New York, New York

Terminal 5

November 22, 2010

[Willy Gissen], [Trevor Townson], [Scott Kareff]

Review by Willy Gissen

Dylan Takes Off at Terminal Five
by Willy Gissen

My Dad and I have a running joke. He asks me how the Dylan concert was, and I 
reply, "Best ever." And then we both laugh because that's what I always seem 
to say.

Well, I'll try to avoid hyperbole about tonight's concert, but it's going to be hard. 
Dylan was in rare form for opening night at Terminal 5 in New York City, the first 
of a three-night stand.

There's something special about seeing Dylan in the city that just doesn't translate 
to rural Connecticut or suburban New Jersey. The crowd is more electric and 
knowledgeable, and more varied as well. I spent about 30 minutes talking to a 
couple while waiting for the show to begin -- the wife was British and had previously 
seen Dylan in England, and the husband last saw him with Joan Baez in 1963. 
Needless to say, I tried to catch them up with what had happened in the interim.

This was the first time I had gone to Terminal 5, and it's an interesting venue. They 
let you in before 7 PM, despite what the ticket says, so you can line up to enter 
inside the Terminal structure. The line stretches around the roof deck, a partially-
covered open-air rooftop with views of the surrounding skyscrapers. The interior of 
the Terminal only holds 3,000 people, but the best spot is general admission on the 
floor as the balconies are somewhat distant.

Enough with the preliminaries. Now to the concert. Dylan started off with a rocking 
version of "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking" from Slow Train Coming, his first 
Christian album. He's been leading off with it the past three nights as well, and it's 
an excellent selection. The song starts the concert off on the right foot and lets 
the audience know the concert is about more than just listening to songs. And it 
also rocks.

Dylan also played a long version of "Desolation Row," and even though some verses 
always seem to get left out or repeated when he does this song, he carried it off 
well, and the 15-minute song actually seemed to go on for that long. "Forgetful 
Heart" was sung in an emotional, wistful manner and contrasted nicely with some of 
the harder rock songs. "Highway 61" is always a standard, as is "Tangled Up in Blue," 
and the audience was treated to both tonight. "Ballad of a Thin Man," the final song 
of the main set, conveyed the mystery so essential to Dylan, with black-and-white 
lighting creating a somewhat eerie effect.

Dylan has become extremely versatile and demonstrated that all night, easily switching 
from the keyboard to the harmonica to the lead guitar. His keyboard play continues to
improve, and he also added a nice new touch this tour with shadow images projecte
on the screen background behind the stage. The band was in rare form, too, and a 
wide variety of instruments were used by them as well

Of course, Dylan's icon was displayed for the encore -- it is considered to be a 
representation of the Trinity with the all-seeing eye of God in the middle, the crown
representing Jesus at the top and the dove representing the Holy Spirit symbolized 

Anyway, I can actually summarize the concert in two words, "Best ever."


Review by Trevor Townson

Start spreading the news,

People had been saying just how big a place New York city is but this did not
extend to my hotel room, opening the door of which I thought “OK, there is the
bed so where is the room”? Not a single bed or a double bed either but a kind
of in between size and orange and cream picture wall paper with matching
curtains and bed covering just added further to the claustrophobic ambience. The
small area in front of the door was the only place in the whole room that it was
possible for me to stand in head on. To walk anywhere else in the room it was
necessary to move crab like in a sideways fashion waving my arms out whilst
walking like some novice ballet dancer not yet accustomed to lengthy body
movements of this kind.

On one wall was a wardrobe the opening of which resulted in me falling backwards
onto the bed as there was not actually enough room for both the opened doors and
the person opening them. Through a door to the side was a small shower room in
which I could at least stand full on in front of the mirror. Seated on the
toilet however did not have the same comfort factor as I needed to sit with my
feet in the shower tray in order to fit on. In the ceiling is a huge fan which
when switched on makes a loud thumping sound similar to Rolf Harris playing his
didgeridoo and I could not help myself from drawing a picture in the mist on the
mirror after my shower whilst reciting “Cin yi till what it is yit”.

