November 23, 2010
Review by Fanning Hearon
Tonight's show, the middle show of three at Terminal 5, was simply
outstanding. Not sure how fans will react to the set list, but trust
me...it was even better live than on paper. Bob was animated, and
more active than in previous shows, comfortably situating himself
front and center most of the night, playing guitar on THREE songs
(most notably "Stuck inside of Mempis..."), and providing exceptional
harp and keyboards all night long. The band was tight and full of
spirit. Guitarist Charlie Sexton was on fire all night long, and
though he is a strong figure on stage (and has the chops to back up
his swagger) he is respectful of Bob and knows when to subtly
contribute and when to lead. Not sure if it was the great crowd
urging him on, but Bob never slowed down. The show all night had an
uptempo beat and the NYC crew responded in kind often saluting Bob -
and dare I say - providing key backup vocals to "Just Like A Woman"
and a strong chorus to "A hards rain a-gonna fall." Thus is the random
bonus of a Terminal 5 show: crowded, yes; boozy, sure; attentive and
respectful, absolutely! Having seen Bob several times recently in the
NYC area, I would venture to state that tonight was certainly one of
the best "evenings" I have spent with Bob and his killer band in the
past four years. They seemed tighter than usual, more interested in
the show, and wonderfully deferential to Bob when he sang, played
lead, or blew harp. It was more a rare glimpse into a band that has
come together amazingly in the last year than it it was a "greatest
hits" show. It was not just Mr. Dylan....it was Bob and his band.
And, maybe it was that time of year, but I swear Bob and the boys were
giving thanks to the rock n' roll gods. They seemed intent on
delivering, and deliver they did. A delightful pre-holiday party in
NYC, and one well done from beginning to end. Thanks, Bob!
Review by Howard Weiner
“A worried man got a worried mind.” With that
garbled growl I got off my couch and began to shuffle around during Things Have
Changed. It’s one of Dylan’s most powerful songs, and being that it’s from
a motion picture soundtrack, I don’t listen to it enough. People are crazy and
times are strange for sure. Then Mr. Dylan unleashed A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna
Fall. Awesome. He wrote this in New York City forty-eight years earlier and now
it sounds more apocalyptical than ever. With Masters of War two songs later,
this segment of the show reflected the insanity of a world gone wrong.
Unfortunately, these anthems never go out of style. Just today, North Korea
bombed the South, and they’ve been flaunting their nuke facility.
For an authentic American blues experience, Dylan
and his Cowboy Band raged through High Water, Highway 61 Revisited and
Workingman’s Blues. I use to smile when Dylan sang “I can live on rice and
beans,” but things have changed – that line is truth for the American
workingman. Donnie’s banjo plucking on High Water was outstanding, and Dylan
delivered his finest vocal of the night. Highway 61 – Ford tough. Thunder on
the Mountain received better treatment than it did a week ago in Poughkeepsie.
Ballad of a Thin Man always works as the closer. Bob’s harp playing was sharp,
shrill and decisive. The band was professional and precise. Suggestion: more
lead guitar. If you’re wondering why I
haven’t described any band visuals, it’s because I didn’t see the band.
The floor was too packed to fight through. You couldn’t see the stage unless
you were in the thick of the crowd or an NBA power forward. There are two
viewing decks, but only the person in the front row can enjoy the sights. This
is the worst NYC venue to see a band, and it was hot to boot. This dump, aka
Terminal 5, has several long bars and cozy couches – great for a karaoke
party. After trying to find a spot during a strong Change My Way of Thinking, I
gave up and just grabbed a Heineken and some couch. The ceiling of Terminal Five
looks like the Titanic capsized and covered in black. I carefully listened to
the music. Dylan’s gnarled yelling of Just Like A Woman was oddly entertaining
as the crowd sang the chorus in an effeminate manner. This presentation fell
somewhere between art and amusement. From Simple
Twist of Fate onward, Dylan had IT going on. I’ve seen Dylan in that rarefied
air before. I wish I could have seen him shimmy, shuffle across the stage, but
I had to change my way of thinking. I just enjoyed the audio ride.
