Reviews

Albany, New York

Palace Theatre

November 17, 2017


[Gary Jacobson], [Larry K.], [Terry O'Brien], [Steve and Leslie Goldberg], [Mo]

Review by Gary Jacobson



Mavis dished out a whole lotta ďsecular gospel" that was the antidote to
the news on TV. Her optimistic performance was delightful and powerful,
yet I wished for something that referred more to fire and brimstone.

Bob and his band were challenging and powerful.  I wonít do a song by
song thing, but will try to get across what I was left with. Iíve been
to countless shows through many years, the last one being in summer 2017.
Last nightís show wasnít easy listening but the crooning was
predictable and grounding. 

While the song selection was familiar to regulars and the initiated, their
arrangements had references all over the place with only some of it
comforting. Some of it had me thinking of an inscrutable Thanksgiving meal
of blended turkey and a raw potato with sprouting eyes. Tangled up in Blue
couldnít have been performed in a less familiar way and seemed to be
purposefully something else. The distorted timing and phrasing had me
experiencing discordance similar to the twisted version of an imperfect
but once reasonably functional democracy we have here in the USA. You know
itís in there somewhere but itís confusing and upsetting.  Ballad of a
Thin Man was distinguished as perhaps the clearest familiar rendition of
the night.  Highway 61 was a bit contained and never risked leaving the
rails. It too was a familiar rendition. Desolation Row nicely devolved.

Bob and his band often sounded like an orchestra playing a single
instrument, and in that vein the first songs were tied together like
movements in a symphony. Musical and crafty, these folks arenít sleeping
up there on stage. Theyíre all working hard. I heard minimalist
classical, much jazz, the expected hair blowing electric rock assault, and
other sounds that we have associated through the years with Bob and the
music he loves. 

I hope you catch a slice in time and transformation when you can and while
it lasts.  It canít go on forever. Iíd love to catch a show at the
Beacon, but itís not in the cards. Whatís next besides something else?
 
Gary Jacobson
Rosendale, NY

[TOP]

Review by Larry K.



After seeing Bob at the ironworks in Kingston this summer and seeing a set
list that varied little from that show, I was surprised to experience a
totally reworked performance in Albany.† Bob was in good voice, and the
band is terrific.† The show is† presented as an orchestral or symphonic
flow, no pause between songs, sonic filler creating a transition.†† Many
high points, a few misses...the first 4 verses of Desolation Row were
magic;† the drum solo in Thunder on the Mountain was fantastic; Love Sick
was perfect.† Summer Days was remade successfully into a bluegrassy
romp...It Ain't Me Babe rocked.† A slowed-down and stretched out Tangled
didn't work for me.Likewise,† Pay in Blood seemed to lose its acrid
thrust in this incarnation...Thin Man was majestic...the crooned ballads
were handled much better here, as Bob continues to work on his
jazz-influenced technique.† It struck me that he has chosen these ballads
to fit his unique current life status...like a well-trained classical
ensemble, Bob and his band use the repeating set list to hone their
performances, trying to hit each note with energy and attitude while
keeping it fresh somehow.† You're not likely to see anything stronger
around now.† 

Larry K.

[TOP]

Review by Terry O'Brien



The show last night was a testament to Bob's conviction and dedication to
his art.  Make no mistake, he is an artist, an artist at the top of his game. I
attended with some trepidation, having sworn off any more shows after 2006. 
Something told me this time would be different. It was.  Great care has been 
taken in the preparation, presentation and performance. The stage set-up was
unique yet workman-like. A day at the office with no unnecessary frills, allowing 
Bob to move from piano to what is, now, not quite center stage but rather in 
his apparent comfort zone between Tony & Charlie toward the back - where 
he crooned and showed off his moves on 4 timeless standards. This is the best 
and classiest light show in the business, elegant and tasteful, never drawing
your attention away from the music. 

The set list was also constructed with great care and the pacing was the
key. No surprise substitutions and it's easy to see why - it works. My only
thought was Lovesick should have been placed elsewhere with something 
more rousing to close the night, perhaps Highway 61.