This is New York city so obviously there is far too much to do and fit in even
without three Bob Dylan general admission concerts to attend as well. No matter
best make a start so I step out of my Midtown hotel which whilst being very
small roomed was very conveniently located for more than enough locally sited
places of interest to visit during my short stay.

Just a few steps further up the street and I am on Broadway only 3.30 in the
afternoon and the place is already lit up bright as I find myself outside a shop
called COLONY which advertises itself as the worlds largest dealer in sheet
music, sheet music books actually as stepping inside I find it packed full with
book after book from all the Greats of music and the Monkees as well. Lots of
Bob stuff too including the Definitive Bob Dylan which I think is a strange
title, how do you get a Definitive Bob Dylan?

Just a short walk further on and I am in Times Square with everyone everywhere
taking pictures, well everyone except one and I just felt to be in the way. My
fifth trip to the USA and still I have not bought a camera so I suppose the
moment is now lost. Could have used my mobile phone I guess as I think that
there is a camera in that but I had left that in my hotel room.

A lot has been written about Bob that is probably half guessed or even untrue so
here is a bit more as I guess that the Bob Dylan list of his top three hates are
racism, cruelty in any form and cell phones.

Looking at so many illuminated buildings I just could not imagine where the
Christmas decorations would fit. In fact the New York Police Dept sign was more
impressive than the Christmas lights that we get in my home town. People are
photographing everything in sight even photographing people who are standing
photographing as I was standing staring at nothing in particular and lost in
thought then suddenly I see what is directly in front of me as instead of the
trees I see the plank, yes it is the Naked Cowboy strumming his guitar in just
his underpants and cowboy hat and boots. Damn it I think, I had been stood there
watching him for about 5 minutes without even noticing him so now there must be
about 10,000 photos in existence world wide showing me staring at the Naked

There cannot be a venue more bleak looking on the outside than Terminal 5 which
has an unmarked exterior with a jet black canopy sited in a busy but closed in
back street with no views but adjacent and facing car dealerships who all
afternoon were busy moving cars into and out of the servicing bays across the
pavement between the people standing and sitting in line.

There was an early and phased entry for the first 250 or so people in line as
the doors opened for them at 6.00pm with everyone else being allowed in later at
7.00pm. I was among the early entry lot but it was a little bit frustrating as
will call only opened at the same time so for those people having got though bag
check they then had to go to the box office to collect their ticket as the
others with tickets in hand walked passed to form a second queue inside the

No cinematic or musical background once we got onto the floor as we waited in
silence other than all the usual chatter for another hour until at about 8.00pm
in darkness band and Bob come onto the stage as the usual Ladies and Gentlemen
intro is spoken out.

Change My Way Of Thinking opener already had you thinking how can they top this
without opening with the same number every night. Just Like Tom Thumb Blues done
as good as it is surely possible to do by a totally animated Bob centre stage on
guitar and the band backing him 100%, Brilliant!

Not sure if it was due to the venue or set up but everything seemed to work
sound wise. Fantastic to both see and hear Donnie rejoining the band again sound
wise after being absent so many times previously to recent shows that I have
attended. Donnie also seemed more than usually animated again and working closly
with Bob.

Everyone in the band seemed to be enjoying themselves and putting heart and soul
into every number, a solid performance from the band was given in supporting Bob

On posters it sometimes states “in show and concert” which had always
puzzled me into thinking which part is which? This night it was definitely the
Bob Dylan Show as song after song was not just sung but performed. Even Spirit
On The Water seemed different and probably the first time that I have truly
enjoyed it properly and not just for the surprise of some fantastic harmonica
that was included. A different arrangement to Summer Days made it much better
than any version I had previously heard live and really enjoyable.

Brilliant would not do justice to Forgetful Heart as was performed this night
which just could not have been more perfect. Should it be possible to do better
please do not bother to try Bob as there would be absolutely no need and there
would be no more pointless effort in striving for perfection than trying to
better that.

Thin Man again hauntingly done and not merely for the fact that looking at Bob
on stage I saw the face of the young Bob Dylan again and I thought of him in his
glory years. Then I thought you big idiot, these still are his glory years,
still packing them in and who else could give a performance like that, roll on
the next show.

Trevor Townson


Review by Scott Kareff

Opening night of this end-of-season 3-night homestand  was strong at
sold-out Terminal 5,  just up the line from Hell's Kitchen and Alicia
Keys.  The set lists from recent shows were promising, even if the
nattering nay -Bobs of NPR negativism suggested that what looked classic
from a distance, close up just wasn't that good.  ["No One Ruins Dylan
Like Dylan"].  And maybe I had those words oozing out my ears when the
show started.  But what could be better, when you think about it, then
Bob returning to NYC for the end of another leg of the NET, and  with me
two of my college friends, one a veteran of the 1989 Ithaca show at IC's
Ben Light Gymnasium, the other attending his first BD concert.  ("Is he
still worth seeing?", he asked.  I said, "Well, I guess".) 

I hadn't been to the venue previously, and I was warned of its accoustic
shortcomings and to get there early, which I didn't quite manage to do.
We tried a few different vantage points as the crowd poured in, left
side, upstairs and down again, but finally went back to from where we
came, near the entrance, back right of the floor, with good sightlines
to the stage given how far back we were.  Bob hits the stage and we are
off.  Change My Way of Thinking is a good start, driving beat - good
lyrics to chew on.  Then Shooting Star, one of my favorites, from 1989's
Oh Mercy.  I didn't like the new arrangement though.  The lines were too
truncated.  Man, his voice was gravely.  Could anyone but the die hards
make out the words?  Was NPR right?  Early on his harmonica playing was
notable though, and Bob was engaged.  Then Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
proclaimed his return to NYC.  This song may be great every time he
plays it, but it kills in New York City, where Bob always retreats when
he's had E-nough.  He even played guitar on it.  Take that, NPR.  Then
Tangled Up in Blue (truly my favorite) and I have to admit I wasn't very
fond of the arrangement - choppy delivery.  But the performance was
genuine and boasted yet another lyric change:  "Me I'm still on the
road, trying to stay out of the joint..."   I'll take it, any day of the
week.  Next was the feudal horns of Beyond Here Lies Nothin' and then
Spirit on the Water, which was inspired.  I read one reviewer say that
he prefers the new songs to the old ones -- they are where Bob is now,
and it's true sometimes you can see it that way.  On this night the
newer songs outshined the old ones, in my view.  Especially Cold Irons
Bound, which again brought me back 20+ years to Ithaca, NY, where my
running mate and I found ourselves during our freshman year, dropped
just about 20  miles out of town at an intersection with no pay phones
around. So forged the friendship that now saw us standing here at
Terminal 5 on this night, craning our necks to catch glimses of Bob,
still going after all this time, heading for another joint.  But I
digress on my own trip here.  Back to the show.  For me the rest of the
highlights were Desolation Row, Ain't Talkin' and Ballad of a Thin Man.
Over all, the performance was first rate, even if not perfect. To top it
off, it was over shortly after 10 PM. 

So, where does that leave you and me?  Of course, Bob's diminished vocal
range has longsince caught up to him, and the roughness can be
off-putting.  Then again, who ever was drawn to him because he had a
good voice?   To hold that against him now seems to me to miss the whole
point. The new arrangements keep the material fresh for Bob and his
fans.  No apologies for BD in 2010.  He is going strong and is still
worth seeing.  Me, I had to be satisfied with just this one show (still
kicking myself for not making the second show - This Wheel's On Fire, no
less!  - which seems to me to be the Yin to this show's Yang).   

The ritual continues as we strive for the perfect Bob Dylan experience,
even at this late date.  We just can't be satisfied, and we just can't
keep from trying.  Happy Thanksgiving,  Bob.  We're all gonna be there
next year for that Million Dollar 70th Birthday Bash.   I Can't Wait.


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