Review by Michael Perlin
So, after a 27 month drought, two concerts in nine days. Would this be like too
many desserts? Too many World Series tickets? Uh, no… It was, how do I say it,
spectacular. I've done back-to-back concerts before (most recently, Brooklyn &
Asbury Park, 2008) and almost always felt kinda let down a bit in the 2d one, since
it couldn't match the expectations and exultancy of seeing Bob for the first time in
X months or X years. But I couldn't/wouldn't pass up an NYC concert in a venue
only three miles from my office!)
We (my colleague/friend Heather and I, this time) cabbed up at about 4:30,
planning on grabbing a quick dinner, only to find the line had started, so we
decided we could skip the food in hopes of getting closer to the stage. And
serendipity: chatting w the woman behind me, I discovered she - like me -- had
also been at the not-listed-in-the-canon Rutgers concert in February 1965 (I've
been waiting to write this up until I connected with a stranger who had also been
there [providing some sort of independent verification for the scoffers]), and also
remembered how cold the gym was that night (amazing, that after 45 years, I
could recall exactly where I sat!). So this was a cool start.
After walking in, up three flights, then down the same flights as part of the crowd
control process, we made our way on to the floor. 5th or 6th row of standees,
dead center. B/c the Terminal space was narrower than the college gym in Long
Branch, that made it a bit more squeezed, but that was no problem (the
demographic of the crowd tended more towards AARP membership than the
earlier concert, and with age probably comes less contentiousness at SRO
And for the music? I was so pleased with the band at the earlier concert, but, by
any metric, they outshone themselves last night. I listened on the train on the way
home to recordings of the post-1997 band (when Larry took over as lead guitar;
the iteration that I have always thought was the best of the Modern Era), and
have to say that, last night, the boys were as tight and as energized and as
creative and as in sync as any concert I saw in those other years (and, in what
was clearly unplanned, a one-off that may never be repeated again: Donnie playing
violin on Highway 61 (more on that later)). And for the sartorially-minded, they
were the Men in Black (Bob wearing his coat that was half Mississippi river gambler,
half HS band uniform (black w/ two red chevrons on the lower sleeve) this night.
To the set list:
1. Gonna Change My Way of Thinking: Yes! A first-ever for me (I am one of those
who abandoned Bob in his born-again days and never caught any of the rare-ish
concerts when he has played it in the past 30 years), and a terrific opening (so
much better than RDW…). Gospel blues, Bob rocking away on the keyboard, and
the entire band entirely engaged. An excellent omen.
2. This Wheel: Bob center stage w harmonica, and play
ing that instrument a teensy bit at the start (I have not heard that for a long long
time). This has always been a favorite, both on record and in person (last seen,
Newark 05). I listened to some versions on the way home, and yes, my memory
served me well: this was the best version I had ever heard live (and honestly,
nothing o my iPod that didn't have Rick Danko's voice rising in that otherworldly
way above the main line could match it). Instrumentally strong, vocally intense.
Bob did an entire verse on the harmonica, which may have been the longest solo
I had seen him to do in that mode in years. His hand gestures as he told the story
of the song were priceless.. I could imagine Dean Martin doing exactly the same
ones in Vegas in the 50s…
3. Mobile: First of the repeats from the Long Branch concert (and Bob again on
guitar). So I listened for nuance. And I noticed that, as Bob sang (not just the
chorus but the verse also), he was, in his improvisational way, singing dotted
quarter notes/eighth notes much of the time, thus adding tension and urgency
to a song that I have heard dozens of times. Also, as he was guitar soloing he
did that little knee-bend that is always an audience favorite (will he dip two
4. JLaW: The second repeat, and again I focused more on the background. And
again, as in Long Branch, the repetitive 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3 instrumental
background, almost as if there were a fast waltz going on behind the lead. I
point this out not to be musicologically geeky, but to make a point that a million
of us have made in a million ways: that Bob's musical creativity and inquisitiveness
and right-brain-ness continue to lead him to play with the form, to try different
approaches, to make the experience of a song written almost 45 years ago as
immediate as if we were hearing it for the first time,. And again, the audience
participation on the chorus was priceless.
