November 21, 2021
Review by Peter Smith
Thanks to Bill Pagel for allowing me the time for a personal reflection on
Dylan at the Beacon Sunday, November 21, the third night of his longest
run on this leg of the tour and a venue and locale that may be among the
most comfortable to Dylan. It was a long time since I last saw Dylan at
the Beacon in late November, 2019. With the pandemic I wondered if that
last time was the final time, but happily the NET continues. The show
started promptly at 8pm and ran for a tight 98 minutes. The sound was
extraordinarily clear; Dylan’s vocals were up front and distinct from
the band. His voice was expressive and energetic, albeit within his
limited range. I can’t help but think what a great release this would
be:Dylan at the Beacon 2021 -- Bootleg Series XXX “Autumn in NYC.” It
would be a nice counterpart to Springtime in New York.
Dylan moved from center stage upright piano to stand up mic with the
sprightly hop he had in 2019. There were touches of Dylan humor added
since the tour in 2019 -- he engaged a shout out from the audience for
Pretty Boy Floyd. He said you’re in the wrong place - this isn’t
Springsteen on Broadway. The stage was a vision of darkness and light -
the band in all black was set up on large illuminated panels of white-- an
intimate interpretation of the bright stage platform used by “those
British bad boys” on their recent tour, closer to Stanley Kubrick’s
2001 A Space Odyssey. In his homage to NY he mentioned it as the
birthplace of Herman Melville and the home of “Jackie O.” Although
not played, I couldn’t help but think of Murder Most Foul from RARW as
it was the day before the anniversary of JFK’s assasination.
The lights remained out for longer period after Every Grain of Sand as
though he just might come out for another, but it was not to be.
Review by David Namerow
Ah the Beacon. Legendary ornate , Neo-grecian brainchild of Roxy
Rothafel as the smaller sister venue of the famous Roxy (cue Guys and
Dolls: “What’s playing at the Roxy?”) downtown. Rothafel also
opened Radio City Music Hall which originally had dancing girls called
ROXYETTES, who were later simplified as ROCKETTES. Later known as a
movie theater, the Beacon has now become one of the premier music venues
in New York. Home to hundreds of Allman shows, recent Seinfeld
residences, the Bard of Hibbing has played there many times. In fact, in
recent history, it didn’t seem like Thanksgiving without that parade and
Mr. Dylan spending a few nights just before Turkey Day, giving the metro
Bobcats what they want and need.
And so, after a year and a half of Covid related dormancy, the Never
Ending Tour is back on track with the Rough and Rowdy Ways World Wide
Tour, which began Nov 2 and will continue through 2024, when Bob will turn
83! For me, it all began with Bob at Carnegie in 1963, when I got lots
of tickets for my Bronx House Emanuel camp buddies —— still waiting
for getting paid back, by the way. Over the years, I have seen Bob about
35 times, from as far away as the Field house at Indiana University for
the famous tour with the Band in 1974, Rolling Thunder in Boston, of
course Tanglewood and Saratoga, to local gigs like the Woody Guthrie
Memorial at Carnegie, the small college tours, the baseball park tours and
even the Chance up in Poughkeepsie.
