Bob Dylan back in New York: review, set list

Bob Dylan’s Never Ending tour never really ended, only on hiatus. Last month, he and his band kicked off his Rough and Rowdy Ways tour, marking his first live appearances since the start of the pandemic. Tonight he returned to one of his usual haunts, the Beacon Theater in New York City, for the first time in nearly two years.

Dylan, who turned 80 earlier this spring, appeared on a brightly lit but modestly appointed stage, wearing what appeared to be a velvet suit while his band mates donned all-black clothes. Standing slightly hunched, he took up a position behind a piano, his primary instrument of choice in recent years, and the band quickly kicked off the concert with a performance of Dylan’s 1971 single, “Watching the River Flow”.

Like the rock icon once Noted from New York on an early 2000s show, “No one has to ask me how I feel about this city.” The booming – albeit somewhat pompous – songwriter moved to the city in the very early 1960s, just as the Greenwich Village folk scene was beginning to evolve. It was in these cafes and underground places that the young musician perfected his art and made his debut some of his most famous songs. These days, he usually returns to the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side, a richly decorated Greek Revival setting, whenever his tour passes through town.

“It’s really nice to be back in the Big Apple,” Dylan said from the stage that night. “… Broadway, Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Times Square – all of it – Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue. Glad to see he’s coming back alive.”

Eight of the 17 songs on the set list are from Dylan’s latest album, The Rough and rowdy ways, his 39th album and his first collection of original material since 2012 Storm. (The only two songs left out of the mix were 17-minute “Crossing the Rubicon” and “Murder Most Foul”.)

Supported by an impressive array of new and old faces, Dylan’s band feels like a more laid-back jazz collective than a rockstar tour. Longtime bassist Tony Garnier alternates between electric bass and double bass, while pedal steel player Donnie Herron also doubles on violin and accordion. The group is completed by two guitarists, Bob Britt and Doug Lancio, as well as drummer Charley Drayton.

Arriving for the show, I ran into Drayton on the street outside the venue. “How are you?” I ask. “We will find out! He answers humbly. Drayton didn’t have to be so modest – Dylan’s voice seemed to be in one of the best conditions of his career the past few days. His utterance is still a mystery, but when he sings a recognizable line, the audience cheers him on.

Dylan, perhaps more than any other singer-songwriter of his generation, continually asked his listeners to think again. Newly arranged versions of old songs were peppered throughout the evening, including completely reimagined versions of Storm‘s “The first Roman kings”, Slow train coming“Gotta Serve Somebody”, “To Be Alone With You”, a song from the years 1969 Nashville skyline that Dylan hasn’t performed live since 2005 and the recently reintroduced “Every Grain of Sand” by Love stroke. A Frank Sinatra cover, “Melancholy Mood”, which Dylan performed on his 2016 album, Fallen angels, also appeared.

Dylan did not return for an encore, possibly choosing to save his energy for the next two nights of shows at the Beacon, as well as the series of East Coast dates he has planned for the rest of this month. and the start of the next one. But at 80, the legendary musician seems energized by simply being back on stage, surrounded by a supportive band, performing new compositions that most Dylan fans have spent months listening to in their 40s and 40s. that they can now hear in all their glory live. .

As his Rough and Rowdy Ways tour progresses, ticket holders can expect a wonderfully rested and still remarkably enigmatic Dylan to greet them, even if only with a few words between songs. As he sang in 1961, “YesYou can walk on my name, you can try to beat me, when I leave New York, I’ll be up. “

Bob Dylan, November 19, 2021, New York City

1. “Watch the river flow”
2. “Most likely you will go your way (and I will go mine)”
3. “I contain multitudes”
4. “False prophet”
5. “When I paint my masterpiece”
6. “Black rider”
7. “I’ll be your baby tonight”
8. “My own version of you”
9. “The first Roman kings”
10. “Be alone with you”
11. “Key West (pirate philosopher)”
12. “I must serve someone”
13. “I have decided to give myself to you”
14. “Melancholy Mood” (Frank Sinatra cover)
15. “Mother of the Muses”
16. “Goodbye Jimmy Reed”
17. “Every grain of sand”

Bob Dylan Albums Ranked

Unsurprisingly, Bob Dylan’s recording career has a lot of ups and downs. This is bound to happen if you stick around for over 50 years and release three dozen albums during that time.

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