Dylan strode onto the stage following the Band’s encore number and was greeted with a joyous roar of recognition by more than 3000 fans who had already listened to two and a half hours of music with the Band.
Dressed in a dark corduroy jacket, white T-shirt, jeans and boots, and playing an old solid-body electric guitar, Dylan ripped through four numbers in 20 minutes, with the Band in its old role as his backup group.
The appearance was clearly unrehearsed. Dylan and the boys in the Band huddled before each song to work out chords and impromptu arrangements.
They did “Down in the Flood,” featured on Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume II but performed here with much of the 1968 basement tapes; “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” done in the Band’s version; “Don’t You Tell Henry,” also a relic of the basement tapes and here performed live by Dylan for the first time; and “Like a Rolling Stone,” a long rousing version which brought back memories of Dylan’s touring days.
Dylan introduced the last tune with an apology, explaining to the audience that “we haven’t played this together in six years.” (Actually, he played the song with the Band at the 1969 Isle of Wight festival, but no one rose to correct the error.)
“Like a Rolling Stone” marked the high point of the short set, with Robbie Robertson and the Band pumping away 1965-style and the audience shouting along on the chorus. Dylan smiled broadly as the crowd roared, “How does it feel . . . ” back at the stage. Even the Band’s new horn section, who shared the second half of the bill, shouted along with the crowd.
Down in the large orchestra pit tape machines rolled away during the Dylan performance, as they had throughout the Band’s New Year’s Eve concert, which ended a four-day stint at the Academy of Music. A spokesman for the Band said it was “not yet definite” what would be done with the tapes.
The concert started late because the Band wished to be onstage when 1971 passed on. An obscure Japanese samurai movie was shown during the day. When midnight did roll around it was greeted by Garth Hudson, who interrupted his traditional organ solo on “Chest Fever” with a sprightly “Auld Lang Syne.”
This story is from the February 3rd, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone.