Stub Heaven: The Review And The Stub To Prove It, Bob Dylan’s Greatest Concert From The “Paradise Lost” Tour

Written by | October 15, 2017 15:59 | No Comments

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The last time I saw Bob Dylan on stage was in July 2016 at Forest Hills, a Great American Songbook mishmash (my review here), the next time I am seeing Bob Dylan is in November at Beacon Theatre. Usually he is excellent (a Jones Beach set a coupla years back was stellar), sometimes he’s not on (at the Apollo with Dion opening, a real head catcher). I’ve seen him with Van Morrison opening, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Beck and countless others. I’ve seen him at the theatre at MSG with the Stones playing the Arena next door,  and next day I flipped em and the Stones covered  “Like A Rolling Stone” (ha ha) . I saw him in his first New York City post-9-11 gig, he said “Most of these songs were written here, so nobody needs to ask me how I feel about New York”.

This was the best of all.

The Beacon Theatre
New York City, New York
14 December 1995

1. Drifter’s Escape
2. Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
3. All Along The Watchtower
4. Simple Twist Of Fate
5. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
6. Silvio (Bob Dylan & Robert Hunter)
7. Tangled Up In Blue
8. Masters Of War
9. Mama, You Been On My Mind
10. Dark Eyes
11. Joey (Bob Dylan – Jacques Levy/Bob Dylan)
12. Highway 61 Revisited
13. Alabama Getaway (Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia)
14. One Too Many Mornings
15. Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35

Concert # 753 of The Never-Ending Tour. Concert # 7 of the 1995 Paradise Lost Tour. Concert # 113 in 1995.

Concert # 297 with the 9th Never-Ending Tour Band: Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar), Bucky Baxter (pedal steel guitar & electric slide guitar), John Jackson (guitar), Tony Garnier (bass), Winston Watson (drums & percussion).

7–10, 14 acoustic with the band.

7, 9 Bob Dylan harmonica.

10 Patti Smith (shared vocal).

13 John Jackson backup vocal.

15 G. E. Smith (guitar).

9 new songs (60%) compared to previous concert. 2 new songs for this tour.

So what made it specifically great? First, check out the seat: DD 2 -that’s fourth row right aisle, next to the center aisle. It couldn’t have been better. I had front row last year and it wasn’t half as good. A clear, straight line to the stage. Usually Dylan wears huge hats that shade his face and plays in shadows, but look Ma, no hat! Not only could I see his face, I could see the expression on his face (usually deadpan snarl but even so). Patti Smith was excellent as the opening act. I am not a huge Smith fan, and once you get past Easter I have problems. One of my problems isn’t her song about Kurt Cobain “About A Boy” (beyond it all). That and a good swath of Horses and, of course, “Because The Night”.

Dylan was on, this was a great period for Dylan as a live performer, the skills he honed in the mid-1990s lead directly to his resurgence with 1997’s Time Out Of Mind. It is odd because they aren’t an especially great Dylan band, nothing obvious, no Charlie Sexton, but it was a great time to see him live. And man, what a setlist. “Drifter’s Escape” to “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” to open the proceedings. A year and a lifetime between them, back to back.

Finally, “Dark Eyes”. Astoundingly, Dylan has only performed it eight times  and all in 1995 (and that at Patti Smith’s express request). In comparison, he has performed “Tangled Up In Blues” 1624 times, the last time yesterday. What an astonishing song  “Dark Eyes” is. Tony Atwood wrote in the website Untold Dylan (here) about the song: “(Dylan) writes that he was staying in a hotel in New York, came through the lobby and went up to his room. “As I stepped out of the elevator, a call girl was coming towards me in the hallway… She had blue circles around her eyes, black eyeliner, dark eyes… She had a beautifulness, but not for this kind of world. Poor wretch, doomed to walk this hallway for a thousand years.” For me, it reminds me of Princess Diana’s death, the same way “Mississippi” reminds me of 9-11. Certainly in my top 20 Dylan songs. It is the only time I heard it live and now you can too, enjoy.

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