August 16, 2008
Review by Howard Weiner
PORTRAIT OF A TIMELESS LEGEND ON FIRE
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson would have been touched with Desire during that Mr.
Tambourine Man - his favorite jingle scrambled anew, crazy inspiration
flowing with madness that would have terrified E. A, Poe. Dylan was
hurling himself at the keyboards during Mississippi, the fourth song. His
vocals were fiery and animated, that’s an understatement. In addition to
reports of him sparing in the ring in Mexico City, Bob looks like he’s
been hitting the nautilus room on the Tour Bus. I swear he looked
fantastic in his black suit and grey top hat. A full moon beamed down on
Atlantic City, Dylan had IT going on - we bought the ticket and took the
ride. Four years in a row Dylan has been at the pinnacle of his creative
powers while performing at the Borgata Hotels Spa & Casino. Every song was
a treat. Make You Feel My Love really stood out in the seventh spot,
easily the best version I’ve heard, full of tender harp blowing and
beautiful vocal cadence. The Cowboy Band blew the ending to a smoking
version of Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, but Dylan played right through the
premature ending. Swaying back and forth like a pendulum, Bob loped into a
twisted Visions of Johanna. It was a musical bonanza - all over the place,
a true recreation of a masterpiece. I ran into a friend, bought her a
beer, and she led me to a 4th row seat left-center. Dylan was waiting for
me with a poignant version of Lenny Bruce. Ghosts and visions from another
lifetime guided Dylan all evening. The set ending Highway 61/ Aint Talkin/
Thunder on the Mountain destroyed me. I’ve never seen a more confident
look from the Maestro, he was completely in his element performing before
the affluent Borgata people. Aint Talkin and Thunder back to back -
Magnificent. Yeeh ha, yip yip yahoo. A lot of TLC was put into every
aspect of this set. I can’t say I’ve ever been more entertained. Denny
Freeman had a great second jam in Watchtower. I’d like to continue this
screed, but the battery on my laptop is dying. It’s four AM and I’m on a
packed bus headed back to New York City. I just kind of scraped the
surface here, it was a performance that exceeded all expectations,
something only a Dylan can dare dream. Somebody’s tambourine or bells has
been a rat -tat -tat tattling since we left AC.I gotta go, but I gotta
rave on about this night, so mid-week I’ll post more on my blog. Shabbot
Comments by Joanie
I am still glowing from the show last night! After reading the set list
from the 15th, I was jealous and a little disappointed thinking we would
get a pretty standard show. NOT that I would have minded, I am happy to
see Bob perform anything, anytime anywhere. In my heart of hearts I was
hoping for Shelter from the storm, maybe Stuck inside of Mobile. I never
dared hope for Visions of Johanna much less MR.Tambourine Man. He could
have stopped after the second song and I would have gone home happy. WE
knew from the opening that it was not to be same old, same old and it just
got better. Lenny Bruce! I Don't Believe You!. I won't comment on the
sound, arrangements or anything else because they don't matter. Just to
see Bob perform these gems live made my year. Thanks Bob !! Please don't
Review by Trevor Hinson
There should have been a disclaimer posted on the Borgata Event Center’s
doors: “Warning: This concert is for hard-core Dylan fanatics
only. No casual fans allowed.” While I was thoroughly satisfied by
this show, I can completely understand why people with only a small
understanding of Bob’s catalog would be disappointed. For the die hard
Dylan fan: What an impressive setlist! While I can certainly do
without the ones I’ve seen a lot (You Go Your Way, Tweedle Dee, Honest
With Me), he more than made up for it with a bunch of rare gems (Johanna,
Lenny Bruce, Hollis Brown).
While this was my 46th or 47th Dylan show, it was the first (and probably
only) for my wife, who is not a Dylan fan by any measure. I was shocked
when I heard her say about 4 or 5 songs in: “We are in the presence of
greatness.” While she didn’t know hardly any of the songs or
understand the words, she could sense that someone extremely special was
in the room. That completely made my night.
My seats were pretty good. I was in the 8th row all the way to the left,
the side that Bob plays to nowadays. There was one annoyance though 0
that microphone and mike stand that it’s in the middle of the stage that
Bob never uses. It was blocking my view of his face and about halfway
through I couldn’t take it anymore and just moved to the far left aisle
– where I had a great view of him and stayed there for the rest of the
show – even made it to the rail during the encores! Anyway, here is a
quick review of the songs played:
Very surprising in the opening slot, but a great way to kick off the
night. Since it wasn’t Rainy Day Women I already got the impression
that this would not be a standard show.
Started and closed it with a very powerful harp solo, he left out a few
verses but I think people were just happy to hear him play such a well
known and loved song.
THINGS HAVE CHANGED
Very similar to the studio version and live versions from the past 8
years. It’s kinda rare to hear this one nowadays and Bob pretty much
nailed all the words.
Major surprise – I was completely overjoyed to hear this one. Once
again Bob got all the words and the music was very inspiring – way
better than the L&T version. Bob sang this one with confidence and
vengeance and the band did an awesome cresendo close to it.
YOU GO YOUR WAY
I’ve heard this one in concert too many times to give any kind of
objective review of this particula r performance. I sat down for this
one didn’t pay too close attention to it.
Stood back up for this one! Bob used the lower, scarier parts of this
voice and once again nailed all the words. The lighting for this one was
equally spooky. The musicians were plodding along but letting Bob’s
voice ride this one out. Excellent A+!
MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE
This is one of my wife’s favorite Dylan songs and I was so glad he
played it. We both stood up and swayed to the music during this one.
It was absolutely beautiful – probably the highlight for me of the whole
night. Excellent harp playing on this one – not just one or two notes
but an extremely lovely melody.
Bathroom break song. It was a good version of this from what I could
hear but I honestly wish Bob would stop playing this one live.
Holy crap! Pretty amazing that he picked out one of his best and
rarely-played tunes. You know you’re at a special show when you’re
treated to Visions of Johanna. His performance of it was solid, but in
my humble opinion, a little too raspy for all of its intricate wordplay.
The music was similar to his versions of recent years.
HONEST WITH ME
While I am really tired of hearing this one live, I did enjoy it because
of its new arrangement. The music is very subdued during the parts where
he si ngs the verse and then they really let loose during the instrumental
breaks. I’d by lying if I didn’t say I miss Larry Campbell and his
amazing slide guitar he used to play on this.
When he played this one, I just kept thinking to myself, “Holy crap,
I’ve never seen so many rarely played songs in one night.” Bob
delivered this one with passion and confidence. Once again he got all
the words to it and it was just so unbelievably beautiful. He did change
the line from “It was only for a mile and a half” to “It was only
for a couple of miles – seemed like it took a couple of months.” The
rewrite seemed better than the original because of the couple of
miles/couple of months pairing. Nice job Bobby!
I DON’T BELIEVE YOU
Once again another extremely rarely-played song. What’s going on
here? I read another review that it was a full moon. If that’s the
case see Bob whenever you can during a full moon because that’s when he
pulls out all the deeper cuts! I don’t remember much about this song,
other than there were times where he sang it very staccato. And if ….
Anybody …. asks me …. it is …. easy to …. for-get!
I was much happier with this rocker than Summer Days, this one was
absolutely awesome and it was great to see everybody dancing and having
a great time. It’s the same version that’s been played recently but
the band was really smoking during this one.
I couldn’t believe that the first Modern Times song was towards the end,
I was expecting (and maybe hoping for) Spirit on the Water, When The Deal
Goes Down ect. lacing the set early on. It was at this point that I saw
some couples walking out of the venue. I guess they had enough of
unrecognizable songs. I honestly wasn’t that impressed with Bob’s
performance of it. Some of the words were not song clearly and I think
he could have been more careful with this singing and phrasing. The
band, however, really rocked on this one, especially during the choruses.
THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN
Bob’s voice may have needed a break because his singing on this was
atrocious. It was extremely lazy – he was at least vocally throwing
the song away – but the band more than made up for it by an extended jam
at the end and really kicked into 5th gear. Great set closer!
At this point a lot of the crowd rushes the stage and my wife and I were
lucky enough to get right up front and had a great view of Bob.
Great performance of it – definitely a crowd pleaser and a highlight for
myself as well as everybody else. After a set full of such rarities it
was very satisfying to hear such a well known song to cleanse the pa
llet. I love how at the end all the music stops and all you hear is
Bob’s voice sing “Like a rolling stone.” Excellent from start to
Pretty standard version of this but delivered powerfully. Excellent jam
and tribute to the great Jimi Hendrix. I was hoping for Blowin’ to
close the show but that was it.
Overall, it was a wonderful show and I left feeling completely
satisfied. I just couldn’t help but feel bad for the more casual,
un-obsessed fans. I overheard some negative comments on the way out and
even on the casino floor. Stuff like “his voice is shot” and “I
couldn’t understand a word of it.” Oh well, maybe they’ll heed my
advice and put up the disclaimer I suggested.
Keep on keepin’ on Bob – we love you.
Review by Brian Slattery
Returning from the Connecticut woods, I thought a lot about the fifth
and probably final show I would be seeing this summer. All four shows so
far had been amazing. The MGM Grand show was phenomenal. It easily
rates in my top five live Bob experiences. The set list was a surprise,
and the performances were superb, even sublime. So I made my way from
Connecticut to New Jersey thinking about the upcoming show, wondering if
it would be just as amazing, great but with a standard set list, or a let
down after the power and prowess Bob demonstrated at the MGM show. I was
hopeful that Bob would knock another one out of the park, but there was
no way of knowing for sure what was in store. Was Friday’s set list an
anomaly? Would we go back to amazing but predictable shows? Or would
he surprise us yet again? After sitting in Parkway traffic for over three
hours, I finally made it to the Borgata. I gambled for a while, just to
kill the time before Bob, and then met with several fellow Bobsters. We
had a drink, I talked about the phenomenal performance of the night
before, and then we each made our way to our seats, after agreeing to
meet after the show for a drink. I think I knew it was going to be another
special night when I recognized the second song was “Mr. Tambourine
Man.” “Mississippi” in the fourth slot made me certain Bob had thrown
out the old playbook and was calling an audible again tonight. By
the time Bob began “Ballad of Hollis Brown” I was already blown away.
And after the powerful, haunting, almost frightening performance of this
song, I was floored. Bob’s vocals on this were the strongest I can
remember hearing in a very long time. Last night’s “I Believe In
You” had similarly strong vocals. Both were stand-out performances.
In “Hollis Brown” the drums came in and created what sounded to me
like a pulse in your brain building and building until it would drive you mad.
It drove the song, reminding me of “The Tell-tale Heart.” The pulsating
growing in your ears until it was all-consuming. It put you inside Hollis
Brown’s mind. It was at once disturbing, frightening, amazing, and
stunning. And it wasn’t nearly the end. “Make You Feel My Love” was
touching, with some great harp work throughout. “Tweedle Dee &
Tweedle Dum” is born anew, mainly thanks to the two jams Bob and the
boys have introduced in the middle of the song. Then, as if none of this
were enough, Bob told us of escapades out on the D train, regaling us
with my personal favorite, “Visions of Johanna.” As often is the case wit
this song, I am left without words to describe it. Let me just say that if
Bob ended the show at that moment, I would have been satisfied.
However, Bob had more to give us this night. “Lenny Bruce” was the
biggest surprise of the night, and it was beautifully performed, as well.
“Ain’t Talkin’” took us on a journey through a fallen world, only to be
taken to the mountain top to hear the thunder next. Like last night,
Bob moved “Thunder On the Mountain” to the set closer, which I think
works well. The encores were crowd pleasers and very well performed.
“Like A Rolling Stone” is always a treat to hear, and while I’ve heard
“All Along the Watchtower ” dozens of times, Bob and the boys rocked
on it, bringing another phenomenal show to a close. I like how he
introduced the band the last two nights before “Watchtower,” playing
the organ as he did so; it sounded like he was playing at a church or
revival. I was waiting for Bob to testify. Then I realized he just had for
the past two hours. He testified to his amazing ability to mystify, amaze,
entertain, and keep us guessing after all this time. Can I get an ‘amen’?
If you have any questions or comments, or just want to talk ‘Bob’, get in
touch, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, you can check out the NYC Dylan Meetup page on Myspace.
Keep On Keepin’ On,
Brian J. Slattery
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