I think Bob has found a formula. A smoking band with world class players
who can turn on a dime,  a piano technique that both embellishes and 
conducts, who knew?), a back line that operates with military precision and 
an audience that was there for the right reasons. Not once did I see a cell 
phone light up. If you're near NYC check out the Beacon shows, you'll be 
glad you did. I was. 

Terry O'Brien

[TOP]

Review by Steve and Leslie Goldberg



Always wanted to see a concert at the Palace Theater, a restored Art Deco
masterpiece from the 1930s. Itís truly magnificent and well suited for
Dylan and the boys. Mavis was fantastic as always. This is the fourth show
for us this year and Scarlet Town was a nice surprise. Four Sinatra songs
is better than five. As try as I might I canít say Iím warming to the
new arrangements of Trying To Get To Heaven, Tangled and Honest With Me.
The crowd seemed to really enjoy the Sinatra stuff and was on its feet for
the entire encore. Now as heretical as it may sound, I am yearning for a
new sound, a new band. One more show for us at the Beacon. 

Steve and Leslie Goldberg

[TOP]

Review by Mo



Friday November 17th- Road trip NYS Thruway East.
Destination:  The Palace Theater, Albany- Bob Dylan Concert.
On the road to pass the time a sing along:

    ďDid you write the book of love, and do you have faith in God above
    if the Bible tells you so?  Do you believe in rock and roll? Can music
    save your mortal soul?  And can you teach me to dance real slow?...Ē
    
It seems like it was just last week it was June and I was thanking my
lucky stars for the summer breeze blowiní and to be sitting in an
amphitheater by a lake listening and swaying to Bob Dylanís groove. 
But, time flies like a jet plane and now I find myself sitting in another
sold-out joint wondering what show of soul are we gonna get from Bob Dylan
tonight? This evenings show opened with an American treasure:  Mavis
Staples who gave a performance that was enthusiastic, funny, and
rollicking soulful. After a brief intermission the house lights dimmed and
the Cowboy band decked-out in black jackets with collars and lapels that
sparkled and shined followed by the maestro Bob Dylan sporting a gray
jacket with the same sparkle and shine on his collar and lapel minus a hat
entered the scene.  The band in new positions:  stage right George Receli
on drums, in his usual space stage right in front of the drums, Stu
Kimball on guitar, tucked-in the back and center stage, Tony Garnier on
bass as well as, Charlie Sexton on guitar, followed by Bob Dylan on piano
facing the drums and over his shoulder Donnie Herron on fiddle and pedal
steel. Tonightís show made-up of a static set list provided a sampling
of atypical musical compositions from Bobís original songbook which
consisted of : five songs from the 1960ís, eight songs from the 21st
century, two songs from the 1990ís, one song from the 1970ís, and FOUR
 American Standards, an impressive display of musical craftsmanship.
Imagine, if you will, Picasso, Monet, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt,
Chagall, de Chirico, any of the great masters painting over, tweaking,
shredding, one of their treasured masterpieces.  This evenings rendition
of a treasured Dylan masterpiece:  Tangled Up In Blue was reworked,
shredded, beyond recognition from its original design.  This rendition of
TUIB had me recalling an article I once read but cannot remember the
source.  The topic I believe was artist wisdom and provided a supposed
quote (advice) from Bob Dylan:  

  ďWhen youíre painting a picture, donít adjust it to much  or at
  all.  Just make the thing and leave it alone.  If you mess with it too
  much itíll suck the life out of it.Ē
  
This evenings audience was appreciative and engaged, grateful to be
witnessing an American treasure, a master craftsman, regardless of the so
often unchanged setlist and always reworked, tweaked, adjusted music and
lyrics. Standing-out tonight, (at least for me):  Highway 61, Melancholy
Mood, Scarlet Town, Desolation Row, and Honest With Me. Tonightís
performance at the Palace Theater with its unfamiliar, musical
compositions from Bobís original song book and the American Standards
displayed the beauty of Bob Dylan the artist.  His art appears not to be
dependent on what other peopleís ideas, needs, wants or expectations may
be.  Sometimes unusual, always creative, novel, fresh, imaginative
renditions of his art is why Bob Dylan is an American Treasure. Donít
you dare miss it! Thank you for the show and happy trails, 

Mo 

[TOP]

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