5. Rollin' and Tumblin': I think we are finally acknowledging that Modern Times
is as strong and as vital and as important as Time out of Mind or as Love and
Theft. Of course this is "simply" the basic 12 bar blues, but again, the energy,
the mindfulness (I use the zen term consciously) and the presence of Bob and
the band on this number were so palpable. Muddy Waters was smiling
6. Simple Twist: Wow! On guitar, and I cannot remember the last time I heard
this live, but am thinking it was in the last century. A beautiful song with
transcendently beautiful lyrics. Here, Bob and Charlie started playing off each
other, Charlie listening so carefully to Bob's and changing his solos subtly to
keep harmonic and tonal balance. And Bob soloed three separate times on guitar,
again, intelligent and thoughtful solos each time. An exquisite moment and an
exquisite-r fadeout at the end.
7. THC: One of my five favorite "modern era" songs and one I could hear every
nite. And the third guitar # of the evening (maybe next tour, he'll do 4? Hey,
a guy can be greedy…). This is a wonderful song in its own right (interesting
that I cannot think of any major covers that have been done of it.. you'd think
it would be catnip to bands looking for new material.. go figure), and I am
wondering if Bob has changed the music a bit? On the chord that ends the last
line of the verse ("drinking champagne"; "passing through"), I was fairly sure
(tho I am wrong fairly often on these things) that the band was playing a D7
chord, and not D, adding, of course, some extra tension. Whatever the gambit
was, the tension at the end of each verse was hold-your-breath level. I loved it.
And one more thing: I watched Donnie watching Bob's guitar fingerings and
Bob's note choices on Bob's solos so that he (Donnie) could come back with the
harmonies and countermelodies that "fit." Made me think a bit of the story
about why Al Kooper came in a little bit late on every line on the studio version
of LARS… Just another example of how important onstage musicianship is to
this extraordinary ensemble.
8. Hard Rain: Another repeat from Long Branch. And again, I noted consciously
what only had registered unconsciously the week before: the portentous
"bomp-bomp" by the band in each chorus: doomsday is coming. Different from
Long Branch: the audience sang along on each "It's hard", adding even more
urgency to this remarkable creation. And Bob declaimed the "executioner's well
hidden" verse precisely as if he were announcing that the world would end
(didn't think until just now about this song coming back to back w Things Have
Changed (with the "the world will explode" line.. hmmm.). A perfect ending to
a perfect song.
9. High Water: A tad of a let-down after THC and Hard Rain back-to-back, but
not without its moments of pleasure. Especially, again, the ways that Charlie
and Bob fed off each other on their solos and ensemble playing, this time when
Bob was playing harmonica (this was another "center stage-r"). Over the years,
I've come to realize the simple truth that this is in many ways closer to a jazz
group than a rock group, both in the improvisations and the group dynamics.
Songs like this make that point well. And Donnie's banjo added a "this is the
1930s" taste to it, as always…
10. Masters: Speaking of the 1965 Rutgers concert:. My sense is that was the
first time I heard this song (Vietnam heating up; riots brewing), and so often,
when I hear it, my mind turns immediately and inevitably to world events (last
heard in Brooklyn, August 08, as the election was almost upon us). Now, in the
aftermath of the ruins of the midterm elections and the never ending wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan, it again has, to me, at least, the same sort of political
immediacy it did when I was a 19 yr old college student when I heard it first.
Nothing extraordinary about the performance, but a reminder that there is a
continuity and connectivity in Bob's music no matter what the decade and
what the genre.
11. H61R: Another repeat from the earlier concert, and when I heard the
first notes, I sighed a bit, since, as I noted the last time, that performance
was nothing special. Tuesday night was another story on two levels. First, the
music was coruscating. Brilliant guitar by Charlie (Have I mentioned this go-round
how Tony, whom I have seen with Bob every time I have gone since 1994,
remains the rock and the foundation of the band, whether he is on electric
bass or standup?). Great back-and-forth by Charlie and Bob. And then, about
half way thru, I see a roadie run on to the stage and start potchkying with a
power cord in Donnie's pedal steel. Something obviously went kapow. So
Donnie picks up the violin and blows the audience away with what was clearly
an unplanned violin solo, and then, as Charlie and Bob starting playing off
Donnie's bravura performance (I have seen Donnie who-knows how many
times, and this was by far, his most shining moment) the violin, we realized
that we were seeing a one-off performance of a near-nightly song that would
most likely never be repeated. Wow. Wow.
12. Workingman's Blues: Yay! My other first-ever for the night, and what a
first-ever it was. This is my favorite song from Modern Times, and was one I
have been hoping to hear every time I have seen Bob since that album was
released. And I was not disappointed. The song is gorgeous and ethereal and
world-weary, and Bob sang it and played it in exactly that way. 2/3 of the way
through, he abandoned the keyboard and went center stage and finished on
the harmonica, a perfect ending to a brilliant song.
13. Thunder: Wrap-up of the night begins. Again, Bob and Charlie doing
dueling lines. The heart of rockabilly. Noting how Bob's solos on the keyboard
were all in the upper register, giving it almost a Hammond B3 wail-feel. As
always, it worked.
14. BoaTM: Center stage for the last time. Bob telling his story as if a raconteur,
sharing with the audience he had just discovered. Somehow, somehow, he made
the story new. As if it were a surprise to him and that he wanted to share these
startling discoveries with us. And the opening crash of the di-da-di-DAH-dah
chords has lost none - none! - of its immediacy over the past 45 years. Brilliant.
15. Jolene: Already relegated to the "yeah. Whatever" stockpile of my mind.
Maybe next year he'll decide enough is enough.
16. LARS: The perfect ending to the show. Lights on. Band insignia on the scrim.
Every person singing along, of course, not just to the chorus but to the verses.
With each verse, the feeling of "Oh man, can't you drag this out just a little bit
more. We do NOT want to go home." Again, this is the heart of rock and roll.
This is the heart of America. This is the heart of my life.
So, farewell to Bob and the tour til the next time. I have much to be thankful
about in my personal life (family, health, work, etc), but once I step beyond
those borders, there is nothing that I am more thankful for than the fact that,
in 1963, as a college freshman, I ventured to Gerde's Folk City, saw Bob, and
changed my life forever. Once more, from my non-forgetful heart,
thank you, Bob.
Review by Trevor Townson
Walking a little further on Broadway from Times Square I arrive at 42nd Street.
Only one thing to do now and that is to find a Cadillac taxi and to take a drive
up and down. Unfortunately taxis in New York city are only of two types now and
both are made by Ford. As Fords however you can have them in any colour you want
so long as it is yellow.
Next a little further still up Broadway is Macy's window sill. "The worlds
largest store" so says the huge red sign on the side of the building so I decide
to take a look inside as surely there must be something that I need in there.
Once through the door I hop onto the moving stairway as one escalator after
another steps me higher and higher up the building as I pass floor after floor
of everything imaginable that anyone could ever want. Setting up for Christmas
already there were arrangements of perfect Christmas table settings, a kind of
what you could be eating your Christmas dinner off if you had $10,000 to spare,
more than that probably if you wanted all you holly leaves in bone china. I must
say that it really got me thinking of the ideal Christmas gathering with
chestnuts roasting on an open fire and perfectly wrapped presents. You could
probably even have hired a look and sound alike of Bing Crosby to attend the
meal as well and sing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas but I thought that
it might be a little too much for the one day for just me and the cat so with
that thought of a not so Merry but very Little Christmas I decided to start my
decent back down the building. Getting back to the Ground I notice that there is
another floor called The Cellar so I decide to go down there too just for
completeness but I found nothing there for me either so finally I left the
building having failed to find anything that I wanted.
On the way back I notice that my earlier taxi observations had been flawed as I
see that there is also a choice of Toyota and Nissan too. So no more Cadillacs
anymore in New York city but taxis from Japan. This is not The Times A Changin'
but Things Have Changed. Later on during my walk I see parked up on a junction
on 6th Avenue a car which was about the size of a small aircraft carrier, at
last a Cadillac I think, it must be, it has to be so I stroll across to check
out the badge but no damn, it's a Lincoln. So there we have it absolutely no
more Cadillacs in New York city so this particular part of my plan to drive down
42nd Street in a Cadillac had fallen down.
Second day in line and I think the garage was getting frustrated by the
disruption and possibly the safety aspect of driving cars across the pavement
with people milling around and some even being reluctant to move out of the way.
I must explain that this was not steady sedate movement of vehicles but
continuous and rapid as cars darted at speed across the street to beat the
traffic flow as they moved the cars between the various workshops and showrooms.
