Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Unbelievable.  A few montths short of his 70th birthday, Bob Dylan rocked a club right off of New York City's West Side Highway, Terminal 5. T5 doesn't make it easy - if you don't get there early enough to get a great spot, you have to work hard to see the stage. It's no secret that Bob has a spotty live reputation, and in fact, I stopped going to see Dylan shows at some point in the '00s, after seeing some "eh" Dylan concerts. But in the summer of 2009, I caught a show that renewed my faith, and a few months later, I went to see him again, and was knocked out again.  Tonight it was the same deal. He and the band made it worth the effort.

Like last time, he opened with a rocking version his gospel classic "Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking," and he and his excellent band never let up.  Guitarist Charlie Sexton rejoined the band about a year ago now, and he definitely brings a new energy to the shows. I could take some flak for this, but I think Bob's current band is one of his best ever. Sexton is amazing, and bassist Tony Garnier is badass. I love the way Bob makes his setlist: lots of '60s classics, but lots of music from the past decade (Bob was one of my favorite artists of the '00s). "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall," "Masters Of War" and "Like A Rolling Stone" work alongside "Things Have Changed," "Rollin' and Tumblin'" and "Jolene" (I actually wish he played more songs from my favorite album of 2009, Together Through Life).

Bob only played sixteen songs, and there were so many highlights: "Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking," "This Wheel's On Fire," "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "Things Have Changed," "Workingman's Blues #2," "Thunder On The Mountain," "Jolene" and "Like A Rolling Stone." My favorite parts, though, were his impassioned vocals on "Hard Rain," "High Water (For Charlie Patton)," "Masters Of War," "Highway 61 Revisited" and most of all "Ballad Of A Thin Man." The fact that it's so hard to come up with a highlight of a 16 song set by a nearly 70 year old performer kind of speaks for itself. Well, I hope this tour really is "neverending" - I'm definitely on board next time the man comes to town.


Anonymous said...

Over the last 23 years I have seen over a hundred Dylan concerts. His delivery was never "spotty". It's people's expectations that are "spotty". Dylan always delivers. But he delivers what HE thinks is right. If there was a show that you think was not good, get a recording of it (they are all out there on the internet) and listen to it. And then ask yourself what was "spotty" about it. And listen with an open mind.

1ifbyrain2ifbytrain said...

Bob was high energy this tour for sure. Terminal 5 though, as you pointed out is awful if you don't get there early and stand for an hour. If they just let in fewer people it could be a great venue as the staff are great and the space is interesting.

Anonymous said...

Great report for those of us who can't seem to make it to any shows. Glad to hear he can still hold it together!

oh mercy said...

Thanks for the review. I wish I could have gone to the NY shows and/or the AC show. I went to the one in Mommouth County, NJ and it was pretty damn amazing.
Luckily I got to the rail and didn't have to struggle to see as I did in Asbury Park 2 years ago.- same kind of deal as in Terminal 5 I guess.
The theatricality and Performance Art aspects really add something grand to the experience.

I am drooling over the setlists from the Terminal 5 shows.
So many songs I'd love to experience live.

well, hopefully there is next year.
Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't get grief for calling Bob's current band one of his best ever. It's absolutely an accurate statement, and I believe that truth is plainly obvious to anyone who attends his shows on a regular basis. This current band not only is exceptionally talented, but also nimble. They can do anything and go anywhere musically that Bob wants to go.

Minority said...

hey, thanks everyone for reading my blog and commenting. I can't wait to see Bob next time he comes around. And to one of the "anonymous" folks, I do think I go to Bob's shows with an open mind. I certainly don't want to pay that kind of money to complain - and after going to a few shows that I didn't love (MSG in the fall of 2001 and the Beacon Theater a few years later - Merle Haggard opened at that one) I stopped going for a while. Then, I saw Bob last summer with Willie and Mellencamp, had a great time, and loved the two shows I've seen since then.