed like the band got dangerously close to losing the
tightness and momentum they had gained but who should come in and save the
day?? Bob Dylan and his wicked harp which sounded so much better and
purposeful than it did at the other Hammerstein shows. The solo he took on
River Flow seemed to bring the band back and after that they were right on
Things have Changed and Highway 61 have been regulars in this spot and
last night they were way above average. Things Have Changed was especially
charged. Excellent vocals by Bob. Highway 61 returned the band to the five
piece and I have to say it sounded sweet. Bob didn't get into the vocals
as much as in recent shows but the playing was crisp.
This Wheel's On Fire has been played recently so it wasn't a huge surprise
but it was more than welcome. I've been fortune to see Bob perform this
gem on a few occasions and this one took the cake. It was instantly
recognizable because it was so well played. Great harp work on this one
too. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere was next. Two Basement Tapes songs in a row!!
Hurray! I have to say, this version was so much better than last
Wednesday's at the Hammerstein. Again just the five of them. The sound was
clean, the temp was constant, there was no clunker guitar solo by Freddy.
Just great. (I was ready to write Freddy off after last week's shows but
last night he sounded great. No clunker solos, good communication with the
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues was a welcome treat, not as poignant as the
2001 version at Madison Square Garden but still a great surprise,
especially when the band is on and Bob is into it. Well done.
Tough to say which was the highlight of the night as there were so many,
but Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll is definitely up there. Wasn't sure
how it would sound with Bob on the keys, but it sounded superb. Bob sang
with passion and took care to make the meaning of the song come through.
Oddly late in the set for the first acoustic number of the night, but I
think the song order works well now. At least it did last night. The other
highlight would have to be Mr. Tambourine Man, one of my personal
favorites and long overdue for me. Again, the song works with Bob on keys
although it is odd hearing the song and not seeing Bob with a guitar.
When the show ended there was a genuine and thunderous roar from the
crowd. I think it may have surprised Bob a bit. The other shows at The
Hammerstein ended with less than enthusiasm from the crowd, but last night
the audience was loud in appreciation. In fact, that might have been the
best crowd reaction I have seen at a Dylan concert ever. It was great and
Like A Rolling Stone was again performed with an awesome combination of
skill and passion. This was not a knock-off version. It was the real
thing, much like last Tuesday's. When they finished Watchtower, you just
knew the band was coming out again. The crowd was going crazy. So nice to
see a crowd truly enthusiastic for more. Bob obliged with Rainy Day Women,
predictable but fun. No George Harrison song last night but for me this
show was nearly as memorable as the two last year at The Garden.
One more thing...a huge shout out to Tony Garnier. Man he was spectacular
last night. When the sound is clear, you can really hear what an excellent
player he is. He doesn't get the credit he deserves so I'm giving him some
here. Way to go, Tony!!
Review by Robert Berretta
This show reminded me of the October 1990 stand at the
Beacon Theatre, when Bob was auditioning replacements
for GE Smith, had several guitarists each night and
also had members of Lenny Kravitz’s band sitting in.
Last night at the Hammerstein, the concert felt like a
freewheelin’ jam session, with tag-teams guitarists
plugging in for solos and then leaving mid-song. It
was sometimes a bit sloppy, but great fun. By
Watchtower there were 4 lead guitarists on stage
together – it looked like an Outlaws show from the
early 80s, but Bob was having a great time, and that’s
all that matters. I’m not crazy about Freddie’s
rather extroverted playing, and I really miss Charlie
Sexton and Larry Campbell singing harmony – they would
have been great on the one-two Basement Tapes punch of
This Wheel’s on Fire/You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere! But was
having the time of his life tonight – the words from
the very beginning of Maggie’s Farm were
crystal-clear, and he only faltered on Tambourine Man,
when he seemed to forget the order of lyrics and
skipped all over the place. His harp playing was the
best I’ve heard from him in years and years. On Senor
he played the wrong harp, but got a few good notes out
of it before shrugging his shoulders and getting the
right one. Then half-way through the song he switched
off harps again to get different notes! Great stuff.
