Washington, D.C.

The Anthem

December 2, 2021

[Ron Radosh], [A.M.L.], [Professor Finstick], [John Frisch], [Mitchell],
[Laurette Maillet], [Nancy Cobb], [J.W. Mahoney], [Adam Selzer]

Review by Ron Radosh

Bob was in great shape yesterday. What struck me were two things---this
was definitely a complete rock and roll show; no slow ballads or folk
style singing on any of the songs. I haven't heard him give such a strong
performance in a very long time. Not only could you hear every word he
sang---due to the great acoustics of The Anthem. His voice was powerful
and he gave himself completely to each song he performed. The highlight
for me was his rendition of "Gotta Serve Somebody." He sang it with
passion and he emphasized the refrain each time he got to it.  It was the
most powerful rendition I've ever heard him do. I can't single out the
others that stood out to me, because they were all so good.

In addition to his quip about Foggy Bottom (A D.C. neighborhood where the
State Dept. is)and the hotel in Pentagon City- where I think he said they
were being put up at- he told the crowd that he used to come to D.C. to
see The Country Gentleman, after which he named all the musicians in the
famed bluegrass group that formed in 1957 and existed  through the early
60s. There was a very small scattering of applause for the group; very
very small. (including me) Bob then said "You don't know the Country
Gentleman?" seeming quite surprised. I guess the crowd, especially younger
folks-I'm three and a half years older than Bob, and knew him well in
Madison, Wisconsin-aren't into or aware of the D.C. bluegrass scene, which
once was the center of bluegrass. (it wasn't Nashville or W.Virginia or
Virginia) Now NYC has become the main place for bluegrass musicians.

Ron Radosh


Review by A.M.L.

The Anthem is a stunner of a venue, an awakening in and of itself in the
wharf area of DC, walking distance from the home of the 2019 World Series
champs (if you don’t mind a 20 min brisk walk). It might as well be a
“newer” version of The Met in Philly, except for the fact that the
restaurants and bars in the resurrected area are plentiful and charging a

The above aside, our hero was in rare form tonight. Calling out The
Mayflower Hotel, where Hoover had his meals EVERY day, back in the good
ole days. There was also a shout out to Pentagon City and Foggy Bottom,
the latter of which I believe was a reference to the abundance of smoke
coming from the incense / stage grills, as the band members all had a good
laugh at the reference. 

False Prophet was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen our hero
deliver. I knew when I first saw it in Hershey that it had this potential,
and tonight it delivered big time! Serve Somebody was another show
stopper. The  DC crowd tried to equal Philly’s enthusiasm, but
didn’t quite reach it. But our hero didn’t let that bother him,
delivering what may be the best of the 3 shows I saw on this tour, echoing
AMD’s claim. Key West and Jimmy Reed, generally my benchmarks for
judging shows on this tour, were both better than Philly. Whatever
tinkering they were doing with Key West in Philly seems to have been
sorted out for the final night. And is Donnie’s accordion really a
Mexican flag design? 

Walking to my car after the show I run into Charlie Drayton. A most
gracious and kind encounter, this guy is grateful for the opportunity and
I could only say that I hope he’s still there on the next leg. I really
enjoy watching him play, and he has an understanding for the part that is
second to none IMHO. Drum on Charlie! Rock on Bob!!



Review by Professor Finstick

I want to read the lyrics to the songs again!
His growling delivery of the lyrics, sometimes moving, sometimes harsh and
sometimes funny - almost at the same time.
Key West, Black Rider and I Pledge Myself stood out to me as the most
memorable. So strong.

The rhythms may make some people want to dance but they should 
stand up at the back and not block my view of the stage… they are not 
at home in their living rooms! And as for people who cannot leave their 
cell phones alone they should ‘fuck this shit’ - to quote my therapist’s

He was so accessible and connected to the audience coming out from behind
the piano. I enjoyed this show, definitely better than I expected. He’s amazing, I
can’t believe he’s 80! 80 must be the new 50?

It was an exciting evening for me, it was my first Dylan concert.

Professor Finstick
Duluth MN


Review by John Frisch

A gorgeous warm evening in the nation’s capital greeted a sold out crowd
as they filed into a fantastic venue. The Anthem is a special place with
superb acoustics. All the better to show off a completely committed Dylan
who was in fine voice. Bob is justifiably proud of his new material, and
fully? inhabited each of his new songs. Standouts were a gorgeous I
Contain Multitudes, a hard rocking False Prophet and a totally
transcendent Key West (my favorite song of the night). Serve Somebody
positively exploded, and you could hear a pin drop during Every Grain of
Sand. Bob left the piano often to stand, crouch, and gesticulate as he
offered his heart and soul to the crowd. We were in the presence of a
master totally on top of his game. I left incredulous, thinking we have no
right to expect this kind of performance or an album as powerful as Rough
and Rowdy Ways at this stage of his remarkable life and career. Wow. 

