Reviews

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Pearl Concert Theater At The Palms

July 16, 2011


[Phil Levine], [Myrna Morris], [Braulio Escobar], [V. Kinan]

Review by Phil Levine



Well--living in a city that has in the past few years gone from being the
fastest growing metropolis in America, to the foreclosure and unemployment
capital of these United States, those of us who call this odd burg, Las
Vegas, home can be excused for having lowered expectations these days.

And, of course, seeing His Bobness in concert here is always as risky a
venture as the gambling that is taking place outside the concert
theater--walking the high wire between "carpe diem" (given that our Hero
celebrated birthday number 70 this year)and caveat emptor. And every one, of
course, also brings with him or her their personal baggage to the show--in my
case, a pall that has for weeks hung over me with the recent passing of my mom
this spring.

And so, with that as the backdrop,  it was with a mixture of what I term as
"EAT" (expectation, anticipation and trepidation) that I took my pricey seat in
the third row, isle, for Bob's first Vegas show at the great Pearl concert
theater--a small venue, inside the Palms Casino and unlike some other LV venues,
specifically designed for more intimate concerts.

And though this was likely the shortest show (under 80 minutes) that I've
seen in 30 years of Bob shows, I am most pleased to report it was also one
of, if not the, best performance I've seen him give.

The set list was nothing outstanding, or even unusual--opening with a fine, if
well tread, version of Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat...but I've learned  from many
years of Bob-dom to, paraphrase, to not judge too soon for the wheel's still in
spin (after the first song or two) and there's no telling how he'll be playing.
Tonight was no exception to that rule.

Next up, a satisfactory version of "It Ain't Me Babe", featuring some great
chops from Charlie (can never say enough about how vastly talented that tall
Texan is & what a difference his contributions make to Bob's performance since
his return to Bob's band).

And then, like a stillness in the wind before the hurricane begins, just in time
for the aptly titled "Things Have Changed", they did.

A rollicking version of his Oscar winning ditty--with an articulation that
was quite astounding. Every word, no--syllable!-- was audible and sung with ease
and enjoyment, so much so that anyone near enough to the stage had many
opportunities to confirm that our favorite septuagenarian still has all his
choppers--as he smiled repeatedly. Picking up his axe,  Bob then dug into a
ferocious version of Beyond Here Lies Nothing--a song well suited to a great
blues bar band, which is, in essence, what Bob & His Rounders are these days.

Sugar Baby & Summer Days were next--songs I had seen him perform live
previously and never much enjoyed given his penchant to croak and mumble the
lyrics...until tonight. On this night, the band had to work to keep up with the
Old Guy In The Weird Hat, as he bopped and jived his way through both numbers.
By their conclusion, my jaw was quite chaffed, having dropped to the ground
repeatedly over the previous 15 minutes.

A nice version of Simple Twist of Fate followed...but it was only the "warm up"
for the one-two punch highlights of the evening that followed: by far the most
animated, bluesy, articulate and spirited version of Highway 61 I have ever
heard him deliver--so much so, that Bob actually acknowledged the crowds wild
cheers at the song's end by lifting  his arms a la 'Rocky' in victory.

And then, turning the mood on its head, what has become without a doubt THE
highlight of every live show I've seen in the past few years---Forgetful Heart.
Helen Keller would have been able to tell that this is a song that Bob realizes
is among his most masterful as he gives it all the respect it deserves in
concert. Every word is enunciated slowly, and the deep seated sense of loss that
both the lyrics and music convey is palpable--as others have said, this song
alone is worth the price of admission; without hyperbole, his song in concert is
a most memorable and moving musical moment


(And special note to the peons at the Wall Street Journal who recently
called on Bob to retire from live concerts; Forgetful Heart, in and of
itself,  proved again that their milquetoast publication should stick to
cheerleading for the pinstripe pirates of Wall Street and leave the creative
arts, and specifically commenting on the state of His Bobness to those of us who
actually have purchased a Bob record, or concert ticket, post 1974.)

But I digress.
Next up...Thunder on the Mountain..which was then followed by the set closer of
Ballad of A Thin Man--a song that Bob has breathed new life into in recent tours
and one that, surprisingly, seems as timely in today's "World Gone Wrong" as it
was when it was first written more than 4 decades ago.

Much to the amazement, and joy, of the crowd Bob then deigned to show his
gratitude for their enthusiasm, offering up a hardy and smiling "Thanks,
Friends!" to the crowd, before introducing the members of his illustrious
band. Although he was sweating profusely, he was indeed all smiles as the
band walked off stage...seeming to recognize that this was a far above
average night of performance....

He then reappeared a few minutes later, band in tow, for their encores (the
mandatory Like A Rolling Stone, a kickass crowd rousing version of Watchtower,
and an oddly whimsical, yet somewhat appealing version of Blowin' In The Wind.

All told...A short concert, but they say good things come in small packages. And
this wondrous performance proved that theory correct. Being as close to the
stage as I was, for the first time I bared witness to just how Time has vastly
changed Bob's countenance. He now, truly, looks like a cross between an old
Hasidic scholar and a carny whose been on the road, heading to one too many
joints over the course of the last five decades. But then if you are going to
judge an artist's value by his aesthetic appeal,  Justin Bieber and Britney
Spears would be among America's great national treasures-- instead of the hobo
from Hibbing--and we all know that's not the case.

This year, more than ever before, I urge one and all not to take for granted the
fact that one of the 20th (and 21st!) century's greatest artists is still
proffering himself in concert. Given what's recently taken place in my hometown,
and home, I can also confirm the validity of  His lyrical theory that "when you
think that you've lost everything, you find out you can always lose a little
more.."  And while as it is in Life, there are no guarantees as to what to
expect when His Bobness hits your town, if tonight was any indication of what to
expect, shame on those who dare call themselves music lovers if they pass on
even the possibility of seeing a show as magnificent, and munificent, as this 
one was.

Many thanks, Mr D, for providing an (albeit temporary) musical salve to the
battered soul of both myself.. and my town. As a wise man once musically
opined...May you* always* do for others...and let others do for you. Long may
you run. Happy Trails to you...until we meet again.

Phil Levine

[TOP]

Review by Myrna Morris



Last Night at The Palms and am feeling the blues. Just because I may not see him
again for another whole year. The waiting, the build up, then ... its over. But
his image is burned into my eyes. He looked even younger than last year. He wore
the black hat with the flat brim and a light red feather. Black suit with thin
white stripe and black and white spats which are actually boots.. I got a
glimpse. He was also messing with his pants a lot, putting his hand in his white
belt and moving his jacket around. His dancing and moves were too hot for me. I
had to scream a few times. Seriously he seems to be getting younger. He looked
about 40. My seat was right in front of the stage 3 rows back. At first we were
standin in our seats rockin, but sorry to say Bobs audience were mainly
geriatrics who would'nt stand up, and were complaining so the whole audience was
forced to sit until the encore. That was very difficult. The awesome set
included "Things Have Changed" which he sang so beautifully it broke my heart.
Forgetful Heart made me cry literally, the harmonica break just tore me up.
Charlie was in great form, although he looks really skinny, more than usual,
even not well. He was playful, at one point he rolled on his back on the floor.
He changed up the lyrics a bit on Simple Twist of Fate. Rollin Stone and Blowin
in the Wind was thrillin. He sang Watchtower like it was the first time he ever
sung it. Sitting in my seat to Highway 61 and Thunder on the Mountain, was truly
torture. I just love to dance at a Dylan gig, so I felt cheated by The Palms. I
had asked them if we can stand in our seats. they had said yes then wouldnt let
us. Still, it was wonderful, I was only 10 ft away quite a lot of the time.
Right in front of him. His vibe is so sweet, his voice sometimes that growl just
went right through me. On Highway 61 and a couple of other tracks they used an
echo which seemed to just echo his deepest voice. I cant explain but it was so
awesome.

[TOP]

Review by Braulio Escobar



Bob in Las Vegas. This is a difficult show to review. The venue, inside the
Pearl Concert Hall inside the Palms Casino, is new with a state of art sound
system. Inside the room prior to the show the mood was eerily quiet. The mainly
middle aged crowd bantered about getting their tickets on eBay, having seen Paul
McCartney last month, the good seats they had for......and going back and forth
to the bar. There was no tension in the air or excitement prior to Bob.

There was no pre show music over the PA or the incense from the stage. Only the
Oscar on the stage near Bobís piano and the crooked eye backdrop letting me know
Dylan was in the house. After the customary.......ladies and gentlemen, Columbia
Recording artist, Bob Dylan, the band walks on stage to a decent cheer as they
go to work with Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat.

What immediately struck me was how clear the music was without distortion You
could clearly hear Bob, his phrasing and nuisances. Best of all the sound was
clear enough to make out the subtleties  in the instrumentation. It seemed like
Bob and company were working to overcome the Las Vegas  crowd. I was in the 6th
row and the lady besides me kept poking people in the 5th row to sit down.....go
figure.

There were several real treats. Bob was stage center with a guitar during Beyond
 Here Lies Nothing. He takes off on some crazy weird soloing that had Charlie
getting out of the way, musically.  A few songs later during Simple Twist of
Fate, Charlie and Bob trade  guitar solos back and forth that even had mainstay
Tony Garnier grinning like a kid in the candy shop. The band was hot that night
and having fun. 

I really liked the band when Bob had both Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell
playing with him. The current line up is hardened by time on the road and an
endless series of show around the world and is approaching the greatness of the
Larry Campbell set of musicians. As Bob sings, heís in a cowboy band. They were
great. His is 70. Catch him (again) before it all ends.

Donít your Dare Miss It!!!

[TOP]

Review by V. Kinan



Just to add to the 2 posted reviews; the show at the Pearl was simply  
spectacular. I've seen Bob about a dozen times starting in 1987. Since that 
first show with Tom Petty at Great Woods MA, my expectations were always so high
 & he never disappointed.But the last 2 times I've seen him in Vegas, I felt 
let down. Plus, I'd brought my son who is now 20. Rob's I-Pod contains Eminem  &
Dylan & nothing else....huh? Well there we were on Saturday night at  the Palms
trying to score 2 ducats to see Mr. D. (knowing it's probably the last  & hoping
to catch lightening in a bottle). This was Robs 3rd time  seeing Bobby D & as
previously stated the last 2 just didn't go well,  (possibly our expectations
were too high). This time though, I told Rob, I  don't care what he sings or
what arrangements he brings to the songs, I just  want to feel that old magic.
Well, we ran into a very nice "ticket agent" in  front of the Pearl. After 3
minutes of tough negotiation I had our tickets 2 for  140.00 (70.000 each) reg
priced 196.00 each) Oh Boy!!!. 1st the Band, oh, the  Band solid from start to
finish, 2nd, the set-list, oh, the set-list, a great  mix of songs, just look at
it.And then there was Bob, enjoying the  hell out of himself & the crowd, (I was
yelling at my Son. look at Bob move,  leg twists, smiling, keyboard pounding,
harmonica playing, guitar strumming,  smooth singing ( I'm not lying--more
singing than phrasing & it was smooth)  and yes even a little primping. For
everyone out there I can tell you this:  Bobby D came into Vegas & breathed life
into this town, albeit for 90  minutes & kicked ass. See him while you can. As
my Son & I left the  venue a security guard asked me "how was the show", I said
great & she asked  "could you understand him singing"? I told her "every single
word....almost". 
 When we got to the car, Rob told me, " Dad, I'm taking you to the next 
Eminem  show".....oh boy.

V. Kinan
fenwayvin1@aol.com 

[TOP]

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