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Review by Roderick Smith
Twenty nine years had passed since I had seen a show in Vegas. In 1971 I
stole into the Hilton dressed as a busboy and caught two Elvis Shows. I
had to scramble back to school in New York with five bucks in my pocket.
Now I'm back with three credit cards and miles of river under the bridge
to see the other king at the House of Blues at the Mandalay Casino. Vegas
hasn't changed much. Hot, sun dazed pilgrims, staggering from one
warehouse to another. The same fantasy, sex and money. So you come to the
House of Blues and are surprised that they have contrived an amusement
facility that you can actually believe in. A rock and roll fantasy
theater! Loaded to the gill with marvelous looking American primitive
paintings celebrating the wonder of the three and four chord progressions.
Basic in your face images. Carved bits of faux Americana everywhere.
Huge Bali shadow show cut out windows on high with orange luminous light
from beyond enveloping the balcony and casting everything into a juke box
world. I'm a believer! On with the show.
And what a show it was. "Duncan and Brady" is the perfect warm-up. The
chorus line, "been on the job too long.." pulls everyone from the bar.
The magician is at it again. Forget those clowns with white tigers and
gold cages, this act ain't smoke and mirrors. It launches itself like a
rocket and we all hang on for dear sweet life. This troubadour lives in
kaleidoscope dream and we just peer in, squinting in the light, trying to
absorb the warmth and somehow never seem to get enough. The songs pile up
on each other like old drawings stacked on desk. You no sooner see one
then another is knocking you senseless. By now even accidental tourists
who stumbled into this strange circus have that odd look upon their faces.
Their cheeks have lifted up, a child like smile is creeping, they don't
blink. For the old customers, it's dust in the face once again as we
hurry on to stay close to the Tambourine Man.
The show seems to end all too soon. Dylan has his men stand in a clean
straight line across the stage, he in the middle, hand on hip, a slight
fidgeting. They are all dead pan in their expressions. They stare into
the roar that rolls upon them. What an incredible bit of theater Mr. Dylan
has now contrived. The "mobile" has become motionless. We are the music
now. With our voices, our hands we descend upon our muse and embrace him.
It's quite a moment really. After all these years.
Saw a shooting star tonight and I thought of you.
Review by Andy Goldstein
This was a great show. Bob is the Master.My faith has been renewed
The smalll venue helped. The crowd was cheering for Bob all night which
probably helped the performance. The space in front of the stage was
sunken so if u were in the front row you would nnot be able to see the
musicans since the stahe was just over six feet of the ground so the
people in the front left a 3 feet gap between themesleves and the stage. I
opted of a standing position on some steps just to the left of Larry
Campbell next to the stacks of speakers.. It was GA on the Floor and some
seats upstairs. rthe interior of the House of Blues looks beautufual and
has a real cozy feel.
Bob was really singing tonight. he ennnuciated(spelled wrong) each
syllable/word/phrtase all nite.
I think I may run out of adjectives....
Duncan and Brady (never saw this before) was much better than any of the
versions I had heard previosly. Ramona with Larrys mandolin and Bob
spitting out words. Masters (still not my fav) but it was just
intense..... Baby Blue (larry pedal steal)...not a fav either but once
again beautiful.... Tangled....Not the best version ever but it was spot
on...Bob seemed to get the words right...the crowd went nuts..Bob did some
chuck berry moves with his knees and his feet were very
active..........once again teh singing and was right on.....Dont think
2..... Country Pie (short and sweet) with harlie doing a great solo...it
still needs an ending..... Then it happened...a long instrumnetal intro
and then Bob does it....STANDING IN THE DOORWAY.... He sings like an
angel.with great passion...the band does not screw up...neither does
Bob....U could here a pin drop.... I dont often get excited at these
things anymore but I still have goosebumps 13 hours later..... Any words I
write here will not do it justice so everyone needs to judge this for
themselves.... >From this point on the show was just in HYPERDRIVE... Down
in the Flood was a million times better than when he opened with it...the
arrangement was similar to the new arrangement of Drifters esacpe and
Wicked Messenger which came a song later....the slow down when bob sings
and then jam in between..SHooting Star was great....Nice harp solo...Bob
played a few notes on one harped and then quickly changed to
another......Wicked Messenger was next with harp as well....much different
than when he did it in 97...sounded more like the new Drifters escape (I
still like the Patti SMith version best)...Pillbox hat
whew................ The crowd was going nuts...Bob was smilinging at
people and playing his heart out.......Things have changesd was better in
Reno I thought... Tambourineman (not a fav) was spot on...great harp
solo...I liked this song in the position it was in last night..and I
really enjoyed it surprisingly.... they had the house lights on for some
of the encores...bob left the stage with his hat and I thoght he was done
but he came out for Rainy Day and Blowing which I thought we played better
Anyway...I think you undersatnd what happened ;last nnite.
bob showed he's still got it in a mjor way......
Get A tape and decide for yourself but its never quite the same (no...i
didnt tape) I did take the redeye home......Smiling all the way and still
Review by David Link
We were psyched when Thomas and Mack was cancelled and this show was
added. At the opening of Mandalay Bay in March '99, Dylan broke in the Las
Vegas House of Blues in style, playing the first official, open to the
public concert in this HOB, located in a corner of the casino.
I loved that show and all the crazyness that surrounded a massive new
Las Vegas hotel-casino opening, (i.e. Dan Akroyd and John Goodman coming
through a side door and moving through the line of people waiting to see
Dylan at midnight...The Blues Brothers had just played a "private" show
there, and where they were led out afterwards was through a door that
opened up close to the front of the line, and onto the casino floor!) We
were in the front row and it was a good show at the end of a long tour.
That all said, I believe this Mandalay Bay show to be far stronger....
We got a perfect spot three rows back from the stage, dead
center....At 8:10 the band came out. I wanted Roving Gambler, but I think
Bob didn't want to be that predictable. Good. The Duncan and Brady to open
was so energetic and powerful that thoughts of any other opener were quickly
gone. I've heard this tune a bunch of times now and this one was the
best, no question. I think the venue added to this. From where I was, this
was the best sounding Dylan show I've ever been to (which is not a million
shows, but more than a bunch from small clubs to stadiums).
I could go on about every song, but you get the point. The main flaw I
recall is Bob being turned up WAY too loud for a small part of TUIB, but
that was straighted out fast. The set list probably looks like dullsville
to people following the tour, but it is really one of those you cannot
judge by just what's on paper. Bob's singing was so forceful and so
precise that it was really special. I went to other shows on this tour,
and while all of them were really excellent, none had the sheer intensity
for the whole show like this...He was really digging into his guitar
leads, and every song seemed to be extra crisp.
He did his joke on Kemper during the introductions---along the lines of
"David was going to be a doctor but he didn't have any patients."
The encores were killer even though we've seen them all many times....
Mr. Tambourine Man was a nice touch. I was hoping for 6 encores, but
ending with Blowin in the Wind is always nice....This was an awesome
show that I won't soon forget and either will most who were there.
Review by Michael Bakos
Agony to ecstasy. My wife and I had planned this trip well before summer
tour had been announced. Originally we had planned to leave New Jersey
on the 28th, but when we found out that we would save almost $200, we
decided on the 27th. Of course we were elated when we checked
bobdylan.com and found out that Bob would be at the Thomas and Mack
center the night we arrived. Ch-ching!!! We received 2 great tickets
(lower level one section from the stage on the side, row B) and we
couldn't be happier. Then came the news - the show is canceled. I was
devastated. All of the other shows seemed to still be on, except the
one that I was going to. Bummer. A few days later my wife excitedly
calls me with the latest development. Bob will be playing Vegas after
all, at the House of Blues, a much smaller venue. Great. We get tickets
- last row in the balcony. Oh well, it only holds 1500, so the seats
can't be too bad.
A few weeks later, we finally make it in to Vegas. The House of Blues
is located inside the Mandalay Bay casino. It's a very funky looking
venue, with a sort of backwoods swamp-cathedral vibe going on. We get
to our seats, and while we can't be much further from the stage, they
are still great. The lights go down, and after the familiar intro, Bob
and the boys launch into something new to my ears. It doesn't take long
for me to figure out that it's Duncan & Brady. Alright, Roving Gambler
would have been a little obvious, no? Well played, up tempo, a good
start. Next up was To Ramona, probably my least favorite song in the
repertoire these days. I tried to appreciate it, but midway through I
started to notice that something wasn't right. Stray notes on the
guitar, vocals that were barely standard. This continued in Masters
of War, which showed some flashes of inspiration, but overall was
undermined by its inconsistency. I was beginning to worry, as I had
such high hopes for this show. Earlier in the day, we had run into a
casino employee who told us that Bob had blown an electrical fuse in
his bus while practicing. I started to think that maybe he was in a
foul mood that would ruin the performance.
Baby Blue seemed to confirm my worst fears. David played a heavy
neanderthal drum beat which drew some cross looks from Bob, who in
turn seemed vocally uninterested and clueless on guitar . Perhaps
I'll have better luck at the blackjack tables later. You knew the
next song was coming, and so it did - Tangled. A step up from the
previous disaster, but something was missing (not the burner on the
stove verse). My wife thought she heard him mention Burger King in
Then out of nowhere, the guy who had been up there struggling to sing
Bob Dylan songs was gone and replaced by the man himself. Dylan offered
up one of the most beautifully sung Don't Think Twices that I have ever
heard, live or on tape. He took his time with the song letting every
word settle, and took us to a place where the song had meaning to every
one of us in the room, especially Bob. I'm not sure , but I think he may
have repeated a verse, but it didn't matter. He was on. The boys
switched over to their electric instruments and plugged in to give us
Country Pie. I have been dying to hear this since seeing it on set
lists and it did not disappoint. A good time rockin' treat.
Now when I had heard earlier that Bob had some equipment problems while
practicing, the first thing that struck me was - Bob practices? He
plays a million shows a year, and although I love them, his two note
solos don't seem all that technical. Well, he must have been
practicing Standing in the Doorway. He added leads at the end of each
vocal line, melodic flourishes in a bluesy style that were light years
away from anything I have ever seen him do. He also took a lead at the
end of one of the verses that had my jaw on the floor. Hopefully this
is the start of a new trend. Down in the Flood continued the amazing
guitar , but this time he left the duties to Charlie and Larry. This
was a new arraignment that I can only describe as blues-metal.
Smokin!!!! Next was a great version of Shooting Star. I don't know why
he doesn't play this one more, it was amazing. Wicked Messenger?
Wicked harp!!!! Bob sang this song as if possessed and ended it up on
his knees blowing the hell out of
his harmonica. The crowd went wild. Band intros (a joke about David not
being a doctor because he has no patience).The set ended with a slower
bluesier version of Leopardskin Pillbox Hat. Well done.
After a very brief walk off stage they returned with Things Have Changed.
A good version very faithful to the original. LARS got the crowd back up
on their feet, then we got a nice Mr Tambourine Man featuring some more
harp. Rainy Day Women was next, and featured an almost flamenco-like
intro from Larry(?). Again, a bluesier version with some nice guitar
work. They left the stage again, and I was sure the show was over, but
the crowd was still on their feet going wild. The band finally relented
and broke out a version of Blowin in the Wind that gave me goose bumps.
Amazing harmonies from Larry & Charlie complementing Bobs mind-blowing
Agony to ecstasy indeed.
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