1. 8-1-71 Concert for Bangladesh, Madison Square Garden...From George Harrison’s introduction:, “Would you please welcome a friend of us all, Mr. Bob Dylan,” to the thunderous ovation following the astounding version of “Just Like a Woman,” this is the most satisfying short set of Dylan’s career, fueled by the pressure packed magic of Madison Square Garden. The Prodigal Son returns, better than ever.
2. 10-31-64, New York Philharmonic Hall…It’s Halloween and Bob Dylan’s wearing all his masks: poet, prognosticator, prophet, comedian, shaman, master of the talkin’ blues. The audience was spellbound and thrilled with every syllable. You won’t find better offerings of John Birch Paranoid Blues, Who Killed Davey Moore, or I Don’t Believe You.
3. 8-28-65 Forest Hills Tennis Stadium...The storm after Newport. With Levon Helm & Al Kooper backing Dylan, Bob served nothing but aces in Queens. The crowd was bewildered as Dylan debuted Desolation Row, Tombstone Blues, From a Buick 6, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, and Ballad of a Thin Man. Unplugged and plugged in perfect harmony.
4. 11-11-02 Madison Square Garden…Dylan takes the stage perched behind a Yamaha keyboard and debuts “Yeah Heavy and a Bottle of Bread.” Fortified by his best touring band, Chez Dylan mixes his iconic anthems with gems from Love & Theft, and sprinkles in covers from the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Don Henley, and Warren Zevon, to create an abundant feast. The set ending Summer Days was tour de force.
5. 10-13-89 Beacon Theatre…From his initial creation, Song to Woody, to his latest Oh Mercy masterpiece, Man in the Long Black Coat, Dylan shocked the West Side of Manhattan with a chaotic performance. Dressed in a gold leme suit and pointy white shoes, Dylan dropped his harp and mic on the floor during the Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat encore, and walked through the crowd before splitting stage left. Adios Bob. May the lord have mercy on us all.
6. 10-17-93 Supper Club…From 1991-’93, The Never Ending Tour sputtered a bit. With a pair of sparkling acoustic shows at the intimate Supper Club, Bob righted the ship. All performances were memorable, but One More Cup of Coffee, Queen Jane Approximately, and Tight Connection to My Heart were extraordinary.
7. 12-8-75 Night of the Hurricane, Madison Square Garden…The grand finale of the first leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue. Nuff said.
8. 10-19-88 Radio City…A blistering Subterranean Homesick Blues kicks off a unique show featuring rarities like Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream, With God on Our Side (With the Neville Brothers Vietnam verse), and Wagoner’s Lad. The set ending trifecta of Silvio > In the Garden > Like a Rolling Stones is as rocking as Dylan gets, shades of ’66.
9. 11-19-01 Madison Square Garden… Six weeks after 9/11, Dylan returns to his town dressed in a pink suit. He unleashes a riveting 21 song show. I’ll never forget how he corkscrewed on the checkerboard floor during a Just Like a Woma harp solo, but the highlight of the night was when Bob said, “Most of the songs we’re playing here tonight were written here, and those that weren't were recorded here. So no one has to ask me how I feel about this town.”
10. 1-17-98 Theatre at Madison Square Garden… Sharing the bill with “Van the Man,” Dylan set the night on fire with intense versions of Senor, Absolutely Sweet Marie and Tangled Up in Blue. Tommorow is a Long Time was a pleasant surprise, and the Time Out of Mind tunes were sublime.
Honorable Mention: 2-25-98…Dylan walked away with all the important trophies from the 40th Grammy Awards at Radio City, but his live performance was absolutely a Time Out of Mind experience. During Love Sick, Dylan endured the Soy Bomb intrusion to deliver an unforgettable Love Sick anchored by the spunkiest guitar solo of his career. During the acceptance speech, The Dylan recalls the time he saw Buddy Holly in Duluth. Bob had The Right Stuff.
Howard Weiner's new book, Tangled Up in New York