John Frisch


Review by Mitchell

About two weeks ago, I wrote a review of the show in Moon Township, PA
(November 15, 2021). I was enthusiastic about the set list,  Bob’s voice
and his mental sharpness. But I was very, very upset and sad about his
physical pain and decline.  

What a difference two weeks makes- his voice and articulation are even
better and the band has clearly coalesced. But my main concern about his
physical health was no longer in evidence. Bob sang from center stage much
more, squatted, danced and hardly sat down, and was clearly having a great
time playing his music.  I can only wish that everyone would have as much
stamina, clarity of mind and enthusiasm at 80 years of age as Bob showed

I don’t know what changed in two weeks.  Maybe he needed to get back in
form after a long hiatus.  Maybe he hurt his back boxing or cycling.
Whatever it was, Bob was clearly in great physical health tonight. I’m
so happy about that. 


Review by Laurette Maillet

The last of that Fall USA Tour, but I would believe the best of all 21.
It starts with my bus ride from Philadelphia. A pleasant ride in an almost empty 
double deck Megabus. Traveling is not what it used to be. That COVID19 
disturbs the world. What struck me when I walk out the train station, are 
the Quechua tents alined on the front lawn. In Washington D.C.? it looks

I walk the 40 minutes to my Youth hostel. The  streets of DC are large and 
pleasant. I check in and immediately walk to the venue. I'm supposed to 
meet with my Good Samaritan at the box office, at two, for my BD show 
ticket. If not I will have to look for one.

Fortunately I have been taking care of by Good Samaritans all along my trip. 
Thanx to Corky, Robert Carter and others, tonight I don't have to worry.
I am also meeting Simon, who flew all the way from Paris, for that specific 
last show of the tour. We have a nice time.

As we walk around we bump into Bob's new security man. I heard is name 
is Roger. I say hello, asks him if Barron could come back. He says he doesn't 
know. I ask him to say hi to Barron in the name of the French Woman. I'm 
not sure Barron knows my name. Roger is amused and says ok. He's a nice 
guy. It appears that Bodyguards are kind persons :)

With Simon we get a wrist band proving we are vaccinated. I spend few 
minutes with some Fans in a bar/ restaurant, but that makes me un easy: 
I'm not a drinker neither a fancy eater. Again I feel that I don't fit! :(
I walk outside and observe the fans. Practically all white. Middle class. 
Middle age. 

I have a GA ticket. GA here being behind the floor chairs. Far away.
I spot Jason (the sound engeener) and I say thank you and goodbye. 
Also spot Jerry, the tour manager but...say nothing :(  See Roger again 
and say thank you. Say hello and goodbye to some fans.

I find a nice spot, all by myself in a corner. I want to move. And the view 
doesn't matter anymore. The venue is packed. Many fans gathered for 
the last show, expecting maybe a change on the setlist. I don't believe
in any change.

Bob takes the stage on time , dressed in his best suit : the one with the 
embroidery. Thanks Bobby.! Right away I know that will be a great show.
His voice is strong and clear. His energy high.

John Frish review :
" superb acoustics. All the better to show off a completely committed 
Dylan who was in fine voice. Bob is justifiably proud of his new material, 
and fully? inhabited each of his new songs. Standouts were a gorgeous 
I Contain Multitudes, a hard rocking False Prophet and a totally
transcendent Key West (my favorite song of the night). Serve Somebody
positively exploded, and you could hear a pin drop during Every Grain of
Sand. Bob left the piano often to stand, crouch, and gesticulate as he
offered his heart and soul to the crowd. We were in the presence of a
master totally on top of his game. I left incredulous, thinking we have no
right to expect this kind of performance or an album as powerful as Rough
and Rowdy Ways at this stage of his remarkable life and career. Wow. "
Agree. Bob was the most dynamic of all his shows on that Tour . Even 
"Mother of muses" sounds good. Makes me feel regret the Tour is over :)

I say bye again to Jason, say we'll meet again on the next tour. He says 
yes but doesn't know where the next tour will be.
I walk back to my Hostel.
This is it for the Bob Dylan adventure.
See you all on the road somewhere, someday !


Review by Nancy Cobb

Our last opportunity to see Bob Dylan in concert got off to an odd
beginning.  We were in an Uber and all of a sudden in the middle of
Pennsylvania Avenue the car stopped and died.  No warning at all.  It was
rush hour and everyone was honking.  The poor driver couldn't  do
anything.  When the drivers behind us calmed down we got out, alerted some
nearby police and got another Uber.  We got to the wharf area early and
saw that people were already inspecting proof of covid vaccination and
government issued id's and attaching red armbands to those who were ok'd
to enter the Anthem.  We were there for a meetup with fans and showed our
vax cards again to enter the restaurant for a tasty dinner.  I was with a
new friend whom I had met in New York and to my amazement the seats we had
were in the first row!  After a fun get-together with about 20 veteran
fans and several new young ones we entered the airy and comfortable
relatively new venue.  It felt safe even though it was sold out  The
concert started right on time and the band members were spaced in a
straight row about 6 feet apart with Charley on the left with his
blue-green drums and Donnie on the right with his various instruments.  A
democratic setup with Bob migrating from his piano to an open mike moving
purposely with assurance during the set.  The sound was great - one could
hear each instrument and Bob's strong vocals.  I had been to the first
show at the Beacon and loved the setlist but found the way the songs were
performed at the Anthem even better.  I was ready to hear something else
besides Masterpiece and I know others wanted ERK rotated out, but Bob must
have subliminally known this because the arrangements of both these songs
were substantially changed for the better.  He was not tentative at all
and absolutely nailed Key West and the other Rough and Rowdy Ways songs. 
It was like he now had full confidence in his new band.  Melancholy Mood
was magical and I danced in my seat.  The piano did not stand out as much
in the mix and some of the earlier piano riffs were now being played by
the guitars especially on Every Grain of Sand.  Bob seemed quite happy
either because of his loving audience or maybe he was like a horse coming
back to the stable after doing a fantastic job and being proud to have
taken the risk of venturing into a dangerous world and achieving more than
he or anyone else could have hoped or expected.


Review by J.W. Mahoney

Washington DC’s Anthem was the final concert venue in Dylan’s last
tour in 2019, before the pandemic, and on this   December 2, Bob Dylan’s
latest incarnation finished his 17-song opera, for this year at least. 
There was a new drummer, a new lead guitarist, and eight very new songs,
on a black stage set…  So what did all this, uh, mean?   

His voice is back, unusually strong & clear, even as no guitar or harp,
just the piano and the naked microphone… And his intemperate, constant
melancholy, carrying his steady, insistent romantic force.

This new work embraces the 20th century from the 21st, much as John Wesley
Harding carried deep human history into the late 60’s.  So more recent
myths fiercely intervene here, last night… Just a few of them:

 From “Key West (Philosopher Pirate):” 

On that pirate radio station
Coming out of Luxembourg and Budapest
Radio signal, clear as can be
I’m so deep in love that I can hardly see
Down in the flatlands, way down in Key West...  

In “Mother of Muses:”

Sing of Sherman, Montgomery and Scott
And of Zhukov, and Patton, and the battles they fought
Who cleared the path for Presley to sing
Who carved the path for Martin Luther King...

“I Contain Multitudes/“ iconic:

I sing the songs of experience like William Blake
I have no apologies to make
Everything’s flowing all at the same time
I live on a boulevard of crime...

And these particularly haunting rarities:  
“Most Likely You Go Your Way (and I’ll Go Mine}” from 1966

I’m gonna let you pass
And I’ll go last
Then time will tell just who has fell
And who’s been left behind
When you go your way and I’ll go mine..

“Ill Be Your Baby Tonight,” John Wesley Harding:’s last country

Close your eyes, close thew door
You don’t have to worry anymore
I’ll be your baby tonight…

So is this Entertainment, Legend, Ritual, or Magic Trick?
All or none of the above, pretty much.  Deep thanks, as always, as ever…

J.W. Mahoney


Review by Adam Selzer

After catching the first two shows in Milwaukee and Chicago, I decided
that the best way to see this tour was to catch the beginning and the end.
It would be hard to top the excitement of opening night - a very rare
chance to see a Dylan show with no clear idea of what will happen. Will
that ever happen again?

And those shows were great. Eight live premieres in Milwaukee! Then a
“Multitudes” to die for, plus two more small surprises, in Chicago.
But the show wasn’t quite done evolving yet. They were still working out
the arrangements a bit, the set list was still shaking off some 2019
holdovers, Bob hadn’t figured out how to do the band intro and what sort
of things he wanted to say during those intros, and was prone to
forgetting the lyrics a lot. Nothing unexpected for a new show with so
many new songs, but still. It was a work in progress. Also, I hadn’t see
the light-up floor, which seemed like an integral part of how Bob was
imagining this presentation. 

So, Mike Smith, my longtime partner in Dylan-related crime, and I bought
some tickets to DC. Flew in early in the morning, took a cab to Arlington
National Cemetery to pay a visit to our last mustached-president (after
Taft there could be no more), then walked over the bridge and past the
Lincoln Memorial (which has a carved out marker where MLK stood in 1963 -
which of course is also where Bob stood that day) and to The Wharf, a new
neighborhood that reminded me a bit of Hudson Yards, the new neighborhood
in New York, and probably functions as a preview of Lincoln Yards, the new
one going up in Chicago. It was a pleasant place - a nice area to stroll
by the water with a lot of good dining options and a hotel a block from
the venue. We marveled the we could pull up an app on the hotel TV and
listen to a recording of a show from two nights ago. And, as we sat on the
rooftop bar under the red sky at sunset, I couldn’t help but flash back
to the days when I’d travel to shows and have to stay at places with
names like Fat Johnnie’s Last Resort. There’s a charm in that kind of
adventuring, too, but it’s nice to be able to get a comfy bed and a
drink. The pleasures of having clawed my way into adulthood! I’ve now
been going to these shows for well over half my life, and it’s always
puts me in a reflective mood.

After a pre-show dinner that couldn’t be beat (Mike found that the woman
next to him at the fan gathering had the same elementary school gym
teacher he did), we got to a spot on the second level of Anthem, a newish
theater. It’s definitely a different visual experience to see this show
from higher up and further back - with Bob and the band all in black, lit
from below, they looked like silhouettes with faces, like the cover of
“With the Beatles.” It was a spooky effect that worked with this dark

And this -is- a dark show, whose many moments of humor and the occasional
prayer song only throw the Halloween vibe of so many numbers into starker
contrast. This feels like a show he was building to in 2018 and especially
2019, when more songs like “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” with its
misquote from Julius Caesar (“mean and hungry look”) and the reference
to Lenny Bruce as an assassinated martyr (which one could view him as, if
one looks at things in a sort of cosmic sense) started to appear. It’s a
highly theatrical presentation, and the light up floor makes it look even
more like he’s singing in the Black Lodge from “Twin Peaks” than
ever. Seeing the show more than once reminded me of Paul Williams
comparing going to several shows as seeing a year’s worth of
performances of King Lear. Besides the subtle arrangement and delivery
changes I’m still noticing new threads and recurring themes. The show
contains multitudes indeed. 

And the show has definitely gotten tighter. The arrangements are more
concrete, the set list has solidified, and Dylan’s piano playing has
gotten a lot better (I’d say 20% of the notes in Milwaukee were
clunkers, but I didn’t hear any tonight.  The band is stretching out
just a lit, with some more instrumental breaks and fills.  Bob is perhaps
less adventurous, spending less time center stage, but when he misses a
line, he can recover quickly. In Chicago some lyric mistakes derailed
songs, but this time he was able to correct. “I’m the enemy of
treason, I’m the enemy of doubt - strife!”

Bob seemed excited tonight - the show started EARLY, at 7:58, which set
the pattern for the night. Bob was consistently a bit ahead of the beat
and the band. I’ve seen plenty of times when he missed cues over the
years, but being ahead of them so frequently, pulling the band forward,
was very different. 

There’ve been enough song-by-song descriptions by now, but some

  - False Prophet was MADE to be played live. I’m of the opinion that
  the song isn’t really “about” anything so much as it’s a
  collection of cool lines that are fun to sing. And it works like mad in
  that way. I did miss seeing Bob’s facial expressions on this one - up
  close you could see that he couldn’t wait to sing each line. 

 - My Own Version of You is a real MVP this tour; he performs it like a
 great Shakespearean actor doing a monologue. Also, I’m a sucker for
 songs about grave robbing.  (And I’m not one to complain about a lack
 of guitar solos, but I’d really love to hear what Freddy Koella would
 have done on this one).

 - After that one, there was a bit of rare mid-show Bob talk. We
 couldn’t make out what it was after a quick “thank you, everybody,”
 but comparing notes later indicates that it was “Is this Foggy Bottom?
 I think that’s around here someplace.” There HAD just been some fog
 onstage during MOVOY. 

 -  Even if the whole rest of the show had been middling, it would have
 been worth it for this rendition of “Key West,” a song whose
 evolution has been fascinating to watch. On the first two nights Donnie
 was still on pedal steel, not accordion, and the band hadn’t quite
 figured out how to swell to the chorus section. Milwaukee’s rendition
 (besides the excitement that he was actually playing it) seemed like it
 could have fallen apart at any moment. Listening to recordings throughout
 the tour, it’s evolved a lot, sometimes in very delicate arrangements
 that are little more than accordion and Bob Britt’s ascending and
 descending guitar licks. Tonight the band had NAILED the swells to the
 chorus; those sections simply exploded and Bob sang it more forcefully
 than before. Faster, too; the tempo seemed a lot faster tonight than in
 some performances. Ahead of the beat, per the pattern of the show, the
 lines that are two lines on the album (“twelve years old / they put me
 in a suit”) dropped the pause to become one line. Britt mixed up his
 riffs and lines a bit more throughout the song than usual. This one just

 - Among the rockers, “Serve Somebody” and “Goodbye Jimmie Reed”
 absolutely cooked - Jimmie Reed in particular has come a long way, and
 there moments in “Serve Somebody” that we were all gleefully
 impersonating at the bar later.

 - “Muses” and “Made up My Mind” continue to be highlights, though
 Bob’s voice is a hair rougher now than it was at the beginning of the
 tour (as should be expected after a month on the road). It’s still
 among the clearest it’s been in at least 20 years.

 - The now standard local shoutouts mentioned that J. Edgar Hoover used to
 have breakfast and lunch at the Mayflower hotel, and then shouted out the
 Country Gentlemen (it sounded like “Country Joe” from the balcony). 

 - The biggest set list variation from the early shows was dropping the
 2019 two song encore in favor of “Every Grain of Sand,” a perfect
 prayer to this dark show. And the performance here! I’ve heard it only
 a couple of times in 50+ shows, and no version I’d heard before comes
 close to this one. The recordings from the tour sounded a bit rushed too
 me, but tonight it almost sounded like the album version. Gorgeous and a
 cathartic end.

Just how much of what I got out of this was really Dylan’s intention?
Who knows. Maybe he was ahead of the band so much because he was eager to
finish up the tour (though he seemed like he was having too much fun for
that - it’s not like anyone is twisting his arm and making him do this
tour. He’s on the road because he wants to be). But if you start
thinking if you’ve figured out exactly what’s going on in Dylan’s
head you’re usually going about things the wrong way. There are lots of
ways to take a show that contains multitudes. “I Contain Multitudes”
at the top of the song list for RARW might as well be a label, like
“Drink Me” or “Warning: Flammable.” 

Taking further advantage of The Wharf, right next door to the venue was a
bar with a perfect patio for a post-show gathering (Laura from the
Definitely Dylan podcast had flown in from London just for this show!)
that lasted until long past midnight, comparing highlights, cracking
jokes, sipping drinks and just enjoying that wonderful vibe of like minded
people reveling in having just seen a fantastic show to close out a
landmark tour.  Though inevitably we veered into talk about the recent
release of “Get Back,” there were enough great moments in the show
that we all wanted to relive to keep us busy all night. Laura kept saying
“Can you believe it? We just saw Bob Dylan!” May we never take that
for granted. Just a few months ago people were speculating that we’d
never get another tour, and now another wonderful one was in the books.

After all, who else does this? There are other acts I travel to see
sometiems, but I can’t imagine going nuts over individual bits of
phrasing, or think of another artist where I’d expect to see the same
set list multiple times in a month and still get so much out of it each
time. I remember back in 99 someone on a Paul Simon newsgroup said “One
thoroughly enjoys a Paul Simon concert, and one experiences a Dylan

So now Mike and I have seen the beginning and end of the tour - we saw
every song performed this year, and we saw the show from up close and up
high. We’ve seen the great world and we’ve seen the small. There were
shows with funnier Bob talk this tour, and surely some songs were at their
peak on nights we didn’t see, but seeing the beginning and the end was,
indeed, the way to go. And by doing it this way we got an awesome walk
through D.C. thrown into the bargain (not to mention the falafel place on
the Wharf where we had lunch - superb), and another couple of lovely
hang-outs with new friends and old. Is this a great hobby or what?

If I were a betting man, I’d say there won’t be any surprises on the
next leg, and that this is the exact show he’ll be taking to the West
Coast next year. But I’m then again, I’m not a betting man. I’d like
to thank you on behalf of the Bobcats and myself, and I hope we see you
all in 2022. 


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