New York, New York

Beacon Theatre

November 20, 2021

[Mike Skliar], [Bob Russell], [Laurette Maillet], [Barry Gloffke]

Review by Mike Skliar

To paraphrase the opening lines of Bob Dylan’s most recent album, with a
shout out to one of his great 1960’s lines…… “Today and tomorrow,
and yesterday too, Bob’s busy being born, inventing anew”.  And so,
I’m here again at the Beacon Theatre, almost exactly two years (early
December 2019) since my last Bob Dylan show.  That show was about my 80th
or so (in over 40 years, since ‘78) and now Bob himself is 80 years old.
This was also my first ‘big’ indoor concert since before the pandemic.
And what a show!

Most reading this will know that he’s been doing 8 songs (out of the ten
on the album) from 2020’s excellent “Rough and Rowdy Ways”. I
can’t think of another time in many years, other than the two
‘gospel-only’ concerts I saw (Palace Theater, Albany 1980), where he
played 8 or more brand-new songs I hadn’t seen before. I also can’t
think of another Dylan show (other than, again, in ’80) where he hardly
played any of the 20 or so songs that a casual fan might know. Instead,
this was the opposite of any kind of ‘nostalgia’ show, more like a new
band doing their new material, honed on the road to shine even brighter
than it did on the studio recording just done the year before. 

This new tour, the first in two years, started a few weeks ago, and from
reports I’ve heard and read, the arrangements of at least some of the
songs have further evolved and grown in the last few weeks. Put simply,
the new material was (mostly) breathtaking, riveting, and impressive.
It’s a somewhat strange selection of older material he’s doing,
perhaps avoiding some of the ‘heavy hitters’ of the past to let the
new material shine even brighter, and it’s a strategy that worked for me
-and I suspect for much of the crowd as well.  Another wonderful thing
about this show was how rapt and attentive the audience was.  How many
shows have we all been to where people are talking, taking selfies, or
trying flash photos of the stage, going outside to the lobby for more
beer, etc. Perhaps it was a by-product of my front-row loge (the way to
go, at the Beacon!) seat, but it looked like the audience hung on to every
word and every note. (And perhaps many are not taking live-in-person
concerts for granted anymore, after this two-year gap)

One of the other things that this concert did was establish even more
conclusively in my mind that “Rough and Rowdy Ways” is Bob’s boldest
albums of new songs since  at least “Love and Theft”, and one could
make the case perhaps far longer then that. There are days when I think
he’s never done an album better then “Freewheelin”, days when I
think he’s never done an album better then “Highway 61” or “Blood
on the Tracks”, but it wouldn’t be completely crazy (or maybe only
somewhat crazy) to suggest that “Rough and Rowdy Ways” is up there in
the top tier, among the best he’s done.

In talking to my good friend Seth before the show, he mentioned that all
the songs on “Rough and Rowdy Ways’ ‘have strong personalities’ a
statement that I think defines nicely the rich and layered universe that
this material conjures up.  This conjuring is in full flower on this tour
and at this concert. The quieter numbers, “Multitudes”, “Black
Rider”, “Key West”, “Made up my mind to give myself to you”, and
“Mother of Muses” were all highlights. “My own version of you” was
appropriately spooky, while “False Prophet” thundered and strutted.
“Key west” rode in on a wave of accordion and atmosphere. 

Even better, most of the arrangements (of old and new songs) added
effective volume dynamics, sometimes quieting the band to a whisper,
sometimes seizing on a riff Bob played on piano to amplify some melodic
phase that fit around the vocal so well and riding the cascading swell to
the end of the song.  (Unlike many chaotic shows of years past, both
beginnings and endings of songs seemed to be carefully thought out.
Instrumental interludes were kept short, but with Bob frequently adding
typically idiosyncratic piano phrases to the mix) 

