page by Bill Pagel
Review by Dan Levy
Tonight's show surpassed Monday's; pretty remarkable! It really doesn't
get any better than the past couple of nights. Best NYC shows I've seen
in years and years. (I missed Tramps in 99 and the Beacon in 95, so my
frame of reference takes me back to Roseland in 94 for shows this
exciting--and Bob and his band are way better than they were then.) (Oh,
Winston Watson, the drummer in the mid 90s, was at both shows.)
Bob did a third encore, the live debut of George Harrison's "Something,"
which he dedicated to George, who "was such a good buddy of mine"; Bob
introduced the song by saying they couldn't make it to the London tribute
concert in a couple of weeks, so he was playing it tonight.
I had heard the band had run through "Something" in the afternoon before
the first Greek show, but had forgotten all about it and was as stunned as
anyone by how heartfelt was Bob's singing and how passionate and
well-rehearsed was the band's arrangement.
Bob must have a file somewhere of other people's songs that he could turn
into Bob Dylan songs: Mutineer, The End of the Innocence, Accidentally
Like A Martyr, Old Man and Carrying A Torch all have something in them
that Bob pulls out that sounds just like one of his own songs. I"The End
of the Innocence" the song starts out lamenting the hollowness of our
fairy-tale vision of American democracy, gets even more political, with
elected kings and lawyers smoothing out details. But in the last verse,
the singer asks for one last kiss, casting the song into the intimate,
saying goodbye one last time and inviting his lover to offer up her best
defense. It couldn't be more Dylanlike, and though I've always loved the
song, I had no idea what Don Henley was really, *really* getting at until
I heard Bob sing it.
Review by Peter Stone Brown
It's 1:20 AM, and I'm doing 80 on the Garden State Parkway and I got a
hundred miles to go and it's strange because I'm driving through all these
towns where I used to live a long time ago, the towns where I first heard
Bob Dylan, and followed him through all these changes from folk singer to
rock and roller to some mysterious Catskill Mountain mystic and I'm
wondering if any of those Bob Dylans was the guy I just saw at Madison
Square Garden. And I'm thinking that the guy who appeared on stage and
launched into what was possibly the most rocking version ever of "Seeing
The Real You At Last" with undeniable fire and maybe even vengeance
could've been the guy I saw turn Forest Hills Tennis Stadium into a war
zone, one chilly, windy night in August. But that lasts until maybe the
end of the first verse and I decide that the guy on stage is the kid who
played the Hibbing High School piano so hard he reportedly broke a key,
and the kid who brought a band in that was so loud, this quiet kid who
probably sat scowling at his teachers in class, the weird kid in school,
that the shut the power off. And that kid was rocking hard tonight,
wearing that crazy black and red suit that almost looks like bellhop or a
doorman. And just when you think he can't rock any harder, he changes
gears and is into a slow ballad, Van Morrison's "Carrying A Torch" and
it's beautiful, and that kid who broke that piano key and blew out his
high school talent show is gone and in his place paying tribute to another
songwriter, from another land so far away, who traveled many of the same
musical roads. And then I have to turn around and give the look to the
group of pea brains behind me who are talking about their best friend
getting married or something, but back on stage, the guy in the black suit
has switched gears again into "Tombstone Blues," and he's growling out the
lines and the pea brains and still chattering about nothing that has to do
with "Tombstone Blues" and it's time to give them the I didn't pay eighty
dollars to hear you talk so you better shut the fuck up right now" which
silences them for a truly wonderful, "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," and Larry
Campbell is playing superb pedal steel, and the harmonies are perfect and
they do the a cappella chorus and standing at the keyboard, he whips out
his harp and blows this beautiful solo, the notes ringing clear, and the
verse ends and you think he's going to put it away, but he keeps going for
another verse, and again you think he's going to drop it, but he blows yet
another verse and it is something.
And now I'm at the Union Tolls and right next to them is Rondo Music which
has been there forever where some crazy reporter who knew the guy in the
suit a long time ago, says he took the that guy to buy an electric guitar
back before the world changed, but the guy on stage is snarling "I used to
care, but things have channnnged," but now he's doing "Brown Sugar," and
it really doesn't matter at all whether he does or doesn't know the words
or what the song may be about because he's probably singing it because he
always wanted to and he has the right band to play it and he's having fun,
and then he slows down again for "Forever Young," and it's nice, but it
will probably never be as spooky as when he first sang it in '74 before
the album came out or maybe it's just a set up for the Chicago blues song
known as "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" and it is a blues song and
it always was a blues song, but things have changed, but the words are
same, and he's not just singing, he's delivering each line like he wrote
it yesterday instead of almost 40 years ago and I think back to some
friend of mine saying a long time ago in some Morningside Heights
apartment how these songs "were his blues," and the "even the President of
the United States must stand naked" line comes and the arena erupts. And
now the singer has an acoustic guitar around his neck, and he's into "One
Too Many Mornings" and after the second verse, he starts playing this
almost wacky, bluesy guitar solo, but now he's toying around with the
melody, and it's almost like he's stabbing the strings with his flat pick,
but now it's 30 years forward and "Cold Iron Bound," a song that once was
a blues and kind of still is but it's also something else and he's
stretching out the last word so it's cold iron boouuuuuuuuuuuund and then
it's back 20 years but not really into "Shelter From The Storm" and what
didn't really work two nights ago is working now and he's barely done the
repeat of "shelter from the storrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm" and the harmonies are
still ringing and he's into the next verse.
And then as he sometimes does, though not too often, though it seems to
happen in this town, he starts talking, and he says something like, "I was
talking to my buddy Al Gore and we got interrupted by this talk show host,
there's so many of 'em" and I realize that what he is saying is the exact
opposite of what that talk show host said on his show the night before,
and then he's into "Old Man" and then back to the piano for "Honest With
Me," and then back to the guitar and right away I know it's "Times They
Are A-Changin'" but he's playing something on the guitar at the beginning
that sounds like a slowed down Irish fiddle tune, but more than that, he's
really singing it, again stretching out the last word so it's
chaaaaaaaaaangiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin' and when he gets to the last
verse he puts that special emphasis, and there's no one better at special
emphasis than this guy on "The first one now will later be last" and I
realize that he's still singing the news and this is followed with even
more news on "High Water" and tonight the arrangement doesn't matter, it's
the singing and the words that count, especially those last lines, "it's
bad out there," "it's rough out there."
And by this time I'm long past the Garden State Parkway and even past the
Trenton 30 miles sign which means I only have maybe an hour to go and this
is the part where the exits come flying by one after the other and the guy
on stage is singing "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum" so gently, so
soulfully, this sad song from a lost album hardly anyone paid attention to
by a great songwriter and exit 7 flies by and now he's singing about "all
them rebel rivers" and "tobacco leaves" and strange people from some other
place or maybe they're not and the line "if you ever interfere with me or
cross my path again, you do so at the peril of your life" seems to ring
out over all the other lines (and I'm thinking how much I want to say
exactly that to the chatterers behind me who started chattering big time
again while cheering loudly at the end of all the songs they didn't pay
any attention to) and now it's swing time everybody because those "Summer
Days and Summer Nights are gone" and at times it's almost like some huge
band is on stage and the guitars go on the prowl faster and faster trading
the licks back and forth and you think it's never gonna end and then
they're done, and they're all standing there in a line and then they're
gone and then they return and it's news time again with "Blowin' In The
Wind" and the special emphasis is saved for "too many people have died"
and then into Egypt land with the Exodus into "Watchtower" and there's a
reason why he ends it now with "None of them along the line know what any
of it is worth" and they're gone, but the house lights don't come up and
most of the cheering crowd isn't moving. And all through this show I've
been wondering is this just another show, or does this guy this master
magician have something up his sleeve.
