November 19, 2021
Review by Lynne Robinson
Been awhile since I’ve seen Bob, so when my brother invited me to visit him
in the city for a week, and it coincided with Bob’s Beacon shows, I thought
I'd kill two birds with one (rolling ) stone.
Found tickets miraculously, with a little help from my friends, and last night,
an old friend of mine - a singer here in the city - and I, headed into the NYC
night, to catch a train uptown. We found a place across the street to grab a
quick bite, but once we got past the security and bag checks into the lobby
of the old theater, we discovered “the artist” had decided that no one who
arrived after the downbeat was getting in until after the third song. A mild
protest ensued - yours truly suggesting we storm the Bastille (jokingly of
course) and suddenly, the doors were flung open, and a stampede of fans
pushed past us, into the aisles. With no ushers in sight, we wandered
around for a bit, trying to find our seats.
Bob and his band were well into “Mostly you go” so in fact we missed only
one tune, the old chestnut, “Watching the river” which was rushing rapidly,
not flowing gently along. Once seated I began taking it all in - last time I saw
Bob at the Beacon was in the late 80s when I lived in the city and the future
was still ahead of us all.
The band is fine, Tony still holding down the bottom - new drummer in the
groove, dueling guitars, Donny Heron layering on the sweet melodic notes
he’s known for, but this wasn’t like the old days, this band was not the well
oiled machine that drove Bob’s big sound of the last decade or so, this was a
backup band, pure and simple.
Hidden behind a clunky wooden facade hiding a keyboard (and lyric sheets,
no doubt), Bob’s usual discordant playing came through the mix - the new
band members looking to Tony for cues and clues. “Bob Dylan the song and
dance man” was nowhere to be seen; in his stead was a poet sounding
his clarion call at the gates of Heaven and Hell.
The songs from Rough and Rowdy Ways (a misnomer if there ever was
one) had weight and gravitas; metaphors and myth, tall tales and golem
imaginings all came together in a simmering stew that took the Western
Canon and turned it inside out; the poet's voice ringing out clear and true,
the iconic phrasing a clear indication of his Nobel Laureate status; this is
why, I told myself, this is the reason he received that high honor; earned
and deserved. It was as if he had arrived at this place inside of himself,
comfortable now with this gift, this oracular lineage going back into the mists
to that place beside the cypress tree. To that place of ancient memory.
“Key West,” “Mother of Muses,” “My own version” were the highlights for
me. Every word owned and annunciated, the impeccable delivery flawless,
filled with heartfelt emotion; palpable.
I’ve seen Bob Dylan too many times to count since 1977, when he was
between Rolling Thunder and Born Again Christianity - there is a thread of
continuity still; “Serve Somebody” and “Every Grain” upending these newer
compositions like sentinels.
My friend had seen him only once before and had complained she couldn’t
understand a word at the time, his voice a truckload of gravel. Not last night,
with the moon hanging heavy in the sky, hidden behind his prop, looking a
bit frail everytime he wandered out from behind, shuffling across the stage
to talk to Tony, or doing a weird hobgoblin dance while hanging on to the
corner of the wooden wall he’s erected, as if to keep himself from falling,
falling through space and time, hanging in the balance.
Invisible now, nothing left but the songs
Review by Barry Gloffke
WELCOME BACK BOB!
There he was again! Our Hero! Back at the wonderful Beacon Theatre,
NYC for three nights. God willing I will attend them all.
Friday night… late arriving and enthusiastic crowd.
Bad planning on my part meant that my girlfriend Jacqueline and I were a
few minutes late for the show… that led to a bit of an adventure to get
to our seats… we initially had to wait in the Theatre lobby while Bob sailed
through the opener WATCHING THE RIVER FLOW. I could already tell he
sounded great! When the song ended the ushers let us into the Theatre
and we tried to make our way towards our seats… but the late arriving
crowd that we were part of was making too much commotion, so we just
sat down in the first two empty aisle seats we could find. As this was
happening we were bombarded with a rockin’ version of MOST LIKELY
YOU GO YOUR WAY AND I GO MINE filling the arena… very up-tempo!
