April 10, 2015
Review by Peter Stone Brown
And so the 2015 Bob Dylan tour of the South, the Southwest and Midwest
starts in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a city that would be below the Mason
Dixon line if it extended into New Jersey. And for those who carefully
watch Dylan’s set lists, this is the same tour that started in Oslo,
Norway, October 10, 2013, and will continue with this format that includes
an intermission like the Dylan concerts of the ’60s and ’70s and the
set list that has changed very little over that time with one or two
exceptions. And it is quite clear that this is a specific show in every
way from the song selection to the lighting to the ensemble playing of
Dylan’s band to the lighting, the backdrops and the sound and show
volume. It is a show designed to put the songs first before the
musicians. It’s not about guitar solos, it’s not about flash, it’s
totally about the music.
Most of the shows on this tour have taken place in theaters and the great
music halls around the world and the staging is designed for that. The
ambiance of the Borgata Event Center clashed with the theatrical elements
of the show.
The first gong sounded at 9:01, and an acoustic guitar was strummed once,
but the lights didn’t dim and it turned out to be a false start. Within
a few minutes, the gong sounded again three times and Stu Kimball took the
stage playing what sounded like a minor key mountain ballad that I
couldn’t quite put my finger on as the rest of the band and Bob Dylan
took the stage starting with the song that has set the tone for this tour,
“Things Have Changed.”
I was sitting on an aisle seat and the people in the same row right across
the aisle were engaged in a conversation that showed no signs of stopping.
Keeping in mind Peter Clemenza’s instructions to Michael Corleone that
“they should have stopped Hitler in Munich and never let him get away
with that,” I knew this conversation had to be nipped in the bud or it
would pervade through the entire concert. And being an old hand at this
after decades of attending concerts with audiences that have no qualms
about spending hundreds of dollars to see someone they pay utterly no
attention to, I had a brand new line to try out. I leaned across the
aisle and said, “Excuse me, is Bob Dylan interrupting your
conversation?” As it turned out, it worked a lot better than say
“Shut the fuck up” because the guy actually had to stop and think
about what I just said, before admitting that Bob Dylan was interrupting
his conversation. Luckily, I didn’t have to take it further than that.
Other than that, the crowd was reasonably attentive with the security
flashlight shining brigade present in a big way on the hunt for mobile
device users, and even with that, people would still hold their mobile
filming apparatus high above their heads.
In the meantime Bob Dylan wearing a cool gray suit had begun “She
Belongs To Me” which received a big roar of applause on the opening line
and the song included a couple of nice harp solos, especially the second
one. I couldn’t help but note that the Egyptian ring this time around
is no longer red and back to being a plain old Egyptian ring the way it
was in the flip side of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” as well as on
Bringing It All Back Home.
Dylan then moved to the piano, playing with force and pretty much
dominating the sound of “Beyond Here Lies Nothing,” before going into
one of the first set’s high points, “Working Man’s Blues #2”
placing special emphasis on the lines, “Some people never worked a day
in their life/They Don’t Know What Work Even Means.”
“Duquesne Whistle” had kind of a strange opening where I wasn’t
quite sure what was going on and wasn’t close enough to the stage to
really see, but it may have been because it took the spot usually reserved
for “Waiting For You.” Once it got going though, it was another high
point. Then it was waltz time with “Waiting For You,” where Dylan
seemed to be enjoying his piano solo, but also served to make “Pay In
Blood” once of the few rockers in this show even more effective.
“Tangled Up In Blue” followed with the version Dylan’s been singing
for a couple of years and of course received a roar of recognition and
while Dylan was making sure very verse was clear, this time around the
verses not sung were noticeable. Simply put, it was too damn short. Just
as it was last fall, “Love Sick” was a strong closer to the first set,
and for whatever reason, maybe the cool additions this band has added to
the arrangement, this song is stronger now than at any previous point.
“High Water (For Charlie Patton)” kicked off the second set into high
gear followed by “Simple Twist Of Fate” with Dylan going real low
emphasizing the word fate each time around. Then came a slight change as
Stu Kimball put down his guitar and picked up maracas for “Early Roman
Kings” in a slightly different arrangement with the emphasis on rhythm
with George Recile using timpani sticks to beat the drums, while Charlie
Sexton kept hitting this one high note all the way up the neck near the
body of his Les Paul Gibson at the end of each line basically leaving the
solos to Donnie Herron’s slide and Dylan’s piano, and along with the
rhythmic changes, it was the piano which dominated the song.
“Forgetful Heart,” remains a song that can’t miss and led off the
closing portion of the concert. “Scarlet Town” seemed almost
dreamlike and “Soon After Midnight” seemed a little looser than usual,
and maybe I didn’t notice it, but “Long And Wasted Years” seemed to
be missing the extra stop that was added last fall.
Again, the true high point of the night, after a not bad but nothing
really special “Blowin’ In The Wind,” came an emotional and very
strong “Stay With Me,” with Dylan making every word count. Of all the
songs performed, it seemed that this was the one he really wanted to sing.
Opening night of a tour by any artist is usually not the best concert to
attend because by nature, especially after a few months off the road,
because by default it ends up being warmup night with few surprises.
Dylan was in excellent voice, singing sort of softly the way he does on
his latest album but effectively. I think by the time this tour hits
Memphis if not before, they should be in full gear the way they were in
Chicago, Philly and New York last fall.
Review by Martin Alderoty
First and foremost my credentials- I just turned 60 and a die hard
dylanite since 1972. First time with the band in philly I think it was 73.
I saw Bob during his born again tour in SF. Dylan and the dead at Giants
stadium. At MSG in NYC. And the last few shows at Asbury park convention
center etc. All in all I'll be safe and say 10 times. Of course I have all
the albums and my pride is a really original classic bootleg of the judas
tour that was handed down from my long lost buddy JN "the sky's not yellow
Ok here's my rant or maybe even confession.
I was fortunate enough thanks to my younger brothers generosity to score
4th row tickets stage left right behind Bob on piano.
First song bobs voice was crisp, clear, bold. This was very exciting and I
was thrilled. I thought this is going to be a killer show, fresh out of
That happiness lasted no longer than the second song - she belongs -
peeking thru a keyhole down upon your knees.
In all honesty it was down hill from there. Bob massacred tangled up and
twisto'fate. It practically made me cry I was so upset.
Literally the whole show should have been sponsored by the Geratol Radio
Hour. I had to do everything possible just to stay awake.
Bob bounced backed in the dark between center stage and the piano. I mean
wtf? Turn on the light so he don't trip and hurt him self.
Honestly the whole thing could have been 100 times better if he split the
show in two.
The first half could be the Jerry Vale hour and he can even get a Lawrence
Welk bubble machine and play or sing what ever he wants.
The second half should be his "hits". 61, rolling Beatrice Stone, tower,
etc. I say this not to satisfying my own selfish Zimmy worship, but for
the young kids a few rows behind genuinely sincerely passionately
screaming out for Subterranean.
Honestly, and it pains me to say this - but if I had the balls - I should
have booed. Bob needs the be booed.
I guess I should end here but I'm not.
At one point and I don't remember when I thought to myself , omg, bobby
has early signs of Alzheimer's.
And you know what ? I don't need the band behind Bob. I don't give a shit
about the band. Frankly I don't understand why Bob thinks he needs a
band???? We want Bob, just Bob, only Bob - even if only tells a few jokes
or does juggling tricks. To be clear I have nothing against the band
members. I'm sure they could rock the house down on their own. And I'd
probably pay $130 to see that show also.
I love Bob and I will always go see him even if they have to wheel him out
one day and he recites the lunch menu from the sephardic home for the
Bottom line the "show" was like having a real bad tooth ache, your dying
of pain - you have to go to the dentist to get it pulled. No body wants to
go to the dentist but you have no choice.
I almost wonder, in some cosmic karma voodoo sense, is Bob is going to
the dentist when he puts on these shows?
In this case I did not have a tooth ache, I did not need to see a doctor,
I went to see the gypsy, he was staying at a big hotel....
Thank you for allowing me to express my concern for my boot heels to keep
I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn from Tom the sound guy that
Jules had passed away 18 months ago. My condolences to his family and
Review by Schenectady Dan
On Friday around noon, things suddenly changed for me. The
insurmountable hurdles placed between going to the closest Dylan Show
of this tour were removed. I sprang into action! After an online ticket
purchase, a little while and a whole lotta stress, I had gone 300 miles
and was ready, willing and able to enter the glitzy Borgata
Hotel/Casino/Spa. Meet me tonight in Atlantic City never sounded so
good. This was by far the fastest time between confirmation of going to a
show, and showtime which was less than half of a day. At the box
office, willcall offered me an upgrade! For 50$ more I went from
somewhere in the back to 8th row center right in line with Bob's piano
bench. The seats appeared to be dining room table chairs set up real
tight, so tight that anyone walking in or out of the row literally had to
step on you. The chairs had a little bounce to the backrest which was
actually great for sit down boogieing, the evenings main event!After
seeing a couple shows last November and December, I was prepared for "the
setlist." however, I had wondered if it would remain intact, and had
"fantasized" about a new show, or maybe a "Billy" or a Handy
Dandyesque addition but deep down inside I knew that none of this
mattered. This is Bobs show! And I was on board, no matter what!!!From
where I was sitting, there was nothing to complain about Friday night in
Atlantic City. People are crazy and times are STRANGE indeed! The triple
gong,> Stu's noodle > "Things Have Changed" opener somehow said to me the
more things change, the more they remain the same. A very strong, solid
show opener. "She Belongs to Me" chugged along and showed Bob in total
control, displaying his 50 year old song and making it tonights version,
a walking antique indeed! Next up's Duquesne Whistle's intro sounded
like being transported back a hundred years or so in time. I could hear it
all about THAT BAND, Bob's piano and Bob's groove, and he brought it and
put it out. This song had me boogieing hard, right on time, like I had
just landed on a fast musical train bound for who knows where. I didnt
care, but I was going all the way, for sure
What happened in song number 4, Working Man Blues #2 to me, is
inexplicable, but for whatever reason it hit me so hard that tears were
rolling. I dont know why, but it happened. I wasn't sad but really
emotional, as I, being a man of means by no means, felt so much from
this song. A part of it reminds me of the riff from Hunter/Garcia's
"Friend of the devil," that descending riff. It was so strong, soooo
good absolutely TOP NOTCH! I truly dont know why or how it effected me
like it did, but it was an amazing number. Waiting For You is the only
song of the set that I am unfamiliar with lyrically. This kinda allows
me to experience Bob as a newbie again, and I really dig the "message" I
get from listening. I find it encouraging and full of love and kindness,
as opposed to many, darker, edgier numbers. Pay in Blood had me rockin
again, and wondering if not his own, who's blood is it anyways? Is it
some kind of salvation from heavenly aid? idk, but he came to bury, not
to raise. Have to admit, the house was really into the show, lots of
enthusiastic response all night. Tangled and Lovesick were no exception
and ended set 1 strongly.
Set 2 was great, Stus noodle #2> Highwater for Chalie Patton got us
boogieng again. Simple Twist of Fate was truly great. Didn't know Stu
could play the maraca's but he did, one in each hands. This effectively
doubled the rhythm section, for the entirety of Early Roman Kings and may
have upped the boogie factor one last time here on the Jersey Shore. From
here on out "the set" slows in tempo, but not intensity. Forgetful Heart
has its own space and time, it"s pure intensity and as usual had me
hanging on every word. Spirit on the Water was soft and gentle except for
that killed a man back there part. Scarlet Town kept the intensity and
focus on the words and had its own dark beauty. Out came the starry night
background as Soon After Midnight lightened things up a bit in its own
beautiful way. I swear looking up into the background of the stage I could
see several "Roswellsque" Alien faces, wish I had pic's to prove it, but I
swear they"re there! Long and Wasted Years hits hard for me, as I can
relate very well to the dysfunction of my own famial relationships past
and present. The crowd was a bit slow getting back into encore begging
mode, but the unison hand clap thing eventually caught fire in time to
welcome those guys back for the "anthem" And then it was time for the
final number. With many highlights over the course of the evening, I would
say, Stay With Me has something so touching in the words, and the way that
Bob sings it, it was absolutely GORGEOUS. Bob saved the best for last.
THANKS for the "entertainment" Bob and That Band. Keep on Keeping on!
Review by Gregory Schwartz
What awaits this opening night?
do we compare it to the experiences of past shows?
Ah; the exact set list, reinvented with musical modes, passages and
Because it's Bob Dylan and his band brining the songs and vision to
The lush room is sound perfect.
This performance is engaging, precise and flawless
The rowdy audience is fresh, the interaction forum being timed right and
gives Bob and his band a chance to react in grateful acknowledgement,
the more the crowd acknowledges the moment the more they're reciprocated.
Bob says thanks, announces how long the set break will be.
Bob first set was personalized, alive with each phrase completing a
melodious coupling of the last words.
Second set phrasing becomes tight, closing the lyric line with a snapping
In conclusion Nelson Riddle could of been conducting the musicians.
Billy Holiday could be singing those songs.
It keeps getting better, Bob is living each moment of every word.
The spirit of Allen Ginsberg and Jerry Garcia are with him for the asking.
Stay with Bob, show him what you got and he'll show you, each and every
member of the audience a whooping good time.
Bob is our Shakespeare, Whitman and greatest song writer of our lifetime.
We humbly await the return of the master.
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