And by this time I'm lookin' for this weird thing that looks like a
battleship that the Navy stuck into some South Jersey cornfield because it
means I'm almost home and lo and behold they're back on stage and he's
talking again, this time about "his buddy George Harrison" and saying
something about how he won't be able to make the tribute so he's going to
do this song for George, and for the second time in a week it is I can't
believe this time because he is doing "Something," (probably Harrison's
greatest song) and he is really doing it, singing clear, singing strong,
singing with love and it's enough to make you break down in tears right
there, one of those once in a lifetime moments that cannot be repeated and
you know you're never going to hear it that way again.
And they stood in line again, except this time the singer's head is bowed
and then they were gone.
And then there was nothing to do but stand there and applaud, and then
just stand there soaking up as much of the moment as possible, following
the advice the singer once gave, "Take care of your memories for you shall
not relive them."
It's 2:30 AM, I pay my toll and turn right towards the western skies.
"People walk up as if they know me, just because I've written some song
that happens to, uh, bother them in a certain way and they can't get rid
of it, you know, in their mind. Well that's got nothing to do with me,
'cause they still don't know me. And I still don't know them!" --Bob Dylan
e-mail: email@example.com http://www.peterstonebrown.com
Review by Mike Skliar
well, got ourselves back to the garden (as joni mitchell might say) for
the 2nd of two nyc bob shows.... no surprise, another fine fine
show...with a talkative bob and a major surprise at the end..
opened with real you at last- very funky., and a song I like way better
then tweedle dum, which was monday's opener.
carrying a torch was next.. heartfelt singing, nice version but just an
ok song, at least my opinion.
that nice rearranged tombstone next. great, tho I think it was better on
monday, when he really drew out lines like "the sun's not yellow it's"
............(long paues, roll the eyes, check the watch, do a little
you aint goin nowhere- blast from the past, only the 2nd time live Ive
heard it ... great, great, larry wailing the pedal steel, nice backup
things have changed- just gets better and better
brown sugar,, to quote another stones song its a gas gas gas, or course,
but y'all knew that! bob's singing on this is totally drowned out in the
verses, but thats rock and roll for ya!
forever young.. unlike the masters of war in that slot monday, today we
got some of the dreaded up-at the end of the line thing.... this one didnt
quite do it for me tho it was fine
it alright ma- one I never get tired of in the new arrangement.. loved
it.... and he nailed it
one too many mornings- one of my favorite songs - done great as he always
does, tho the audience around me was a little too restless for me to fully
be in the moment.. and it was a little of that 'up at the end of the line'
cold irons bound- nice to hear something from toom.... and a well played
version- the band is totally comfortable with the 'new' (as of 2000)
arrangement.. the band is getting better and better at these giant dynamic
shifts in the music.. loud to louder to explosion to soft to loud again...
shelter from the storm.. I love the new arrangement, tho I thought he did
it better on monday. it kinda petered out here.. on monday he repeated the
first 2 verses, ended stronger
old man- another great cover
honest with me- to be honest not my favorite l & t song, tho this version
is a good one
times are a changing- dont know if it was before this that he did a little
story about hanging out with al gore the other night, when some talk show
host (I dont know which one, theres so many) grabbed al gore and
the song was nicely done, theres a bit of a new arrangement in that the
verses are faster, with none of the pauses beteen each line like there
used to be. the jam in the middle was a bit of a mess tho
high water- a highlight as it is every time he plays it! love the new
arrangement this tour
mutineer- another strong cover..
floater- just like bye and bye on monday, its a strong jazzy tune and
larry and charlie really stretch their jazz chops- fine players and my
favorite soloing of the night .. great vocal delivery too
summer days- even better then monday if thats possible
blowin- as usual, and one of the better versions, great singing..
watchtower- is watchtower, nice dynamics.. it's watchtower.
by now you've all seen the setlist and the surprise song after
watchtower... perhaps the most heartfelt and moving moment I've seen in
all the bob shows I've ever seen .. his warm dedication to george, 'a
close close friend' .. saying something like - 'there's a concert honoring
george harrison in london in about, oh, like a week. well, we can't make
it there, but Id like to do this in tribute to someone who was a real
close close friend, george harrison..
a quick conference with charlie and larry, then its bob at the keyboard
for a respectful, full voiced and full band moving version of 'something'
full harrison styled solo by charlie too.... bob straining a bit on the
bridge but going to a lower register and making it his own...
funny how I saw paul mccartney sing this song in tribute to george on
ukalale at the same madison square garden back in april..
and even funnier it was bob who played more of the 'original' version,
who woudla thunk it!
well, that's about all for now....
Review by Willy Gissen
New York, NY, November 13-At the third concert of my eight-concert
adventure, I was beginning to have doubts. Had I become dulled to the
thrill of a Bob Dylan concert? Did the letdown of Monday night portend
more of the same? Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? No
way! Even the crowd seemed larger tonight, and it was apparent from the
beginning that Dylan and the band were more enthused. Maybe Monday is a
bad night anyway, or maybe it's the finale of the two concerts at MSG that
is the most important.
I went with a friend who had never been to a Dylan concert before, and I
was glad this was his introduction. Things were turned up just a notch
from Monday night, but it is that small extra effort that made all the
difference. When Bob said, "Thank you," after the initial boisterous
welcome by the crowd, I could tell he was in a good mood.
And then halfway through the concert, he began talking! Anyone who's been
to a few Dylan concerts knows that he never talks. Everything Bob has to
say is contained within the unsurpassed, multi-layered lyrics of his
songs. Other than a hello, the introduction of his band at the end and a
goodbye, there's usually not much else of the spoken word. I think the
whole audience was stunned. By the time everyone realized he was talking,
not singing, and the crowd noise abated to listen to him, his one-minute
oration was over. I'm ashamed to admit I don't even know what he said!
The music, even the repetition of some of the songs from the past two
concerts, was vital and infused with meaning. I enjoyed hearing the song
about "Carrying the Torch" again because it fits Bob so well and the
phrase describes his lifetime of devotion and, for me, passing on his
religion-laden vision. I also enjoyed the classic, "The Times They Are
A-Changing" -- a song that even the non-Dylan fan appreciates -- for the
first time this tour.
And the encore was extremely special. You haven't experienced Bob Dylan
until you hear him singing, "Blowing in the Wind" at Madison Square
Garden. Dylan's aura pervaded every inch of the arena.
Dylan then played "All Along the Watchtower," with which he has concluded
his two-song encore on nearly every concert this tour. I'm sure all the
veterans, myself included, thought the concert was over, and they would
soon turn on the lights. Wrong!
One thing any Dylan fan learns eventually is that you never know quite
what to expect with Bob. Dylan came back and said he wanted to sing an
additional song in tribute to George Harrison. It was the Beatles song
with the lyric, "Something in the way she moves, affects me like no other
lover." I don't think Dylan has ever played it in concert before.
I look forward to the fourth concert of my tour with renewed enthusiasm.
Review by Scott B.
i was amazed when i saw the ebay offer of two front row tickets to bob
dylan at msg .my wife and i caught him in vegas on this tour as well as
new orleans and london this year.why not top it off in the big nutty
city.i bought the sect2 row a tickets booked my hotel and airline and we
were off from south fl to the big apple.seing bob dylan from the front row
will rearrange your head.this was one of the greatest shows i have seen
this year.its amazing that this man can continue to uplevel his
preformances .the crowd was mellow but generaly up.you aint going nowhere
was the only time he played harp all night,but the real intense thing that
ive noticed is that hes pulling back towards larry alot.its almost like he
teaching charlie to switch rolls and relearn and play differnt rolls then
where he was a year ago. the one too many mornings was slow and
heartfelt.its amzing how this band can shift gears delivering a a black
muddy country then shift to a freight train blues number.bob was dressed
to kill in a black suit with red pin strips on the side and those killer
red and black boots.i noticed that charlie came over before the g.harrison
number and asked bob if he wanted the music to read and bobs reply was get
that f---king shit out of here.what a nutty spontanious moment.nothing
like seeing bob in the front row in the big city.thanks guys. see you at
the next mind blowing expierence.he is the man.
Review by Tom Ostoyich
A few, disorganized thoughts about the Dylan's two Madison Square Garden
Maybe I'm a little nuts--trying to characterize the merits of two decent
Dylan shows is, of course, like figuring out how many angels fit on the
head of the pin. But since the "piano/covers" tour started last month,
I've been eagerly awaiting these shows. Maybe my expectations were too
First off, I never need to see another show at MSG--last year's show was
magical, but the sound bounces around too much here--details were lost in
spite of the decent seats I had each night--on the 11th, the "Summer Days"
jam was sheer cacaphony, although I could see the band was enjoying it. I
miss the smaller hall/theatre shows of five years ago. Plus, Dylan didn't
come close to selling out the Garden on either night (just like the
Second, Dylan plays "electric piano", not piano as he did in '89 and before;
to me, it's way down in the mix; while it's true it's mostly a rhythm
instrument, Dylan takes a few cracks at some "Monk-esque" soloing--but I'd
like to have heard more solo piano stuff--those early tour offerings of
"Ring Them Bells" and "In the Summertime" plus "Martyr" would've been
great. How about "Lenny Bruce"? Instead, he plonks away t/o songs that I'm
not sure if they benefit from it ("Honest With Me", say). More use, more
Highlights for the 11th: Clearly "Yea! Heavy", a well sung "Things Have
Changed" "Just Like A Woman" "Shelter" "Hattie Carroll", all Love & Theft
material and the covers.
As for the 13th: A terrific "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" (with jaunty pedal
steel courtesy of Campbell), "Forever Young" and "One Too Many AMs", a
new, cool reworking of "Cold Irons Bound" and again, the covers and of
coruse "Summer Days". Encores much stronger on the 13th and the
tremendous surprise of Dylan singing "Something." A sweet heart-tugger.
Moday's show gets my nod for the better overall performance--Dylan's voice
was stronger throughout, and the shock of hearing "Yea! Heavy" was just
too much. I swear there was a collective gasp in the audience. Truly a
curve-ball and it worked--the band lilting while Dylan spoke-sung the
lyrics with dry humor. Too bad we didn't hear the verse about the drummer
and the pie that smells. I hope it's not a one-off. I was into the show
from the git-go.
He only slipped into the "upsing" mannerism (a feature of the summer tour)
on "Masters of War" and "Hattie Carroll". Don't believe the hype about
the Henley cover, though. It was a terrible song by Henley and Dylan does
little to redeem it--altho his vocal was smoother than other versions I've
heard, it was still pretty raw. Needless to say, it got huge cheers,
which means Dylan will keep it around. On the second night, we got Van's
"Carrying A Torch"--a good song, but Dylan, to my ears, gave it one of
those unconvincing, mannered vocals in which creaky physical effort seems
to substitute for genuine emotion. It's simply out of his vocal range.
Maybe the inevitable tapes will change my mind, tho.
The other covers, however, were sublime--"Brown Sugar" stands out--the
band smokes, and for once, Reiceli's drumming isn't obtrusive, it's
propulsive. "Old Man"--the rare Neil song I don't like--is fantastic and
"Mutineer" is just lovely--Dylan gives it one of the more poignant vocals
I've heard him drop in recent years.
I really like the mandolin rearrangement of "Shelter" --Dylan seemed to
take it slightly slower on the 13th and to lesser effect; on the 11th, he
tumbled out of the harmony chorus into the verses and it just sounded
neat--also, he gave us more verses the 1st night, although far from
complete. But one of the better arrangements I've heard of it.
The lounge band from the nether world arrangement of "It's All Right, Ma"
works better on paper, although it's neat to see Dylan leaning over the
keyboards like he was on the pulpit preaching. It's an eerie visual.
I'm not a fan of the "Heaven's Door" arrangement, which clings to the
original "gospel" harmonies, but sounds cluttered. "Blowin'" on the
second night was actually a welcome replacement, despite the fact I've
heard it a billion times now.
The second show was far more ragged at the beginning, in particularly the
vocals--it didn't warm up for me until "Brown Sugar"--however, it steadily
built in energy and it's late peaks were great. I'm glad I got to finally
hear "Floater". And to no one's surprise, but the band has so much fun on
"Summer Days" it's infectious --Charlie kicking the cymbals, Larry and
Tony vamping a little dance and Dylan doing his weird shimmying--it's
almost unbelievable that the song keeps getting wilder.
As an added bonus on Wed., Dylan got downright chatty. He made veiled
reference to Conan O'Brien's story about Dylan and his "buddy" Al Gore ("a
talk show host, I don't remember his name") (on Tues. show, Conan
recounted how he got to meet Dylan backstage on Mon. All Dylan said was
"I seen you on the TV." Before Conan could respond, Gore whisked him
away; Conan was crushed and then suffered the indignity of having to
watch Gore "dance" all night to Dylan's set)--plus Dylan's genuine
comments re: George Harrison. If I heard it correctly, Dylan said he
won't be performing at the tribute, but wanted to play "Something" to
remember Harrison, because, Dylan said they were "such good buddies." It
was a lovely performance, with Larry on mandolin and Charlie playing a
sweet solo that at once, nodded back to George's own solo, but also took a
few new twists. Delightful and touching.
Still, the weird aspect of the shows overall is that the pacing seems
off--while it's great that Dylan and co. have broken out of the
acoustic/electric sets, the sudden switches between styles are drastic and
the audience's response seemed to waver at times.
More problems: Reiceli overplays. He suffers from an extreme case of
Winston Watsonitis--in fact, Watson seems restrained in comparison;
G.R.'s fills clutter--he's like an overtimulated kid at times. It was
especially evident on the 11th--several songs seemed to struggle to get
off the ground b/c the drums were overplayed ("Summer Days"
"Watchtower")--like someone grinding gears. Looked like Dylan was glaring
OK, decent shows with some extraordinary moments, but not the greatest
shows I've seen--just of a piece with Dylan's consistent level the last
Review by Rob Berretta
Last night was another special show on what I guess we
can safely call the “tribute tour.” All in all, I had
the feeling that Bob’s voice was a little clearer on
Monday, but that could simply have been the difference
in my seat location. Having said that, I enjoyed the
songs that were repeated from Monday better last
night, maybe because I am getting more used to the new
Seeing the Real You at Last was strong, and it was
good to have a different opener, but Tweedle Dee
worked better. Carrying a Torch is a Van Morrison
song I don’t know, but it is well suited to Bob’s
voice – musically it reminded me of I’ll Remember You.
Tombstone and Things Have Changed were the same as
Monday, both good. You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere was a
highlight for me as this was one of my most wished-for
songs. A great delivery, although the boys missed the
harmony a bit in the first refrain. This was
corrected for the rest of the song. Oddly, this was
the only tune with harp, although he played it quite a
bit on Monday.
Brown Sugar was the same, and Forever Young was a
standard version, but solid guitar playing and
harmonies. It’s Alright Ma was great again. I like
this version; he took the original guitar riff and
made it more bluesy on the keyboard, but the lyrics
come through very cleanly. One Too Many Mornings was
nice, and Cold Irons Bound was terrific – same version
he’s done for awhile, and works great as an alternate
to Drifter’s Escape. I preferred Shelter from the
Storm from Monday’s version, but again that may be
just because I expected to hear it this way. Before
Old Man Bob gave the first of two little speeches.
It’s always great to see a concert where he talks,
mainly because it tends to mean he’s in a loose mood
and the performances will be better. Unfortunately
it’s always hard to get everything he says! He said
something to the effect that when he was in his
dressing room before the show, a talk show host came
in and tried to convince him to do the show. Then
Larry (or someone on stage) asked who the host was and
Dylan, I think, said “I dunno.” He said something
else, which I am guessing was tying in the interview
with the talk show host to the conversation of the old
man with the young man in the next song. Maybe I’m
making this up because I didn’t hear all of it
clearly, but until I hear a tape this will work for
me! He flubbed a couple of lines in Old Man but it
still was fun to hear. The crowd loves this, as
there’s always a Neil Young connection with Bob and
the audience. I remember him playing Highlands at the
Garden a few years ago, and the crowd went nuts with
the Neil Young reference.
Honest with Me is a great concert tune and was done
well. To my surprise, The Times They Are A-Changin’
was a real highlight. Of course it’s one of his
greatest songs, but like all the standards you kind of
hope he will do something more rare in its place.
However, this was a killer version, with a new riff
just before the refrain that recalled the riff between
the verses of Like a Rolling Stone. The only letdown
was that there was no harp solo, which would have been
perfect here. Then came Mutineer, same version, good
Floater was terrific, although it was a bit lost in
the big hall. Fortunately it was a good audience and
you could hear it clearly. The whole band played
quietly throughout, and the lyrics came through in
full. Bob’s delivery was a great bluesy growl.
Summer Days was the same as Monday – tight, fun, crisp
and the perfect closer for the tour.
The encores were exactly what would be expected –
Blowin’ and Watchtower, both done well but
predictable, so much so that I was halfway down the
aisle when Bob, with the lights still off, said “Thank
you very much.” He talked about the upcoming George
Harrison tribute concert in London: “we can’t be
there, but we want to play this tonight” for George
“since we were such good buddies.” The version of
Something was right out of Abbey Road, except that Bob
didn’t hit the high notes – the audience did! It was
a well-rehearsed, tasteful version, and something I
would think he’ll start doing on tour for a while. It
was a great moment and a perfect ending to the
He didn’t sell out both shows – probably about 60% or
70% for the two nights – still pretty good business,
especially given the prices. Last year at the Garden,
the prices were $34-$64 (thanks to the handy Boblinks
guide I checked this). This year they ranged from $48
all the way up to $120! I wonder if he could have
sold out two nights with more reasonable prices.
Review by Alex Leik
When I saw Bob had scheduled a 2nd night @ MSG, I wondered if he was
getting a bit cocky. Monday night saw many empty seats, and as showtime
approached Wednesday, the same was true.
James and I hit the "city that never sleeps" around 2PM wednesday, fresh
off of a night @ Tommy G's and the Strong Island Cafe. After watching the
Post Office on 8th Ave smolder for a while, & happy hour with my sister in
law, we were in our seats in Section 96, another night with prime location
in terms of sound.
Bob and the boys were on by about 8:20 & straight into "Seeing the Real
You...". I found this to be a much better opener than "Tweedle..." on
Monday night. The hard driving Empire Burlesque track seemed to better
command the crowd's attn. Bob's keys sounded stronger in the mix. Very
welcomed. "Carrying a Torch" was simply beautiful, and as much as I loved
hearing "Yea, Heavy!..." on Mon., this was very well done, & a welcomed
substitute. But once again, I get the feeling Bob is more interested in
the covers than his own songs. This would soon change.
"Tombstone Blues" plugged along, but it was the surprise 4th slot that
took this show to a level Mon night's show could not reach. I was
expecting, and hoping for Zevon's "Accidentally Like a Martyr", but was
stunned to hear the beginning of "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere." Only my second
time hearing this, Newport '02 being the first, & this simply took on a
life of its own. Bob's harp solo was very well done & the crowd response
to this classic was very enthusiastic.
During "Things Have Changed", James went to the bathroom - enough said.
This usally bothers me, but I had to let him go because this was FLAT! The
oscar on the amp is enought to let me know that this song even exists -
I'll leave it at that. "Tom Thumb's Blues" would have been a nice
"Brown Sugar" raised the ante yet again - so well done. Charlie & Larry
might as well be Keef & Ronnie, well at least a sober Keef & Ronnie.
"Forever Young" was the next Dylan original to have justice done to it - a
wonderful version worthy of the ovation it received. We were now back
above Mon's performance.
"It's alright Ma..." is still getting the bluesy/swampy feel w/ George
pounding away on the drums. I can understand those who prefer the more
driving, countrified version of only a few months ago, w/ softer drums,
but the current version works well, IMHO. "One Too Many Mornings" was
another highlight. Bob's singing reached a peak I had not heard in some
time, save "Mutineer". This was possibly the highlight of Bob's original
tunes that were played, "Cold Irons Bound" coming in a close second. This
was simply nailed, and I was dumbfounded by the amount of people who chose
to take bathroom breaks during this - their loss, Bobby.
"Shelter..." just isn't working for me in its new format. Larry on mando
instead of steel & the harmonizing at the end of each verse have got to
go. I have seen well over 30 bob shows and this ranks at the top of the
worst thing I have ever heard him play. Larry needs to be back on steel
for this, or even drop the harmonizing, and Larry on mando would probably
work. I love this song, but not the treatment it is presently receiving.
Really not a highlight Monday or tonight.
"Old Man" & "Honest with Me" are a great 1-2 punch, although Bob may want
to rethink the 1st line of the latter. James and I tried to get a beer
around 1AM as we waited for our train, and the city was most certainly
asleep. "Times..." was OK, he seemed to get all of the words. Maybe a
request from bob's "friend" Al Gore? But, it has a bit of a new treatment
where they stop & start at the end of the chorus, George comes in a bit
hard on the drums - almost like the break in "Shelter..." and, well, you
know how I feel about that.
"Highwater" was better than Mon's version thanks to Charlie, but still
nowhere near what it was last year with Larry on banjo. "Mutineer" was
next and, well, I just can't put this into words. 'Absolutely stunning' is
only a start. The vocal is so real, and it makes the struggle almost
tangible. I am so glad he is playing this. "Floater" bit me in the ass
over the negative comments I made regarding it and "Bye & Bye" in my
Monday night review. They actually did a great version of this, with
Charlie & Larry trading fantastic guitar licks. "Summer Days", as James
says, goes without saying. WOW!!! I love the way Bob stands there noodling
during Larry & Charlie's absolute guitar assault, as if to say "Yup, my
song, my band. Whatcha gonna do about it?" Nuthin Bobby. We'll just sit
back and enjoy the ride.
BITW was a nice change in encore, but Bob brutalized the first solo,
playing it in a key I am not sure even exists. AATW was trivial, and I
really was hoping for LARS at this point to mix things up even more. James
and I made a quick exit to beat the crowds as the last verse of AATW was
ringing in our ears and, well, all I can say is don't leave until those
house lights go up. Bob was playing something as we were leaving, but we
could not make it out ;-) Seriously, I knew he had been sound checking it,
and all I can do is kick myself. At Philly on Friday, I'll be the guy
still in my seat as you are all in your cars, leaving the parking lot. It
will be me and building security, but I'll still be there. God, what a
fool I am!
At one point, after "Shelter..." Bob mentioned hanging out with his friend
Al Gore, and the fact that they were late due to some talk show Gore had
to do. Bob's best line to the crowd in sometime came when he tried to jog
his own memory as to the talk show host's name (Conan O'Brien) and said
"What the hell is his name? Well, anyway...".
Overall, I found this show better than Monday night, but still not up to
par with a few other performances I have seen in 2002 (Baltimore,
Charlotte). The energy was still lacking from some of his own songs and
while I am thrilled he pulled out "Something" as a tribute to his dear
friend George Harrison, it is another cover in a slot that could be
occupied by an original song from the most heralded catalog in music.
On to Philly...
Review by Barry Gloffke
First..did anyone get, word for word that intro?,...it was funny,
insightful and just an outright hilarious bit of rock 'n roll gossip for
days to come... please send me an e-mail if you know verbatim...
Second..the shows were breathtaking at moments, and just absolutely
incredible across the board. To hear some of the gems from the basement
tapes was wonderful. First time for those and others such as 'Seeing the
Real You at Last', 'Floater' and 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,
splendid, splendid, splendid...and those covers!!!...Never did I dream of
such a neat insertion of material that, he not only nails, but it adds a
spice to the shows that any other rocker would be envious and in awe of...
Warren Zevon (may he go peacefully and pain free)
and The Stones would have been proud to hear these versions of their art,
and George Harrison (rest his soul) would have smiled approvingly of Bob's
version of that Beatles song.
The band is spectacular, save for Receli who just doesn't know how to stay
low key, or know how to hold onto his sticks.
BOB IS BY FAR THE GREATEST ROCK 'N ROLLER EVER...and I would put that to a
test of logic, math, philosophy, science, religion, taste and carbon
dating. He would no doubt be at the top of all of those (maybe not taste,
that's a bit subjective,...but as Frank Zappa said, 'the universe is full
of stupid people', or he said something like that).
In any case, I'm looking forward to the next tour.
Review by Dan Drury
So many surprises last night, not the least of which was the number of
empty seats. I know it was a mid-week show and the Dylan had just played
the Garden on Monday, but I was still a bit taken aback by how many seats
were left open. Oh well, bad news for Bob;s wallet, but good news for
guys who drove two hours down from Connecticut, had to wait for their
friend to get off work, miss their train into the city, but still wind up
getting great seats from the box office. Anyway, about the show itself.
The houselights dimmed at about 8:20, and after his new, extended, and
slightly strange introduction, the man himself took the stage. The most
recent photo of Dylan I had seen was from the Newport Folk Festival when
he looked like an extra from 'The Lord of the Rings'. Now I know it's
bob Dylan, and God knows the man has earned the right to wear whatever he
wants, but I will admit to a little relief when he walked out in a
relatively modest black suit, sans the long wig, fake beard, and cowboy
hat. He set himself up behind the keyboard, and the band launched into
'Seeing the Real You At Last'. With the opening lines 'Thought the rain
would cool things down, seems like it don't. I'd like to get you to
change your mind, seems like you won't.', Bob set the tone for the entire
show. A tone that probably isn't going to get him an invitation to play
at Dubya's reinauguration. 'Tombstone Blues', 'Things Have Changed',
'It's Alright, Ma', 'The Times They Are a-Changin', 'Highwater', and
'Blowin' In the Wind' left little doubt about his Bobness's attitudes
towards the recent elections, Iraq, and the man in the Oval Office. I
think at one of these shows John Ashcroft is going to jump onstage and
arrest Bob for being an insurgent.
This was unquestionably one of the best Dylan shows I have been to. The
audience wasn't huge, but everyone who was there seemed to be having a
good time. Lots of people dancing at their seats, and singing along. My
friend said he thought this show was better than last November's show at
the Garden. I disagree simply because of 9/11 and how happy everyone
seemed to be that night to have Bob back in town. I do agree with my
friend that the sound quality was tremendous last night. Dylan sounded
great on the vocals, especially during the slower stuff like Zevon's
'Mutineer'. Charlie and Larry were dueling it out all night and really
burned it up on the uptempo numbers scattered throughout the set. And,
of course, Tony was soldi as ever. Some highlights were 'You Ain't Going
Nowhere' with the audience letting themselves be heard on the chorus,
'Shelter From the Storm' with Charlie and Larry stepping up on harmony
vocals ala 'Blowin' in the Wind', 'High Water' with a new al
most reggae arrangement that I had never heard but enjoyed very much, and
the best 'Summer Days' I'd ever heard which closed the show with a
ferocious jam that had the entire audience on its feet. And the covers
were excellent. I knew they had been playing 'Brown Sugar' and couldn't
wait to hear it, although I was a little worried Bob would slow it down
and lose the song's punch. I shouldn't have worried. The band just tore
it up, with Bob obviously having fun with the lyrics. This was easily one
of the best songs of the night. 'Old man' was excellent as well. Dylan
had addressed the crowd right before this song, but I couldn't make out
what he said, I'm sure someone else will have it.
The real shock of the night came with the last song of the encore. I had
seen that Bob had done a two-song encore on Monday night, and I had no
reason to expect any different. So, after 'Blowin'' and 'Watchtower', I
figured that was it. But the stage stayed dark and all of a sudden you
could hear guitars being tuned and you knew he was coming back out. Then
the stage lights came on and Dylan stepped up to the mike and said
something like "They're doing a tribute show for George Harrison next
week, I can't be there so I thought we'd do this one here tonight for
George because we were such good buddies". Then Charlie kicked into the
opening riff for 'Something' and the audience went wild, but quickly
settled down to listen. I've heard versions of this song done by Elvis
and Sinatra, but nothing close to this one. George would have been
proud. I'm almost glad it was the last show of the night, anything more
would have been anticlimactic. Thanks Bob.
Review by Brian Slattery
There was something special about Wednesday's concert. I went over to the city
early to meet up with Tony, a fellow Dylan enthusiast who was about to go to his
first live Dylan show. Expectations were high after Monday's show, and as we sat
and waited for "Rodeo" to start, I wondered what was in store for only my 19th
live Dylan show. Finally, around 8:20 p.m., the house lights went down and the
answer to my question began to unfold on the stage. "Seeing the Real You At Last"
was a great opener and one I've never seen live. It was a nice beginning to what
would be a most interesting evening. Next was "Carrying A Torch," the Van Morrison
song Bob has been playing with regularity this tour. I had hoped to catch this one,
and was quite happy when I did. It sounded slower than the mp3 I've heard, with Bob
drawing out the words. So far, so good.
"Tombstone Blues" came next, in the same slot as Monday night, which was not a
surprise, given the recent set lists. Bob and the boys played well, but there were
no real surprises. It's a good song, played well by an excellent band. Nothing
more. Nothing less. At this point, not sure what would appear in this slot, we
were treated to a great "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere." Bob really wailed on the
harmonica, for the only harp solo of the night. I think this was the first time
I've heard this live, and it was well worth the price of admission. Then, Bob gave
us a keyboards infused "Things Have Changed" and a rollicking "Brown Sugar." These
two songs appeared in the same slots on Monday night, but were both well-received
and very well-played. Still can't get over Bob covering the Stones, and doing it
so faithful to the original. I wholly understand the Stones, of whom I'm a fan,
covering Bob. After all, it is Bob we're talking about here.
"Forever Young," with powerful harmonies on the chorus followed, and for me anyway,
was a touching moment. This is a great song and Bob sang it with the right level of
emotion, avoiding silly sentimentality, to punctuate the wish Bob has for the subject
of the song. If my memory serves me well, it was written for his son Jakob.
Following his touching rendition of this, Bob returned to the keyboards for "It's
Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)." He did this Monday night in the same slot as well,
and while I don't want this to become simply a comparison between the two shows, for
I feel that each show must be looked at for what it is in itself, I did notice that
Bob's vocals were a little clearer this time around. Monday night he missed the
first line, but tonight it came through loud and clear and didn't falter, (to the
best of my recollection) for the entirety of the song. "One Too Many Mornings" came
next, and was beautifully delivered. I was hoping for a harp solo, but Bob decided
to do a little guitar work at the end, and then bring the song to a close. It was
masterfully executed, so I'm not complaining, but my personal feeling is that a song
goes up a notch or two when Bob delivers one of his knee-bending harp solos.
From one too many mornings to being "Cold Irons Bound" Bob changes directions faster
than one can even imagine or process what's going on in front of them. Cold Irons
Bound is on the other side of the spectrum compared to "One Too Many Mornings." The
mood changes from contemplating a lost love to the winds of Chicago. And from the
winds of Chicago we move to another lifetime, full of toil and blood with "Shelter
from the Storm." Like Monday night, Bob and the boys delivered a completely reworked
version of this "Blood on the Tracks" gem. If I'm not mistaken, the verses he
included were delivered out of order from the original, but for a song like this,
that doesn't really matter. The power and beauty of it still shines through. From
the power and beauty of "Shelter" we are taken to the almost autobiographical "Old
Man." Bob and the boys do great harmony on this, and is played with force throughout.
Before he began, Bob spoke about Monday night and how he and Al Gore's conversation
was interrupted by some talk show host. It was quite amusing to hear Bob talk in this
After his amusing comments, and revealing "Old Man" Bob gave us "Honest With Me," in
the same version as Monday, playing keyboards and belting out the lyrics. Next, for
the acoustic slot, I was curious what we'd hear. Monday it was an amazing "Lonesome
Death." What would it be tonight? From the first guitar strums, I recognized "The
Times They Are A-Changin'." This is one I've been waiting to hear for a long time.
With only 19 shows under my belt, I've never caught this one live. Bob did a great
rendition of this song, changing it up a little, but keeping much of the original
feel. Again, I was hoping for a harp solo, which would have brought it to another
level, but Bob decided to wrap it up without one. Still and all, it was a fitting
song, especially in a city like New York, and it was masterfully delivered. "High
Water" and "Mutineer" followed, same as Monday night, and were both done exceptionally
well. Again, Mutineer was a special moment for me. If interested in why, check out
my review of Monday night's show.
After we were his witnesses, and Bob was our mutineer, we were treated to "Floater"
and then the searing "Summer Days." I can't say which was delivered with more force.
Was it Monday's or Wednesday's? There are probably those of you who could give a
better comparison/critique of the two. I can only say that Bob and the band were on
fire. The crowd reacted and the song nearly blew the roof off the Garden.
Now, on to the encores. There were several interesting things that took place during
the encores. One distracted and detracted from the first two songs, and the other
that made this a night to remember. Bob started with an acoustic "Blowin' in the
Wind," which was being delivered quite nicely, but then there was some
microphone/speaker problems that especially effected the chorus, taking away from the
song's performance. Musically, Bob and the boys were on target. Unfortunately,
technical difficulties got in the way. After "Blowin'" they launched into "All Along
the Watchtower," presumably the last song of the night. The speaker problem had not
been resolved, and I was feeling quite disappointed that the last song would be marred
with this technical glitch. The power of this song was somewhat lost to me due to
this problem. When it ended, I almost felt let down, not by Bob and his amazing band,
but by a technical problem that was probably no one's fault.
As the lights stayed down after "Watchtower," I was curious as to whether Bob realized
there had been a problem and if he would give us one more song because of it. I
remember an Atlantic City show where the mic went out in the set, and Bob did one more
encore, seemingly to compensate for the mechanical failure of the microphone. However,
given that it happened during "Watchtower" I really didn't expect that to happen. But,
lo, what's going on on the stage? I see Bob and the boys looking at a piece of paper,
and then the keyboard comes back out. What's this? Before the lights come back up, I
hear a few keys played and know that the show isn't over yet.
When the lights do come back up, Bob speaks about his good friend George Harrison and
how he'd like to do a song since they had been such good buddies. Then, my ears
couldn't believe what they heard, and my brain told me that my eyes were playing
tricks on me. Bob launches into "Something." Everybody who didn't make a mad dash
for the doors at the end of Watchtower are mesmerized, and I imagine some people still
in the building but on their way out stopped in their tracks. This is the reason I
never leave until the house lights are up. Anyway, Bob delivered a tender and
touching "Something." The crowd was singing along, but not screaming the lyrics, and
Bob's delivery was amazing, his emotion unparalleled tonight or any night I've seen
him. He nails the song, and pays fitting tribute to his good buddy, who was also the
'biggest Bob Dylan fan' in the world.
Bob could have come out and played another two hours, starting with "Bob Dylan's
Dream," including "Lay Down Your Weary Tune," a couple talking blues songs, and maybe
several versions of "Visions of Johanna," and it would not have been as powerful or
meaningful as that one song. When it was over, the lights went down, and when they
came up, Bob, Charlie, Larry, George, and Tony were showered with applause,
admiration, wonder, and awe. There's nothing more I can say about this night. Bob
might include this heartfelt tribute for the rest of his tour. Even if he does, it
will still be special, and it won't take away from the fact that he did it first at
MSG. I think it is safe to say that anyone blessed enough to be in the arena for this
show will remember it for a long time coming.
Now, I'm off to Philadelphia. I didn't plan on going, didn't think I'd be able to get
there, but after Wednesday, I made it a priority. Hope to get good seats, but any
seat in the house is good when it is a Bob Dylan concert.
If anyone has any comments about my review or just wants to talk Dylan, email me at
Brian J. Slattery
Review by Pat Piscitelli
The 2nd show at MSG NY, NY was the best Dylan show I have experienced.
After seeing Dylan 10+ times, I didn't think much would be a'changin, but
was I wrong!
The band was huddled on the left side of the stage for much of the
evening, making for great viewing. Champagne (at $7.50 per hit) was
flowing. The scent of Bud (hard) was in the air & American music never
The jaunty version of "You Ain't Goin Nowhere" had an extra bounce that
really caught the audience attention. When Dylan burst into "Brown Sugar"
I suddenly realized that the Stones had a fight on their hands for the
definitive version of this rock & roll classic! (That ain't no lie-with
Charlie & Larry giving it their all on vocals & guitars) The Garden was
The beautiful wisdom of "Floater" came thru with each line & was my
personal favorite. "Summer Days" blew the roof off, just like I heard it
Following the encore crescendo of "Blowin & Watchtower," was the special &
added tribute to George Harrison. Mr. Dylan stated that the song was being
performed because "we were such good buddies." He then proceeded to
perform an extraordinary version of George's song "Something." That was an
exceptional closing to an exceptional evening!
