November 24, 2019
Review by Laurette Maillet
My day starts in the rain. The streets of Williamsburg are flooded.
I walk one hour through the Hassidic area of Brooklyn looking for
the Art supplies store. Even the Lubavich are covering their hats with
plastic. I buy some canvases and paints to do more Bob Dylan portraits. It
is now my way to get tickets. After a moment of rest I decide to go to
Manhattan, where the fun is. By 4p.m. Bobby walks in for the soundcheck.
And I take a walk to ... Times Square. Too much rainy and cold for the
Park. Now it is 6.30p.m.. The crowd slowly comes for the show. As
yesterday I have in my hands some paintings, hoping to attract the
attention, when my two good friends from Australia say they have a ticket
for me. Woah! No struggle today! So we walk inside to admire the
decoration of the Beacon Theater. We chat with two other Bobcats (friends
of mine) and I move front right of the stage to check some empty seats
availability. By some kind of second miracle four seats are empty and will
be until the end. I am 4th row extreme right. This is a terrible seat for
the one show Fan. Impossible to see Bob when seated at the piano or even
center stage. I would never pay 400$ or more for those. But for
me....it's alright. I can see Bobby's face clearly when he stands at the
piano and when he moves front stage. I am in a good mood as I managed to
say hello to Barron in the afternoon and he answered me with a sweet
smile. Cool Barron! Ben (my good friend from France) wants to stand on the
side and dance but the security man will only allow him to do it on
"Highway 61". The Beacon security is cool but still vigilant. A girl, in
front, dancing on " Thunder" will be asked to sit down. Of course NO
photos. A couple of patrons are getting a warning but no one is thrown
out. They start a little late. An habit by now? Bobby's wearing a nice
white shirt and a medallion (Native American style) his "eternal white
stripes black pants" (should try something else?!) and white flat boots.
Those pants will be stuck in those boots for the entire show! Who cares?
"THC" has a muffled sound but "IAMB" is great. I see only Bobby's top
hair and I sing along. Ben is next to me for "H61". Powerful with a wild
reaction from the public. Bobby drinks a lot between the songs and has a
laugh with Donnie every time he is picking up his cup of...tea?! Maybe he
has a cold but his voice is clear. 'PIB" is loud and clear. My favorite
for this night. Charlie's guitar and Britt's guitar are in harmony and get
applause from the public. I get wild, stand up and dance on "T" . the
security man let me do it. Cool! Some more Fans on the left side are
dancing in the aisle. Bobby presents his musicians, with some jokes I
don't quite catch; Mentioning the bow from Charlie and the hat in the air
for Britt! Calming down on "SAM". Getting wild again on "GSS". It takes a
while before Bob and his Band appears again for the encore. An habit by
now as well. All standing in front for "Ballad". I focus on Bobby's
hands on his stratocaster. He is doing well. Maybe missing a cord, here
and there!? But certainly he is making mistakes on the lyrics. The last
verse is confused. The " train" is loud and the show is over. Weird
position but great for me. It might be the only time I'm able to see Bob
so close. I have the feeling I could come every night forever for that
show. But....tomorrow is off. Thanx to all the good people: from
Australia, France, Italy, Japan.... What Bob and the Band will do on their
free day? Me I know. Paint...my Masterpiece!
Review by Barry Gloffke
The second night of ten for Bob and the Boys at the Beacon Theatre
was much improved from the first night. A more upbeat crowd
(though, as usual, almost nobody dancing) and a better delivery from
Bob makes for a better show. The first half of the show was not as strong
as the second half, but only by degrees.
The tone was set immediately by Tony and Matt propelling THINGS HAVE
CHANGED with driving drum and bass lines. Nice piano for IT AIN'T ME, BABE
and hard rock for HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED (Bob sang all the lyrics this
time). Still trying to get the new/newer lyrics for SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE,
but this was the best version of the three I saw so far on this tour.
CAN'T WAIT was phenomenal. Great re-interpretation. WHEN I PAINT MY
MASTERPIECE was fantastic. Wonderful vocal inflections. Soft, quiet, with
the band kicking in late. HONEST WITH ME is driving honky tonk. TRYIN' TO
GET TO HEAVEN is sung with passion and becomes a crescendo of crashing
instruments as the songs progresses. PAY IN BLOOD is vengeful. Superb
guitar by Britt. You could hear a pin drop during LENNY BRUCE. Beautiful.
Bob sang this with such care it could make you weep. This song took the
concert up a notch. EARLY ROMAN KINGS bought the house down! Killer blues
and killer Bob delivering the goods. Tonight was the most exquisite take
on GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY. Lost love never again to be seen. Amazing
violin work by Donnie. A very atmospheric NOT DARK YET is a thrill. Echo,
echo, oh, oh, oh. Bob rocked the keys for THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN and the
band tore it up. SOON AFTER MIDNIGHT seemed to feature some additional
piano work at the songs conclusion. Very nice.
Bob had some nice intros for the band here.
Up and dance for the set finale GOTTA SEVRE SOMEBODY. Smokin'!
Bob made us wait a good five minutes before the encores.
BALLAD OF A THIN MAN rocked. Fantastic guitar work and great violin.
Then Bob takes it home with long vocal extensions on IT TAKES A LOT
TO LAUGH, IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY. 'When your train gets
Bombs away! A great show! Eight more for Bob, seven more for me.
As usual, nice to see Ed before the show.
Kathleen, I'm glad you got to meet my girlfriend.
All the Bobcats... see you Tuesday.
Review by Mike Skliar
The slight winter chill, after the afternoon rain lifted, together with the
bright electric marquee on Broadway and 75th St could only mean one
thing- Bob Dylan and band were in town for another November-December
Beacon residency. I had last seen Bob last year at this time at the Beacon,
the time before that being almost exactly one year before, also at the
Beacon. (The show tonight was about my 80th or so, having started in
1978, more than 40 years ago.) Lots of history, and as I was in the lobby
bar, I remembered being there for a Dylan show in about 1989, when
everyone at the bar suddenly went silent when we all recognized JFK Jr
was there with us. I remember seeing Allen Ginsberg in the crowd a few
minutes later, too- now both no longer with us. Speaking of no longer
with us, I have to give a shout to the memory of the late Peter Stone
Brown, as this was the first show I saw after he died, and I would have
liked to have read his review of the tour, particularly the version of two
songs Bob started doing regularly again this tour, 'Lenny Bruce' and 'Not
Dark Yet" (both of which were huge highlights for me, not just for this
concert but amongst the best Bob moments I've ever seen.) But I
So there I was, and unlike many other recent Dylan shows I've seen, I
didn't have all that great a seat- second row in the balcony (which is the
second balcony after the loge, so, two levels up). The sightlines were
fine, and one got a great overview of the stage, the mannequins,
everything., but I suspect the sound might have been better closer in.
(That being said, I've never loved the sound at the Beacon, though it
is better than it was before the renovation 10-15 years ago).
The concert opens with a fine 'Things have changed' with Bob on guitar.
I'm still not a fan of the year-or-two old rearrangement that changes the
second half of the verses from that great bluesy "sharp V- to V-back to
m1" chord change (to get a little geeky in music theory for a minute) to
something more major key and, truthfully, odd. That being said, he sings
forcefully on it, and while I'd prefer a different opener at some point, it
gets the job done.
"It ain't me babe" was well done and had Bob at the upright piano. His
singing and phrasing on this (and all night, really) was expressive, and felt
'lived in' and authentic. A fun "Highway 61" allowed the band to rock
out a bit more, and the new drummer and guitar player feel totally
integrated- it's a tight, tight band and the arrangements are mostly
sympathetic and powerful. "Simple Twist" was wonderful, though the
less-then-great acoustic made the last verse, where Bob had rewritten
it but I couldn't understand what he was singing, frustrating. Nice harp
solo center stage, too.
Then came a slinky and chilling minor key version of "Can't Wait" that was
tremendous. He's taken the bridge and turned it into an almost-acapella
out of time segment, perhaps influenced by what his band did on the
jazz standard "Stormy weather". Hearing this arrangement and
performance, you could see how he's taken the lessons of the
"American Jazz Standard" (mostly-Sinatra) ballads to heart, using the
jazz improv ideas of "maximum communication with subtle phrasing"
and "playful phrasing in service of the meaning and mood of the lyric".
Next was another highlight, a country, blues (and slightly jazz)-inflected
version of "When I paint my masterpiece'. This was even more effective
then it was last year (when it was one of the highlights for me, a song
I've rarely heard him do live). Herron's waves of pedal steel (which at
times sounded like an organ, or a string section) carried this right up to
the heavens, and Bob's thoughtful delivery honed in on every phrase as
deserving attention. I'm less of a fan of the next song played "Honest
with me" but it was mostly fast and fun. Next up, the great "Tryin' to
get to heaven" which is one of the best songs he's written in the last
30 years. So many killer lines ("when you think that you've lost
everything, you find out you can always lose a little more") and the
arrangement and performance just gets better and better each year.
Next, "Make you feel my love" is a crowd-pleaser for sure, and
somewhat-schmaltzy as it is, it's got many charms, especially in its current
arrangement. "Pay in Blood' has an inventive arrangement (similar to the
one I heard last year, though very different than the original recording
from 2012) and it's effective and powerful.
Next came a run of four songs that were so good they were almost
beyond category. First, 1981's "Lenny Bruce". This was only the second
time (in about 80 shows) that I've heard a live "Lenny Bruce" and this
tour's version is the best it's ever sounded. His couple of lyric rewrites
make it an even better song then it was before, and it's a profound and
penetrating meditation on society, the value of satire and humor, and
the price paid by groundbreaking cultural figures. Plus, its what they
used to call a 'power ballad' that packs a punch musically and lyrically.
A tremendously fun, swaggering 'Early Roman Kings' was next. (And
looking down I saw that handkerchiefs were duly waved by some in the
front row at the appropriate moment). Next, from 2012 swagger to
1963 tenderness could be a long journey, but for Bob it was stroll over
to the piano and start to play like you're alone at midnight, thinking of a
lost love and fond memories. This was a lived in 'Girl from the North
Country' that had a wonderful Irish lilt to it, making explicit the
connection to some old British Isles ballads of old that were the
inspiration for so much early Dylan material.
From there came the absolute highlight for me, a "spooky-as-all-get out"
journey thru 'Not dark yet'. The arrangement is very different then the
album, and there's a building and burning intensity to it, (with echo
added to the vocal at certain moments) that makes it one of the most
memorable experiences of any concert by anyone, ever. Always loved
the song, and he brought out every nerve hidden in the bones of the
song, every murmur of a prayer said in a dark room, and every shadow
falling in this dark masterpiece.
As great as those three or four songs were, the next three songs were
good but kind of lost opportunities. "Thunder on the Mountain" has an
odd rockabilly arrangement (same as last year) that doesn't really suit
the lyric (and for me it's a forgettable song). Soon after midnight is
fine, but not a particular favorite. "Gotta Serve Somebody' was
rearranged to this bright major key blues/rock shuffle. It worked so well
way back originally as a sly minor key rant. The current version has
almost all brand-new lyrics (with, I'm guessing, rewrites-for-the-hell-of-it
every night judging from Bob's lyric sheets spread out on this one on
top of the piano) but I couldn't make out most of the lyric as the band
is blaring away at top volume, in competition (for once) with the vocal
rather the supportive of it.
Completely different set of encores then last year. (Last year I got a
strange "Watchtower' and a heartfelt 'Blowin in the wind'.) Tonight,
it was two early-mid period classics, both from 1965's "Highway 61"
album, "Ballad of a thin man" and "It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a
train to cry". "Thin Man' had Bob back on guitar, doing some
odd-but-engaging leads, and "Train to cry" had Bob doing some great
gospel-styled piano. Both had nuanced and engaging vocals, and you
got the feeling that after two hours, Bob could have gone another
two hours without a problem. All in all, a fine, fine way to end a
splendid evening. At the age of 78, he's younger than ever, perhaps
almost 'forever young'.
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