One drawback on the acoustic numbers was that Tony
played electric bass, and between that and Bob’s
rather punchy piano Hattie Carroll was a little too
rocking for my taste, but the vocals were superb. In
spite of the amusing round-robin guitar soloists, the
band was at its best when it was the regular quintet.
Highway 61 was ferocious – it was good to hear it
mid-set instead of as a closing number. Bob danced,
grinned and clapped along with the songs (sometimes
OFF the beat) when he wasn’t playing, and frequently
wandered over to the drum kit mid-song. At the end,
someone through him a rose which he actually sniffed
and clutched to his chest for a second. Are all those
acting classes for Masked and Anonymous finally paying off?
Review by Tom Ostoyich
Quick thoughts: Well, the post-blackout show at last and Dylan continued
in the same sharp form he was in for the first 2 shows last week. If
anything, he was in finer voice, with a clear mid-range that held up for
almost the full duration--he seemed to punch the choruses especially, and
the band sounded, of course, sharp again. The sound for me was a bit
muddier, although Dylan's piano seemed up in the mix and I could hear it
far better than most nights--if often he's playing "rhythm keys" at times
his fills and filligrees sound neat and less haphazard than I'd originally
Still, for me, a weird show, if in part from the revolving door guest
slots on guitar--sometimes 2 additional ones (if you count
Tommy--apparently Dylan doesn't). I'm still not able to make much sense
of my scorecard--did Bernie Williams pinch hit for someone, because the
show did resemble a ball game with its substitutions? Unlike the addition
of Lofgren last week, I think the guest shots were a little spotty--hard
to hear either Loeb or York's guitar, but it looked like they were having
fun. But Dylan didn't seem to thrive off their energy the way he did with
Lofgren. If anything, Dylan, initially, seemed more subdued--perhaps
tired--he didn't seem as fidgety as he did last week. During "Cold Irons"
he stepped out from behind the keyboard and rubbed his eyes--is he wearing
out or was the dry ice machine just going overboard? The band didn't seem
as enthused either--I'm talking body language and communication, not
playing. I was in fine sight line all three nights--and last night, they
seemed a bit subdued. But Dylan got more animated as they went along,
even picking up a red flower someone tossed at the end of the night and
holding it to his chest. But these are quibbles. A solid & enjoyable
show that may not have reached the highs of the first 2 Hammerstein
nights, but that's not a knock.
Some highlights: "Maggie's Farm" was strong, "Senor" was a welcome
surprise--strong singing and strong harp (when he found the right one)
resembling the tone of "Oh Mercy"--Dylan playing like a bird gliding on
updrafts--see-sawing. His harp playing was good tonight. "Wheel's on
Fire" was superb, another fine "Nowhere" and a choppy take on "Tom Thumb".
"Hattie Carroll" was terrific, save for 2 yahoos talking away in front of
me, offering me chewing tabacco--a distraction. "Honest" was sung in a
weird fashion--with Dylan saving the second part of each vocal line until
he was singing over Larry's guitar riff. Maybe he's getting bored. All
the rockers worked--"River Flow" & "Highway 61" & "Cold Irons Bound". And
"Rolling Stone" seems faster and more self-assured.
"Mr. Tambourine Man", for me, was only OK and the guitar soloing at the
end didn't fit--maybe in a more Byrds-like arrangement.
Dylan again wore the candy-apple red outfit he had on the first
Hammerstein night--he looked like a wax-effigy of himself that's been in
the humidity too long. With his shuffling and sliding, he seems a bit
like Mr. Burns. It's hilarious to see him move. Dylan always seems to
enjoy playing NYC and he even came out for the rare second encore, which
was greatly appreciated by the fans, who all thought that last Thurs.
blackout might cancel that final show. Instead, Dylan came back and
Glad he did,
page by Bill Pagel
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