New York, New York

Beacon Theatre

December 6, 2019

[Barry Gloffke], [Laurette Maillet], [Tom Palaima]

Review by Barry Gloffke

Our hero was here and now he's gone... off to the Nation's Capitol to
conclude his 2019 Fall US Tour. This was my 61st Bob Dylan show. Nice
number. Nice show.

I was fortunate enough to see 10 of the shows on this tour (9 NYC, Beacon
Theatre and 1 Philadelphia, Met Opera House) and I wish I could have seen
another twenty. They were that good. Each tour, each night — static set
list, or not — Bob re-invents his songs to try to capture the ultimate
essence of each song.

This last night for the Beacon run follows the same pattern as some of the
previous shows — strong first half, but stronger second half. Bob, dressed
in Black, looking like a ringleader for a mob of 1950s musical marauders,
plucks away at his guitar while letting us know that things will be his
way. Charging through a solid THINGS HAVE CHANGED he follows with a
rollicking IT AIN'T ME, BABE... full of swing and sway... it seemed more
upbeat than the previous nights and Bob was laying down some nice piano
with undertones of Donnie's pedal steel. HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, with one
the the greatest opening lines in rock history, is what rock and roll
should be... Spare. Sparse. Hard. Full Throttle. In your face. Blistering
version tonight. SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE featured a great harp solo which
followed Bob inadvertently confusing the lines of this version from a
previous one, before quickly correcting himself. 

The atmosphere changes 180º from the mostly recognizable melody of STOF to
the new funky/start/stop/sway/dance version of CAN'T WAIT. He has the
audience in the palm of his hand as the Band stops on the line... 'people
all around'... then starts again when Bob sings... 'Some on their way up,
some on their way down'. The crowd loves it and roars in approval. Later
in the song Bob brings down the house when the Band slows down, on the
lines... 'rolling through stormy weather' and 'the places we could roam
together' (he elongates weeeeeeeeaaaaaaatttttthhhhheeeeeerrrrrrr and
tooooogggeeeeeetthhheeerrrrr magically)... then breaks into a dance groove
for the line... 'It might be funny, the end of time has just begun'.
Absolutely amazing. This rearrangement alone is worth the price of
admission for me. It's not just the new dance/soul/groove melody
structure, it's not just the way he elongates the last words/syllables of
certain lines, and it's not just the way he emphasizes the last lines of
the chorus... 'I dont know, I don't know, I said, I don't know, how much
longer I can wait''s the whole god damned package that amazes me!!
This is the master at his craft, painting a new face on an old known one,
and creating a completely different persona. Wow, stunning.

The audience is now enthralled. Bob and Boys knock an earnest HONEST WITH
ME and a nice version of TRYIN' TO GET TO HEAVEN. From here the show moves
up a notch. Although the audience does not seem to capture the spirit of
MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE, boy does Bob. This was a great vocal delivery by
our hero tonight... tender, soft and sincere. The line...'I could hold you
for a million years, to make you feel my love... is testament that Bob
Dylan writes the greatest love songs of all time. Bob follows up this
sugary treat with bitter blood. The tempo of PAY IN BLOOD starts slow and
builds up to a powerful proclamation... 'show you me your moral virtues
first'. Badass and proud!

Next up has been the tour stopper for me... LENNY BRUCE. Bob leans into
this one... sings it with a passion and clarity he reserves for certain
occasions. A eulogy to a man, but also — IMHO — a statement about us...
what the divided people of our country have become. Too caught up in our
little gadgets, and — our political side .vs their political side — to see
that there is very little political side that is on our side. The little
people (us) know that you need to talk truth to power, but sometimes it
comes from the darnedest places, and sometimes it takes people in power to
speak truth about/and to power. Bob may be signaling something here that
we are missing because of the echo chambers we reside in. I regress, back
to Bob and The Band.

The show is now in high gear... and even the drunk, after work, NYC crowd
won't inhibit it from getting better (although it seemed like some of them
were trying). Heavy blues on tap for EARLY ROMAN KINGS. Bob commanding
center stage, Tony/Matt pounding rhythm while the guitars and lap steel
blaze through the Beacon air. Stomp, stomp, stomp... 'the Early Roman
Kings, they’re peddlers and they’re meddlers'... 'they’re lecherous and
treacherous'... 'sluggers and muggers'. But Bob is up to their tricks...
'I'll dress up your wounds with a blood clotted rag, I ain’t afraid to
make love to a bitch or a hag , If you see me coming and you’re standing
there, Wave your handkerchief in the air, I ain’t dead yet, my bell still
rings. Fucking great! The crowd is as wild as I have seen in a long time.
The energy is palpable. Bob then brings that energy inward for a
reflective, contemplative and absolutely beautiful version of GIRL FROM
THE NORTH COUNTRY. Sung with true melancholy, and imbibed with Tony's
somber bass and Donnie's mellifluous violin, the song hung in the air as
Bob bared his soul for all to see and hear. Magnificent. A transition from
ethereal comfort to ominous vibe with NOT DARK YET (a little less echo
than previous takes). This is yet another masterful reworking of a
previously great song. Another case of Bob using breaks/stops in the song
to change the momentum or emphasize lyrics... all to great effect. Now
it's time to climb the mountain and rain thunder on the crowd. At one
point in THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN Bob was bouncing up and down at the piano
like a young Little Richard/Jerry Lee Lewis... banging delightfully at the
keys... all while the Band was cutting the trees in the forest...
fantastic!! The crowd was fired up... once again, the most energetic of
the tour that I have seen. And once again Bob will take that energy and
move it somewhere else. This time transforming it into a swaying/swooning
rendition of SOON AFTER MIDNIGHT... a song that slowly builds in quiet
confidence. Bob may be getting played by the women in the song, but
eventually someone will have to pay dearly. Not us, fortunately, as we get
another great penultimate set closer. And then we get one of the longest
monologues from Bob in a long time. 

Bob thanks us (we cheer), introduces the Band (we cheer for all of them
individually), then gives shout outs to audience members — Little Steven,
Martin Scorsese and William Dafoe. Bob remarks about seeing Dafoe in
Temptation of Christ and he wishes that Martin Scorsese would make the
First Temptation of Christ...make it for my he says... he then cracks up
at his own joke... and says 'Yeah' before breaking into the set closer
GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY. Bouncy, fast, fun, new lines on the run. Preacher
Bob telling it like it is... 'You may be in Las Vegas, having lots of fun,
you may be hiding in the bushes, holding a smokin' gun, but you gotta
serve somebody... yeah'. I love it!! My favorite set closer in many tours!
Most of the orchestra crowd in up on their feet for this rousing take. Bob
ambles to center stage as the Band slowly winds down the melody and with a
quick bow, they disappear off stage right.

We wait in loud anticipation for the inevitable encores of BALLAD OF A
way from the 3rd row (one row/seat behind Mangala) to the rail, far right,
facing the stage, for a lengthy version of BOATM. Bob barked out the
vocals and the Band bit into their instruments... chewing the songs to
bits... bombs away brilliant! The final song of the show (and the tour for
me) is an exquisite/soulful/deep blues version of TRAIN TO CRY. Bob leaves
it all on the line and his train does not get lost on the tracks. 'Don't
say I never warned you when your train gets looooooooossttt'! What an
amazing conclusion to an amazing run of shows. Thanks Bob.

We were truly blessed to witness these performances. The tours have been
getting stronger each year. The songs reworked and rewritten adding new
depth and meaning each time. The setlist makes in own statement about
where Bob is at. His voice has transformed in the last few years (thanks
American songbook) so that it has a range that captures more of the
emotion and wisdom of his lyrics. Can he keep this sustained pace? We can
only absorb it while it lasts and thank Bob for the creativity and
ceaseless effort. Thanks Bob.

The end is always bittersweet. Great music, old/new Bobcats, a party
atmosphere... but the show must come to an end... until the next one! I
hope to see all of you Bobcats next tour. There were so many Bobcats in
the Beacon Bar post show. Ed as always, nice to see you... touch base with
me when you get the chance. Mangala, thanks for letting me get in front of
you and onto the rail... that makes us even from our seat trade on
Tuesday. Al/Susan, enjoy the new digs. Ian, I hope you are enjoying your
day back in the office on the other side of the pond. Phil, Bearded Beacon
Bar Mike, Katherine, Canadian Sue and all the others to numerous to
name... see you next tour.

Much thanks to Bill Pagel for this website  and the work he puts in (nice
to see you and Mitch again in the Beacon Bar last night).

A last shout out to some of the really nice Beacon Theatre employees that
I have gotten to know over the last three tours... Robert, Roberto,
JoeVay, Sandra and Al...thank you guys for your kindness and support. 

PS. My Christmas wish list includes a new Dylan studio album... please
Bob, please, please, please! (and more tours)!

