New York, New York

Beacon Theatre

November 20, 2017

[Barry Gloffke], [Laurette Maillet]

Review by Barry Gloffke

Welcome back to New York City Bob.

In town for five nights (I will see four) at the legendary Beacon Theatre,
he and the Cowboys lit up the arena with another stellar performance. They
are winding down an incredible tour with a string of fabulous shows. The
Beacon Theatre is a beautifully renovated Art-Deco building erected in
1929. Great sight lines and great sound (unless you are in the back of
orchestra under the balcony). A wonderful venue for Bob, but
unfortunately, not such an enthusiastic crowd to greet him. I was about 20
rows back in the orchestra, and I could swear that barely half the people
around me found it important to stand and greet the band when they arrived
on stage. Unreal!! When the banded charged into the opener of THINGS HAVE
CHANGED almost the entire audience sat down. The band is firing from the
first and I am up and loving it, but not 1 minute into the song a lady
taps me on the shoulder and asks me to sit down… pardon me ma’am, but
you’re in the wrong place, you have to leave. Come on!!… the show just
started 1 minute ago and you are already complaining about people
dancing!!! These listless Dylan crowds are becoming tiresome. I feel that
a good percentage of people actually want to dance, but they don’t want
the hassle of a confrontation with moaning and groaning fans. The woman
eventually went to get an usher who asked me to sit during HIGHWAY 61
REVISITED. I grudgingly obliged. While I am ranting about annoying fans…
it’s not only the dancing police, but certain (so called) Dylan fans
show up late (very late) to shows and ruin the continuity of the
performance… they are probably the ones who leave the show early.

Okay, enough digressing. Onto Bob. I cannot stress enough how good his
voice sounds on this tour. Better than it has in years. And because of
that he is reaching for lows, grasping for highs and stretching out his
vocal delivery in fascinating ways. Powerful, commanding vocals. And, to
add to the glory, his piano playing has been superb lately (except the
occasional strange treatment of DESOLATION ROW). Instead of harp or guitar
we have a reinvented Bob Dylan fronting a piano based, string accompanied,
thumpin’, bumpin’, rock n’ rollin’ band. It is an astonishing
transformation he has pulled off the last few years. It seems to have
reinvigorated him and that transmutes into great show after great show.

As usual the Band excelled in all they were tasked with. Smooth for the
American songbook songs, powerful for the blues-rockers, and hot, hot, hot
on the burners. So many highlights it was hard to have a favorite. It is
easier to point out what I was not so thrilled with… DESOLATION ROW. He
did an acceptable version this song in NASSAU COLISEUM and he nailed it in
TOWER THEATER, but last nights version got way too sing-songy for me. On
this song he also has a habit of stringing together two lines into one…
he did that last night and it did not really work for me. Other than that,
I was exceedingly happy with 19 out the of 20 songs. Bob was teasing out
lyrics last night, especially noticeable on TANGLED UP IN BLUE, where we
got ‘bluuuuuuuuuuuuu’ from Bob.

Again just too many highlights to bore you with details, but the Band was
fantastic on (everything) HONEST WITH ME and also seemed to stretch things
a bit on EARLY ROMAN KINGS, THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN (the burner highlight
of the night for me) and BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND which was given a proper
treatment. We also got a damned good BALLAD OF A THIN MAN. The surprise of
the night was when Bob opted for, and did a great rendition of, FULL MOON
AND EMPTY ARMS (which I believe was a first for this tour) instead of
SCARLET TOWN (which I can take or leave). Always nice to have a surprise
in the static set. Bellissimo!

Thanks Bob. Look forward to another great show Tuesday and hopefully a
more engaged audience.


Review by Laurette Maillet

Things happen in strange way! I finaly made it to New York. I found a
Couchsurfing host with the need of housekeeping for a week. Precisely the
week when Bob is playing at the Beacon theater.  The house is 7 minutes
walk from the Theater. Couldn't be any better. I arrived on Saturday
skipping Albany and Buffalo shows. Spent a whole day on Sunday...resting.
The weather is cold and windy but I have a home and can do about what I
want besides feeding the cat and the dog. So...Monday 20th of November. I
take a walk to the Beacon theater,  just to check the place. I've been
here before. I still have sour memories but I finally moved on. I am here
for the Bob Dylan shows. I take a couple of photos and turn around the
block as... The Bobby's bus is pulling in next to the backstage entrance.
A British guy is standing there, on the pavement.  He starts telling me
all kind of craps; Bob is in the bus, he will do a soundcheck  (at
noon?), he is staying at the Beacon Hotel....bla bla bla. I heard so many
gossips,  rumors, speculations... I am sick of it. I come back late
afternoon,  most likely the time for the soundcheck. Charlie is pacing,
smoking a cigarette.  A white van is pulling in with Mavis Staples
musicians. (I don't see Mavis). Anothe white van with the rest of the
Band; Donnie, Stu, George and Tony.  Then a silver van with Barron and
Bob. Bobby steps in his bus for few minutes then enters the venue for the
soundcheck.  I move back to my apartment.  Come back at 6.15 p.m. There
is already a line at the doors. Many scalpers  (I've seen before), more
persons asking for a free ticket. Roadies and musicians and Barron are
walking one pay attention!  Why should they? I bet Bob could walk
around...anonymous. The line is longer and longer as security is tough
again; metal detector. I have my sign up for 1 hour when a young guy comes
to me and hands me a ticket."you won't sell it? " He says. "Of course
not". Thank you. I join the line and by the time I am in, Mavis is already
half through her performance. Bad organisation! The theater is splendid
but the seats are tight. Not too much room to dance around! The public is
eclectic;  I see men with kipa,  women with fur coats but also youngters
in casual clothes. My seat is on the floor in the far back. The view is
good and the sound...loud.The loudest, so far. Fans around me are
enthusiastic at the start, though there is hardly any room to stand up or
clap. The Bob Dylan old songs are welcomed but as he is singing more and
more the new material, people next to me leave for a drink or the
restroom!  I feel them getting...bored. Behind me, some unrespectful
ladies chat on the Sinatra songs. "Thunder on the mountain" makes people
wake up from some turpor.  2 ladies behind me react to "Tangled up in
blue" only when he is phrasing "Tangled up in blue.ue.ue"... they
apparently didn't recognise the song under the new melody.  They are
disappointed not to hear. .. " Hurricane".??!! (And I thought we were done
with that!). As a surprise we have " Full moon and empty arms" instead of
"Scarlet town". who noticed? Nice. I like the surprise!  I have to say I
didn't like is phrasing on " Desolation row". It started great then
switched into some phraseology, more recitation... My opinon only, no
judgment.  I don't see anything special about that show compare to any
other show. The jacket, maybe, silver color tonight? We are in New York,
where Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan in 1962. Does it make any
difference for HIM? We'll see how the shows will evolve. I bet he has an
apartment  of his own, somewhere in New York, with family? Good night
Bobby! See you tomorrow. 


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