Washington D.C.

The Anthem

December 8, 2019

[Eric London], [J.W. Mahoney], [David Mendick]

Review by Eric London

This was the second show of BDAHB at DC's jewel of a theatre, the 
Anthem. The first show was over two years ago... time flies by in the 
blink of an eye. At least he sits on his watch - the show nearly started 
on time.

There was GA on the floor last time, which seemed to deaden the 
atmosphere and spirit of the show. This time around, the floor was all 
reserved seating. I usually do not prefer, but we are all getting older if 
not wiser.

What else was different? Sad to lost George Recile but pleased by Matt
Chamberlain. It felt a little fresher to me on the uptempo numbers. I
can't say I missed Stu, and Bob Britt has a beautiful touch and perfect
fit for these arrangements.

It was a remarkably similar setlist except for the standard covers from
2017 to 19.  By my count we lost

Summer Days
Scarlet Town
Desolation Row
Love Sick

And gained
Simple Twist
Can't Wait
Make You Feel My Love
Lenny Bruce
Girl from the North Country
Not Dark Yet
Serve Somebody
It Takes A Lot To Laugh

Usually I'd take any show with Summer Days and Tangled but not this time.
This was probably the finest show I've seen him play in DC since the 930
Club show way back in 2004... completely on fire almost from the beginning
till the end, no stalling out, no vocal frogs. And LENNY FUCKING BRUCE.

BUT one complaint: I couldn't hear Charlie S. play! It was like that time
in NYC when Chuck Berry turned Ron Wood's amp down to 0. Was Charlie in
the doghouse? I've definitely seen Bob shoot Charlie dirty looks when he
goes too loud or energetic. You could hear him a bit by the time they got
to Thunder, but it was almost like Bob wanted Bob Britt to be showcased.
Weird... this happened at one other BD show in the not super recent past.
It could have been strange acoustic dead spot where I was sitting, but I
don't think so. Bob paying off the sound guy??

Not loving Things arrangement, but it does mix things up. Highway 61 keeps
getting finer with age...  but it was the slow songs where he was breaking
my heart and highlighting the vocal stylin. Trying To Get to Heaven, Make
You Feel My Love, Lenny, Girl.

But: the new Serve was a killer, and I agree with Beacon reviewers about
Pay in Blood/Early Roman Kings being super strong.

I can't believe the depth of emotion... you heard the blood of the land in
his voice for this show. I'm still sad about not making it up to Charm
City or the Beacon for a couple of other shows, but with a performance
like last night I should be horsewhipped for even getting a little greedy
here. Every show now feels like the last but he's been making a fool out
of me for three decades for that sentiment. To 2020!


Review by J.W. Mahoney

Bob Dylan has fronted a rich number of very different bands, from his high
school piano  crew to The Band, to Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers. 
Sometimes,  a change in a few personnel transmutes everything.  George
Recile has been a masterful jazz and country drummer, even as David
Kemper, as the century changed, was a superlative rock’n’roll drummer.
And now Matt Chamberlain (whom I’ve often seen with Tori Amos), has
returned Dylan’s band to being a magnificently relentless hard rock
band, with unusual capabilities for radical tenderness… It’s a big

And Bob’s changed his songs as well….  from a tragical sweetness in
“Girl from the North Country” to the loud, fierce aggressions of
“Early Roman Kinds,” “Can’t Wait,” and Highway 61 Revisited”
to the gravely elegiac “Not Dark Yet,”  He’s giving whole new lives
to “Lenny Bruce.” and “Trying to Get to Heaven” (a song I always
shuddered to hear live) No TUIB or LIRS, which you all recognize by
now. so Is Bob operating in a new zone?  Not surprising. 

The stage has a new theatricality, a few weird statues (no Oscar), gold
curtains and a tall horizontal row of unlit floodlights 20 feet above
the stage floor, presenting the setting for acts of dark drama, which
unfold steadily below.  As many reviewers note, Bob’s voice ’s as
"back” as it needs to be, sometimes a long, clear note, sometimes
hoarse unintelligibility, and his piano work is mostly precise, pure,
never incidental banging away.  And he’s playing his guitar again, if
only in two songs…
My girlfriend has been concerned, and somewhat dismissive, that Dylan
hasn’t made any obvious political/moral statements about these times,
which are fully as dangerous and new as the mid-to-late sixties were. 
Good Question.  
We’ll all wait to see what Bob’s doing next.  As he will .   
J.W. Mahoney


Review by David Mendick

“Well thank you everybody. Let me introduce the band”
And so it goes. Somehow with his back to his drummer he tells Matt to
stand up so he can be seen. “Tony’s been with me for a long time” So
so sad when the show is almost over. Much sadder when it is over. Truly
the best Dylan show of all time. I say that each time and for at least the
last few years it’s been true. The first half is magical and then it
gets better. Lenny Bruce stunning. Girl from North Country I wept. Not
Dark Yet - WOW. Thunder on the Mountain. It was never my favorite song but
tonight it was my favorite song. When it ended Dylan stepped forward and
pointed at the crowd. Still got it. The tour is over. For now. Such
wonderful memories. 

David Mendick


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