NYTimes Review of 12.11.95 Dylan Concert
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 1995 08:19:50 -0600
From: Mark Gonnerman (markg@LELAND.STANFORD.EDU)
Subject: NYTimes Review of 12.11.95
>From John Pareles, "Pairing Dylan with Smith," THE NEW YORK TIMES, 13
December 1995, B2.
"Bob Dylan took on a challenge when he booked Patti Smith to open 10 shows
on his current tour, which came to the Beacon Theater on Monday night.
Ms. Smith's return to performing, a decade and a half after she withdrew
into marriage and motherhood, is a major event; her fervent, uninhibited
songs and performances have resounded through punk and alternative rock
from Siouxie and the Banshees to Hole and P. J. Harvey.
"Ms. Smith is an avowed fan of Mr. Dylan, and the two songwriters are
kindred spirits. Both are visionary writers who seek a moral way outside
institutions or arbitrary constraints in a chaotic world. Midway through
Mr. Dylan's set, Ms. Smith came on stage to sing his 'Dark Eyes' with him;
the song declares, 'Time is short and the days are sweet and passion rules
the arrow that flies.'
"Mr. Dylan had to live up to such a strong opening act, and he did. With
the superb band he has been touring with for most of the 1990's, Mr. Dylan
lives for improvisation, taking songs from a catalogue that spans more
than three decades and romping through them like jam-session favorites.
The band plays rangy rock, at the intersection of blues and country; when
it picks up acoustic instruments, it turns into a finger-picking string
band. And Mr. Dylan continually shifts his singing, sometimes providing
variation for variation's sake but more often finding new angles on old
"Monday's set began with 'Drifter's Escape,' about a man freed from a
mysterious prosecution by a bolt of lightening, and moved through songs
about betrayal and faith, revelations and enigmas. In 'Mr. Tambourine
Man,' he sang like someone humbled by a glimpse of infinite possibilities;
in 'Masters of War,' with an ominously pulsing acoustic backup, he sounded
immeasurably bitter without raising his voice.
"And the electrified songs held Mr. Dylan's own memorial for Jerry
Garcia. First came 'Silvio,' with the band picking up an unmistakable
Grateful Dead lilt as Mr. Dylan sang, 'I gotta go/ Find out something only
dead men know,' and then, in an encore, a song Mr. Dylan didn't write.
The Dead's 'Alabama Getaway,' another drifter's escape, turned into a