New York, New York

Beacon Theatre

November 27, 2019

[Jeffrey Gonzalez], [Barry Gloffke], [Kevin Ellis] [Stephen G.]

Review by Jeffrey Gonzalez


After many years of following these setlists and reviews on this site, this is 
my first contribution. This was my second time seeing Bob and the Band 
during their Fall 2019 Beacon Theatre residence. I was also there on the 
first night (11/23/19). Tonight's show was quite similar (I thought the 
first night was great) but the audience was much more responsive and 
active. That may have influenced my perception of the performance, but 
Bob and the band also seemed more energetic than on the first night. At 
least in the orchestra sections, the entire crowd got to its feet during 
Gotta Serve Somebody and stayed on its feet throughout the encore, 
which for these days and that theater is pretty active. The setlist was 
obviously identical but there is so much going on in Bob's delivery and 
the band's tight performance that it was never boring, despite the price 
I paid for going through all these things twice in orchestra seating.

The first time I saw Bob was in 1997 or so and I've seen him probably 
around 10-12 since then. These performances were his most committed 
that I've seen. I probably would have said that if I had reviewed last 
year's performance at the Beacon, which I attended and thought was 
great. But it seems up a notch from last year. Maybe it's mostly his 
pounding on the upright piano in contrast to the tinkling on the baby 
grand? Not sure what it is but there is a bit more punch to this year's 
setlist and performance. There is something about how well rehearsed 
everything is that allows him to do a lot with what he's got left of his 
voice. His bell still rings, as he says. 

I was surprised to hear some fans commenting that they couldn't 
understand what he was saying on the way out of the Theatre (e.g., 
"I think he was speaking Russian). The words rang clear and true to 
my ears, but I guess they're trained by now and it's better if you have 
a reference point other than the albums you heard many years ago. 
To me, he was enunciating and using his low growl purposefully. And 
he actually sings on the softer numbers in a way that seems influenced 
by the work on the American Standards over the last few albums. 
This tour really is not to be missed. I had thought years ago that I 
probably wouldn't keep going to his shows as they felt a bit uninspired 
in the early part of this decade. But now I find myself wondering if I'll 
go back for a third night at the Beacon (spoiler alert: I will).

Others have said plenty about this setlist and I'll just echo that Not Dark 
Yet is a revelatory highlight. It's a very effective rearrangement and his 
delivery is chilling. That song is definitely one of my favorites off of Time 
Out of Mind, but this arrangement is actually an improvement. Less 
melody but more chill, which makes the lyrics even more impactful. 
During the hushed piano-based numbers - When I Paint My Masterpiece, 
Girl From the North Country, and especially Lenny Bruce - you could really 
hear a pin drop. Simple Twist is great and always a favorite, even if most 
of the lyric rewrites are inferior to the original lines. I do get a kick of 
hearing him tell his lover she should have met him back in '58. I really 
love Early Roman Kings and Bob loves spitting out those words with the 
Muddy Waters stomp banging and clanging behind him. I am generally 
not a fan of Pay In Blood but this new arrangement is a real improvement 
and I enjoyed it. Takes a Lot to Laugh is a favorite and the hard-knocking 
blues arrangement is badass. As imprinted as the original version is in my 
mind (maybe along with the Concert for Bangladesh version), I wasn't 
thinking of any other version but this one when he was singing it. It's a 
great way to end the show and it played in my head a long while after. 
There really isn't a dud in this setlist. Even Honest With Me grew on me 
and I found myself really enjoying it and smiling at the quirky 
arrangement. Bob is having fun and you will too if you go to see these 
shows. Don't be late!


Review by Barry Gloffke

Bob's fourth show at the Beacon Theatre on his 2019 Fall US Tour was his best so
far. There was a festive air on Thanksgiving eve around the venue before the 
show. The upper West Side of Manhattan was the place to be, and I for one was 
thankful for having the opportunity to see Bob again.

From the first chords Bob was in top notch form vocally and musically. He
sang with passion, tenderness, bile, and feeling. The crowd was upbeat,
and respectful when necessary. Starting at center stage for a strong
version of THINGS HAVE CHANGED, Bob would seamlessly move between there
and piano all evening, prowling the stage like a seasoned professional.
His motions were spare and pointed. He had to battle a stubborn microphone
cradle on several occasions when seated the piano, but that did not stop
him from knocking out some outstanding playing. IT AIN'T ME, BABE
certainly was case in point number one for the evening. The best version
of the five I have seen on this tour... that goes for balance of the set.
No weaklings tonight. Each song was clean and as far as I could tell Bob
did not miss any lyrics (although he may have... he certainly changed some
of them).

Quickly to run down the rest of the show:
HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED was pure driving rock with rolling drums.
SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE was sung with clarity. Except for the new closing
stanza... something about her getting under his skin. CAN'T WAIT was so
good and funky. Fantastic breaks. Stops the crowd and then starts them up.
WHEN I PAINT MY MASTERPIECE was just that. Beautiful piano/pedal steel
combo and nice harp work to conclude. HONEST WITH ME featured blazing
guitars. TYRIN' TO GET TO HEAVEN was strong, well sung, heartfelt. MAKE
YOU FEEL MY LOVE was similar in tone. Great harp ending. PAY IN BLOOD
built from a tinkle to a torrent. The gruff, baritone Bob blows 'em down.
LENNY BRUCE was stunning. The violin, the bass, Bob's singing... all of
it... stunning. EARLY ROMAN KINGS absolutely killed the place. Blistering
blues, handkerchiefs waving, fans hollering... 'my bell still rings'! GIRL
FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY was so god damned beautiful. Wow!! So sweet. There
is an Irish lullaby built into the melody that gives it extra melancholy.
NOT DARK YET had an apocalyptic atmosphere. Somber guitars and what I
could swear sounds like the scream of death coming from deep with the
sound system. Weird and wonderful. THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN rumbled extra
strong tonight. Scintillating guitars, an unexpected piano burst mid-song
from Bob and what seemed like an extended version had the crowd rocking
and up on its feet dancing. Fantastic! SOON AFTER MIDNIGHT shone magically
via pedal steel. A quiet reflective start, the song uncoils slowly, ending
with a bounce and a kick.

Bob introduced the Band here. He said something about Tony being with the
Band so long.

GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY was a revival. The crowd up and dancing. A
deservingly climactic ending to a great show.

The encores were brilliant. Bob barked out (sometimes literally) a
powerful BALLAD OF A THIN MAN. Fronting the Band with some nifty guitar
work, he passionately sang as the Band delivered a blazing fire of rock 'n
roll. Not to be outdone was a burning blues rendition of IT TAKES A LOT TO
LAUGH, IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY. Bob drew out the final words on each
stanza to brilliant effect. The Band poured the gasoline onto the fire and
we watched in burn in glory. Fantastic! 

The Band was superb all night long. The sounds that they make (Donnie) are
otherworldly. Bravo!

As always, nice to see Ed (and Michelle) after the show. Very nice to meet
Susan and Al (congratulations on 400). Katherine, you got to dance!! I
hope you got to have a good talk with Matt. All the other Bobcats, good to
see you. Will be there again on Friday. Will you? Don't miss it!


Review by Kevin Ellis

“I’m stranded in the city that never sleeps / Some of these women just
give me the creeps / I’m avoiding the South Side the best I can / These
memories are enough to strangle a man.”

So sang Bob Dylan, over half-a-century and thousands of shows removed from
the period of his career most closely associated with that city. Tonight,
in the midst of another Beacon residency, the 78 year old master offered
energy, feeling, his heart and his soul, and for many in the crowd it
seemed both expected and perhaps even taken for granted. These shows
become like the rising of the sun; you can convince yourself all you want
that you’re appreciating them, but you’ll never be able to really know
their power until the day they stop rolling in. 

This was my second Dylan show of the week and 58th in my 26 years of life,
and there very well may be no venue better for this performance. The
SetList once again allowed Dylan the lyricist, rhyme-maker, vocalist, and
instrumentalist to shine, while also giving each member of the band their
due as well. It’s a strange and beautiful thing to see this come
together every night and I’m past the point of even being proud of how
much each concert brings me to tears. Seeing this man, a small, almost
decrepit, tattered figure - a famous recluse who makes over 100 public
appearances every year - stand before your eyes is to summon all your
memories associated with him, with the overwhelming sensation of a great
flood. In brief, he’s given me my career, my sense of self, my love for
art, my confidence in times of doubt. Tonight, he performed for me and for
all like me once again, and I didn’t dare miss it. 

“When I Paint My Masterpiece”, with it’s piano opening and simple
transition into Dylan center stage, harmonica in hand, is transcendent and
complete with lyrical changes. Dylan now wishes to wash off “the
beach” before he paints his masterpiece, and if that’s not a terrific
rhyme I don’t know what is. This song, along with “Girl From the North
Country”, “Early Roman Kong’s”, and Soon After Midnight” were
the standouts, and smart money says they will be on the 28th and 29th when
I return with every friend I could get to come with me. 

There’s a moment I have at every Dylan show when he is walking off the
stage and I force myself to accept that this, for one reason or another,
could very well be my last night with the man. There’s not a single show
I’ve been to that wouldn’t feel satisfying in that position, but for
now we’re both still on the road. Where we’re bound, I can’t tell,
and that is forever the joy of Bob. 

Kevin Ellis


Review by Stephen G.

First saw Bob at The Beacon in 1989. Came each night. Same in 1990. With
varying set lists who could resist. Now with the set lists written in
stone we’ll only see two shows. Arrived about 7:30 to no line on
Amsterdam Avenue. As the crowd filled in I was surprised at how varied it
was in age. Seems like Bob is drawing a younger crowd than he has the past
few years. We had orchestra seats toward the rear, a few rows under the
overhang. This can be problematic sound wise but not tonight. Everything
was crisp and clear. The cell phone security police prowled the aisles and
I saw one poor soul to my right a few rows up escorted out. While I
don’t care for all the new arrangements, Can’t Wait and Early Roman
Kings benefited greatly. What a beautiful Not Dark Yet. Bob has dropped
most of his vocal tricks, the upsinging, the wolf man bark, the sing
songing etc that plagued his performances for most of the past decade, and
instead just sings. His stage mannerisms are quirky and delightful.  I
still think his songs sound better when arranged for guitar than piano.
There is something about a lone troubadour with a guitar. The Beacon 
crowd was fairly sedate except for maybe a half dozen souls who spent most
of the night on their feet. However, as soon as a Bob started to introduce
the band the crowd erupted in a standing ovation and stayed on its feet
till the end of the show. We’ll be back next week for one more show


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