And so it with that background, that my buddy Steve and I dined at
Red Farm a few blocks from the Beacon, surrounded by many Bobcats before
the show. Next, lines of masked fans —— knowing that Bob likes masks
(see Rolling Thunder) — getting out vax data, Ids and tickets, mostly on
phones. Steve is disappointed as real tickets have all but gone the way
of Chock Full o’ nuts cream cheese on date-nut bread, thereby making it
more difficult to add to his collection on the wall in Copake Falls. We
snake past the bar/merchandise area where they are doing a Brink business
selling t-shirts, posters and other tchotkes. Gazing up at murals of
caravans of wild animals (“Lions and Tigers and Bear, OH MY”!), we
settle into our left side orchestra seats. At precisely 8 p.m. lights dim
and we are ready. The stage? Spare, lit curtain behind the band. No
more replica grecian statues, even the fabled Academy award statue (homage
to “Things have Changed”) is gone. Also gone is either the Copland
Americana music, or the Stravinsky Rite of Spring from the past. The band
launches into “Watching the River Flow”, with Bob’s voice
unfortunately drowned out by crowds cheering, standing and the band a bit
too loud. After a nice rendition of “Most Likely You go Your way..”,
the sound is balanced and Bob steps forward— almost on bended knee —
for “I Contain Multitudes”. As previously noted, this tour features 8
songs from Rough and Rowdy, highlighting both Dylan’s voice and the
avalanche of lyrics that make this one of his strongest albums in recent
False Prophet was on fire, with Bob’s voice carrying the band along
with him. Masterpiece was a bit muted, with the lyrics “Everything is
gonna be beautiful” for poignancy. While “Black Rider was wonderful
—- and ominous, “My own version of You” was simply amazing, with Bob
clear voiced, nuanced and enunciating every syllable carefully (“not
gonna get involved in any insignificant details.”). I wasn’t thrilled
by “I’ll be Your Baby tonight”, or the new “Early Roman Kings”,
or even the reworked “To Be Alone with You”. “Key West” was
another highlight, Bob saver-ing every line with a slightly different
arrangement than the album.. “Serve Somebody” got every body up and
dancing, but I really could’t make out most of the lyrics (“You might
be in the White House……”). “Melancholy Mood” was a nod to the
Sinatra albums, which I think has contributed to his improved voice,
phrasing and caring about the lyrics. “I’ve Made up My mind..” was
also excellent — heartfelt, almost an ode to the Never ending Tour, and
his literally, giving himself to us, which clearly keeps him keeping
on.”Jimmy Reed” again got everyone up. I will say, however, while the
band was great, this was all about the new songs, the lyrics, his voice.
Even on the upbeat songs, there was a control, never letting the band
loose for that long. About his piano playing, I think Bob knows he is no
And, by the way, Bob actually spoke. First, when some fan yelled for
“Born in the USA”, Bob quipped “you’re in the wrong theatre,
that’s Springsteen on Broadway.” And when intro-ing the band (which
he had not done for the last few tours), he said something about New York
, and Jackie O, and then a vignette abut Sylvester Stallone being from NY,
and that we should all see his latest picture, and that it should have won
an academy award. But then, he couldn’t remember the name of the
movie!! In all, 90 minutes of wonderful, thought-provoking songs and a
man who, at 80, is not just phoning it in. He is carefully continuing to
create, both musical and lyrically, as he adds to his legacy. For Steve
and I, it’s on to Port Chester in a few days. Like Bob said years ago,
“From the Grand Coulee Dam to the CAPITOL!!” The Never Ending Tour
Review by Jeff Dellin
Settled in for the Sunday show, the third night of the Beacon Theatre run.
As Bob has settled into a regular setlist, I resist the urge to go to more
shows. It's not the 90s anymore. No Basement Tapes bust outs. No hope for
any variation - so be it. We took 2020 off but Thanksgiving in New York
means Bob Dylan and that's okay with me.
One thing that struck me was how stark the whole stage was. No more shadow
lighting or spotlights or starry backgrounds - just pale curtains and
minimal stage lighting. Everyone dressed in black. Bob's piano with
exposed wood facing forward. Minimal. Not that his staging has ever been
elaborate but this was basic and did not change all night.
I would advise any fan to see this tour if possible. The Rough & Rowdy
Ways songs were given the full treatment by Bob. You knew he was loving
playing these songs when he would bend down low behind the piano at the
end of songs to play a little solo obscured from view, just the top of his
head in sight. For me Black Rider and Mother Of Muses stood out as major
highlights, very much in the moment performances. I could make out almost
every word of the new songs. The older material was given a bit of a short
shift this time around. To Be Alone With you felt fresh and Every Grain Of
Sand was outstanding. The others were fine but not the reason to see this
tour. I mean, it was fun to see When I Paint My Masterpiece and the others
but it felt like he was just rushing through them to get to the new
material. It worked for me and seemed to please most of the crowd.