Review by Michael Perlin
There are no coincidences in life. Monday, the New Yorker runs its Talk
of the Town piece about my use of Bob's lyrics in my article titles,
and Wednesday, we go to see Bob at the Garden (and yeah, the New Yorker
piece was timed to come out the week Bob made his yearly NYC hejira).
But, whatever: the tight connection was too much to ignore.
The concert. My wife Linda, who has seen at least ten BD concerts w/me
in the past 7 years, said it was the best one she had ever seen. I'm not
sure I would have gone quite that far, but certainly in the top two or
three. Of interest: this is the first BD concert I've ever seen that did
not bring with it at least one "first for me" Dylan songs (there were four
"firsts," but they were the covers. And there was a fifth that I missed,
but more about that later.)
(1) Bob's voice continues to "improve" each year. Less hoarse, less
monochromatic, less constricted. More range, more shadings, more depth.
Conceded, he doesn't sound like he did on John Wesley Harding or Nashville
Skyline, but, certainly the best he has sounded in the 8 years since I've
returned to the fold.
(2) The band continues to get better and better. I posted years ago that
I thought an earlier iteration of this band meshed even better with Bob
than The Band did 15-30 years ago (and I am a major Band fan, so this in
no way is a veiled attack). Friends wondered about how much second-hand
smoke I must have inhaled to have come to that conclusion, but, no. It is.
And it gets better. On all levels (more about this later)
(3) I've been listening to Bob in person since 1963, but this is the
first time I ever heard him play the keyboards. What a treat! And what an
addition to the show.
(4) Location matters. We were in section 126, which means we were 2
sections off the floor (at midcourt were it a Knicks game) w a totally
unencumbered sightline. With binoculars, perfectly clear; even without
them, full vision of the entire stage and, most importantly, the interplay
between the band members and each other, and between them and Bob.
(5) I try really hard not to sound like a Moonie when I talk about this,
but listen: if you never heard Bob, if you haven't listened to Bob since
the early 70's, if you think geezer concerts are museum pieces, if you saw
him in the early 80's and walked out in disgust, let it go! Go see him the
next time he is in your town. He is, to my mind, the most extraordinary
pop culture figure of my lifetime, and, I believe, when the die is finally
cast, he will be known as the most important figure in popular music of
the 20th century.
Now, the set list.
1. Seeing the Real You at Last: We had heard this in '95 at the
Dylan/Dead Meadowlands Father's Day concert, and my enjoyment of Bob's set
was marred almost beyond redemption by the boorish behavior of the
Deadfans near us (but I digress). My memories of his performance of this
song are barely a blur. But last night, he rocked the house down with it
(NB: the first song of a Dylan set is the weatherman for the evening; if
it sounds like a let's-get-this-over-with sound check, then the night
won't be that great; it if it all-out rocks, then the night will e a
memorable one.). This is the first BD concert I've seen since 1998, I
guess, iin which he opened w/ the electric instrumentation, and I think
that's a very good thing. It truly set the tone for the night. What a joy
to watch Bob play the electric keyboard.. He pounded away at the chords as
if he were recalling some primal memory of a Jerry Lee Lewis record from
his Hibbing days. Great fun, and a great opener.
2. Carrying a Torch: My first hearing of this song (I know lotsa Van
Morrison, and have seen Van in person at least four times, but no
recollection of it at all). When Bob started on the keyboards, I assumed
first that it was going to be Emotionally Yours (don't have the sheet
music in front of me, but gotta assume that the chord structure and key
were virtually identical); after a few intro bars, I wondered if it were
going to be Tears of Rage. But no. This was a truly exquisite rendition
(right; "exquisite" isn't a word usually used for Bob concerts...) and it
hinted that Bob's emotional tone tonight was going to be at its highest
level. And it was.
3. Tombstone Blues: I have always twinned this one with Desolation Row,
and it seems to me that I always hear one or the other when I go to see
Bob. For the first time this evening, the band members emerged: Larry's
playing was superb, and Charley's interaction with Bob (his movements on
stage toward and away from Bob on the keyboard were like a runner leading
off first, taking more of a lead, then back to the bag, and then another
lead.. Mesmerizing) showed the audience the extent to which this band has
coalesced. The beat was a quasi-march (think of Tom Petty's
live-performance style) and that certainly worked well on this
confabulation of imagery.
4. You Ain't Going Nowhere: This was the first repeat from the Newport
concert in August. I love it. Simple, country-toned, direct. And the first
sing-along for the audience. Bob's sole harmonica solo of the night came
here (again, how different to see him playing the harmonica ant the
keyboards, legs cocked (sartorial note: black Sgt. Pepper's suit with red
piping; black cowboy boots with red piping....), head akimbo. I first
heard Bob do this in Wayne, NJ, five years ago, and the difference in
phrasing and in tonal emphasis was really striking.
5, Brown Sugar: My friend Robbin saw the Las Vegas show and told me this
was the highlight. My son Alex saw the St. Paul show and told me this was
the highlight (not to worry: my daughter Julie will be seeing him tomorrow
night in Hartford...). The crashing guitars at the opening could have led
into no other song in the history of rock'n'roll (like I tell my Civil
Procedure students when we discuss complaint-drafting, you need a hook.
And the first 4 bars are the hook) I wondered how Bob could possibly do
this (aren't Jagger and Richards the only post-60'ers in the world with
the requisite energy to bring it off?), but he could and did. It rocked
the house down.. Beyond belief. A big "Wow" on my set list notes... truly
left me with my head shaking...
6. Things Have Changed: Michael (my main Dylanista) pointed out to me
that the Oscar (or was it Emmy?) (or an ersatz one) was sitting on an
amplifier behind Larry's instruments, looking like a Maltese Falcon,
keeping watch over all the proceedings. Again, a Newport repeat, ; FWIW, I
think this is one of Bob's best songs in he "modern era" (I begin that
arbitrarily with the release of Dignity on GH#3). Not sure the rendition
added that much to other versions I've heard (Camden 2000 standing out as
the best), but solid and tight and again, rocking.
7. Forever Young : Sigh. From the song that gave us our lines for our
presentations at our kids' bat and bat-mitzvahs, and our ad in Julie's HS
yearbook. Yeah, I know it's corny, but sue me. Tears â€“ not of rage, but
of joy and sadness and wistfulness and love â€“flowed in seats F2 and F3.
Only the second time I've ever seen this live (the Patti Smith show in
Philly the other) and certainly worth the 6 (?) year wait. The harmonies
were, again, no other word, exquisite.
8. It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding): Totally different arrangement...
I think it was closest to a 12/8 waltz tempo, of all things. Long
sustained rests (not quite like Thelonoius Monk, but you get the idea) and
incredible tension. So many lines to think about in today's world (and
yeah, the audience erupted on the "Even the President of the United
States/must sometimes stand na-ked"!). Yes!
9. One Too Many Mornings: A favorite from which I can always learn
something new. Linda has convinced me that the best rendition is the one
the Hard Rain album, and this acoustic version certainly didn't have that
one's energy or power or urgency. But, a beautiful song, with a
spectacular guitar solo by Larry.
10. Cold Irons Bound: (Oh yeah, the concert isn't even half over yet!!!):
Introduction keeps getting longer, and more fervent. Song keeps getting
better on every hearing (and I have heard this one a lot). And you realize
at this point how spectacular the drumming has been all night. I'm one of
the grumps who has missed Winston since the day that he was initially
replaced by Kemper, but I don't think I have ever heard drumming at a Bob
concert to match what George did this night. I've seen him before and
always thought that he was "fine." Tonight, he was spectacular. (Think
Ginger Baker in Cream; I can't think of a closer analogy). And with this
song, it all came into focus. Wow.
11. Shelter From the Storm: The only other time I had heard him sing
this, and it's always been an album favorite, was at the Mann Center in
Philly (the Ani tour), an outdoors concert in a monsoon (those were in the
cue sheet days, and as I recall, it was a last minute add-on in deference
to the weather). No such issues indoors at MSG. A C&W version, three-part
harmonies with Larry and Charlie, Bob smiling (beaming!) throughout... The
only song off BotT tonite (put me in the camp that misses TuiB and LaRS)
and a beauty. Coulda gone on forever.
12. Honest With Me: The first of four from L&T (and take that, you
philistines, who kvetch that Bob hasn't written anything interesting since
the BoB album...). When I first heard this, I intuited that Bob wrote this
to give himself an alternative to Highway 61 as a first-encore, and the
similarities (especially in the guitar riffs between verse linesâ€“ tweet,
twooot) are still pretty obvious. But this is really an excellent song,
and the version Wednesday night was stellar.
13. The Times They Are A-Changing: In the week or so between Sen. Paul
Wellstone's death and the election, Bob dedicated this to "my man Paul"
(it must be something abt vertically-challenged, visionary, brilliant
tzadiks from Minnesota). No such dedication this time, but the words hung
in the air as the impending threat of war hangs in the air. When I heard
this 4 yrs ago (with Julie in Paris), the "sons and daughters" line almost
destroyed me (she was going in to her senior yr of HS at the time). Now,
my daughter is a senior in college and my son a freshman. Are they "beyond
my command"? Who knows/ Who cares? I am the luckiest man in the world to
have two such strong, independent, creative, aware, loving and funny
children. And their faces were in front of me for this entire song...
14. Old Man: (He preceded this with a spoken line about Al Gore on a
late-nite talk show that I completely missed. Will wait for others to
deconstruct that). I had been waiting all night for this one and was not
disappointed. This is one of my top 2-3 Neil Y songs of all time, and can
not recall ever having heard anything other than a bar band cover. This
wasn't that. It retained the CSNY harmonies and orchestration, but what a
Review by Sascha Kreiger
Dylan's second show at the Garden and I had learned my lesson, arriving
less than half an hour before the show, taking my seat in the lower
stands, directly facing the stage. When the show finally got on the way,
the arena again was well filled but far from sold out.
About twenty past eight, the lights went out and Bob entered the stage,
again dressed in a black suits with just a few spots of red. The band wore
matching grey suits and launched into a wild and rocking version of
"Seeing the Real You at Last". Bob practically roared out the words with
the wrath of a man who's seen it all. Up next was the night's first cover,
Van Morrison's "Carrying a Torch", a tender love song, beautifully
performed and sung in Bob's finest and softest voice.
The third song was, again, with Bob on piano as on all of the first five
songs - a very solid and dry performance of this classic. Then it was
country time, with a light-hearted "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", carried by
Larry's steel guitar and perfect chorus harmonies. The first piano set
ended with another savage "Things Have Changed", perhaps Bob#s most direct
statement on where he's standing at the moment.
After this it was time for some pure rock 'n roll, "Brown Sugar", which
again brought the roof down and the crowd to its feet, demonstrating again
why this is the best band Bob has worked with in a while. This was
followed by another smoothly flowing country rendition of the classic
"Forever Young", during which Bob took on - for the only time - his
sing-song style that had marred many performances (especiall the acoustic
sets) in recent years, but which seemed strangely fitting to this
beautiful song which eclipsed in a rousing chorus with wonderful harmonies
from Larry and Charlie.
Next was another strong, rough and cutting "It's Alright, Ma", carried by
George's hard and merciless drumming, followed by another country-style
ballad, an unspectacular andvery relaxed "One too Many Mornings", made
even more beautiful by its unassuming simplicity and Bob's quiet and
All through the show, Bob looked more relaxed and more comfortable than
during the first Garden show, moving about more freely and becoming quite
talkative later on.
Then it was back to hard and rough blues rock with a rousing Cold Irons
Bound which elicited exceptional guitar work from both Charlie and Larry.
Up next was "Shelter from the Storm", in its new country/bluegrass style
with harmonies on the repeated chorus. A solid performance, no more, no
less. Before the next song Bob started telling a story about talking to Al
Gore in his dressing room when a talk show host (Conan O'Brien) came in -
a last proof that Bob was having a pretty good time on stage.
Next on the list was Neil Young's "Old Man", on which Bob was shining with
his sharpest and most poignant singing, followed by the driving "Honest
with Me", featuring Larry on slide guitar. A minor surprise was next, the
reappearance of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" in a new arrangement, with
a harder rhythm and a number of tempo changes releasing the song from the
boredom in which it had disappeared during the European tour.
Next came the blues rock version of "High Water" and Warren Zevon's
"Mutineer", again dominated by Bob's brilliant and haunting vocal
performance. He really shines on this song! A carefully performed and
lightly swinging "Floater", the almost sugary arrangement of which
contrasted sharply with Bob's unrelenting singing, set the stage for
another highlight finishing the regular set: a rousing Summer days which
seems to get wilder and faster with every performance. At this point, both
the crowd and the band were in other spheres.
After this, they took in the applause and left in order to return with a
very solid Blowin' in the Wind, featuring harmonies from the band. A
standard version, not more. Then all hell broke loose for what seemed to
be the last song of the night, "All along the Watchtower" - so rough, wild
and driving that one could almost sense Jimi Hendrix' presence - brought
on by those two exceptional guitarists.
The crowd, which again seemed a little subdued during much of the show,
gave Bob and the band all they deserved when the lights went up again and
neither Bob and the band seemed prepared to leave the stage. We knew we
were in for something special when Bob started speaking, talking about his
friend George Harrison. Explaining that he couldn't make it to the tribute
show in London in late November, he announced he wanted to use this
opportunity to pay tribute to George, "because we were such good buddies".
The familiar gujitar intro rang clearly through the arena, and then it was
"time for our tears": a breath-taking, faithful rendition of "Something",
the most beautiful song harrison ever wrote. While Bob didn't follow every
single note, his vocal performance was at its strongest and most intense,
following the spirit of the song so radically that he almost seemed to
forget himself, carefully accompanied by Larry's mandolin and Charlie's
Then it was all over, leaving the crowd stunned and in disbelief. This was
certainly the best Bob I've ever seen, joined by what may be his best band
ever, with the exceptional guitarist Charlie Sexton, the incredible
versatile Larry Campbell, the highly energetic as well as skillful George
Receli and the band's soul and backbone, the irreplaceable Tony Garnier.
And Bob himself: his vocal performance hasn't been as sharp, dead-on and
flexible in ages, giving every song a distinctive note. And his piano play
- ranging from finest blues to the occasional intentional discords - seems
to have freed him from the routine of previous tours. This man and his
music is very much alive, whci he proved again during these two nights at
page by Bill Pagel