PSS. Tour high points were:
Philadelphia 11/21
Beacon 11/30
Beacon 12/5
But still the greatest show I've ever seen (and probably always will be)
was Tramps, NYC, July 26, 1999


Review by Laurette Maillet

Beacon 10. I spend the morning painting my....masterpiece. Then it is
already time to go to Manhattan when I realise I made a mistake on my
hostel reservation and I have to check out today...right away. Oh my!
Nahoko will help me a lot on that disaster. Thank you. So I still want to
go to the Beacon to...spy on Bob. He will arrive in his black car, walk
inside the venue, then move inside his bus early. His people are loading
the bus in the afternoon. I meet Dave and Kim and we have a drink. By
6.40p.m. Bob walks inside the venue surrounded by three bodyguards.
Yesterday he had none. I start my search for a ticket, but in vain. We
must be ten looking for free ticket and the shown is totally Sold Out. No
chance. But a lot of Fans recognise me and encourage me. Thanks people. I
also had a V sign by Charlie. Cool! And Barron passing by , I ask him if
he is mad at me. "not at all" he says with a big smile. Cool Barron! I
listen to the show from outside in the freezing cold, eating bread and
salami! The trucks are parked right in the back of the Beacon and the boys
already move the boxes around. I am told that the show was fantastic. I
had the sound without the view but I danced on Thunder hearing the crow
shearing loud. I am wondering how Bob will leave tonight when I realise
the bus is gone! He will fly tomorrow to DC? They pull the car around the
corner. The Lady with the book is here again. Plus five others. This time
Bob is rushed to his car and bye bye all of them, see you in DC. I sold
for 100$ merchandise: paintings and posters and that will make my day. My
dream for Japan starts to take form. But let see what DC will bring.


Review by Tom Palaima

The atmosphere outside  and inside the ninety-year-old Beacon Theatre
ahead of this last show of the ten-show two-week residency on Bob Dylan &
His Band was The Last Waltz-like from 7:00 PM onward. Richard Thomas (Why
Bob Dylan Matters) and I were together with his son-in-law Seth Pitman (a
musician, no longer practicing professionally) and a very close friend and
former student of mine Peter van Alfen, a thirty-something and a
fifty-something. They both knew Dylan’s work and even used it in moving
‘together through life’, but they were seeing Bob & His Band for the first

The shade of late New Yorker  film critic Pauline Kael might say that
going to this show as a first concert was a bit like just happening to
wander into the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on 29 May 1913 and then taking
in the sights and sounds of the premiere performance of Stravinsky’s The
Rite of Spring. Richard and I said hello to Bill Pagel out on the sidewalk
ahead of the show.

Looking backward from our perfect seats in the fifth row along the aisle
audience left, in-line with Bob at the piano keyboard, there was Little
Stevie van Zandt, who would later tweet about Charlie Sexton’s justifiably
already legendary guitar playing behind Bob. Then at some minutes after
eight o’clock showtime, Martin Scorsese was escorted down the left
Orchestra aisle across the front of the stage and back up a ways on the
right aisle. Let the last waltz commence.

As on the night before (see review of 12-05-2019), the band was in harmony
and clearly enjoying each other’s company. Bob was actually smiling while
singing and playing “When I Paint My Masterpiece” (1971) and not just when
contemplating, as he sings it now, when “I’ll lock my doors and turn my
back onto the world for a while.”  His virtually solo piano-playing and
vocal honesty was equaled five songs later on the other retrospective
contemplative song “Lenny Bruce” (1980) about one of “those other guys
that died before they should have.”

The two reals standouts tonight—when any personal choices for standouts
would invoke the principle de gustibus et de musica Dylaniana non
disputandum est—were:

“Early Roman Kings” where Bob literally acted out the delivery of the
lyrics in backward and forward steps, body posturing, and punctuating
hands-and-arms movement, almost as if he were channeling Al Jolson’s 1927
The Jazz Singer; and

“It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” where Charlie Sexton’s
blues guitar took the song to heaven way before the train gets lost and
while the gates of heaven are still open for Bob and all the great
musicians who have sailed with him.”

As a classicist, I will close by channeling the spirit of Edward Gibbon.
“"If a man [person] were called to fix the period in the history of the
world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy and
prosperous, [she or he] would, without hesitation,” despite everything
going on in the world today, the earth’s lungs being intentionally set on
fire in the Brazilian rain forests, 700,000 Americans being cut from the
food stamp program, anti-Jewish acts proliferating in Germany, and
alternative facts proving Bob’s claim that “all the truths in the world
add up to one big lie,” might be tempted to say, “the period when the
greatest song-and-dance man whoever was did his thing for appreciative
human beings the world over with the help of musicians and the support of
devotees at Special Rider Music and Columbia Records and cats like Greil
Marcus and Bill Pagel and Olof Björner and Eddie Gorodetsky and and and
and and.”

The world seems much better today because of what transpired in the Beacon
Theatre on Broadway, New York City, two days before the date when John
Lennon was stupidly shot and killed in 1980.

Tom Palaima
Austin, TX


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