DYLAN SUBLIME — There’s no other way to say it, other than Bob Dylan’s second show at NYC’s Beacon Theatre last night was just sublime. You never quite know what you’re going to get at a Bob-fest; re-arranged versions of his classics for sure, but usually it’s just sensational … or, not. I’ve only see Dylan a handful of times: an ill-advised trip to Jones Beach a few years ago was not a wise decision, yet his show with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, decades ago, was just amazing.
Last night as we had a quick bite to eat before the show, sitting at the very next table was a chap who had flown in from England to see all of the Beacon sows and he immediately assured us we were in for a thrilling night. See, a typical Dylan-fan!
Dressed in white cowboy boots and a jacket tastefully decked out with sequins, Dylan was simply amazing. Seated at his piano stage right, he immediately went in to “Things Have Changed,” a personal favorite from years back and from the 2000 Wonder Boys movie with Michael Douglas; directed by the late Curtis Hanson. A heavily re-arranged “It Ain’t Me Babe” followed, as did the Sinatra cover “Melancholy Mood” and Tony Bennett’s “Once Upon A Time.” Truth be told, I’ve not been a huge fan of the recent Dylan-cover records, but tonight, they were quite astounding. Standing center sage, holding the mike stand off the floor, he was simply sensational. “Tangled Up In Blue” and a fiery “Desolation Row” followed and were both exceptional. One of my personal-Dylan favorites, “Lovesick” was next and just chilling and his two encores, “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Ballad Of A Thin Man” were supremely performed. “Thin Man” in fact, I think was the performance of the night. Just stunning.
I can’t say enough about his band, which has been together for decades now; they service his rather unique performing style just perfectly. His guitarist, Charlie Sexton (born in 1968) was just superb. It’s hard to believe that when Sexton’s first solo album appeared in 1985, Pictures For Pleasure, he was being marketed like a Justin Bieber. Talk about career turns. Tonight, he was just exemplary. One other note: Dylan’s piano playing was off the charts; I honestly didn’t realize how good he’s become. Just amazing night of music. The stage production was superb as well. And opening Mavis Staples was just stunning. At 78, she has not slowed down one iota. Magical night.
Between Mavis and Dylan, I chatted with Q1043’s Ken Dashow, who does a pretty mean impersonation of Dylan by the way, and he relayed to me some great Dylan-stories. Love Ken, encyclopedic knowledge of music.
Definitely one of the best shows of 2017.
CASSIDY PASSES — David Cassidy, a pop culture idol of the 1970’s, died Tuesday in a Florida hospital. The musician and actor was 67.
His publicist confirmed his death, with a statement from his family. “On behalf of the entire Cassidy family, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, our uncle, and our dear brother, David Cassidy. David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long. Thank you for the abundance and support you have shown him these many years.”
He had been hospitalized for several days with organ failure. Cassidy announced his diagnosis with dementia in early 2017. He performed at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York in March, talking about his dementia, and said his arthritis made playing guitar an ordeal.
With pretty-boy good looks and a long mane of dark hair, Cassidy was every girl’s favorite teen crush in the early 1970’s and drew screaming crowds at concert appearances. David Cassidy was part of a show business family that included his father, Tony-winning actor Jack Cassidy, stepmother Shirley Jones, half-brother Shaun Cassidy and daughter, actress Katie Cassidy.
Raised in New Jersey, Cassidy moved to Los Angeles in 1969 after starring in a Broadway musical that closed after only four performances. In 1970, after signing with Universal, Cassidy took on the role of older brother Keith Partridge in The Partridge Family. Keith was the son of Shirley Partridge, who was played by Jones.
The ABC sitcom was loosely based on real-life family musical act the Cowsills, and ran from 1970 to 1974. The show became popular for its squeaky clean portrayal of life on the road as a family rock band in a brightly painted bus. In addition to Cassidy and Jones, The Partridge Family starred Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce and Suzanne Crough as the family’s other children, and Dave Madden as manager Ruben Kincaid.
Cassidy and Jones were the only cast members who were allowed to actually sing; the other kids lip-synced, while the Wrecking Crew provided musical backup. Theme song “C’mon Get Happy” became one of TV’s most enduring songs, and helped launch Cassidy’s musical career.
After the singles “I Think I Love You” and “Cherish” took off, Cassidy began working on solo albums as well. He regularly sold out stadiums, leading to commentators to coin the phrase Cassidymania. Several of his shows resulted in riots or mass hysteria, including one notable 1974 performance in Australia, which garnered calls for Cassidy to be deported from the country.
At a 1974 London concert, nearly 800 people were injured in a stampede at a Cassidy concert, and one teenage girl died a few days later. He stopped touring and acting soon after, concentrating on recording, and had a hit with “I Write the Songs” before Barry Manilow made it part of his act. He also performed Ned Doheny’s brilliant song “Give It Up For Love.”
In musical theater, he performed in Little Johnny Jones, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Time and Blood Brothers and created the Vegas shows The Rat Pack is Back and At the Copa.
Cassidy was Emmy nominated for a guest role on a Police Story episode A Chance to Live. NBC based the series David Cassidy – Man Undercover on the segment, but it lasted just one season. He also made guest appearances on shows including Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and Tales of the Unexpected.
In the decades that followed, Cassidy continued to perform in Las Vegas and tour. At later shows, Cassidy was known for participating in Q&A sessions at his concerts. He also played the manager of Aaron Carter’s character in the 2005 film Popstar and starred with half-brother Patrick in Ruby and the Rockits, created by his half-brother Shaun.
Micky Dolenz, another early teen-idol said: I had the great pleasure of working with David on a number of occasions over the years. Needless to say, he was a formidable talent, a wonderful entertainer, a personable guy and a really, really funny dude. He also had his demons. As do we all. I wish I could have done more to help. R.I.P. David.
SHORT TAKES — I really enjoyed the PBS presentation of David Letterman receiving the Mark Twain Award earlier this week. Even though Al Franken was rather unceremoniously edited out, the remarks by the likes of Steve Martin, Norm MacDonald, Martin Short, Bill Murray and Paul Shaffer were perfect. A highlight of the evening with Eddie Vedder’s performance of Warren Zevon’s (a huge Dave-fave) of “Keep Me In Your Heart,” with the brilliant David Sanborn on sax. Vedder, just a stunning performer. Great show … On Monday NBC Nightly News, Lester Holt opened his show with the remark: societal reckoning when discussing the Charlie Rose, Roy Moore and Al Franken scandals. Boy, have these news broadcast changed in the last several weeks. Add to the growing list, Oliver Stone, Russell Simmons and John Lasseter. Just amazing … The box sets seem to keep coming: Elton John’s Diamonds and the Debbie Gibson-import We Could Be Together. Gibson’s set was released two weeks back and has virtually disappeared. John’s Diamonds is terrific. Full review to come … Here’s another Best Of Album for 2017: From Van Dean’s Broadway Records, Tyce’s Hero: A brilliant re-working of the 1977 Bat Out Of Hell album from Meatloaf. Jim Steinman songs, exemplary production work from Zak Lloyd and a new brilliant talent. We caught Tyce at the Metropolitan Room here in NYC and it was an awesome show. Somewhat overlooked, but a critical pick, definitely one of the best of this year … Locked and loaded, Honey West at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room January 25, 2018. Don’t miss this show … Seen at last night’s Dylan-show: actor Ethan Hawke …. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!