Reviews

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa
Event Center

June 23, 2007


[Howard Weiner], [Donald Miller], [Brian Slattery], [Mark Stermer]

Review by Howard Weiner



HOWLINí AT THE MOON

Another escapade prompted by the art of Bob Dylan is in the books.
If you were at the Events Center, at the swank Borgata Hotel on the
evening of June 23rd, 2007, you witnessed something spectacular and Iím
not just talking about the scantily-clad cocktail waitresses. That should
be the end of my review, but Iíd like to pontificate. 
   
Bobby came out with his Cowboy Band and pounced on another Catís in
the Well. ..Good clean fun. The first five songs featured Mr. Dylan on
electric guitar. It Ainít Me Babe was scintillating in the second hole.
Listening to Dylanís lush vocal exploits, I knew we were headed into
uncharted territory He had the same beige hat and dark suit as he did on
opening night (hopefully, they have same day dry cleaning at the Borgata),
but this was a different man who took the stage from opening night. All of
his charisma was pouring out: a touch of 1964 was mixed with Rolling
Thunder and all the years combined henceforth. It was palpable, he had it
going on. Just Like Tom Thumbís Blues was even better. Did I really
criticize his electric performance last night? Well, everybody plays the
fool sometime. The engaging new arrangement of Itís Alright Ma was in the
fourth spot. Lay Lady Lay was a sweet follow up. I hadnít seen that in
seven or eight shows. And the ladies were panting
 and swooning as Bob flat out had his mojo working.
   
Moving to his beloved keyboards, Bob Rolled and he Tumbled all
night long. It was a powerhouse version that was superior to the previous
nightís attempt. It was one of those nights. Bob was crackling with
energy; from my vantage point he appeared to be doing squat thrusts. It
was one of those nights. As a fan you could marvel in every aspect of his
performance. Rolliní and Tumbliní is a hell of a song. When I first
learned it would be on his new album, I wasnít looking forward to it. But
sooner or later (One of us Most Know) U2 (Bono) shall burn. This could be
the greatest remake of a classic blues song.

The evening took a sensual turn when Bob eased his way into Girl
from the North Country. These tender renditions of his early classic are
really resonating with me, as well as the enthusiastic Bobcats on hand who
roared as he served up his initial harp rendezvous. Bob got down to the
nitty-gritty in Atlantic City, unleashing his blues classic from Love &
Theft, High Water. Bob effectively reigned in the band on this number. Iím
all about improvisation, but the band was beginning to sound a little
overindulgent on this number. Bob kept the focus on the song. When heís
fully engaged like he was on this night, thatís a blessing.   
   
After witnessing 23 songs from his majesty on this tour, he finally
decided to bust out some mid 70ís delights. I pumped my fist in the air
and yelled out, ďYes yes yes,Ē to the opening chords of Simple Twist of
Fate. I donít want to delve into details, but this number is largely
responsible for setting me on this wild Never Ending journey that started
for me back in í87. I felt like I was transported back to 1975 as I
watched Dylan whip through this crowd pleaser. His vocal cadence,
incantations, inflections and any other adjective you can think of to
describe what makes this manís voice indelible, was on display. Ah Wooooh!
Highway 61 was Revisited yet again, after scoring my beer I returned to
hear Bob and his posse finish this rocker out with some snazzy flourishes.
   
It was time for some more Blood on the Tracks as we heard Tangled
up in Blue. Denny Freeman had his way with some concise tasty leads, but
all eyes and ears were on the Maestro. The man was in A+ form all night. I
knew what was coming, and I wouldnít have changed if for all the hashish
in China. Before Tangled came to an end, my heart was pounding; I smelled
the tail of the dragon. An all-time great Dylan presentation was lurking,
and I was in the thick of it before it began. 
   
That slow pounding mystical beat was begging for love. Blues fell
down like hail and then, Dylan sang his most autobiographical lines, ďIím
the oldest son of a crazy man/ Iím in a Cowboy Band.Ē And the crowd
roared. Every word came from the heart. The way he pronounced berserk was
berserk. The latest crowd pleasing line is, ďThey say whiskey will kill
you/ But I donít think it will.Ē Dylan crooned this in such an emotive
fashion, I must confess, I was sobbing and weeping. Any day know, Iíll be
in possession of this amazing performance. Ever freakiní breath he shared
with us was special. After the third verse thereís a brief violin solo
that brings even more zing to a masterpiece that is the benchmark by all
songs from this millennium should be measured. When Bob exclaimed, ďthe
judge is coming in/ All rise/ Lift up your eyes,Ē I thought of that
goofball judge from the Anna Nicole Smith case. Nettie Moore is worth the
price of admission. If any of you cats have the
 great fortune of acquiring this tape, cherish the Nettie Moore. 
   
Summer Days had more zip than any version I can recall in a couple
of years. Blowiní in the Wind was a great follow-up ending, which I got to
hear last night as well. There was a little ruckus in the row behind me
that distracted my attentions for a minute or two on this one. Itís 4.45
AM, Iím back in New York and Iím tired. Thunder and Watchtower were
awesome again, especially the Modern Times number. When Dylan came out for
his final salute to the audience, he passively looked at the crowd while
turning the palm of his hands outwards towards the raucous crowd. With his
typical swashbuckling swagger, it was humble, cocky and loving in one
gesture, very Dylanesque. He entertains even just by the very act of
receiving applause. The whole experience was so moving, Iím still at a
loss for words. Onward and forward Ė see youíll at the Mohegan on
Wednesday.
   
Howard Weiner
www.visionsofdylan.com 

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Comments by Donald Miller



On Father's Day morning I was opening up Hallmark Cards at breakfast when I 
came across an unusual one covered in fuzzy imitation leopard skin material.  I 
opened it up to find tickets for Bob Dylan at the Bogata Casino in Atlantic City. 
Sure beat the usual shirts and ties.

When I was a kid Willie Mays was my favorite baseball player.  It wasn't just the 
great power of his small frame or his speed on the bases on his breathtaking 
defense in centerfield.  Willie played with unmatched style and grace.  He rarely 
spoke to the press, letting his play speak for itself.

A decade later I was a teenager when the Mets bought out his contract to 
allow him to finish up his career in New York.  By now The Say Hey Kid over 
over 40.  It wasn't easy to watch him.  On some days you could  glimpse  
greatness but on others his aging body betrayed him and it was painful  to 
watch him play.

Although the Mets were having a mediocare season that year, they rallied in 
the fall and found themselves in the playoffs with the great Cincinnati Reds. 
In a playoff game at Shea there was an altercation between the famous 
gambler Pete Rose and the Met's diminutive shortstop Bud Harrelson.  The 
huge New York crowd got ugly and started throwing all kinds of trash and 
assorted objects on the field.  The Umpires were threatening a forfeit when 
Willie led a small group of players to the outfield and simply held up his hands. 
The crowd of 55,000 grew quiet and play resumed. The Mets beat the Reds 
and went on to the World Series.

A few months later I sat memorized as Bob Dylan sang "Gates of Eden" in 
Madison Square Garden.  Like most high school kids I spent my days listening 
to Cream and Jimmy Hendrix and here was a diminutive man standing alone 
on stage that could not sing or play guitar by conventional standards. It just 
didn't matter.  It was the greatest performance I had ever seen. I went 
home and bought all his records and haven't missed many shows in these 
past 33 years. 

I had made up my mind years ago not to argue or to judge Dylan shows  
(OK that was pretty corny). We all know he is 66 years old and his body is 
betraying him.  I just love seeing him and knowing I will catch a glimpse of 
greatness. As everything around me has changed and I grow old, Bob Dylan 
is still there giving it all. I really appreciate it.

I don't want to say too much about the venue or any specific song. I do 
prefer the open-air venues in minor league ballparks of the past few years or 
the old grand (and being renovated) Beacon in the City. I am not a big 
casino fan and something about the Bogata and Dylan doesn't quite mix.  
Maybe Bob likes it that way. 

I do think there has been too much criticism of his band, especially Donnie 
Herron who I thought was great.  Lets be honest, it has to be one of the 
hardest jobs in the business playing behind Dylan. Dylan did catch lighting 
in a bottle playing harp on Girl from the North Country, a reverting vocal 
on Nettie Moore and bringing on more then a few tears singing Blowin in 
the Wind to close his set.

It was a good show. Thanks Bob

[TOP]

Review by Brian Slattery



Originally, I planned to do one review of the two Atlantic City shows,
but shortly after Friday nightís show began, I knew that such a plan
was foolish.  Inevitably, such a review would become a  comparison piece,
nitpicking which versions of repeated songs were superior from  night to
night and arguing if a particular song was a better fit in the slot it 
appeared compared to the song appearing in that slot the other night.  So
I gave up on the idea of writing one  review before Bob even had put down
his guitar, listened intently to the songs  he sang, joined friends for a
drink afterwards, wrote my thoughts down eventually, and submitted a 
review of that show. 

And that brings us to Saturday night.  Despite leaving Jersey City in the
early afternoon,  we didnít hit Atlantic City until  5:30 p.m.  After a
nice meal at the Irish Pub, we  made our way to the Borgata, where I again
met up with fellow Bobsters Nina and  Charlie, who I must take a moment to
thank.  Iíve been a Dylan fan for fifteen years  or more,--well, I think
I was born a Dylan fan; it simply took me a few years to  realize it
fully--and Iíve always looked for like-minded people.  After years of
searching, they  found me when I wrote a review for the NYC show last
fall.  And shortly after, I was brought into  the fold of an amazing, 
eclectic group of people who all share one great thing  in common--
a love of Bob Dylan and his music.  Thanks guys for counting me 
worthy to  join your ranks.     After enjoying a pint of Motherís 
Milk and discussing what might make the  set list, we made our
way upstairs to the venue, where once again we joined  fellow fans and new
friends Julie and Jamie for a little pre-concert  confab.  As it quickly
approached  eight oíclock, we made plans for the  post-show gathering
and made our way to our respective seats, where I met  several other great
fans.  One had  traveled from  Argentina to see  Bob.  Another had seen
Bob and the  Band before I was born.  As we  waited for Fanfare and Hoe
Down, we chatted and shared concert  stories and our love of Bobís
music. While I enjoyed our conversation, I felt the growing anticipation
and  electricity in the air and could hardly wait for Bob and the boys to
take the  stage.  Let me say on the outset,  while some grouse at the
current line-up and wish for days past when others  graced the stage with
Bob, I believe he has a strong band backing him.  True, I loved the shows
with Larry and  Charlie, and they possessed an energy that may not be
present today, but that is  not to say there is no energy or inspiration
today.  Simply, it is a different energy.  No two snowflakes are the same.
 No two versions of a song are the  same.  And no two musicians are the 
same.  Each brings something  different to a live performance.  And can
anyone argue that their playing on Modern Times was  anything less than
amazing?  If they  have Bobís confidence, that is more than enough for
me. On to the show, which started almost exactly at the same  time as
Friday night ís concert.  Bob  opened with the same song but then gave
us It Ainít Me, Babe and Just  Like Tom Thumbís Blues.  Both  were
masterfully done.  Bobís voice  was strong.  He was having fun up  there
with the guitar.  And the  crowd was on its feet welcoming these inspired
performances of two brilliant  songs.  Of course, the line ďIím  going 
back to New York CityĒ caused  us all to cheer and applaud.  It put  
me in mind of what I consider my favorite Bob show--MSG, 
November 2001.  When Bob did that song in  New York City post
9/11 and reached  that line, the crowd erupted into wild applause.  And as
I sat listening to a bluesy  Tom Thumbís Blues, I smiled, remembering
how Bob gave us just what we  needed at a time when we still were trying
to make sense of the irrational,  insane, and profane horror of that
recent warm, sunny September morn.   Tonight wasnít much different.  Bob
always gives us what we need.  Whether it is a rollicking Rolliní and
Tumbliní or a blazing,  driving Itís Alright, Ma (Iím Only
Bleeding), he delivers the goods.  Tonight, Bob did a fifth song on
guitar.  To me, it was the best Lay, Lady, Lay I have heard live.  While
I like the song, I canít say I have ever loved it, but tonightís
version may cause  me to rethink that.  When Bob took  off his guitar and
went behind the keyboard, he carried the energy of the  opening songs with
him.  Girl  from the North Country was beautiful.  Halfway through I
almost had to wipe a tear out of my eye.  I didnít, though.  I let it
flow.  And after a wonderful harmonica solo,  Bob and the boys flowed into
a hard-driving, forceful High Water (For Charley  Patton).  Bob was having
fun  with this one, shooting hand signals to the band, and the band was
right there  taking his instruction, creating a great stop-and-go sound at
a couple points,  driving the song onward and upward.  The violin sounded
amazing.  Bobís vocals were crystal clear.  The band rocked.  And on the
heels of this fiery performance, Bob delivered a stunning Simple Twist of
Fate.  It is amazing how Bob can  take a song about a prostitute and 
make it so beautiful.  He blew a few notes on the harp before  the song
but didnít include a harp solo with this one, which would have been nice 
but wasnít necessary.  It would have elevated it to whatever heights 
can be achieved after reaching perfection. Tangled Up In Blue was slowed 
down to be a bit  more bluesy than other recent versions.  It worked well,
I thought, and again, Bobís voice, the most important  instrument in the 
band, was in fine form.  It was powerful.  It had  force behind it throughout 
the night.  I didnít detect a weak moment at all.  In the slower, quieter 
tunes, it  retained its strength.  He simply  channeled that power to deliver 
inspired and awe-inspiring versions of Girl  from the North Country, Simple 
Twist of Fate, and Nettie  Moore. I commented in my review of Friday 
nightís show that it was good to see  Summer Days swapped out of the 
set closer slot.  In fact, it didnít appear at all.  Tonight, it made what I 
assume will be  the first of many appearances in the set list.  It wasnít 
the last song of the set,  though.  It came second to last and was a 
rocking and rolling good time.  Then, changing the mood and tone 
considerably, Bob gave us Blowiní in  the Wind, including a
full verse harmonica introduction.  For the second time tonight, I felt 
tears coming to my eyes.  This time  they stopped short of running down my
face.  Still, I was moved beyond any words I  can write here.  Like last
night,  after Blowiní in the Wind, Bob and the band left the stage in 
darkness. When the returned, the eye logo was unfurled, and Thunder On the
 Mountain rolled like a drum.  There were no technical difficulties this
time around.  Also, there were no band  introductions.  After Thunder On
the  Mountain, Bob and the boys launched into All Along the Watchtower.  I
noticed at the end how some lines had  a great echoing effect, which
Iíve heard on other versions but donít recall  hearing Friday night. 
When it was  over, Bob and the boys stood at center stage, soaking in the
applause from an  adoring crowd.  The cheers grew  louder, as Bob
acknowledged the crowd.  We wanted more.  And while I  would have loved
even just one more song, I admire that Bob can look out at such  an
enthusiastic crowd and simply turn to his band, nod, and leave the stage
and  leave us wanting more. What more could he have given?  Sure he could
have done another song.  Heck, he could have done another twenty  songs. 
But would we have had our  fill even then?  I know I wouldnít  have.  So
he leaves us after  performing one hundred minutes of amazing music.  As
he sang earlier, heís still on the  road heading for another joint.  For
 some of us fortunate ones, so are we.  For those who have seen all they
will see of Bob this tour, they are left  with an incredible performance
from a man who continues to reach new  heights.  What more could you 
want? I believe I achieved my goal of not making this a  comparison piece.
 I donít know if I  were able to fully capture the power and grandeur of
these opening shows.  I do know that Friday nightís show was  excellent,
and Saturday nightí s show was phenomenal.  I do know that I am happy to
have heard  50% different material on the second night.  I do know that I
will not soon forget  seeing Bob as he opened another leg of his Never
Ending Tour.   Thanks again, Bob, for giving us two unforgettable nights
in  Atlantic City by the cold gray  sea. If you have any comments or just
like to talk ĎBob,í get in touch with me  at dylanfan522@aol.com

Keep On Keepiní On
Brian J. Slattery

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Review by Mark Stermer



The last time I saw Dylan in Atlantic City was at Caesarís Palace a few
years ago in a venue designed specifically for music. It was my first
Dylan concert, even though I've been a fan of his since Lay Lady Lay was
an AM radio hit, when I was around 14 years old. Dylan opened that show
with an amplified acoustic guitar set flanked by two guitarists. The set
was moving along nicely and they sounded great. The power suddenly went
out while they were in the middle of a song. At first, I thought disaster
had struck. I couldn't have been more wrong. They continued to play as if
nothing had happened, but indeed something wondrous, bordering on
mystical, had just occurred. They filled the acoustically perfect
auditorium with an un-amplified sound directly from heaven. It was elating
to hear Bob Dylan singing and playing in the most simplistic mode
possible. It was Dylan neat, directly from his hands and mouth to ours
ears. When was the last time that heíd done this? Maybe on some dusty ro
ad playing a Woody Guthrie tune? Had Pete Seeger finally succeeded in
cutting the power cords? It was a rare moment and an experience that Iím
sure only a few have shared. Eventually the power got fixed and the
electric guitars got strapped on and the guitar mix turned into the most
psychedelic blend Iíve ever heard. It was and still is the greatest show I
have ever seen. The songs I loved were all there in basic form, but had
been propelled into a uniqueness that only existed for that moment in
time. Dylanís ability to come up with new interpretations of his songs
made me want to see him again and again.

Letís zoom to Atlantic City present. The Borgata Event Center looks like
it hosts all kinds of events. This one just happened to be a concert
performed by a legendary artist and attended by a large group of sober
middle-aged folks with money and a younger slightly drunken fan base with
money. The acoustics were surprisingly good.

I had heard that Bob was going to be playing guitar on this tour and I was
happy to find this true. The show started off with Dylan playing electric
guitar on the first five songs. They were all great. The joint was a
rockiní right from the start with Bob taking a couple leads on Catís In
The Well. Dylanís guitar style is somewhere out there, where no one else
is. I enjoy listening to him wail. The songs he plays on guitar are very
interesting because they take on a new life every time I hear them.  It
Ainít Me Babe was next. It also rocked and I think I saw Johnny Cashís
ghost jamming on stage with them. Iíve been going to all kinds of shows
for years and to my recollection four guitars playing together on stage is
not a common occurrence. This band makes it look effortless and the sound
they create is tight hot loose and cool all at the same time, obviously
the result of almost constantly being on tour. They were nothing short of
amazing for the entire night, Just Like Tom Thumbs
 Blues, Itís Alright Ma (Iím Only Bleeding), and a passionate Lay Lady Lay
 had the crowd riveted.

Dylan put his guitar away for Rolliní and Tumbliní and moved to keyboards
for the rest of the night. The energy continued to churn out with this
number coming across as a fabulous rock ní roll interpretation of a blues
classic. The brakes were applied for Girl from the North Country as Dylan
gave a truly heartfelt and tender performance. It appeared that a few
people in the audience either werenít paying attention or were still
revved up from the first six numbers, as whoops and yelps punctuated his
delicate phrasing. This change of pace was perfectly placed. If he had
continued to let it rip, the event staff might have had to roll out some
oxygen tanks. We needed to cool down for moment.

High Water, as with most of his more recent material, was a more standard
interpretation than his older classics. Itís a story that he seems to
really enjoy telling. Simple Twist Of Fate followed and featured a searing
vocal that only Bob can deliver. Dylan is a great singer and was feeling
it tonight. Things got fired up again with Highway 61 Revisited. As usual,
this song sounds new and different every time I see them play it. Nettie
Moore was hauntingly surreal, an eerie ballad that had me hallucinating
ferris wheels, carnival rides, night sky, blinking lights, dirt and
trampled grass. I felt like I was traveling to a different time and place.
This song was the best of what was turning out to be a fantastic show.

Shades of Chuck Berry ala Denny Freeman on Summer Days gave us one more
rock ní roll fix for the night, before closing the show with Blowiní In
The Wind, which seemed like the perfect way to wrap up before the encore.
Thunder on the Mountain and All Along the Watchtower put the finishing
touches on this greatest hits performance. 


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