With all this ‘kvelling’ about the new songs, I don’t want to leave
out the other great things he did.  He touched more then once on that
‘country-rock’ period (I’ll be your baby tonight, To be alone with
you, Watching the river flow, and an uptempo ‘Masterpiece”), as well
as a little bit of Blonde on Blonde attitude (“Most likely”-similar to
the ‘Shadow Kingdom’ arrangement of earlier this year) and a jazzy
uptempo “Melancholy Mood” courtesy of Frank Sinatra with the Harry
James Orchestra in 1939.   I had thought before the show that “Early
Roman Kings’ didn’t need to be played, but its of a piece with the
newer material and fitted in well.   One of the few songs he did in 2019
that was done here as well, “Serve Somebody” has largely rewritten
lyrics, though as in 2019 they were a bit difficult to understand- the
only time in the entire set that one could say that, however.  The evening
closed on the  ‘quasi-encore’ last song, a tender yet powerful version
of a song he hasn’t played enough over the years, 1981’s “Every
grain of sand” 

The stage has a different look then before, as well- less cluttered,
illuminated cleanly from below (a glowing floor, you could say) and with
Bob in a little bit of his own ‘shadow kingdom’ some of the time. Yet
his vocals were so ‘there’ that the visuals didn’t matter much.  

One little setlist complaint (and I wouldn’t be a Bob fan without one
complaint) the penultimate song, “Goodbye Jimmy Reed” doesn’t
really add much to the studio version, and at that point in the set,
something ‘bigger’ is clearly called for, something that speaks
better to our times, and of course I’m sure every Bob fan could think
of a few dozen examples. Still, that’s a tiny quibble in amongst the
riches that this show delivered. 

I should note there were a few very minor vocal flubs- on one or two
songs, the first line was muffled, and on “Made up my mind to give
myself to you” I think he got a little lost at one point, though it was
something I didn’t even notice much at the time.  Considering the
lyric-heavy new material, Bob did an amazing job- he may be moving on
stage a little slower, but the vocal playfulness was fully there.

I was told that at the show the day before at the Beacon, Bob gave a shout
out to NYC attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, Broadway, etc. At my
show, he instead talked about ‘New York and all the great New
Yorkers’- mentioning Humphrey Bogart,  “Jackie O”, and Al Capone
(who one would first think Chicago, perhaps, but was indeed born in

So in this ever-changing world, where today is already yesterday, whether
this ends up being my last Bob Dylan show, or just the fifteenth to last,
who knows, but it’s been a wild ride, and this was one more fantastic
spin.  Busy being born indeed.  

Mike Skliar


Review by Bob Russell

Night 2 (my 124th Bob show) at the Beacon featured the same magnificent
setlist and performance as the previous night. I have a few additional
observations beyond my review of Friday’s concert:

The sound mix in the hall was perfect, at least in my location. The
volume was not too low or high, the sound was totally crisp and clear,
and I could differentiate each instrument. May be as fine of a Dylan
sound mix as I have ever heard. *   I really loved Charley Drayton’s
drumming. I found a great similarity to Ringo’s work with the Beatles:
simple, clean, and serving the song perfectly. (If anyone who REALLY
understands drumming feels I am totally wrong with this comparison,
please don’t disillusion me. ) *   No harmonica or guitar from
Bob, of course, but his piano was as fully integrated as a lead
instrument in the band as it has ever has been. Moreover, he is clearly
enjoying being a member of the band and weaving in his piano with the
other sounds. *   Bob Britt can really play and, what’s more,  is
allowed to do some actual lead work. His emergence may be the hidden
upside to Charlie Sexton’s unfortunate departure. Was more difficult
from my vantage point to assess Doug Lancio on the other guitar. *  
Tony Garnier’s bass can be very clearly heard and appreciated. He is a
rock in the band! And his bowing of the instrument is always exquisite
(a bass with a bow…). *   Donny Herron, as always, adds such color and
variety to the band’s sound, whether on steel guitar, fiddle, or
accordion. The accordion in Key West is so atmospheric, and conjures up
the sound of Together Through Life, where David Hidalgo provided such
sympathetic accompaniment. (No accordion jokes allowed! ) *   Bob
stopped to introduce the band, but after words about New York, forgot
the actual introductions. Your faithful reporter must also mention that
some Key West lyrics were repeated, but I will let him slide on that.
The band wore black, only Tony with a hat. *   Show started within 5
minutes of announced time and lasted about 1 hour, 40 minutes. No song
out of place, not a dull moment. At the final standing, facing the
crowd, you could see the pride Dylan took in the performance, and the
enjoyment of the crowd. In emphasizing the Rough and Rowdy Ways songs,
Bob pulls off a feat of courage in face of audience expectations (it
calls to mind Neil Young performing Greendale in its entirety to start
his shows around 2003).

I have 6 more concerts to go on this tour, will add more observations as
they arise. (You may begin to think, as Neil would say, “Is there
anything he knows that he ain’t said”?)

See this tour if at all possible. It is a gift to us…


Review by Laurette Maillet

I woke up at 6 am. Somehow I don't sleep well on the road.
I decide to walk all the way to China town. 
Off I go.

I walk down the streets of New York. I've been in New York many times. First 
time 1977, going straight to Greenwich village. Things have changed. 
Washington square is a little bit busy, so Little Italy. 

I find a Vietnamese restaurant serving Pho. I remember David from 
Louisville. We had Pho together. Today I'm all by myself.
Walking back to the Beacon. It takes me few hours. Nice weather. I have to 
step inside the public library to use the toilets. The only one I found open to 
the public :(

Arriving at 6pm. The Bob Dylan bus is parked there but no activities. Bob is 
locked in there. In a golden cage!

Suzie walks inside the venue with Bobby's suit. Hopefully she did something 
to shorten those ugly pants :). She throws me a dirty look. And what should I 

Fans start surrounding the bus. No way Bob will get out before 8.
I take out my sigh 'I need a ticket'. 
See Donnie Herron getty out the Beacon hotel. I tentatively say ' hi Donnie!'. He
is as cold as a stone. :(. See Tony Garnier getting out the Beacon hotel. I say 
nothing. Well! I had better feedback with the Vietnamese restaurant waitress :)
The Beacon changed: the scalpers are sparse, maybe two. Only one guy is selling 
half price T-shirts. And he doesn't seem to sell many. Bob Fans prefer to buy 25 $ 
posters, or 40$ T- shirts from the official marchandise stand. Like Bob Dylan needs 
the money, right?

I recognize some of the Bobcats. Some will say   ' hi! How do you do?'. I feel like 
singing "positively fourth street"....:(
Or  " like a rolling stone ". :)

Two people approach me and ask if I am Laurette , the Artist. Woah! I must
be famous :) They have a ticket for 1/4 of the price. Great. As it could be my 
only Beacon show, I buy it.

We rapidly move inside. Bob will have to do without me outside :)
Beacon show 2.
My seat is on the floor. Row N, seat 12.
The Beacon ceiling is gorgeous!
Bob starts a bit late. Waiting for the fans around the bus to disappear?
I immediately focus on his pants :) woah! Nice pants. They look like really shining 
and tight. Black embroidered , as well as the jacket.Red shirt(it seems). 
Thanks Suzie.

It starts hard. The sound is perfect. Never been that good. Guitars are loud. As 
well as the drums. Thanks Jason ??

Bob is in a good mood. His voice as loud as it could be. Loud and clear. Nothing 
to do with Hershey.

'False prophet' is a wonder. The hight light of the show tonight. Bob is even 
trying a little dance on the side of the piano. Powerful.

"I'll be your Baby tonight" is also standing up by the side of the piano. Bob 
bending on his knees. A couple of times he decides to move from piano mike to 
center free hand mike and that will surprise the sound engeener. We missed 
few words :)

"Melancholy mood" will take Bob standing between Tony and Bob 
(the other Bob).

Other songs will be behind the piano. Even a tentative of piano on the intro of 
" Melancholy mood". As this point I have to say that Bob's playing piano is not 
his best point. Should he get a keyboard player ??? And focus on the vocals 

Each song is a piece of Art. Even my least favorite is doing fine with me tonight.

I believe he did twice the second verse of "key west". I have to listen to the 
recording ??

The audience is up on its feet for " You've got to serve somebody ". 
Other than that , public is polite , reacting to a word here and there .
 " The size of your cock will get you nowhere ". Makes people ??
I see on the left side of the venue and front the cowboy hat Fan. Up and 
dancing. Few girls will stand on "You've gotta serve somebody". But only 
the few first rows are up for " Every grain of sand". Maybe more here and 
there :). I seat. Even people have a hard time to believe that is the last song.

But , yeah, Bob is on his way home (snatched/kidnapped inside the black 
car waiting outside) before you realize the show is over :)

Thank you my 2 Good Samaritans of the night.
Bob was the best at the BEACON 2
The Band tight and Rocking good! 
Tony and Donnie doing their job! :)
Thanks all good people in New York.

See you for Beacon 3.


Review by Barry Gloffke

Beacon Theatre, Saturday night, Bob is back for night two in NYC. After a
great show last night, Bob and the Boys follow up with another top-notch
performance. The crowd was appreciative, sometimes boisterous, and
sometimes a bit too staid. The Band was excellent. Hard to fathom that
they have only played a handful of shows together… true professionals.
Fortunately for me, I was able to stand/dance in the same spot I was
exiled to the previous night — this gave me another excellent view of
Bob (as well as Mr. Britt and Donnie Herron) Unfortunately, from my
vantage point, for the second night in a row I was unable to see Tony
Garnier, Doug Lancio or Charley Drayton… I still don’t know what
Charley and Doug look like).

Even if I could not see all of them, they sounded great… cudos to the
Band… great individual work all around. But regardless, the reality is
that I’m there to see Bob… it really does not matter if he is playing
with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or if he’s reading the Dictionary to
us… I’m there for Bob. And Bob was there for me and the faithful
tonight. Singing TO us, not singing at us. As far as I’m concerned this
is the Bob Dylan ‘I Love My Fans Tour’. The songs seem to revolve
around Love, God and the Bobcats. His performances are magic… even with
the odd flubbed line or offbeat piano playing… he stands and delivers
outstanding shows every night. Voice, crystal clear, extending and
elongating lines and lyrics. Putting extra emphasis where necessary. His
piano work tonight was wonky, rockin’ and spectacular at times.. an
example being I’LL BE YOUR BABY TONIGHT which felt and sounded like a
fifties jug band… ‘bring that bottle over here!’. He was like a
rocker for the initial openers WATCHING THE RIVER FLOW and MOST LIKELY YOU
GO YOUR WAY AND I’LL GO MINE. Simply amazing.

We are truly blessed to be witnessing our hero in such tip-top form.
Growling, sometimes slowly prowling, using his piano for support, playing
with one hand, crooning, and giving us those brilliant new songs from
ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS. Each one akin to an unexpected gift from a friend.
The new songs imbibe these shows with the sense of seeing him for the
first time… even if you have seen him dozens. Everything is fresh and
mostly unheard in a live setting. All of the new songs were great
tonight… the ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS highlights were…

FALSE PROPHET — They knocked this out with tremendous gusto, the Band
sizzled and Bob sang in that baritone voice I favor so much. BLACK RIDER
— Fantastic atmosphere and delivery. MY OWN VERSION OF YOU — This song
built in intensity and Bob was building it and singing it like his life
depended on it. KEY WEST (PHILOSOPHER PIRATE) — The true high point of
the night. Absolutely stunning. The crowd was reverent, absorbing every
word. Unlike the previous night when he flubbed lines and mixed stanzas,
this time he used his lyric sheet and gave us the total package.
Magnificent!! GOODBYE JIMMY REED — A great blues romp.

Bob thanked us (and on behalf of the Band), after this song, but no band
intros… although he did say again that it was nice to be back in NYC.
The night was rounded out with a wonderful take on EVERY GRAIN OF SAND.
Bob sounded so g*d damned good! Thanks again for another great show!

It was good to see a bunch of Bobcats before, during and after the show.
Bill and Bill, Canadian Sue (oh, sorry, I mean Milwaukee Sue… enjoy ALL
the shows), Mangala, Jeff from Harrisburg, Downtown Ben and a few others I
am omitting. Enjoy the rest of the shows you ‘Cats go to. Great work by
the Beacon guys tonight… Robert, Roger, Joe Vay, Erin… thanks for
letting me position myself where I was Roger.

Thanks Bob.
See you tomorrow!


Click Here
to return to the
Main Page

page by Bill Pagel

Tour Guide
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location