Saturday, December 1, 2018

Start Spreading the News: Dylan Still at the Top of His Game in the Big Apple

Photo courtesy Nelson French.
For two decades from 1990 to 2010 Bob Dylan and his Never Ending Tour averaged 100 concerts a year. At 77 years old no one can quibble if the veteran performer has slowed down. Monday Dec 3 Dylan will be in Philadelphia for his 85th concert this year, after winding up a series of seven performances at the Beacon Theater in New York. Not too shabby.

I have a number of friends who attended one or more of these New York concerts that began on November 23. I tried twisting a few arms to get reviews. All said the shows have been phenomenal.

Laura Leivick, a familiar name on ExpectingRain.com, was one of these who attended and agreed to weigh in with her own perspective on the concert she attended.  (Thank you.)

* * * *
Can't remember the last time I had so much fun at a Dylan concert. He was in really good voice (best I've heard him in years), full of energy, and it seems he's finally used to being onstage without a guitar. When he wasn't at the keyboard (during "Scarlet Town," I think it was), he seemed freer moving around and gesturing for emphasis.  The band was brilliant. I'm not going to fall all over myself explaining --if you're here reading this, you know. The concert followed the now-familiar format: Dylan sang and played piano (plus some harp solos that tore up the place) for two hours straight, pausing only during the brief blackouts between songs that allow for changes in the setup.

I sat a little too far off center for an unobstructed view of Charlie Sexton, and wound up focusing on Donnie Herron, who does magic on every instrument he touches -- he played five tonight: pedal steel, lap steel, banjo, violin, electric mandolin (I checked on Bill Pagel's indispensable BobLinks site (http://www.boblinks.com/112918s.html).

As usual, I hated a few of Dylan's current versions of his songs -- "Like a Rolling Stone" (a mess except for Tony Garnier on bass) and "Don't Think Twice" (a calculated, corny performance) were the worst. But to my delight, I finally cottoned on to a few others, notably "Pay in Blood." Sometimes it can take years for a song to kick in for me.

Frankly, ole Bob was wearing me out (a new one on me) as the set was drawing to an end. Then the annoying big guy sitting in front of me began phone-filming the finale, a major "Blowing in the Wind" (hallelujah for that arrangement -- Donnie played a celestial country-style violin) and I...well, I smacked him* on the shoulder and said, "Stop it!" He did.  (*EdNote: The big guy, not Donnie.)

The young musician sitting next to me, astonished, said, "You really scared him!"

Then, gloriosky! Dylan came out and took a bow. I was there.

- by Laura Leivick

Laura Leivick is a regular contributor to Expecting Rain. One of her essays is featured in the recently published Dance in America, edited by Mindy Aloff.


Another friend shared this YouTube video (audio only) of the November 24 concert at the Beacon.  According to Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, this is Dylan's 78th concert this year, which varies from the count at BobLinks... It is what it is.
And here's a review from Glide Magazine.

Meantime life goes on all around you. Engage it. 

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, great to read Laura’s own work, especially on the topic of Bob’s live performance. Sharply observed, her words strike with clinical precision and detonate with bewildering power. Thanks Laura, I saw and heard this show through your eyes and ears. x

Anonymous said...

Hey, great to read Laura’s own work, especially on the topic of Bob’s live performance. Sharply observed, her words strike with clinical precision and detonate with bewildering power. Thanks Laura, I saw and heard this show through your eyes and ears. x

Kyle Colona said...

I was fortunate to see two Beacon shows. The 11/30 performance was epic. I've also posted reviews on the Expecting Rain site, though I've yet to meet Laura in person, I sat with some folks from Indiana who have. It was there 100th show - and they too were blown away. Simply Put, this is probably Bob's best run at the Beacon in ages.

Don't ya dare Miss It.

Kyle Colona/https://kylecolonablogspot.com

Ed Newman said...

Thanks for all the comments. One friend who was there has been to 300 shows I believe... was there all week. Glad to see Bob still has his candle lit and burning bright.
e.

Unknown said...

Saw Bob in A/C N.J Springfield Ma Waterbury Ct and one show at The Beacon. Sounds great his voice is clear and strong. My son (named Dylan) and I see him several times a year for the last 8 or 9 years. This years 4 shows are among my favorites. He's 77 and still going strong. I do miss Stu Kimball in the band but Bob compensated for that very well, Meet me there Beat me there!