New York, New York

Beacon Theatre

November 22, 2017

[Laurette Maillet], [Leo Schuller], [Matt Kelly], [Barry Gloffke]

Review by Laurette Maillet

22th of November New York, New York.  I stay in bed longer.  Today it is
the day the Zoo entrance is free. Each day in New York,  a different
museum is free. I walk Central Park, North and South, West and East but do
not find any zoo. The horses, birds, squirrels and dogs are the only
animals I saw. Since the morning a throng of people are concentrating
towards Central Park. I ask the reason " this is the balloons' parade.
They will inflate the big cartoon balloons for the parade tomorrow".
Alright.  I just walk the opposite direction, towards the Beacon. The
traffic is dense. But the Boys and Bob arrive on time for the
soundcheck.  I have a ticket tonight, thanks to Nahoko Abe. I don't have
to be early at the doors, but I don't want to miss Mavis. It might be the
last time I'll be able to see her as I will need to seach for a ticket on
Friday and Saturday. I am in at 6.45 p.m. to avoid the queue and just chat
a little while with Catherine. My seat is on the floor, the last row. 
That will allow me to stand up and I won't be disturbed by anyone talking
in my back. Cool! Mavis is ... Mavis.  Great Soul. She brings Joy,
Hapiness, Inspiration and Positive....vibrations! Stu takes the stage. I
am up from beginning to end. Focusing on George who is incredible
tonight.  Well! Maybe because I am paying attention to his playings. The
best drummer in the world, I am sure. The cellphone policy is strange.
Many people have their cellphones open and up during Mavis show. I ask a
usher why. She says only during the Bob Dylan performance, the phones will
need to be turned off. But the restriction is not strong.  Many folks
take photos. The girl next to me is obviously recording and it annoyes me
to see the light on her phone. She came to the show just to...tape?? The
audiance starts to "get tired and bored" by mid-show, moving out and in. 
But "Thunder on the mountain" brings the entire Beacon UP. Calming down
with "Autumn leaves".  Bob seems again to be in pain, holding his left
hip with his hand. But who knows? It might be just an "attitude". I run
out just before the end. ..  but Bob is already gone. How he did it?
Mystery!  Good night Bobby! Happy Thanksgiving! 


Comments by Leo Schuller

I'm anyhow sad that Bob since several years now has a more or less frozen
setlist. But having that frozen setlist also in several concerts
sebsequently in one town like just in NY, I would say: UNISPIRED !! I
regret this very much because Bob is having this enormous variety of songs
in the background and doesn't present it any more. Too bad !!

