December 5, 2019
Review by Michael Perlin
So, this was the sixth time that I had seen Bob twice in a two-week
period (once it was on successive nights (Aug. 12 & 3, 2008), and
twice four days apart. I wondered how it would be, knowing
(to 99.9% certainty) that the set list would be identical to the
concert I saw (and raved about; see my review posted here) in
Philadelphia on 11/21, my assumption being that, on most prior
occasions, the set lists would have been entirely different. As I'll
discuss at the end, this assumption was mostly wrong , but, point
in fact, it didn't matter. Because, even though the list was the
same, and even though Bob's voice was rougher than it had been
two weeks previously, this concert was one of the most jubilant,
dynamic, OMG-I-don't-believe-it concert experiences I have ever
had in my 56 years of Bobworld.
As the man sang in (Just Like) Tom Thumb's Blues, "I'm going
back to New York City." And that he did. I've seen Bob in New
York City ~ 15 times (far more than in any other city), but also all
over NJ, Philadelphia, upstate NY, Rhode Island and, borrowing his
lyric "gay Paree." And, even this diehard Jersey boy has to admit,
there ain't anywhere else that he sounds as much at home as he
does in New York. I've seen him at the Beacon multiple times
(starting in a terrific 2005 concert [Hazel! Chimes of Freedom! To be
Alone with You!]), but nothing was like this. The joy, the exuberance,
the mise en scene-ness of it all. Bob was supercharged (as was the
band), far more than he has been in any of the recent Philly concerts
I have seen. Again, just jubilant.
Of course, this fed off the audience. Many of my Dylanista buddies
were there, as were celebs (I was in row G; my friend Kathy was in
row H. Before the concert started, I went over to ay hi to her, and
noted the guy next to her looked awfully familiar. He should have-it
was Steve Earle! (subject of a shout out from Bob at the end of the
band introductions interlude)), but the woman sitting next to me,
with her teenage-early 20s son, told me it was her first time. What
an introduction to Bob world this was!
Again, not every song was performed better than in Philly (I
preferred that version of Things Have Changed, tho maybe it was
just because it was the first time I had seen him play guitar live in
16+ years, and that mesmerized me, and thought his piano
is-this-a-Bogart- movie playing on Masterpiece in the earlier concert
was musically more interesting). But there were real differences in
some that stood out:
It Ain't Me Babe (a favorite that I have never enjoyed much in the
new arrangement) was much more melodic than any time I have
heard it since, probably '01 or '03.
Highway 61, which always rocks, rocked more than I can remember
in any prior version.
In Simple Twist, Bob's piano soloing sounded positively baroque (I
spend lots of time listening to the baroque station on Alexa; you
gotta trust me on this) His elongated enunciation of "stormy weather"
(and the repeat enunciation on the next line's "roam together") on
Can't Wait was breathtaking. His harp playing (truly, somehow, far
better at this stage of his career than ever - go figure!) went ritando
near the end of (eek, I forgot! Either Make You Feel or Tryin' to Get
to Heaven), and that was startling. The percentage of the audience
that did a standing ovation for Heaven was the same as it was for the
60s songs, which I found fascinating.
Seeing Lenny Bruce in NYC (I had seen it in Philly, of course, but also,
as what I thought then was a one-off in Holmdel NJ > 20 yrs ago)
was spellbinding. And the last line - "he was the brother that you
never had" - was shattering.
I didn't get in Philly how brilliant the juxtaposition of Early Roman
Kings and Girl from the North Country was, both in terms of musical
construction, lyrical substance, and sociopolitical gestalt). But that
jumped out at me here.
This was the 7th time I had heard Early Roman (my favorite
post-Time out of Mind song) but this is the first time I heard the
crowd roar, in almost unison, at the "I ain't dead"
line, in the same way the crowd always yelled "NO!" at the "You
think I'm over the hill/You think I'm past my prime" couplet from
Spirit on the Water.
Thunder on the Mountain is one song that I have, thank you,
heard enough times, but here, the dynamics, the fervor, the
power... I realized that Bob and the band (and how great they
sounded) were getting stronger and stronger and stronger as
the night went on (I do not need to remind anyone that he has
just passed his 78 ½'s birthday (!). And this got an even bigger
After his band intros, there were shout outs to, as I noted before,
Steve Earle and also, Jann Wenner. I saw joy on Bob's face that,
to be brutally honest, one does not always see at his concerts. He
was having a ball.
When he came back after Gotta Serve (which, by the way, was
outstanding), I just stared watching him play guitar on Ballad of a Thin
Man, wondering if this will be part of his repertoire forever, or whether
this tour was a one-off return to it. Of course, we don't know, but I
did not want to miss a second of it.
So, no new songs, but you know, my pre-concert assumption (that
other times that I had seen him multiple times in two weeks presented
entirely different set lists) wasn't so. I checked all. In the concerts of
April 19 & 29, 2005, only Watch the River Flow was repeated. Other
times, mostly five, six or seven were repeated. On August 12 & 13,
2008, there were nine repeats (or about half the set list). So my hazy
memories were a distortion, and I was sorta glad to see that. I mean
sure, I would have loved to have heard Positively Fourth St. or Blind
Willie McTell again. Or, oh maybe, a first ever of Too Much of Nothing.
Whatever. But, in the long run, the set list was totally fine with me
And there it is. Joy, jubilance, exultation, a communal hug of love. I
am - as I always say - just so fortunate that Bob has been part of my
life sine that first visit to Gerde's when I was 17. I can't wait (as the
man says) for the next time.
Review by Barry Gloffke
The penultimate Beacon Theatre
show for Bob Dylan and my penultimate show on this tour. Bob Dylan in
black with sequins and white boots. Bob Dylan in perfect voice, playing
great piano and absolutely soulful harmonica. Bob Dylan commanding the
stage, extending his lyrics, playing with the audience, smiling, knocking
each song effortlessly out of the park like a batting practice session.
Bob Dylan introducing his Band, then calling out house guests in the
audience Robert Earl Keen, and then Jann Wenner.., 'of Rolling Stone, the
magazine of sex, drugs and politics' says Bob Dylan on this glorious night
of music. Bob Dylan singing AND talking to the audience?...Nothing beats
What a damned good show I just saw. What a damned good show Bob Dylan just
gave us. The Band, as usual was tight and on fire... a bunch of great
individual work by all. Some nice solos by all the string players tonight.
There were no duds in this show. Just one great version after another. The
crowd was upbeat, responsive and respectful, and it seemed like Bob really
fed off of that energy. Highlights were every song. No joke. It was just
that good. If I had to pick one song that didn't burn brightly, then I
would throw HONEST WITH ME under the bus... but I wouldn't do that,
because it was a good enough version.
Look, I'm not saying I've never seen a better Bob Dylan show, but this was
certainly one of the top ones in recent years from where I sat
(stood/danced). Considering this man's age and the amount of grinding he
has done in the last two months (30 years)... it was really good.
From the first verse of THINGS HAVE CHANGED the sound was crisp and Bob
was in magnificent voice. His syntax was magnificent. His delivery was
passionate and his clarity of singing was wonderful. Case in point was IT
AIN'T ME, BABE. Always a good song, but never seeming to rise to meet the
road... not tonight though. Spectacular enunciation riding waves of pedal
I could say the same about all the slow songs SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE, was
the best version on the tour... 'I let her get under my skin, under my
skin to late, I had another date, a date that couldn't wait, blame it on
a...' WHEN I PAINT MY MASTERPIECE (excellent harp), TRYIN' TO GET TO
HEAVEN (was so good... Tony's bass and Donnie's violin), MAKE YOU FEEL MY
LOVE (was outstanding, the best one on this tour), LENNY BRUCE (I could
never imagine at the outset of this tour that this song would be a show
stopper every night... but it is... and god, he does it so well). And then
the swirling and gradual cresting of SOON AFTER MIDNIGHT was the icing on
the slow song cake.