Bob sounding on top of his game… bellowing and howling! When the
song ended we made our way again towards our seats, but we decided
that we would stand off to the side of the venue until the next song
ended, as we did not want to battle through fans who were already
comfortably seated. The first ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS song of the
set, I CONTAIN MULTITUDES was sublime. Great delivery. Similar to the
album version… the audience loved it.
I will digress here for a moment… I’ve mentioned more than one time on
this website about the fact that as the Dylan fans age, they have less
enthusiasm and they are less likely to stand and dance. I get that. I don’t
want to block anyone’s views or obstruct seeing Dylan any more than I want
someone blocking my view. But two things to keep in mind are that Bob still
rocks out (those are the songs to stand/dance to) and Bob himself stands
for most of the show! I think if Bob Dylan (now at 80) can stand and deliver
to us, than we should at some point reciprocate. My preference is to always
be off to one side of the venue where I can stand/dance without
obstructing anyone … so… after MULTITUDES we finally get to our seats as
Bob wields a superb and rollicking version of FALSE PROPHET. Bob is growling
this one out! My girlfriend sits down, but I stay upright with the same energy
that Bob is giving… not 30 seconds later I was asked to sit down by the fans
directly behind me (especially one jerky guy) who was not happy with me
standing/dancing… we had a bit of a tit-for-tat conversation about that… I
told him I paid for the seat… I’m allowed to stand. So I turn my attention
back to the stage, and Dylan, when this guy decides to shove me from
behind. At that point my girlfriend and I started jawing at him, security sees
the commotion and I decide to make my way out of the aisle to talk to
them. I told them I had every right to stand and dance in front of my seat
(which they acknowledged), but to cool the situation they said I could
stand off to the side of the venue for the rest of the show. That was fine
with me… as I said, I prefer it that way… but boy was I pissed off at the
guy who shoved me. My girlfriend stayed in her seat to enjoy the show,
and she told me after the show that she turned around and scolded the
guy who shoved me… she said he shrunk back in his seat. He’s lucky to
get off without a beating or kicked out. Anyway…
… the rest of my night was about Bob. I can’t stress enough how good he
sounds. The band was good, a bit clunky here and there, but that was not
so much a reflection on the band as much as it is them trying to keep up
with Bob’s idiosyncratic style, and somewhat mediocre (at times) piano playing.
Donnie stood out on many songs with fiddle or accordion.
A quick run-down of the balance of the show:
WHEN I PAINT MY MASTERPIECE — more up-tempo than the last tour.. and
that was necessary as the ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS songs tend to be on
the mellow side.
BLACK RIDER — I love the deep tone and delivery.
I’LL BE YOUR BABY TONIGHT — Fantastic, upbeat. Better than the SHADOW
KINGDOM version. Bob had fun with lyrics… a bunch of repeated words and
some hehs and hahs.
MY OWN VERSION OF YOU — Sinister! Freud, Marx, the enemies of mankind,
trojan slavery before England or America were made… Bob knows his history.
He knows there was never a time in the world where the good guys forced
you to do something against your will.
TO BE ALONE WITH YOU — Perfect! Like he was singing to each of us i
ndividually. Bob was very communicative tonight.
EARLY ROMAN KINGS — Good, but a bit of a letdown for me. The song was
missing Charlie Sexton and the Bass/Drums blues stomp from past tours… I
always felt that Charlie gave this song the Chicago blues treatment.
KEY WEST (PHILOSOPHER PIRATE) — Beautiful, just beautiful. Fortunately for
us, Bob stayed away from any wonky piano playing on this. The only drawback,
if I am correct, was Bob omitting the last stanza.
GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY —Such a cool version, my favorite. It’s been close
to the same for several tours. Rock ‘n Roll! Although I preferred this better as
the penultimate spot on the setlist.
I’VE MADE UP MY MIND TO GIVE MYSELF TO YOU — Heartfelt. Letting us
know he appreciates our support over the years. Letting that woman know,
letting the lord know. It could make a grown man cry.
MELANCHOLY MOOD — Short and sweet. This was one of my favorites from
the 2015-2017 tours where he tortured the older fans with stuff they did not
come to hear. I always got a laugh about that.
MOTHER OF MUSES — Sing for me Bob, sing wonderfully. Sing about those
muses of inspiration and the generals of another generation… they gave us
freedom in our body, hearts and minds.
GOODBYE JIMMY REED — Good blues ‘n rock. Thump on a bible and drink
to Jimmy Reed, indeed!
Band intros. Bob gives Charlie Drayton a nice compliment. Bob starts talking t
to us, but some of the fans try to move up to the front and past me, in the
commotion of security telling them to get back to their seats, I miss a bit of
what Bob said, but the gist was ‘it’s nice to back at the Beacon Theatre in
NYC, nice to see the Empire State Building, nice to see the city alive again.
EVERY GRAIN OF SAND — Simply wonderful. Only the second time I have
heard him do this. Magnificent. Bob goes center stage with the band as we
howl in appreciation. We applaud for several minutes and a one point it felt as
though we were going to get one more song, but alas, it was not to be…
HOUSE LIGHTS ON!
It was a great show… and Bob seemed very happy to be there. As stated
above during band intros, he mentioned that he was glad to be back at the
Beacon and in NYC. Glad to see the city alive again. He was very engaged all
evening and the band was solid. Bob had been on a roll the last several tours,
with outstanding shows one after-another-after-another. I’d say since the
release of Tempest and through the 2014 tour the shows were top notch…
but he took those to a higher level from 2017-2019. So the anticipation was
high. From the fan reviews I read, and the shows I listened to, I knew he
was in good voice… but with Bob, you never know. So it was just wonderful
to see the old dude again, and hear him sound so good. Really leaning into
the songs. Clear enunciation. Great emotion.
Another great show.
See you tomorrow.
The ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS tour. Not a coincidence that Bob puts a
skeleton with a syringe on the cover of the album and uses it as marketing
for the tour. Bleak times we are in.
Review by Roderick Smith
Dylan is older now he moves stiffly hiding behind his upright piano it becomes
his private studio here he formats his songs before he leans up over the top
of the piano and then delivers to a disbelieving house. His voice is raw yet
crystal clear. The lyrics tower above a precision stepping band. In the dim
light his face looks child like a charm glinting against the colossal back drop of
his oeuvre. It’s dark in here. Dylan leans above his battered piano which
alternates between poetic lectern and war ravaged church pulpit. I thought
of Melville’s potent rendering in Moby Dick.
“ What could be full of more meaning?—for the pulpit is ever this earth’s
foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From
thence it is the storm of God’s quick wrath is first decried, and the bow must
bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first
invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, not a
voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.“
So he appears and disappears in the dim light and you listen and you wonder
what is this incantation I’m leaning into. What a wild and grinding ocean of
ideas and images and symbols that seem to call out for some unknown
salvation where hope is not extinguished and imagination is the kingly realm
Review by Bob Russell
Night one of Bob Dylan at the Beacon Theatre was quite wonderful! No
changes to the format or setlist. We now know what to expect, but I was
careful to listen to little or nothing from the previous shows beforehand,
though I have them all downloaded.
I had a chilly but very nice pre-concert dinner and drinks with the delightful
Nancy Cobb at the Owl’s Tail, a little bar around the corner from the Beacon,
practically in the shadow of Dylan’s bus. Moving into the warmth of the
theatre, I took my place in Row M of the orchestra, quite a good vantage
point. Sitting just three rows ahead of me was the great Steve Earle, who I
called out greetings to (I’m sure that was a great treat for him. ??)
The show began promptly about 3 or 4 minutes after 8:00 pm. The stage
was as you have seen from others on the tour, high lit floor, simple curtain in
the back, sparse lighting, especially for Bob (reminded me a bit of the dim
stages from September 1993). The band was tight, guitarists Britt and Lancio
lurking in back and getting off the leash a bit with some fine lead work from
Britt (I think, I couldn’t see their hands). Drummer Charlie Drayton was crisp
and Donnie and Tony were their usual selves.
I won’t go over every song (check the setlists), but almost half the set was
devoted to Rough and Rowdy Ways. Bob sang these with as much intensity
and passion as I have seen in the 123 Bob shows I have attended. He is
clearly invested in having these heard and appreciated by the world. Hard to
pick just one highlight, but I will point to Mother of Muses as the pinnacle of
the set, invoking Bob’s artistic muse in a powerful and respectful way. The
older songs performed were in fine voice and great arrangements. River Flow,
Masterpiece, a rollicking Serve Somebody, and others were sung with strength
and enjoyment. (Most Likely… is not my favorite arrangement, but I am
nitpicking there.) Bob’s piano playing was right on, and showed him enjoying
After the climactic Mother of Muses, a spirited Jimmy Reed, then band
intros, and a PERFECT Every Grain of Sand concluded the evening. A
get-together with about 20 Dylan fiends followed at the nearby Arthouse
Hotel bar. Fascinating people! I walked back to my hotel soon after midnight
(the moon was in my eye) with great appreciation for the evening. 7 more
shows await me in the next two weeks! See this tour
Review by Terry Douglas
This was a great show, trumpeting yet another phase of the man's
incredible career. Admittedly, I'm biased when it comes to Bob, so one can
take my praise for whatever it's worth. [Personally, it was my 7th time
seeing Bob Dylan live (each time in a different location and venue).] The
80-year-old body may be getting creaky, but the unique musical instrument
that is his voice (some people scoff at that, but true Bobcats know
better) has found renewed vigour, having benefitted mightily from the
pandemic-induced break from touring...and man, he's playing/using it to
the hilt right now. It was the most powerful his voice has sounded in
years -- downright commanding at times, and it seemed to me that he was
really having fun with that. Other than his voice, you never know what
other instrumentation you're going to get from Bob from one tour swing to
the next. On this one, he mostly played his piano and stayed close to it
when he wasn't -- no guitar or harmonica this time around and he only came
out to the microphone at front-centre stage a couple of times, most
prominently for "False Prophet" and "Key West (Philosopher Pirate)", my
personal favourite song from the recent album, 'Rough and Rowdy Ways'. The
lighting harkened to the mood of his noirish-themed pay-per-view event
from this past summer, 'Shadow Kingdom', so he was mostly backlit and
rarely spotlighted. Regarding the setlist, as the subtitle of this tour
denotes, it's a showcase for 'Rough and Rowdy Ways' (already in my
all-time Top 10 Dylan albums -- it's that good). He played every song from
the album except two (and if you're familiar with it, you should be able
to guess which ones and why), delivering them all with enthusiasm, weight,
and/or gravitas. Also on the program were some real treats from the back
catalog -- particularly "Watching the River Flow" (the opening number),
"When I Paint My Masterpiece" (one of my all-time favourite songs from
Bob), "To Be Alone with You" (inspired new arrangement), "Gotta Serve
Somebody" (a rollicking rendition), and "Every Grain of Sand" (the
concluding song and a great one to end on). Bob also talked to us a little
bit at the end, which is something that's rarely happened in recent years.
He said "It's awful nice to be back in the Big Apple. With Broadway, the
Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Times Square, all of it. The Empire State
Building. Fifth Avenue. Glad to see it's coming back alive." I think this
is a reflection of how excited he is to be back on the 'Neverending Tour'.
Finally, as per usual, Tony Garnier and the rest of Bob's band were in
fine form as well. The only downside was that it all flew by way too fast,
but that's not Bob and his band's fault.
| Click Here
to return to the
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists