“Wintertime is comin´, the windows are filled with frost” – Bob Dylan in New York, 30th of November, Beacon Theatre.

“DO YOU WANNAAAA MAKE AAAA DEEEEEEEEEAAAAAALLL!” No, it´s not Dylan anno 1966, it´s 2018 and the audience goes bananas on this new version of “Like A Rolling Stone”, jumps to their feet and just absolutely wanna make a deal with the man at the mike. We´re in the middle of the show, the Friday crowd might be the best of them all, jumping, dancing, yelling, and stays standing for the extras – the first of them a change from the other nights, “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” replaces “All Along The Watchtower” in a slow powerful version, Charlie plays the blues in a way that would have impressed even Prince. About the same tempo as the “United We Swing”-version, but darker and harder, growing in power through the song. Winter is coming, but the show ends with the rhetorical questions of “Blowing In The Wind: “How Many Ears Must One Man Have, Before He Can Hear People Cry?”, the audience greeting Dylan and are hoping for better times.

I´m sitting next to the soundboard tonight, and the sound in Beacon Theatre is just plain fantastic! It´s crispy clear, the vocal high in the mix, the separation of the instruments are perfect. It´s been great every night, but sitting here must be the optimal spot! It´s so good that I wonder if that´s the main reason that the show tonight feels like the best of them all. After analyzing that a bit, I don´t think so, or, more precise, that´s not the only reason. This night everything is in place from the moment Dylan starts singing “I´m a worried man with a worried mind, nothing in front of me, nothing behind” – the lonesome blues, the lonesome´s blues, in a world were people are crazy and times are strange.

Dylan got his classy white jacket with embroidery and glittering sequins in white, black shirt with with white stripes, a cowboy tie, black trousers with one white stripe, and last, but not least, his favorite white boots. His feet are tapping, he is working the piano with energy and he alternately attacks and caresses the words.

The blessing of seeing several concerts in a row, are, among others, the possibility to see the growth and development of the interaction in the band from night to night, especially present between the piano and the guitar in “Early Roman Kings” and “Thunder On The Mountain” tonight – it´s like the body of the songs expands and completely conquers the whole room. Dylan got eight carburetors, and he´s using them all tonight.

Dylan´s clothing is also heightening the visual impression of “Scarlet Town”, the white jacket against the dark stage, Dylan both singing, shadow boxing and pantomiming the song: “In Scarlet Town, the end is near/The Seven Wonders of the World are here/The evil and the good, livin’ side by side/All human forms seem glorified.”
We can see it ourselves – life is a pantomime.

And then it´s the harmonicas play, even more naked than Dylan´s voice, the artist attacking it each night without a plan other than playing what instinctively feels right in the moment – tonight his playing in both “Simple Twist of Fate”, “When I Paint My Masterpiece”, “Make You Feel My Love” and “Don´t Think Twice, It´s All Right” is transcendent, and the audience, just as instinctively, gives their instant response, lifting the energy in the room, and the always attentive musicians behind him adjusts their contribution perfectly, giving the commander-in-chief the space he need.

The band is so tight and all the elements are so important, you feel a bit reluctant empathizing one of the musicians – still, it´s such a great joy to both see and hear Charlie shining as he does this shows, he has just gotten himself a bigger space to play and improvise inside. The small nods and hidden smiles from Dylan might be just the acknowledgment he needs, but good old Charlie should get his praises from us all, as he also gets from the audience tonight.

The day of this show, bobdylan.com released the next video in the beautiful lyric videos from “More Blood, More Tracks”, this time the achingly beautiful slow take of “You´re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”,  in my opinion also the best of all the versions in the box. Maybe a version he made to see if the band really could learn the song, but it nevertheless turned out to be a diamond in the rough.

Even if a magnificent rendition of “Simple Twist of Fate” is a solid feature of the set each night, the shows this fall hasn´t been used for the marketing of the unbelieavably great treasure chest, “More Blood, More Tracks”, not even in the merchandise shop at the Beacon. One could think that several of the songs would fit like a glove to the 2018 setup of the band and for Bob´s voice – as would the the sentiment of, at least, some of the songs. He would have teared down the house with a version of, let´s say, “Buckets of Rain” or, even better, the one he never have played live, “Meet Me In The Morning”. Or the song released today, “You´re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” – the new lyrics are already ready, you can find them inside of his “Mondo Scripto” exhibition this year, his handwritten lyrics to more than sixty of his songs, illustrated with his own drawings, straight comments or maybe associations to the lyrics. When it comes to inspiration, two of the new verses runs like this:

“There used to be a song called “Little Moses”
The Carter Family sang it somewhere over there
When I was young I used to like to smell the roses,
There was something about the roses and her long brown hair

I see things inside my mind – things Milton saw after he went blind
I saw your little foot prints in the snow
These sleeping pills belong to you – I guess I ought to take one too
You´re gonna make me lonesome when you go

Maybe tomorrow, then.

Many of the lyrics are rewritten, including a totally new version of “Gotta Serve Somebody”, mostly the lyrics he are actually singing tonight.

The most interesting drawing in Mondo Scripto could be one for “The Times They Are A-Changin´”, picturing a man looking out of what must be the oval office, seeing people fighting outside his window. That might be the closest we come to a comment from Dylan on the state of the Union, as far as I know.

Besides his concerts and his singing focusing on telling the truth, that is.

Johnny Borgan

 

8 thoughts on ““Wintertime is comin´, the windows are filled with frost” – Bob Dylan in New York, 30th of November, Beacon Theatre.

  1. I was there last night too. Haven’t seen Dylan since the 90’s, so it was a thrill to see and hear this legend again. I don’t care how old he is… it’s like seeing Shakespeare perform. The crowd really brought a lot of great energy in the room, and your right – the sound is amazing! I never heard the Beacon sound so good. Scarlet Town was my favorite of the night. I also was fascinated watching how the band watches Dylan ….eyes always on him. I was wondering if you know how often he plays “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, a Train to Cry?” – seemed like a rarity. Now that the show is over, and it happened so quick…I want to go again! Damn, how does he do it?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Johnny, you are a gem.
    Thanks for the show viewings. I’m a day or two behind with the downloads, but through them I’m keeping my ears on the proceedings. It’s a very interesting time to be there and to be here taking it in remotely.

    best

    David

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi – I held off reading your previous reviews or listening to downloads until I saw the show which
    I did last night. I find your review spot on and had a wonderful time. Been attending Dylan shows for 40 years now. Lost count now but definitely have seen him over 150 times. In years past when he was changing his set list nightly I would go to multiple shows. I’ve cut back since the lists have been somewhat static but it sure was great to hear Takes a Train…last night!
    BTW, I enjoy your writing and will catch up on what I’ve missed.
    Best Wishes,

    Rich

    Like

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