But it wasn't the slow songs that made the show sizzle... it was stuff
like HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED (I could listen to this blistering version from
here to eternity), PAY IN BLOOD (this song builds to a venomous
conclusion) and especially EARLY ROMAN KINGS which took the show to
another level. Barn storming blues and a thumping beat had the crowd
hollering and dancing. Speaking of hollering and dancing, that's what
happened for the last three songs of the concert GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY (Bob
doing a sermon) and the encores of BALLAD OF A THIN MAN (blazing guitars
and really nice leads by Bob) and IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH, IT TAKES A
TRAIN TO CRY (Bob howling out soulful blues). What a perfect trifecta to
end the show with.
Last mention are two of the songs that Bob has radically altered on this
tour (to the benefit of each). CAN'T WAIT (Bob doing dance/funk/soul) and
NOT DARK YET (powerful). Both of these songs have incredible atmosphere
using Donnie's lap steel to enrich the vibe. Both use/breaks at different
moments to alter the cadence with great effect. Funky and brooding. It's
one of the incredible aspects of Bob's tours... completely changing a
songs' tempo/structure/timing/delivery to build a relatively new one.
Stunning to see it unfold.
Another great show Bob. Congratulations. Sad to see this tour winding
down. I could watch another ten of these shows. But I'm grateful for the
ones that Bob has given me and will be for the ones to come.
All the Bobcats were out tonight. Nice to see Ed as usual. You had a nice
gathering (Al, Susan, Michelle, Bill, Sue, many more). Hope to join you
tomorrow. It was good to see downtown Ben, Greenpoint Phil, California
Mangala, Britain Ian and Bearded Beacon Bar Mike. I will see you guys for
one more show tomorrow. Don't you miss it!
Review by Laurette Maillet
Beacon 9 for Bobby and his Band. I wake up late and have breakfast with
Nahoko. Then I decide to take a walk to Central Park. The weather is cold
but dry. By 3.30p.m. I walk to the Beacon and wait for the car to bring
Bob for the soundcheck. The care pulls in without Barron or Bob. I know he
will be walking. And yes! I spot Suzie and behind Barron and Bob crossing
the street. I follow from far and Bob steps inside his bus. Security Bob
and Barron take their positions but 10 minutes later enter the venue. No
soundcheck for Bob today. I check around the front of the Beacon. Spot
Tony and say"hi Mr Garnier" . He answers with an amused smile. I spot Bob
Britt and for the first time addresses him "Hello Bob Britt. I like you
playing with Charlie. See you tonight". He also answers with an amused
smile, not knowing who I am to recognize him. Cool! I then join Dave(Jack
Fate) and Kimberly White-Steinert who offer me a dinner, buy one of my
paintings and give me a Christmas gift. Thank you so much! I advice them
to check around the bus to maybe see Bob stepping out for the show. I see
absolutely no security. So I suppose Bob is already in. We wait few more
minutes when the bus door opens, steps out Suzie followed by... Bob. No
Barron, no Security Bob, no Jerry. Whoa! For the first time I see Bob with
no security! I move to the front doors to find a ticket. I bump into Bill
Pavel who gives me a ticket for...DC. Great. No more worry .... I can
relax for the last show! Thanx Bill Pagel. After two hours in the cold I
give up. No luck tonight. No ticket. Not even to buy. I walk to the back
door to hear from outside. Bob is already on "I Can't wait". Powerful. The
show SOUNDS good. The public SOUNDS enthusiastic. "Pay in blood' is loud.
