Reviews

Uniondale, New York

Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum

November 8, 2017


[Barry Gloffke], [Willy Gissen], [Roland Pabst], [Scott Kareff]

Review by Barry Gloffke



Brilliant! Bob had the good vibe and great voice
last night. And I mean GREAT voice. And the Cowboy Band, well, they are
always ready for a ride. The piano and drums were up in the mix. Sexton
and Herron led and filled beautifully. But what really stood out for me
was the great piano playing by Bob.

The recent reviews on this site and in the MSM were mercurial, going from
high praise to scathing critique… I was not sure what we would get when
Bob and the Cowboys rode ashore to Long Island for a gig at the newly
renovated Nassau Coliseum. I must say, I feel bad for the folks that
either get Bob on a bad night, have unrealistic expectations of what he
can do at this stage of his life, or just have not keep up with the last
25 years worth of material. They seem to miss the fact that art still
exists and artists evolve (and sometimes devolve). Pity. Anyway, the new
Nassau Coliseum mixed use arena boasts great sight lines and crisp sound,
but makes no claim to aesthetics.  

After a great warm-up show from Mavis Staples (that I heard from the
corridor, but did not see), Stu ambled out at approximately 8:30 and a
minute later THINGS HAVE CHANGED charged ahead with a new slightly less
ominous tone. That new arrangement would not be the last, or the best, but
it set the tone for the evening. It seemed as if every one of Bob's
originals were reworked from the previous tours, and I would say all were
better off for it, especially his epics like ROW and TANGLED. There was a
new smooth, slow pace for IT AIN'T ME, BABE which contrasted nicely with
the opener and set another tone for the evening: for the most part it
would be an uptempo tune (usually high-octane) followed by a mellow one.
Witness the next coupling of a rousing HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED (excellent
piano from Bob) followed by a relaxed, swaying WHY TRY TO CHANGE ME NOW
and you've got a good idea of what the show entailed. It was good pacing.
A word about the five American songbook tunes in the show. Lyrically, they
all fit exactly where Bob is now in life and what he's gone through. If
you approach the lyrics from the angle of Bob's past, the songs make so
much more sense. Not only that, but the juxtaposition of the smooth
melodies with the raspy gruffness of Bob's voice… well, that's music to my
ears.

So it went, from a rocking country version of SUMMER DAYS to a beautifully
smooth MELANCHOLY MOOD. From a roaring HONEST WITH ME to an inspired
TRYIN' TO GET TO HEAVEN to a well delivered ONCE UPON A TIME. From a
resonant PAY IN BLOOD to a mournful SEPTEMBER OF MY YEARS.

A bit through the midway point and so far a great show, but…

Coming up next was TANGLED UP IN BLUE, which had a mediocre arrangement on
the previous tours and later on would be DESOLATION ROW which had an awful
arrangement last time. So I was ready for a letdown for certain parts of
the remainder of the show. I had especially read some harsh criticism of
the new TANGLED UP IN BLUE arrangement, but I have to say, I was blown
away by how good the new arrangement was. He absolutely turned this one
inside out and I loved it. I need to hear it again to let it sink in, but
I thought it was fresh, funky and satisfying. This was followed by one of
my favorite new Bob originals EARLY ROMAN KINGS. That was scathing. Things
slowed with a swooning SOON AFTER MIDNIGHT. 

Now it was time for DESOLATION ROW… out was Bob's old sing-songy,
piano-poking version… in is something slightly closer to the original with
more care given to the the vocal treatment. So happy to hear this version.
Very nice. What came next I was not ready for at all. What started out
sounding like a spanish-flamenco-tinged THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN turned
into a rocking, rolling thunder on the island. This song fucking rocked!!!
It was musical crescendo upon musical crescendo, drums a' banging, strings
a' strumming. keys a' pounding and as the song went on Bob was getting
angrier and angrier. It was like something from Hard Rain. Explosive and
ferocious. The highlight of the evening for me. That highlight of the
evening was followed by a soulful AUTUMN LEAVES. Bob ended the show with a
great rendition of LOVE SICK.