These guys could turn on a sixpence then drive at speed into a garage door
opening in reverse at what seemed at times to be about 40mph. Probably only
looked that fast due to the limitations of space but if anybody has read the
chapter in On The Road where Neal Cassady is working the parking lot, that about
sums it up. The garage did I believe in the end complain to the venue staff who
eventually moved the line further down the road but still with a lot of
reluctance from some in the crowd.
Same early entry arrangements as the first night for the first in the queue and
it did seem to be a little less stressed than on the previous night probably
because most people now knew the score. Same opener as the first night followed
by a delight for all as Bob does a fantastic centre stage This Wheels On Fire.
Actually it would be quite interesting to know what it must be like for someone
who has not seen Bob in a while to suddenly see how he is performing at present.
I think there were quite a few surprised people in the audience tonight as you
could hear people who just could not help themselves from saying things like
At the moment Bob seems truly on form not just his harmonica playing but guitar
and keyboard too and the band are right there with him. Stuck Inside Of Mobile
and Things Have Changed would not be among my particular favourites but when you
have Bob right in front of you playing them on guitar they certainly transform
into something else and you can enjoy every note. But to have the same but with
a song like Simple Twist Of Fate is as special as it gets as there have
certainly been times in my life when I just would not have ever believed that I
would ever have been fortunate enough to witness anything like that.
Actually with the way that Bob is delivering at the present time I can honestly
say that over the two nights I have not yet experienced any "boring bits", you
know usually the odd song or two when even the most hardened fan switches off.
As such I can safely say that this show had no highlights for if I get as much
enjoyment out of Stuck Inside Of Mobile as I do out of Hard Rain well, something
is happening here. Sorry, just remembered there was one highlight, Thin Man
which was awesome, cannot explain, you had to be there so next time don't you
dare miss it, you have now been told often enough.
Highway 61 saw Donnie experiencing a problem with his steel guitar so he picks
up his violin then standing reverts to playing that instead to the delight of
the crowd as he came in LOUD! This broke in just as Bob was engaged in a jam
with Charlie and the violin kind of overshadowed what the two of them were
doing. Bob looked confused, amused, bemused and annoyed all at the same time not
least because he now had three lead instruments, keyboard, guitar and violin to
work out what to do with.
Poor Donnie did not know if he had done right or wrong and must have been
"Well Bob did tell me at my interview how important it is to be able to
improvise musically, anyway I didn't see him getting annoyed with George when he
smashed down loudly on his drums in the middle of Masters Of War".
In the end Bob seemed to see the funny side which is always the best way to deal
with most things in life as in the end he is smiling and talking to Donnie in
the dark, probably saying
"Well Donnie you did kinda outstage us for a bit and that is not allowed in you
contract with me being a Genious and Charlie a Senior and you did screw up our
slot a bit, never mind it is not as though there will not be a next time for
Charlie to solo and boy for a classical instrument that violin thing can really
kick ass, may be have to think of something to do with that sometime"
Roll on the next show.
Review by Jeff Dellin
I caught the first two shows at Terminal 5 and will declare
unequivocally that Bob still has it. Fear not Bob Dylan fan. Go see him.
Fear not the phoned in performance or sloppy instrumentals. Those things
were far away last night and Monday in New York City.
The thing I noticed most about the show last night was how good Bob's
Guitar sounded. Besides a slightly annoying riff on Simple Twist of Fate
it was exquisite (especially on Tom Thumb's Monday) and eye-opening. And
seeing Bob singing and playing guitar, it was like 1997 again. Hard to
believe he went guitarless for so long. He looked like he could handle a
whole show on guitar. It seemed effortless, but deliberate. He really
played and sang with passion. He meshed with the band. He played solos.
He really played the guitar. That was the best part of the experience
Besides that there were so many more highlights. You could tell that he
was really trying to put on a good show. He tightened the reins on A
Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall to great effect. Just Like A Woman had almost
an anthem quality to it. High Water had some seriously powerful harp
playing. He played a rock and roll show like a rock star but the good
kind of rock star who cares about the crowd and his craft. Sure his
voice is a little extra creaky these days, but besides that it was prime
Bob Dylan. Bravo.
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