ERK is loud. I enjoy the show in the cold winter of New York but I don't
feel any pain or sadness. I feel privileged. Each day is different. I
dance on Thunder and the passersby and security people are amused. This is
New York, craziness is normal. (The Bobcats will tell me later this was
the best show of all Beacons.) By the end of "Ballad" Security Bob is
moving the rails around the corner to stop the Fans for getting to close
to the car. A Lady has a book in hand and a pen. Autograph again? A young
Man is also waiting. When I spot on the rail a Lady, Afro-American, well
dressed and quiet. Security Bob adds another rail in front of her and the
two others. I stay behind the car. I am sure Bob will be rushed inside the
car by Barron as usual. Guess what? Bob walks outside slowly. Spot the
Afro-American Lady at the rail and says "let see who we got here
tonight!". He then cracks a smile saying " Dolores". Then start a chat
with the Lady. I am watching his face all the time. A big smile lights his
face. He finally gives her a kiss before moving to his car. By that time
Security Bob and Suzie stop the two anonymous Fans. Whoa! Suzie passes
right in front of me. I murmur "Good night" then say "bye Barron" who
looks at me with a serious face. What could I make of this? How come
that woman was not Backstage but out in the cold if she was so close to
Bob? I ask her if I can take a photo. Ask her who she is. She answers
Dolores. And adds " it's a story way back". I move in the front facing the
public moving out to try to sell my paintings. Some Fans recognized me for
writing those reviews. Some one hands me 20$ bill. Oh thanks! I sell a
poster for 5$ and a painting for 40$. Not a bad night for business! I
spent some time in the bar with some Bobcats, Dave and Kim before running
my trains to Brooklyn. This was also one of those days. This one really
positive. By accident I also bumped into Security Bob and with a good
spirit I say "thank you Sir!". Thank you for me. Letting me watch Bob
being so happy with Dolores! Good night folks. See you all tomorrow.
Review by KD
Wow what a fantastic night!!! Dylan gave us everything on this night.
Stunning versions of virtually every song. Masterpiece, Simple Twist,
Girl from the North Country and Lenny Bruce each played with stunning
brilliance. Highway 61 and Thunder on the Mountain practically blew the
roof of the roof off the beacon. Early Roman Kings was an absolute show
stopping tour de force. Soon After Midnight continues its mystical journey
towards becoming one of the great Dylan songs. Just when you thought you
had seen the best of the best came Ballad of a Thin Man which took the
show to an ethereal level with Bob providing powerful singing and multiple
stunning guitar solos. The crowd roared as the last notes of the swampy
and magnificent Train to Cry brought the night to a close. Bob took his
bows and disappeared as if an apparition. Still floating after this one.
Review by Ken Schaefle
I have seen Dylan around 15 times since 1990, and he certainly continues
to evolve. The Thursday night show at the Beacon – the first time I have
seen him in about 5 years – showed him evolved yet again, in great style
and strong form. I am surprised there is not a review of the show posted
yet, so I offer this.
The show was tight, the band put on a masterclass, and Dylan was relaxed
yet totally in control. All of the songs were delivered with control and
deliberate focus. I felt Dylan was sincere, genuine, and cared about
delivering to the crowd. The sound was excellent and the vocals were
clear. The stage setting – incandescent lights and mannequins wearing
costumes from a bygone age of glamour – provided a wonderful context for
the songs which felt at once classic and timeless yet also new, innovative
My favorite thing was how the songs have been elevated to the level
of arrangements – careful intros, cool timing breaks, and chances for
his incredible band to show it’s musicianship. The addition of Donny
Herron on violin gave some beautiful accents and melody lines. George
Chamberlain was masterful on drums, keeping things chugging and bouncing.
Charlie Sexton was a brilliant side man (as always) and Tony Garnier
provided a brilliant, creative and fascinating foundation (as always). The
material from Tempest, TOOM and Love and Theft stood shoulder to shoulder
with classics like STOF and Highway 61. The show demonstrated that
Dylan’s recent work is as vital and artistically worthy as his early
work. Lenny Bruce was a gem. It was a treat to have Dylan on guitar again,
and I much prefer him on piano than on the electric keyboard that seemed
the mainstay around 2005. Dylan is NOT mailing it in. He is providing an
exciting show and updating rock and roll itself with his ongoing work. He
is trailblazing still, showing the paths that can be taken with the
command and skill of 60 years in music.
Review by Tom Palaima
The good old days were good. The new old days are good, too.
Bob Dylan & His Band played their ninth and penultimate show of a two-week
stand at the venerable Beacon Theatre at 74th and Broadway in New York
City tonight. The wind was blowin’ heavy enough at times to bring a
north-country chill to the nighttime air. Christmas trees for sale across
and a few blocks down on Broadway took me back ten years to “Here Comes
Santa Claus,” Bob’s surprise Christmas present to us at the close of the
first decade of the new millennium.
Gone are the good old days of the Never Ending Tour, when we wondered what
songs Bob was going to spring on us at the concert or concerts we could
get to. My all-time favorite was a hapax one-time-only performance of
Jimmy Martin’s “20/20 Vision” October 25, 1991 at the old City Coliseum in
Austin, TX, with Bob channeling a betrayed lover so far at the end of his
rope that he declares, “If it wasn’t for dying, I’d wish I was dead.”
In “Silvio” Bob offers up this as wisdom, “You give something up for
everything you gain.” But Bob & His Band are now as busy as Santa’s elves
in December proving the reverse, “You gain something for everything you
What is lost in surprise and variety is gained in stunning ensemble
performance quality and in what has always defined Bob: getting the song
across. The band is tight, polar opposite of ‘mailing it in’ as it was
doing, again, a bit over a decade ago in August of 2009 when some kind of
doldrumic funk could be felt and seen by audiences.
Matt Chamberlain makes us remember George Recile by playing up to his high
standards on drums, including taking a song-topping solo on #15 “Thunder
on the Mountain,” fifteen songs into the nineteen-song concert. And Bob
Britt plays with an elan that was not in steady Stu Kimball’s vocabulary.
The Beacon Theatre stage is guarded left and right by gilded—we assume
faux-gilded—statues of the war-helmeted goddess Athena in full martial
mode, wielding a long upright spear. The other classical motifs in the
general décor pulled Bob’s river goddess bust forward on the right. Oscar
(for “Things Have Changed”) is pushed back near Donnie Herron. Bob’s
piano is now rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise so his back is to the
band when he is playing. And, believe me, this version of the NET band has
got Bob’s back.
Charlie Sexton has moved into Stu Kimball’s slot far audience left, though
Charlie is playing fully frontal and not looking as if he wants to escape
off-stage right as Stu Kimball sometimes looked. Bob Britt holds down the
center-stage back, standing to Donny Herron’s right. And Tony Garnier
roves a bit generally back center. Oddly the slight reorientation of
Bob’s piano creates a kind of circle-the-wagons we’re-in-this-together
effect that was especially noticeable on an absolutely magnificently
ominous and genuinely melancholic version of “Not Dark Yet” that at song
#14 was the emotional epicenter of the concert.
Bob straps on his guitar again center stage to open the show on #1 “Things
Have Changed” and then actually drives #18 “Ballad of a Thin Man” along at
the end on lead guitar, to the delight of everyone in the theatre, maybe
even Bob himself. While we are on #18, the show-closer #19 “It Takes a
Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” simply cannot be performed any
better than it was tonight. Bob sang it to perfection conveying just the
right controlled lover-man bravado in the song and Charlie Sexton
channeled some kind of Chess Records daemon in adding a quintessential
blues feel. Since I had local traditional-music genius Jesse Gregg play
the song in his own perfect way the evening I gave my wife her engagement
ring, hearing Bob & His Band do it their way tonight brought tears to my
Other highlights, among many, Donnie’s violin and Bob’s two harp solos on
#4 “Simple Twist of Fate.” Bob’s solo piano and low-toned unsentimental
singing on “Girl from the North Country” with, again, Donnie’s violin
adding an almost “Shenandoah” feel to the tune. The honesty in Bob’s voice
on #2 “It Ain’t Me, Babe” and again on a clearly heartfelt #11 “Lenny
Bruce,” played with Bob on piano and lights up. Bob standing and grooving
over near Charlie as Charlie was infusing #12 “Early Roman Kings” with a
whole lot of Muddy Waters’ “I’m a Man.” And the new words to parts of
“Simple Twist of Fate,” “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” and almost the
whole of “Gotta Serve Somebody.”