The encores were no throwaways either. A good version of BLOWIN' IN THE
WIND and a really sweet version of BALLAD OF A THIN MAN rounded things out
nicely. Bravo Bob, bravo!

Look forward to Philadelphia Saturday night.

Barry

[TOP]

Review by Willy Gissen



Back to Basics

As Dylan winds down his career - yes, Dylan-philes, even Bob is mortal - he is going 
back to basics both as a performance artist and in his creation and packaging of 
music for the mass market. The release of Trouble No More represents a watershed
moment in his career, a reaffirmation of his Christian beliefs even in the face of 
scoffing from his skeptics, all too eager to pounce on any perceived inconsistency.

But Bob is not using Trouble No More as a crutch for song selection in concert as 
he continues to push back at the boundaries of musical interpretation. Yet even 
as he does so, he lays down and expands upon the fundamental building blocks of 
his profession. Thus, going to a Dylan concert provides an immersion experience in 
the multiple genres of the musical profession.

It was no different in Uniondale, Long Island, last night as concertgoers were 
treated to one of the best performances of his career. There were the old 
chestnuts, songs beloved by his base, such as Highway 61, Desolation Row, 
Tangled Up in Blue and Blowin' in the Wind. Of course, Dylan re-arranges and 
reinterprets all his music, keeping the audience on its toes.

Also, a quick nod to country music in a new version of Summer Days, completely 
transformed with a swinging country beat, and the recent exploration of songs 
from the American playbook, primarily performed by Frank Sinatra. He provided 
compact versions of "oldies but goodies" such as Melancholy Mood, Once Upon a 
Time and the particularly apt September of My Years.

And it didn't stop there as Dylan continues to play new music, completely his own -
it doesn't quite fit neatly into any category - songs such as Pay in Blood and Early
Roman Kings.

But Dylan is at his most powerful in the spiritual arena, providing a powerful boost to 
the tenets of Christianity, too often neglected in today's rush to technology and 
globalization. For this reason, his release of the Trouble No More bootleg is unlike 
any other in the bootleg series. 

First of all, the sheer size of the release is unique from any other milestone album 
of his career: the deluxe version offers eight CDs with 101 songs and a new DVD 
film of the same name. Some of the songs were never released before, songs such 
as the newly acclaimed Making a Liar Out of Me. And just like his concerts, Dylan 
slips in his Christian beliefs at a key moment of his career, just when the public is 
intrigued after his award for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the very Dylanesque 
reaction to the honor.

This leg of Dylan's concerts in his "never-ending tour" also features songs never 
sung before in concert. Last night, for example, he played Trying to Get to Heaven 
during one of the many apexes of the night. It was his eighth song, just as members 
of the audience were trying to get settled into the performance, a common mistake 
for any Dylan novice.

And Dylan ended the concert in the encore, just after his reinterpretation of Blowin' 
in the Wind, with Ballad of a Thin Man. With the audience on its feet, he challenged 
them again and again with the chorus, "Something is happening here, but you don't 
know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?"

For Dylan, that something is clearly Christianity, the fundamental building block of 
American society. He is telling us to go back to basics, to not be so quick to reject 
our history and our roots. Just like he is bringing back Frank Sinatra in a more modern 
and compact way, he is reinjecting Christianity back into the American bloodstream, 
both in concert and in his CDs.

As some of us are still waiting to receive our deluxe editions, we will get an exclusive 
film, also named Trouble No More. It is a movie rumored to be unlike any musical 
documentary currently on the market. But in its reinterpretation of one of Dylan's 
most powerful musical transitions, it will also reaffirm one of our most cherished 
beliefs. 

[TOP]

Review by Roland Pabst



Well after tonight's concert it is very easy for me to share a few
personal notes. The concert was amazing. The Memorial Coliseum is only 10
minutes from home. I was in Row 5 and people around me were moving their
bodies to the rhythm of the music, but there was no talking. I enjoyed it.
I loved the new arrangements. To be honest this afternoon, I thought
“well one concert would have been enough. Today on Long Island and in
two weeks at the Beacon? Too much”. After tonight I am looking forward
to seeing Dylan again at the Beacon. Even if he plays the same set -
it’s okay. Tonight he put his heart and soul into each of the songs. The
five cover songs he played were perfect. He always treated cover songs
with lots of respect. The same here. I had a smile on my face from the
first sound on until the concert was already long over. At the end of the
concert, I only saw happy faces. I wasn’t the only one who liked it.
Desolation Row is always a favorite but tonight Thunder In the Mountain
was unstoppable. It felt like being on a high-speed steam engine driven
train. How old is he? 76? No way! There was so much energy he didn’t
look or sound his age at all. Enjoy your concerts. BTW today for the first
time I didn’t care at all that he didn’t say one word ….. didn’t
he? He did it during 20 songs. Go and enjoy.

Roland Pabst

[TOP]

Review by Scott Kareff



I thought Bob and his band put on a fine, entertaining show at the
refurbished Nassau County Coliseum.  I missed last year's return to Forest
Hills, Queens, so this was the first time I have seen or mostly heard the
new crop of sinatra and standards.  For the most part I think it worked;
these songs fit what he can do best now or feels most comfortable doing
now, and I thought the way he sprinkled those songs throughout the set was
better than playing them in succession.

Bob's keyboard playing was inspired at times, and he was very engaged
throughout the show.  I was disappointed not to hear any harmonica solos,
but ain't it just like Bob to not give you everything you want. What he
did give was plenty, with a caveat.  The key to enjoying Bob in concert
these days, as it has been for years, is being able to recognize the song.
 And even the most grizzled Never Ending Tour veteran can fall off the
high wire and lose the thread from time to time.  When it happens
mid-song, or if none of the lyrics tips you off to begin with, it can be a
frustrating experience.  When you are able the grasp the reins, long
enough to know which way the song is heading, the payoff is immense.  It
also helps to have a spotter with you, someone who can fill in the gaps of
recognition, and keep you zoned in.  At this show, I was fortunate to be
with a fellow traveler who kept me hearing the songs, especially when I
didn't recognize the beginning of Tangled Up in Blue (the horror).  The
payoff was being able to recognize, however fleetingly, the new lyrics
that Bob gave to us in that song.  You had to listen hard, squint your
ears, and take notes to remember it all.

One interesting thing about Bob singing standards is that it is actually
easier to hear the lyrics in these songs because is performing them in the
standard arrangements, as opposed to the new arrangements he uses for his
own classic songs.

And if you aren't following along with the new arrangements of the old
songs, it can be a frustrating experience, like it must have been for the
cantankerous gentlemen (who looked to be similar in age to Bob) I
overheard on the way out exclaim how awful the concert was. Although I
know the feeling, I haven't been there since 1988 or 1991.  So, "What do
you mean, awful?  It was great," I said.  Maybe he was right from his
side, and I was right from mine.  I still give Bob good grades for this
show.

And I also give good grades to Mavis Staples, who I was glad to be able to
see.  "You are Not Alone" and her new song were highlights, and what a
treat to hear her testify how happy she was to be on tour with her old
friend ("We go WAY BACK," she said.  "When we were teenagers").

The refurbished arena gets less than good grades though.  First of all,
they need to get more metal scanners so they don't have to funnel all fans
to one entrance.  Second of all, parking was ridiculous.  Advance parking
was available for $20 online on ticketmaster, only it was "sold out"
during the day on the day of the concert, forcing you to pay $30 event
parking to park in the lot; and it turns out the entire $20 lot was empty.
You had to know about the special free lot to save that $30.

Which brings me to the last rating of the night:  the merch table was
great, if a bit obscenely priced.  Great T-shirts (but $40); programs and
stickers; and last but not least, the official Bob Dylan Trucker Hat -
$30, or a way better way to spend your parking budget.

Up Next:  a 5-night stand at the beacon raises the question:  what does
Bob have in store for us next?

Than you Bob!

[TOP]

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