Leo Schuller


Review by Matt Kelly

Dylan is probably my favorite artist as I've bought more albums from
him than anyone else (and that's not counting the collection of bootlegs
I've accumulated over the past 10 years), but I've only been to a handful
of shows. I didn't live close to a major city and until I left school and
started working, concerts in general were considered a costly luxury in my
family, so it was a while before I saw him live, by which point I had
heard quite a few of his shows thanks to the magic of bootleg. For it was
hit-or-miss, and before this show, I hadn't seen him since 2013, when he
was headlining that tour with Wilco, My Morning Jacket and Richard
Thompson. That show was very disappointing (I'll never forget the look on
Charlie Sexton's face when Dylan forgot an entire line from "Simple Twist
of Fate"), enough that I was discouraged from seeing any more for a while.
Dylan was only getting older, and his voice was sounding more hoarse, so I
figured he was on a downward slide. Then came 2016, the awful year where
we lost so many great artists. It still deeply saddens me that we'll never
get to see Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Merle Haggard tearing it
up on stage ever again. After Prince died, it really changed my priorities
on how I spent my money, so I became far less hesitant about seeing anyone
else in concert. In the past year, I saw shows that turned out to be among
the last ever to feature Grant Hart and Walter Becker, and even then I
missed my chance to see Tom Petty. So when Dylan was swinging through
town, I didn't hesitate. Mavis Staples made this easier - she took the
whole place to church. The line outside the Beacon was ridiculous, so much
that I missed most of the first number even though I got there pretty
early. (They started pretty close to 7:30, the scheduled start time.) The
house was pretty full and by the end she really won over the audience. She
joked about trying to steal one of Dylan's dance moves, only to check
herself out in the mirror and deciding that she couldn't pull it off the
way Dylan did it. Later on, she performed the song her father (Pops
Staples) wrote for the march from Selma to Birmingham. At the end, she
said "I was there...and I'm still here." Eloquent words that said so much
given the context, it was a lesson in endurance, and it was especially
moving in the times we're living in now. By the end, audience members were
at the edge of the stage, reaching out to her, and she shook every hand,
even giving one person a fist bump. One of the best opening sets I've ever
seen, right up there with the one I saw Patti Smith do for Neil Young at
Barclays Center. Then came Dylan's set. First off, I should mention two
things: this was easily the best sounding venue I've ever seen a Dylan
show. Not an arena or a stadium, but an intimate, recently renovated venue
made for the best sound. I've been to several shows here, including one by
Elvis Costello & the Impostors on Dylan's 70th birthday. (Elvis paid
tribute by opening the second set with a solo acoustic version of "License
to Kill." I hate that song but like all great covers, Elvis made you see
what he saw in the song.) I can confirm that the best place to hear any
show is in the front third or half of the loge. It's perfect - everything
is crystal clear and well balanced. Second, there were signs everywhere
asking people not to take photos, videos or use their phones. When you
came through security, they repeated the same warning. They were NOT
messing around. As soon as they started, ushers came in and would flash
these lights at people who were seen using their phones. They would then
violently motion or yell at them to turn them off or leave. It was very
distracting, but luckily after the first number, very few people tried
taking photos, at least where I was sitting. Reading some of the other
reviews on this tour, it's clear that some of these arrangements have been
used for the past few years. If you follow Dylan on just about every tour,
I can see why this may be disappointing. Most people don't see Dylan that
often, if at all, and for someone like me, that meant all but two, maybe
three of the original songs had arrangements that sounded familiar
(similar to their studio recordings). Hearing most of the songs completely
rebuilt from the ground up, in arrangements that were completely new to
me, was incredible. I was essentially hearing new songs because the music
was that different. I'm not a fan or re-arranging things for the sake of
shaking it up either - it can be really hit-or-miss with Dylan, but in
this case, pretty much every arrangement fit the old words well and often
times seemed revelatory. This band seemed like they could play ANYTHING,
and when I say play, I don't mean taking a passable stab at any particular
pre-'70s genre, I mean if they wanted to, they could record a country
album that would smoke anything that was coming out of Nashville, play
some dirty rock n' roll every bit as good as anything heard on the indie
circuit, or play a memorable, expert set at any major jazz festival. This
was an absolute tour de force. None of this is terribly surprising - it's
not like I've forgotten "Love and Theft" or any of those great shows with
the triple guitar interplay between Campbell, Sexton and Dylan - but it's
such a great achievement that it's the type of thing that is always
startling to behold when everything falls into place. And my God, did that
happen. The last two times I saw Dylan and his band, it was the same exact
band, and while they were solid, they never really caught fire (except
when Mark Knopfler joined in a few a numbers when he was opening for
them). They could sound a bit tepid because they didn't push Dylan like
his previous bands would. Four years later, all that time on the road
must've done something to them, because they really caught fire. Receli
was electric, at one point chucking his sticks in the air before grabbing
another pair. Sexton pretty much took all the leads and he was
magnificent. Each of his solos were incredible, and they were a big reason
why the '30s pop tunes went over so well. Beautiful solos, like he was
channeling the best guitarists from that era. I was surprised by how
affecting these songs would be as I couldn't get through any of those
albums (another reason why I didn't see a show for a long time). But the
biggest surprise was Dylan. As I mentioned before, the last two times I
saw him (again with this band), his voice had become very gravelly and
hoarse, to the point that I thought his vocal cords were beginning to
breakdown from age and a lifetime of smoking and touring. His voice has
actually IMPROVED, sounding like he did in the late '90s or the early
'00s. (Not exactly a sweet-sounding voice then either, but you know what I
mean.) Better yet was his piano playing. He was wonderful! I've never
heard him play this well on stage before, especially with the diversity of
styles he was dealing with. The best had to be "Highway 61 Revisited." Is
it just me or does that song bring out the best in him? I can knock the
'69 Isle of Wight show and the Before the Flood tour with the Band, but in 
both cases, the absolute exception was this song (radically different in both 
cases), and I can still remember it being the absolute highlight of the shows 
he did in the early '00s. On this night, he attacked that piano like Little
Richard, and if you know that story about him at his high school talent
show, doing "Jenny, Jenny" only to be interrupted by an uptight principal,
you can see why this felt like his life in music coming in full circle.
This may have been the best show I've ever seen. I know he's done better
shows - if I can take a time machine back to 1966 or 1963, it wouldn't be
hard to find a better one - but for a lot of reasons, this experience was
easily the most memorable. I saw a LOT of shows this year, and it's tough
to say which one is the closest to my heart. John Cale doing VU & Nico?
The triumphant return of LCD Soundsystem? Lee Konitz just before he
turned 90? Paul McCartney at MSG? The ones I mentioned before? Kendrick
Lamar had the best show - culturally, the moment was too big for anyone
else to compete, and he's at the top of his game while standing at the top
of the music world right now. But as of now, this will be the one show I
will think of most when I think about the one artist who's probably done
more for popular music than anyone else. 


Review by Barry Gloffke

The third night of five at the Beacon Theatre was the weakest so far of
the three for me. Maybe three shows in a row has gotten to Bob this time.
Maybe it was the lackluster crowd (it gets tiresome having to mention that
every other concert). Maybe it was me. But some of the songs had slow
starts where it took a verse or two for Bob to find his voice. There was a
lot of tinkering between some songs where it seemed there may have been
tuning problems. And there was an unraveling at the end of MELANCHOLY
MOOD. The concert certainly started out well enough with Stu making his
appearance at about 8:30. Bob was in good voice and the Cowboy band was
well geared. 

Unfortunately for me again during the first song I was asked to sit by a
fan… but I was too energized to sit during the opener of THINGS HAVE
CHANGED (which from what I heard was fantastic), so of course an usher was
summoned and I was asked to sit down. Pardon me, but, no way. So I move
over to the wall on the left side of the arena where they always let
people stand and dance. And there were people there standing and dancing,
but for some reason the usher over there tells me I can't stand there and
dance, I have to go back to my seat. So I tell him that I was told that I
had to sit down in my seat and could not dance, he says, NO, you can't
stand here and dance you have to stand in front of your seat and dance.
While all of this inane conversation is taking place, I am missing my hero
onstage performing. Very frustrating. So I go back to my seat and continue
to stand and dance… a moment later the usher who just told me to go to my
seat comes over and tells me it is okay to go back to where I was by the
wall. Fine, thank you… I can now stand and dance. But it was about to get
weird. The next three songs were really good - IT AIN'T ME, BABE was
smooth, relaxed and sung beautifully - HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED rocked out
with good interplay between Charlie and Bob - WHY TRY TO CHANGE ME NOW was
delivered as well as I've seen and the crowd loved it. It was song number
five - SUMMER DAYS - where it got weird. I was dancing and during the
lines 'I'm standin' on a table, I'm proposin' a toast to the king'… I
mimicked those lines, held up my drink and pointed to Bob. Now an usher
comes down the small set of steps that I am near and tells me I HAVE TO
say to him, you just came down the steps in front of me… there are no fans
near you… who was complaining that they were being distracted? Now he
changes his initial reason and tells me that his boss told him to come
down here and tell me to tone it down!! I find that highly suspicious. I
assume that I was just having a bit too much fun and that really does not
sit well with some people. So it seems to have come to this… not only do
you get told not to dance in front of your seat, but when they give you a
place to dance they tell you HOW you can dance!!! Wow!! This country has
gotten way too tight. Everybody takes their jobs and lives way too
seriously. In front of the Beacon Theatre tonight were military style
police with automatic weapons… for a Dylan concert!!! It goes from the top
down and now has gotten to the point where the box office people and the
ushers feel a need to police and babysit us. Sickening. The saddest part
is this police state is working, because from what I can tell most of
these fans are happy to self censor themselves. They are happy to be
corralled and controlled. Told just how much fun they can have and when it
will be parceled out to them. Pathetic.

Needless to say this brought down my vibe and made me miss most of SUMMER
DAYS. But the show must go on, and it does whether or not I am sitting,
standing, dancing or arguing with staff. MELANCHOLY MOOD featured some
great licks by Charlie, but had that strange ending I mentioned earlier.
HONEST WITH ME was very upbeat, good voice, good piano and some great
inflections by Bob. 

Songs eight through twelve is where the show started to drag a bit (TRYIN'
SOON AFTER MIDNIGHT) were lacking for me. None were bad, as a matter of
fact PAY IN BLOOD was very good, but there was just something missing (it
did not help that there was very little energy from the crowd in my area,
about 12 rows back, to the left of the stage… for the most part all of
crowd energy was focused in the first 10 rows on the right side of the

But there's always hope at a Dylan gig… enter the EARLY ROMAN KINGS (those
sons-of-bitches rulers of the economy) and just like that the show turns
around. Sluggers and muggers!! Outstanding. Highlight #1 for the evening.
A very nice FULL MOON AND EMPTY ARMS is followed by highlight #2, another
barn-burning version of THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN. This song builds and
builds in intensity to the point that three quarters of the way through
the song the audience had no choice but to stand and dance. Where were you
people all night!! And then another fantastic and mesmerizing version of
AUTUMN LEAVES with Bob in magnificent low register was highlight #3 for
the night. A top notch LOVE SICK featuring nice guitar work by Charlie
brilliantly ended the show proper.

The usual encores tonight of BLOWIN' IN THE WIND and BALALD OF A THIN MAN
were both high level. BALLAD featured good drums, guitar and Bob.

All in all a roller coaster of an evening, but I am always happy for
another Bob Dylan show. One last show for me on Friday. Look forward. 


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