New York, NY -- Dec 7, 2019

Dylan, Charlie, Tony, Donnie and the rest of the guys have made a giant breakthrough in the group dynamics, the sound of the band, --and that includes the vocals, obviously. It started on the 2018 tour and right from the start in California was in full effect this year. I won't compare how this has happened with other bands because as Willie The Shake says "comparison's are odious." But it happens sometimes when a band that has been working out for years suddenly finds their sound. No longer a combination of instruments and vocals, but one big sound. This is what happened on this tour. Michael Gray, author of "Song and Dance Man III," "The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia" and member of this group, has likened Dylan's Never Ending Tour to a quest for one moment of rock 'n' roll magic. Well they found it. The piano and vocals, the guitars and pedal steel, the bass and drums, creating a gorgeous amalgamation. And just like ever since HW61R on Dylan's albums, the instrumentation supported the vocals, --catapulted the vocals.

When it comes to Bob Dylan it's all about the songs. Dylan says he never wanted to be a virtuoso guitar player. Lindsay Buckingham is a good songwriter but all you're thinking when you hear one of his songs is "man, that guy can sure play the guitar." Dylan wanted folks to listen to the songs. He never wanted to be a virtuoso singer for the same reason. Listen to a Lowell George song and you're thinking to yourself "man, that guy sure could sing." But when you listen to a Bob Dylan song you're listening to the song. Everything Dylan does is to get you to listen to the song. And whatever it is, it's working, because we do. On this tour and because of the band's breakthrough the songs came through like never before. This is what Dylan has been striving for all these years.

The Rolling Thunder Revue tour has been dubbed the greatest tour of all time. Dylan hadn't even released DESIRE yet but he wanted to sing the songs and realized that due to the story telling nature of the album he would have to act them out on stage. On songs like "Isis" he would put down the guitar and act out the song as he was singing it on center stage. When I caught the 2017 tour the songs that really came though were the quote unquote Sinatra songs when Dylan would come out from behind the piano and perform them from center stage. In Boston Dylan sang four songs from the American songbook and those were the most poignant, --the most memorable, --moments. But this tour was all Dylan songs and he and the band delivered them like never before. And on the most dramatic ones, like "Pay In Blood" and "Not Dark Yet" he came out from behind the piano and took center stage. The Rolling Thunder Revue is now officially the second greatest.

Review Location: 
Beacon Theatre, New York City
Review Date: 
Saturday, December 7, 2019
Review Author: 
Tom Snow