Given the setting, I kept thinking, if Alberta Hunter were alive, back at
the Cookery and asked to sing about Bob as he is now performing, she would
sing in her inimitable way something like this: “I have the best song and
dance man who ever was, and these are just a few of the things he does….”
Review by Stephen Goldberg
Our second show at The Beacon found us in the center loge 5 rows back.
Different energy than our floor seats last week. Again, the crowd was much
younger than in the last few years. What’s that about? Maybe no Sinatra
songs? Whatever the reason it’s nice to see. The crowd was more sedate
last night and Bob more talkative, acknowledging Steve Earle and Jann
Wenner amongst others in the audience. My wife thought last night the
better of the two shows. For me their was no discernible difference. Bob
and band are remarkably consistent. Each night we get Crooning Bob and
Nasty Bob. Nasty Bob is the best. Snarling, defiant versions of Thin Man
and Early Roman Kings are what stick with me on the ride home each night.
See you in 2020.
Review by Craig Werner
Great show last night at the Beacon. Ive seen well over 100 shows since
1974 and am laying out my thoughts on one of the more interesting ones of
them all. As we all know Dylan recreates and reinterprets his work
through the years. Setting aside his more recent Sinatra like foray,
Dylan has blasted the house down with a driving hard rock and roll band.
He has mixed in softer stuff throughout his career going back to the
acoustics sets. Last nights show was something new again. Lets get
started. Things Have Changed - Good warm up song where he shakes off the
rusty voice. (remember the shows when he kicked it off with Tombstone
Blues). It Aint Me Babe-At the piano good vocal crowd pleaser Highway
61- First great one of the evening Band in high gear, glad I came Simple
Twist- Just okay crowd liked it Can't Wait- Wow Wished that went on all
night He has been playing this one on tour for a while now and it just
keeps getting better One of 2 of the highlights for me When I Paint My
Masterpiece- Great vocal, Great choice, thoroughly enjoyable Honest
With Me- 2nd Highlight for me. Like Cant Wait one he has been performing
and perfecting Winner Trying To Get To Heaven- Didn't quite work for
me Make You Fell My Love- Showed some tenderness Pay In Blood- Been
using this in concert since Tempest Liked previous versions better Lenny
Bruce- Give me a better choice of songs here Early Roman Kings- Like Pay
In Blood a regular feature, don't love the song but a very good
performance Girl From North Country- What Dylan fan doesn't love this
one Not Dark Yet- Solid sounded good Thunder on the Mountain- This
one used to be a highlight in his shows, is no longer Soon After
Midnight- Forget about it. Gotta Serve Somebody- Just ok Ballad Of
A thin Man- He keeps going back to this classic Good performance good
vocal Lets change up this choice next time It Takes a Lot To
Laugh... Great choice Loved the rework of this one really went back to
its original sound. So, a mixed bag but quite enjoyable from this 78 yr
old rocker. And I dont mean chair.