After dozens of shows over 35 years., I saw a first at this show. Bob
seemed to acknowledge somebody who yelled out a request from the audience.
I did not catch the whole thing but Bob seemed to say something like: "If
you want that you'll have to see Springsteen on Broadway. You're at the
wrong show". And he chuckled. It was real and funny. He didn't seem
annoyed, he just went with it. At the end he spoke of people from New York
(I didn't catch most of it) and introduced the band. He made a special nod
to Tony Garnier, his long-time bass player.
Started right on time and was over in a tidy hour and 40 minutes. All in
all, it was a show with no big surprises but plenty of small surprises to
make it a meaningful night with Bob Dylan in New York.
Review by Barry Gloffke
Our hero’s third, and last, night at the Beacon Theatre for 2021 was, in
my estimation, the best of the lot. Each Dylan show lives and breathes on
its’ own… slight cadence changes, lyrical nuances and unexpected
occurrences imbue each concert with a unique character… it’s like
watching the sky on a cloudy day… you will never see the same cloud
formation twice, ever… and you’ll never hear the same Dylan concert
From WATCHING THE RIVER FLOW to EVERY GRAIN OF SAND the maestro was on top
of his game. He was relaxed, laughing, grinning, adlibbing and very
animated. He spoke more than he has in a dozen shows from previous tours.
My girlfriend and I had spectacular seats, 2nd row, with a perfect line of
sight to see Bob behind the piano. He could not have been more than 40’
from us. Watching him was fascinating. He commanded the proceedings from
the sanctuary of the piano and he banged those ivories as if he was a
young boy in Hibbing (especially enjoyable on TO BE ALONE WITH YOU). His
voice was once again powerful and clear… only a few miscues… nothing
to really note. A really great show from start to finish. From my vantage
point I finally got to see Charley Drayton and Tony Garnier… although I
still barely glimpsed Doug Lancio. The Band was solid. Tony was watching
Bob on some songs like a hawk eyeing its prey.
Viewing a Dylan concert up close is a magic treat… especially now, as it
starts to get dark. Bob is like a fine wine… ageing with grace and
style. The king of them all. Truly the greatest artist America has ever
had the pleasure of praising as their own. And the old statesman still has
his wits and can think on his feet. More on that in a minute. The thing
that really gives me pleasure is when he changes a songs’ lyrics,
twisting the song in a new direction… case in point is the ever evolving
GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY… he changed the lyrics several tours ago… and
changed some of them again the last two nights… now in the second stanza
he mentions something about being ‘in the White House’… giving
‘Handouts’… and ‘Easy Street’. I’m still trying to put this
new puzzle together… I hope to understand all of those lyrics before the
tour is over.
The real highlight of these shows for me, other than the fact that we
still get to see Bob Dylan again, slinging arrows and taking no
prisoners… is that we get to hear his latest monumental work live. Newly
created each night. ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS is arguably one of his
masterpieces. It stands proudly alongside other giants in his canon such
as; HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, TIME OUT OF MIND and
others. But we’ve had those albums for all these years, whereas we were
given an expected gift with his latest album. I dig that he is playing
most of the album at these concerts… as a matter of fact, I would love
to hear CROSSING THE RUBICON as well (it should replace the gorgeous but
unnecessary MELANCHOLY MOOD). Bob is completely invested in the new songs.
Treats them with respect. Gives them the tenderness and/or the tough love
that each one requires. Each one is a jewel… if I had to pick my
favorite pieces tonight it would be these two:
FALSE PROPHET — Bob took center stage and crouched into a superhero
surfing pose. His baritone delivery was pure menace and bile. KEY WESY
(PHILOSOPHER PIRATE) — The antithesis to FALSE PROPHET, Bob gave this
song tender loving care. Absolutely stunning. Once again the audience was
reverent. I stood rock solid, eyes closed, letting the song wash over and
through me. G*d, this is one of the things I live for… Bob Dylan
delivering a picture perfect pitch, using all the tools of the most unique
and versatile voice of our lifetimes. Breathtaking.
