August 1, 2021

Peter Stone Brown Archives

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08/13/03 Hammerstein Ballroom, New York

Bob Dylan’s 2nd night at the Hammerstein Ballroom lacked the special guest excitement of the first night, but was a good show none-the-less.

Starting off with “Tombstone Blues,” Dylan’s voice was clear and strong and the band rocking hard.  “If You See Her” featured another great harp solo.  The evening’s first surprise set list wise was “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” but if ever a song was written for more voices on the chorus this was it.  Even if the other guy’s in the band can’t sing, why isn’t Larry joining Bob on the chorus?  Other than that it was okay and included another good harp solo, though Freddie didn’t seem sure if he wanted his guitar solo to be rock or country and it ended up neither.

This was followed by “Things Have Changed” and the band seemed to be trying to match the excitement of the previous night, and they kept it up with a not bad “Most Likely You Go Your Way” that was superior the one a few nights before in Jersey.

Then came on of the true highlights of the night, “It’s Alright Ma” with Dylan strong on every line, though ultimately the current piano-based arrangement doesn’t come close to the original and tends to plod.

“Highway 61” as usual was rocking time and Koella used every solo to show that he really can rock and hard.  Then the guitarists switched to acoustics for a “Desolation Row” where again Dylan was making sure to give every line meaning and punch, and interestingly Tommy was providing cool electric guitar fills.

After a typical “Drifter’s Escape,” came a pretty damned good “Every Grain of Sand” that came close to celestial.  “Honest With Me” was also cool, but with three nights in the same city, why not “Lonesome Day Blues” instead?

Then came an acoustic based “Don’t Think Twice” that was okay but not spectacular and the harp solo was tame, especially compared to other recent NYC versions of this song.

From then on the show was typical but very well performed with Freddie stepping out on “Like A Rolling Stone.” By any standard it was an excellent concert.  If the electricity of the night before hadn’t happened, it might have been an amazing one.