Review by Daniel Dorchak
Another great show that captured the essence of Bob Dylan. I am thrilled
to be in Manhattan from South Florida, where it is not nearly as cold. The
trade off, of course, is the burning warmth of sound that exists inside
the Beacon Theater. While I could list the many facets of each song sung
that stuck out to me, I will just say that each song was sung to
perfection, without incident or mishap. Bob’s voice is as clear as the
day is long and his band is better than ever. Songs I haven’t loved in
the past became favorites last night, and songs that I’ve loved for
years were reaffirmed as timeless treasures. One interesting thing I will
note is Bob’s reference to “sex, drugs, and politics” after
introducing his band and the founder of Rolling Stone Magazine who was in
the audience. I haven’t heard Bob say anything other than his lyrics the
past times I have seen him, so that was truly a treat. I hear Bob stopped
to kiss a fan afterwards at the back entrance. He was clearly in great
spirits, and that is comforting. The essence of Bob Dylan, the concert
experience, his persona, and the songs themselves, is fleeting. I am
forever grateful for the opportunities I have had to see a genius at work.
Looking forward to Beacon 10 tonight.
Comments by Stacy Stephens
Bob introduced Steve Earle who was in attendance and also some Jann
Wener the editor for Rolling Stone magazine... he made a funny joke
about it being the magazine of sex, drugs and rock n roll, or something to
that effect. it was hilarious..
Ethan Hawke was seated next to Steve Earle.
another great show!
Review by Kalonymaus Amshinov
This show was truly miraculous. Bob looked, moved and rocked like I
haven’t seen him do in 30 years, literally — and rarely in the 15
years before that.
And he looked the part, too with “every hair in place”, tanned, made
up and full-cheeked (from what? embalmers’ putty?), moving like the
Golden-Voiced Rock ‘n’ Roll balladeer/belter he only fleetingly, if
ever, was and seldom before really felt comfortable miming.
Most astonishingly of all, I have never seen him more relaxed and just
inhabiting his happiness to be there.
He even talked to us! — bubbling over with excitement at the presence of
Big Daddy Founding Figure of Rolling Stone Magazine, “about Sex, Drugs
Last show I saw him, he was in front of far flung hurling ground stands
and it left me warily avoiding this tour until tonight, so I was totally
unprepared for how much this show, this band, these arrangements, playing
and singing just totally blew me away.
I think this is the third time I’ve contributed to the BL Reviews
section in the past 15 years so I can say I usually don’t do this but
this time I feel obligated to share my impressions and mention each song
Things — love the rich procession of tunes and themes in the intro but
compared to the rest of the show, a relatively indifferent vocal albeit
over a cookin’ beat.
Ain’t Me Babe — singing getting better but again, arrangement suffered
in comparison to the others tonight, in both creativity and execution.
Hwy 61 — started off the rockin’ parade nicely and with a vocal
everyone who cared to could sing along to.
Simple Twist — another cool arrangement and from here, show took a giant
leap up and for the rest of the night nearly every word (original and
revised) could be heard clearly and well sung.
Can’t Wait — was particularly looking forward to. And this moody,
haunting performance did not disappoint
Masterpiece/Honest/Tryin/MakeUFeel — by now getting deeply into the
rhythm of alternating a hot ensemble rocker with an inventively-arranged,
slow, careful and pronounced croon, and ending by schooling all the cover
artists how this last one goes.
Pay in Blood — powerfully played but for once, the [terrifying] lyrics
could be heard TOO clearly.
Lenny Bruce — most anticipated song for me, it was the night’s clear
highlight in every way from the amended second line “never did made it
to the Promised Land, never got outta Babylon”, to the breathtaking,
full-throated way he lovingly sung every syllable.
Early — great joy seeing Bob strutting the stage, pulling the moves and
growling the lines so gracefully and forcefully.
NC Girl — again, every syllable exquisitely sung to a gorgeous
arrangement evoking the best of our American music and history.
NotDark — always loved this one, never heard it often enough, always
loved the original phrasing, melody and delivery but really appreciated
tonight how strongly the current rendering bangs home the oracular
Thunder — told my friend “I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying
even the ones that are not my favorites’. Very danceable.
Soon — beautiful lighting and wallpaper to set up this minuet; the most
romantic delivery of the night.
Gotta Serve — and we kept on dancin’ to this fast-bopping take.
Mr. Jones — so funny to see Bob strappin’ on a Fender for — goin’
back to its debut — the one number historically tackled at the keyboard.
But it was great too delivered from center stage with guitar drawn.
ITALTL — long and languorous, like the first times it was tried in the
studio. Works great as an arm-in-arm type closer, sending everyone home
with a warm glow.
SO, sorry for my over-reliance on exhausted reviewers’ cliches and usage
but unless I punched this out quickly, it wasn’t going to get done.
That’s all, folks!
Review by Dag T. Osdal
PAINTING HIS MASTERPIECE
What a miraculous show! I’m searching for phrases to sing his praises…
Does Bob Dylan love his audience? Somehow I am sure he does, but who knows
how? Anyhow, this night he put us all - to freely improvise after the
opener THC, not to be completely confused with the mind bending substance
- in a magical wheelbarrow and wheeled us down a street of wonders!
This was the last of four concerts I attended at the Beacon Theater with
my friend Amund whose initiative it was to go here all the way from our
remote home country in the first place. He is more steeped in thing
related to Dylan than I am, and he is very well-versed in classical poetry
from where the mercurial thief Bob Dylan has lovingly stolen quite a few
lines. An additional pleasure! He is also especially interested in - as he
succinctly put it - «Old Dylan», i.e. contemporary Dylan, the
constantly touring troubadour. Thank you for the trip! Our stay at Grand
Hotel Bowery in China Town - a far cry from the baroque splendor of the
Beacon Theatre - is another memorable story...
What was rather certain from this fall's tour was that the setlist would
remain the same throughout. Well, no reason to complain or cry, even
though one of the reasons to go to another concert or many consecutive
shows once upon a time used to be the constantly changing setlists. As we
all know, Dylan could do ten or fifteen different setlists with no
overlaps and it would still be aaall good. Dylan now keeps exploring the
same songs night after night, improvises, rephrases, lets the band loose
in different directions and makes the songs shine in different ways. Is it
me, is it us, or is it himself? Who knows? To quote a couple of lines from
a song that was not performed these nights: "Whatever colors you have in
your mind / I show them to you and you see them shine». The shows at
Beacon Theatre has been constantly rambling on my mind.
To single out highlights from this show, or these shows, would almost be
an insult to the the other songs. I would, however, like to emphasize the
contrasts, how Pay In Blood, nailing the first lines - "Well I'm grinding
my life out, steady and sure / Nothing more wretched than what I must
endure / I'm drenched in the light that shines from the sun /I could stone
you to death for the wrongs that you've done» - is followed by his homage
to the outlaw Lenny Bruce who was, metaphorically, stoned to death; or how
a killer version of the bloody, violent Early Roman Kings (- a sympathetic
nod to the women in the front rows who brought their handkerchiefs and
waved them! -) is followed by an, in the vintage voice of an aging man,
oh! so sweet and tender Girl from the North Country. No song forgotten or
ignored, I would still highlight When I Paint My Masterpiece which to me
stands out as the centerpiece of these shows. It just so emphatically
embodies the beauuuutiful and diiiiifferent voice that is Dylan’s. If
the criteria of great art are strangeness and beauty, this is it, and it
is far better than the versions from almost fifty years ago. He is still
working on his masterpiece!
BONUS: Dylan could remain sitting behind his piano under his hat, sing
beautifully and do a few harmonica solos and I wouldn’t complain, but
now Bob talks and walks and he plays the guitar on THC in the beginning
and on BOATM on the encore. The crowd really enjoyed it! His presentations
of his band were hilarious - Tony Garnier having been with him «longer
than myself» and greetings to friends in the audience - and the
ininimitable grace with which he strides across the stage from the piano
to grab the microphone or do a solo on the harmonica added something
special. No one can «swagger" like Dylan! As my friend remarked: How many
miles must… (a rock star whose name I need not mention here) … run to
be nearly as graceful and cool as Dylan?
Dag T. Osdal
| Click Here
to return to the
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists