New York, New York
Beacon Theatre

November 16, 2023

[Michael Sobsey], [John Graham]. [Barry Gloffke],
[Rechi van Lehen], [Adam Selzer], [Nancy Cobb]

Review by Michael Sobsey

This was a fantastic Dylan show. I had been grumbling about the repetition
of the setlist, complaining that with his superior back catalog that he 
(me telling him!) should rotate out some of the newer Rough and Rowdy 
tracks out for some of the songs that are dormant. This is the sixth time
that I have heard virtually identical setlists. Of late, Dylan and the 
band have been in excellent form and Dylan’s singing has been inspired 
and clear with his famous phrasing and inflection making the songs very 
engaging for the listener. While I was in the lobby waiting for the show 
to start, there were two guys standing right next to me talking for a 
long time. I couldn’t hear them very well but I caught the phrase, ‘four
hundred songs,’ ‘maybe you can help me,’ or something along those lines. 
It had to do with the music business. One of the interlocutors had on a 
rimmed hart, round glasses, and a light beard. He was wearing a black 
shirt buttoned to the top with a large gold pendant on a gold chain, 
which stood out notably against the black color of the shirt. He wore 
checkered pants and boots that had grayish fur on the outside. Of a 
sudden, I realize the guy next to me for the last fifteen minutes is 
Elvis Costello! I waited until the conversation ended and he excused 
himself. I said, “Hi Elvis,” and reached out to shake hands. He shook 
hands and looked right at me. I said, “I love your music.” He thanked 
me graciously, let go of my hand, and was on his way. It was surprising 
that in a Dylan concert crowd, no one recognized him!

Then I saw a man, maybe in his forties or fifties, who was wearing a 
black t shirt with white lettering that said Montreux Jazz. I had to 
talk to him because my brother-in-law lives in Montreux and I had spent 
most of the summer there, and had heard the Dylan show there on July 
first. I asked the man if he’d been to Montreux and he said, Yes. I said, 
“I’ve been there the last three summers and have seen Van Morrison, Joan 
Baez, Nick Cave, lots of great concerts.” He said that he only saw the 
Dylan show. I asked if he followed the tour around and he answered 
simply, yes. Then I posed a question, “How do you feel about him 
repeating the same setlist every night?” He said, “I like it” (he might 
have said I love it). I was like, really? ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘It’s live 
music. The Philharmonic orchestra plays the same songs every night. But 
it changes, based on how the artist is feeling, their moods. Dylan has 
been in great spirits this tour, happier than I’ve ever seen him.’ 
This was the clearest most reasonable justification or explanation of 
the repeated setlist that I have heard. I set me back on my heels. On 
my way to my seat, I had to tell the man that I really liked his 
orchestra analogy. He said he had been a police officer in Germany and 
was in charge of security at concerts. He had seen thousands of 
concerts. ‘As soon as the violinist touches the bow string… it is 
different each night,’ he added. ‘My wife and I agree that this series 
of Dylan concerts some of the best they’ve ever heard. His first Dylan 
show was in 1984 in Europe.

I relate this account of the meeting and conversation because I went to 
my seat with a fresh perspective and a new frame of mind to listen to 
the show. I was five rows behind the sound board, slightly left of 
center. They describe the seats as ‘obstructed view’ but the sound 
board is low enough down that it was a non-issue. In fact, the new 
‘Sphere Immersive’ sound system at the Beacon, which they claim is the 
best in the world, really was super crisp and clear. I consider the 
Beacon as Dylan’s home court, a few years back he did a ten-night stand 
there and the venue is so elegant and ornate that just sitting there is 
an amazing experience. The band was tight, the vocals were superb, you 
could pick up most of the words. 

A couple notes, in contrast to the first Brooklyn show which was great 
if slightly less of a congenial homey feel to it over all. Last night, 
Dylan got up from the piano every couple songs and ambled a few steps 
toward center stage maybe to loosen up after sitting a lot. He looked 
cool in a black outfit with gold stripes down the seams.There was also 
a harmonica solo to close out Every Grain of Sand, a sort of parting 
gift to the appreciative, adoring crowd.
Considering the songs Dylan has composed over the decades, for a person 
with a literary bent such as myself, being in the same space with him 
is an honor that I cherish, going back forty-nine, almost fifty, years. 

Michael Sobsey


Review by John Graham

Having attended about a half dozen shows now on the Rough and Rowdy tour,
this band just keeps getting stronger and stronger. It's obvious they
enjoy jamming together. The last show we saw was in Sevilla last June.
Since then, the stage design has changed from a deep red background to
plain white lighting with no light show, and nothing but the stacks of
amplifiers behind Bob and the band. The band is also spread out more on
the stage, whereas earlier on the tour they huddled more closely around
Bob. The setlist remains pretty consistent, although several of the songs
have been rearranged; 'my own version of you' is almost unrecognizable
from the album version, and as usual, Bob throws in different lyrics now
and then. His voice is amazingly strong, and he was hammering away at the
baby grand piano like nobody's business. Before launching into Goodbye
Jimmy Reed, Bob gave a shoutout to Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling
Stone magazine, saying "Jann Wenner is in the house tonight. Everybody's
heard of him. He recently got booted from the Rock n Roll Hall of fame. I
don't think that's right. I think we should get him back in!". Bob played
the harp beautifully on 'Every grain of sand', then they left the stage.
The Beacon didn't get the house lights up for a couple of minutes after
that, making the audience roar, as if they thought there might be an
encore, but alas, no such luck.

John Graham


Review by Barry Gloffke

This was show 10 of 14 for me tonight on this leg
of the Rough and Rowdy Ways tour. My 80th Bob show in total. This was
Bob's third show in a row in my hometown of NYC after two scintillating
shows in Brooklyn. And Bob was in a NY State of Mind tonight! It's always
an event when Bob comes to the Beacon Theatre. But since this is a one
night only gig, the anticipation and excitement are ramped up a level.
Would Bob finally break his streak of coverless shows? Would he do
something NYC related? If so, which artist, which song? I was hoping for
something wild, like say, a Ramones cover. But I would settle for
anything. This was the first show I've seen on this tour where the curtain
was down, hiding the stage set-up. Bob was late arriving on stage, but we
would realize why shortly. At approximately 8:06 the curtain rose and
there was Bob and the Band ready to play. The crowd erupts! Immediately we
realize that Bob is doing a cover song! I cannot make it out at first. I
hear a lyric about 'Miami beach', which illicit's a cheer from some in the
audience. Then I hear the lyrics 'a New York State of Mind'. Billy
Joel?!?! I loathe Billy Joel. A phony Bob if there ever was one. But I
will happily accept any tune that Bob wants to cover. It was only a
partial cover, about a minute long, but I loved the sentiment. The Band
then commences into the nightly routine setlist which contained no other
surprises. But another great show tonight. The crowd was a bit sedate and
I had the usual problem of being asked to sit. Whatever. My plan B was to
stand off to the side with my wife and dance. So once the inevitable
happened and a fan contacted security to tell us to sit, I told him the
guard 'sorry, but I'm standing/dancing with my wife. I knew I was in the
right as far as being allowed to stand/dance at my seat, but since I did
not want confrontations with the fans, and the security guard did not want
any trouble from the fans either, he let my wife and I stay off to the
side where we proceeded to have an absolute blast dancing and watching Bob
and the Boys knock out a fantastic show. Highlights were too many to list
as each song was strong this evening. Bob played wonderful piano, for the
most part, and he was once again clear and powerful vocally. Although I
did sense a bit of raggedness as the show progressed Bob still hit all the
notes. If I'm not mistaken he swapped two stanzas in GOODBYE JIMMY REED
(intentional?), but at least he didn't miss any lines. Bob was animated
tonight. He stood up several times after songs to turn and talk to either
Jerry Pentecost or Tony Garnier and the Band in general seemed to be
having a ball, laughing and smiling. Bob kept us guessing that he might
have another surprise for us tonight. During Band intros Bob gave a
lengthy intro to Doug Lancio which I did not really catch. When done with
the intros Bob mentioned that Jann Wenner was in the audience and that it
was a shame that he got kicked out of the rock-and-roll hall of fame. Bob
treads on thin ice here with the cancel culture. He's well aware of the
insanity that has permeated society. As he sings in BLACK RIDER, 'better
seal up your lips if you want to stay in the game. How has Bob stayed in
the game? As far as I can tell he's played both sides against the middle
for most of his career. What a wonderful night! Thanks to my beautiful
wife Jacqueline for a memorable night of dancing and song. We got to see
so many happy Bobcats tonight. After the show we mingled outside, said hi
to Jeff and a few others, and then we made our way to a locale hotel bar
with an entourage that included our web host Bill Pagel, Ed & Michelle,
Susan & Al among others. I'm still on a Bob high writing this Friday
morning. Looking forward to the next show in Philadelphia, PA. Don't you
miss it!


Review by Rechi van Lehen

I‘m in a New York state of mind…

This was by far the most unconventional show I‘ve seen on this tour so
far. First difference was that the red velvet curtain was closed before
the show. When it goes up during the intro fanfare we see the band already
on stage including Bob sitting behind the piano. The hat lies on the piano
and he never sat it up. We heard some unusual riffs and it was clear this
is something new. The audience went wild when the first lines came up. It
was nearly impossible to understand him through the euphoric reaction. He
stopped after „I‘m in a New York state of mind“ what makes the song very
very short but I couldn’t imagine a better point! Someone mentioned before
why Bob didn’t do any specific in Brooklyn after all what this city means
for him. Well, this seems to be the answer. His heart belongs to „The
City“ (thanks to Kathy for teaching me). But to be honest, this short
episode wasn’t what I meant with unconventional! During the whole show Bob
was restless as I have him never seen before. He stood up and turned back,
talking and gesturing to his band between nearly every song, and to my ear
there are slightly different arrangements. He even went center stage two
of three times between songs and take a bow to the audience or raised his
hands! Three shows in a row back to back but what a difference a day
makes. I could not imagine another greater honor to the host city as we‘ve
whitenessed at the Beacon Theatre. It is, needless to say, the venue I‘ve
seen the most Dylan shows in my life so far. Another great thank you to
the friends on the road, after all this years we can truly say: you and
me, we had it all! 

Rechi van Lehen


Review by Adam Selzer

Before this show I had lunch at Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington
bid farewell to his troops, then hopped on his horse and rode off while
they were still finishing their beer. It was the best exit in American
history (and by some measures the first), at least until 1990 when Bob
Dylan finished a show at the Beacon by walking through the crowd and out
the door, apparently to a waiting bicycle.  For Dylan fans, the Beacon is
just as historic as Fraunces Tavern is for George Washington fans.

There’s always a sense of history about a Dylan show in New York; after
another day of limbs and livers in the Trinity Churchyard archives I spent
the evening at a party with friends from the last two nights, plus my
friend Henry, who flew in, and various eminent Dylanologists, some of
whose work I’ve been reading since I was a teenager.  I didn’t want to be
too much of a nerd but I couldn’t believe I was on the subway with some of
these people. I’d rather be with most of them than George Washington any

Took my balcony seat and immediately noticed that the curtain was down;
usually the curtain is up, the instruments are set up, and the band comes
in and starts playing before Dylan joins them. Tonight the curtain rose (a
few minutes later than usual) and Dylan was in place with the band,
playing a couple of slow chords. This wasn’t “River Flow!”  It took a
second to realize he was doing “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel.  I
flipped; Billy was perhaps the first songwriter whose work I really
latched onto (besides maybe Weird Al) and opening with a surprise was a

The cover just lasted one verse before launching into a ripping “River
Flow” and a strong “Most Likely.”  A lot of times tonight I was reminded
of night three in Chicago, where it seemed like he was searching for some
new rhythm or melody and not quite landing on it - which means we got to
watch him work in real time. I believe there were even some new lyrics.
But it’s worth noting that I don’t hear as much of that “searching” on the
tape this morning, so maybe it was just my own mood or something I was
listening for, and even in the moment it never seemed to detract from the
song overall; everything was strong and inventive.

“False Prophet” continues to be a highlight, with Bob rocking his whole
body as he attacks the piano.  (Incidentally, his piano playing has
improved a lot; he was hitting a LOT more bad notes a month ago).   A
sinewy, smouldering “Rubicon” was another, and after “To Be Alone With
You” he said “my mortal bliss” into the mic in the place where he normally
says “ohwha thank you.”

I’d been thinking that as “Rubicon” cools down to the lower octane simmer,
“Key West” might be out of place; it’s two very long slow songs, separated
by just one quick one.  But “Key West” drew me in, with new piano and
guitar patterns.  Then “Made Up My Mind” had a fun staccato chorus.

Throughout the night Bob seemed like he was up to something; after one
song he walked around in a circle, and had a couple of chats with Tony,
Doug, and Jerry. After a particularly long chat with Tony before “Black
Magic” he said “takes us a minute to get it together.” I tried not to get
too excited; he might have been saying “You know that thing we talked
about doing? Let’s not do it.”

That, in fact, seems to be what he said, as the set list remained normal,
though “Black Magic” was the best I’ve heard it, and “Mother of Muses” was

The band intro had a whole talk about Doug, noting that he’d “played on
Macca’s records, he’s played on the Boss, and he’s played on the
Rocketman,” followed by a Jann Wenner shoutout that I could have done
without, but i know George Washington said far worse things. After Jimmy
Reed, he added “Thank you. We like playing here!”

“Jimmy Reed” had more power than it’s had this tour, and “Every Grain” was
gorgeous, again with the harp outro that seems incredibly cathartic.

What a wonderful three days with wonderful friends and strangers.  You’re
all coming to Evansville, right?


Review by Nancy Cobb

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune

In contract to Dylan's recent shows, the curtain was down at the Beacon
Theatre as the audience entered, and as it came up a few minutes after 8
pm, it revealed a different stage set - not a warehouse or garage, more
like a basement.  Bob's piano sounded unfamiliar and excitement was in the
air.  Was this going to be like Chicago with a new song at no. 1?  A
little ripple of applause came after "Miami", a little more after
"Hollywood" and then a hefty dose of cheers when we heard "New York" ... 
but all of a sudden it was over and we heard the slashing beginning notes
of Watching the River Flow.  Did Bob abruptly change his mind and decide
he just couldn't sing a Billy Joel song?  I don't think so.  I think he
wanted to subtly tell us that he is the piano man now, and a song and
dance man, as well as jokerman.  He was not exactly dancing but moving
around all night.  I found things to laugh at in all his songs tonight in
the words, the delivery, the little riffs at the end of each phrase by the
band, in Jerry's flailing drum sticks - even in Mother of Muses though I
tried to suppress laughing during that one.  I did not want to have the
friends around me think I was being sacrilegious by not taking that song
seriously.  Like others have said, the Rough and Rowdy ones xas well as
other songs in the set list are still a work in progress.  A while ago I
though the Billy (the kid) Emerson riff has been excised from False
Prophet but I counted it 12 times at the Beacon. My two favorites after
the shows in Brooklyn were Rubicon and Key West but at the Beacon they
were even more transcendent. Because Bob was in such a good mood even the
scarier songs like Black Rider and My own version of you were more like
cartoons than bad dreams for me.  In the 14th slot where Bob's band morphs
into a jazz quintet and either plays an American Songbook tune or a song
with special meaning for the town he is in, Bob had a little pow wow with
the band and then went into the best Old Black Magic I have ever heard by
anybody.  It was the Louie Prima arrangement but not half fun and half
straight the way Louie and Keely used to sing it, but with the force, soul
and enthusiasm that Jimmie Durante put into his songs.  Then a revitalized
Goodbye Jimmy Reed and completely switching gears, a heavenly Every Grain
of Sand to finish the set.  There are only a few chances left to see Bob
Dylan and his Band in 2023 - don't miss it!  Oh by the way, because of a
simple twist of fate, the Beacon show rather than Newark was my 100th
Dylan live event from 1965 to 2023!


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