In reality each song was superior tonight. I could nitpick, but there’s
no reason to ruin the great trying to achieve the perfect.
As I stated earlier, this last Beacon show found Bob in good spirits and
in a chatty mood. At one point he acted like the boss — over an open mic
you could hear him say ‘SHADDUP’! to someone (it may have been Bob
Britt he was talking to). It was a night to control the Band and the
crowd, too. You had to be sharp. Which gets me back to something I was
referring to about Bob thinking on his feet. At the conclusion of GOTTA
SERVE SOMEBODY (which by the way, rocked again!), a fan yelled a request
for ‘PRETTY BOY FLOYD’. To which Bob said something along the lines
of, ‘Not tonight, you came to the wrong place… you may want to go down
Broadway, see Springsteen, but not here, not tonight’. That got a good
laugh from all of us. I put in my two cents at the conclusion of I’VE
MADE UP MY MIND TO GIVE MYSELF TO YOU… I screamed out a request for
CROSSING THE RUBICON. The fans around me agreed that they want to hear
that. I will keep up my lobbying effort and hopefully we get to hear that
song before the tour ends.
Back to chatty Bob… during band intros he once more stated that he was
happy to be in NYC, mentioned some famous people who once lived here,
mentioned Sylvester Stallone and something about his new movie… ‘It
should win an oscar’… he jokingly asked Doug Lancio (I believe it was
Doug that he asked) to pick up his guitar and act as if were playing it
behind his head. It was more conversation tonight than most Dylan fans
have ever heard. So cool!
All around great show! Especially nice to be on the rail for the last two
songs. The last song was an exquisite rendition of EVERY GRAIN OF SAND.
Speechless. Happy Bobcats as far as the eye could see! Thanks Bob. See you
in Port Chester NY, Tuesday.
Review by Roland Pabst
Do you remember the scene in the movie “Rolling Thunder Revue” when a
young woman at the end of a concert couldn’t hold back her tears
anymore, and she started to cry and cry? Today I was sitting between a
heavy man on my left and a young girl on my right. I really didn’t
notice them. I was concentrating on the songs, the band and Dylan until
Dylan performed Key West. The girl started to shake and cried and put her
head on my shoulder and cried and cried. My sweater was wet from her
tears. She apologized with her teary eyes and whispered that Dylan was
such a big part in her life the last 1 ½ years. She said: “whatever
mood I was in, I found a song which helped me. My mother bought me this
ticket. She is waiting for me outside. It is my 1st Dylan concert.” What
a great, sweet and touching story.
For me it was my 55th concert. Therefore I can say this is probably
Dylan’s strongest year in decades. Today he is a Story-Teller. He
performs his own songs with such an intensity and power and nuance. Today
people are respectfully quiet during the songs and burst into a
spontaneous applause after certain words or phrases. His band was great
since years. This band is top notch.
We all know Dylan from Theme Time Radio show and were surprised how funny
he can be and talkative. Tonight somebody must have shouted something.
Dylan laughed and mentioned Bruce Springsteen on Broadway show. You are
atthe wrong place. The band introduction was the longest I ever witnessed.
It was very refreshing. One song comes after another and today there was
no intermission. One of the many highlights for me was Key West. Painting
my masterpiece was another surprise. It had a completely different feeling
than what I heard in December 2019 here at the Beacon.
In the meantime everybody knows that the stage is poorly lit and nothing
decorative at all. This gives you the chance to fully listen and focus on
the performance. His voice is the best I heard in decades. When he stands
behind his piano you would never guess that a 80+ man is performing.
However when he moves around the dark stage you can see an older man. What
a pleasure to see Dylan.
I lived in New York for almost 20 years and Thanksgiving seems to be a
given time for Dylan to play in New York for days. He must be happy
celebrating Thanksgiving somewhere around New York City. Isn’t it nice
that we know so little about his private life? I love it.
Hopefully he will visit us in Santa Fe, New Mexico my new home town soon.
Review by Scott Kareff
It was a treat to renew acquaintances with Bob Dylan for the final Beacon
show of this 2021 run. The set list for the 3 shows was identical but that
was perhaps the only disappointment of the night. Bob was in fine form and
the new lineup was sharp. My miracle ticket landed in my lap amidst a
stubbornly strong seller’s market, as Bob has been getting rave reviews
for the current iteration of the Never Ending Tour, a shooting star of a
reasonably priced ticket in the upper balcony, snagged before it
disappeared into the ether.
The design on the $10 bootleg t-shirts out front was the same as the last
time the NET rolled through in 2019, so it was a major surprise to see
that Bob had finally updated the design of the concert poster inside. Gone
was the ‘80’s era publicity shot that he had repurposed for so many
prior tours, replaced like so many band members for the latest version of
the Rough and Rowdy Ways Tour.
I was partial to the new versions of the classic songs, listening for the
new and reworked lyrics. The new arrangements were all revelations. Each
one worth the price of admission.
I can’t prove it but I take “I’ve made up my mind to give myself to
you” as a message from Bob to his audience and we are all thankful he
decided to live his life this way. Bob was engaged and even said something
to an audience member about being at the wrong show, the person should
have been at the Springsteen show on Broadway and then something about
Sylvester Stallone being from NY.
Not sure how so many bootleg videos of the early tour shows have been
getting posted but it looks like the tour has taken notice: the gentleman
from Sweden sitting next to me was given one warning and then kicked out
for recording the show.
The show started promptly at 8 and by 10:14 I was on the train at Penn and
on my way back to LI again. Reinvigorated and reenergized from my latest
Thank you Bob! See you next time.
Review by Michael Paul Thomas
During the phone booth scene in Don't Look Back, the reporter holding his
cigarette and the phone in one hand and a pen and notebook in the other,
says to his editor "'The times are a-changing' Dylan sings. They sure are,
especially when a poet, not a pop singer fills a concert hall." If I
think about many of those songs in the first England tour, the long verses
of songs like "Gates of Eden" I can hear those essences in last night’s
show: the rapt audiences with extended commentary and narratives ("Key
West" among my favorites). Then mix that with the '66 tour electric sets,
blues-driven, and we have the best elements of these recent, amazing
nights. I am endlessly surprised by and in love with the energy of "Early
Roman Kings." This was Bob Dylan night number 35 for me (which pales in
comparison to others I know), since 1995, and I heard a passionate
performance by the poet at 80. Bitterness and melancholy seemed to be most
apparent, as well as sweet declarations of love (“I’ve made up my mind to
give myself to you” and “I’m so deep in love I can hardly see”) along with
acceptance of the next, uncertain worlds approaching. Great to see and
hear Charley Drayton on drums, with their exuberant hue covering a
beautiful swath on the stage’s low lit canvas. Donnie Herron devoured us
again with brilliance on accordion, violin, and all. The answer may not
be blowing in the wind, but Bobby might be suggesting that listening to
music, from Mozart and Bud Powell to B.B. King and Frank Sinatra, is part
of the solution. What a night.
Michael Paul Thomas
Review by Laurette Maillet
Good morning the Big Apple.
I take a nice breakfast before heading to Manhattan. I walk downtown on 5th
Avenue, packed with pedestrians. Pass by the Trump Tower where Bob Dylan
is supposed to own an apartment. Who knows?
I reach 33 street and decide to try Panedera restaurant. Bad mistake ?? It
takes forever to get my 10$ pizza. Next is a Staples store. I print some of my
paintings for selling or to give to my Good Samaritans.
I walk back to upper west side to reach the Beacon.
I am supposed to meet Jaime, a fan from Colombia, and we are supposed to
both look for a ticket??
The BD bus is already parked at 4.48pm but no black car. Bob went shopping?
He will walk by Broadway street? Nope. By 5.30 pm Suzie Pullen walks the
street , followed by the black car. Bob, dressed with the silver jacket from
two years ago, steps discreetly inside the bus.
Good siesta my Dear!
I take a seat, outside the cafe, by the corner of Amsterdam street. I wait for
Jaime and do some business on my phone , drinking a coffee, happy to be close
to Bob Dylan. I can't believe he will be alone in that dark bus for 2 hours and a
half. Watching Netflix ?????
After half hour I look up from my phone to find Suzie Pullen next to me, looking
down at me. I don't say a word and keep on texting. I feel a presence behind
my back so I turn around. She is right behind my left shoulder and read my text
??then approach a small flash light to my phone screen.?? A camera?
I say :"are you spying on me?"
She says : " where are you from?"
I say : " From France"
I turn around, she disappeared ??
Suzie Pullen is from Australia, had been Bob Dylan dresser and assistant for 30
years. I had been traveling the world for Bob Dylan since 2011 (and before).
We had bumped into each other many times. But never she had talked to me.
You know ... " What's your name?" " How are you?" " Do you enjoy the shows?".
Nope. That would have been too much HUMAN??
She keeps the Fans away, brutal and mean, as I heard!
In all those years I never took any photos, least a video but...
My heart was broken two years ago at the Beacon. A young Fan, Sean, had
been waiting two days in a row, in the afternoon, in the cold and snow, by the
backstage door, to get an autograph for his sick father. He never got it though
the entourage knew he was there.
So ,this year, Friday 19. I didn't get a ticket for the show.
I wait at the backstage door with a bunch of Fans. As it appears Bob won't get
out of his bus before 8pm.
By 8pm. We are only 10 fans left. 5 on each side of the doors, reclused behind rails.
6 security guards from the Beacon step out. Plus Bob's new Bodyguard
(Barron's gone??). Bob steps out the bus, protected by Suzie (does she practice
any KenJutZu?). Cameras are running. Mine too. Suzie and bodyguard are flashing
the faces of the Fans with flashlights to disturb the photos and videos. ??
My question is: why so many guards? The fans were not dangerous. We had been
chatting with the guards all afternoon. And suddenly it's a big circus!
So Dear Suzie Pullen. Yes I am French and yes I am a Bob Dylan Fan . Had been
for 50 years, have seen about 450 shows, troubling nobody.
Extremely surprised you don't even know my name!??
Thanks for taking care of Bob Dylan business. And no, the Fans are not his enemies.
So back to the reason I am here tonight.
A BOB DYLAN SHOW!
Two good Samaritans helped me tonight. I don't see Jaime no where so I sell the
ticket I had bought for him. Another Good Samaritan invites me to the show with
him. Thank you all the good Fans who know me through my writings. Good people
from above. The lyrics sheets are displayed on the piano. Bob will flip them over
and over again. I'm amused he can read without glasses?? eyes operation can do
Bob is dressed all in black. He looks fine and rested after his Netflix or nap on the
"Watching the river flow" sounds wick from the balcony. The sound will improved
but nothing like last night on the floor.
"False prophet" is again exceptionnel. My favorite tonight will be " To be alone
with you" a beautiful ragtime tune with Donnie on violin. The show is similar to last
night. No mistake on " Key west".??
I look at the guitar players. Bob Britt is doing solos as Doug Lancio is more on the
rhythm. Though I might be wrong??
Charley's doing good. A little more power on ERK would be appreciated ??.
Where is George???
A Fan shouts " Pretty Boy Floyd!"???. Bob amused answers : " you're at the
wrong place, should be at Springsteen's on Broadway, you're at the wrong
show". LOL from the audience.
Bob moves a lot. He walks kind of... Bobby's walk??.
He enjoys himself. So do I.
After "Goodbye Jimmy Reed" he will say few words about people being from
New York. Did I hear the name of George Receli?
Introduces the Band with a little word for Tony Garnier.
And do his final pose. I take photos ??
The show was good but nothing like yesterday!
I'm hoping for a change in Port Chester. GA should be more Rock and Roll.
Or else we will valse on " Keywest " and pray on
" Mother of muses ".
See you there all the Good People.
To Suzie Pullen with LOVE ????
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