November 23, 2018
Review by Barry Gloffke
Beacon Theatre, New York City, Friday night.. bright lights, big city. Fabulous
sound tonight in the grand old Art Deco theatre. It was a very subdued crowd
for a NYC opening night, but that did not stop Bob and the Cowboys from
another top notch performance (this is becoming redundant). One which
seemed to be over before it began. Unfortunately, these great concerts come
and go quickly.
The show started with a bit of a twist as there was no fanfare or intro
music, and the curtain was down concealing the stage. A few minutes after
the house announcement regarding not using phones or cameras, the lights
dimmed, the curtain rose and there stood Dylan and the boys, instruments
at the ready. Immediately they charge into a sprightly version of THINGS
HAVE CHANGED. Fantastic vocals and piano work from Bob (another
redundancy). This set the pace for the evening as each number found Dylan
at the top of his game; whether it was evoking Little Richard on piano,
doing signature harp work, or being Bob Dylan doing Bob Dylan singing like
Bob Dylan. All superb.
Standout songs for me were, besides the intro; HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, as
usual rollicking and rocking; a ballsy and bluesy version of CRY A WHILE;
a tender WHEN I PAINT MY MASTERPIECE; EARLY ROMAN KINGS, which builds in
intensity; DON'T THINK TWICE, IT'S ALRIGHT, the soft Bob, LOVE SICK, the
gruff Bob. But my favorite (my new favorite for this tour) is a set
closing, rocking delivery of GOTTA SEVE SOMEBODY. New bouncy sound, with
almost all new lyrics. Fantastic set closer! Unfortunately, as I said,
these great concerts come and go quickly. One minute the curtain is
rising, the next minute we're screaming for encores, the next minute the
The curtain fell following a sensational rendition of BLOWIN' IN THE WIND
which concludes with the band gathering together center stage to soak in
the well deserved applause. Another excellent show, with many highs, few
lows, and artistic brilliance.
Kudos. Bob. Kudos band.
Glad to see some of the Bobcats at the show: Ed, Greenpoint Phil and
Canadian Sue. Sounds like a Dylan song title.
Review by Paul Levinson
Well, Dylan tonight at the Beacon in New York City did not look all that much like
the sketch above, which hangs in Old Bear Studios in Batavia, New York, where
I recorded my first new album in nearly 50 years a few weeks ago.
Nor did he sound all that much like he did in the early-mid sixties, either. Not
even like the Dylan who sang at George Harrison's Bangladesh concert at Madison
Square Garden in 1971. Not even like the Dylan who sang a verse of "My Back
Pages" at the 30th anniversary concert in 1993, also at the Garden, with every
conceivable Dylan-related singer and guitarist right there on stage with him and
The difference was that the melodies that Dylan sang of his iconic songs tonight
were almost unrecognizable. And the melodies of the songs I didn't recognize, I
couldn't tell you. But you know what? I loved it! (Tina, who was with me, had
a somewhat different opinion.)
Of his best-known songs, I enjoyed his renditions of "Like a Rolling Stone" and
"Don't Think Twice" the most, with "Blowing in the Wind" a close runner-up. Of
those I didn't know, I thought "Scarlet Town" (2012) and "Gotta Serve
Somebody" (1979) were great. And I really enjoyed lots of the other songs,
unknown to me before tonight, too.
Look, Dylan doesn't talk to the audience and didn't introduce his band, which
was sharp and excellent. But he played a strong piano - no guitar - standing and
sitting, and his trusty harmonica, too. And that was enough for me, more than
enough. I've long considered him the greatest lyricist of our or any age - in rock,
only John Lennon comes close to Dylan in sheer brilliance and output, but Dylan
was so far ahead by the end of the 1960s, that even Lennon with his great
work in the 1970s couldn't catch up (maybe if his life hadn't been taken by a
lunatic and a gun it would have been different, but we'll never know). Cole
Porter in his own very different way could give Dylan a run for his money, but
Porter lacked the anti-war social relevance of early Dylan and late Lennon.
I understand that in concerts some years ago, Dylan carried no tune, and just
mumbled his lyrics, not even in his trademarked cant. Tonight, he did give us
some melody. If it wasn't the melody we heard back in the 1960s, that's fine
with me. The lyrics, those extraordinary words, were always what made Dylan
an unsurpassed genius anyway.
It was all an unforgettable thrill tonight, and when I go to his next concert, and
I'll know more of the songs.
sourced from writer Paul Levinson's excellent blog Paul Levinson's Infinite Regress
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