page by Bill Pagel
Review by James Coffey
The spirit of Elvis, Bob Dylan in the Highlands, Stateline NV
When I first saw that Bob would be playing at Harrah's Lake Tahoe I had
two thoughts, one was having lived in South Lake Tahoe for a couple of
years in the mid 80's i knew i didn't want to miss this show, (i was
pretty sure it was Bob's first time playing there), and the second was
that I knew Elvis had played there on on comeback return to live
performing, Vegas and Tahoe. And I knew that Bob knew that as well and i
was sure it prompted him to play there.
So i let the Berkeley (i still have the unused ticket from the 88
and Sacramento pass by, and called in when tickets went on sale and got a
seat for the early show. It was a beautiful day for the drive up
from San Luis Obispo, and almost one year to the day since my last show in
Santa Barbara last October. I called in last week to see where my seat
would be and was told it was row 3 to the right of the stage. I was
excited about this show, besides the reasons mentioned, since i've seen
the new song additions and the use of Keyboards. in my review last year i
mentioned that it would be nice to see Bob play the piano again. well its
not a standard upright, but the electric piano will do just fine.
When i entered the showroom and found my place it was actually the 2nd row
and Bob's keyboard was facing right at us about 15 feet away. With
the dimming of the lights and the 'new' usual announcement Bob hit the
stage and launched into "seeing the real you at last". I knew this was the
3rd night in a row, and thought going in that Bob might be a tad tired.
but those thoughts were quickly put to rest. He was full of energy and
sang the words with clarity and conviction, and had some nice footwork to
boot. And i want to add that "i swear he did look great" This
was the first chance i've had to see Bob up close in quite some time and
i've heard a lot of talk of him "showing his age" etc. well let me tell
you ,He looks Good, and fit as well, and last night whatever age he was it
didn't matter because all i saw was - young. forever young. he carries
himself with such youthful energy and grace. NOW, to honest i cant
remember if it was after Lay lady Lay when he spoke or Tombstone blues
(funny how you forget those things) but i'll say the 2nd song, but that's
when Bob said "thank you, and then said "that it was nice to be playing at
the same place where Elvis played on his comeback" we waited for a second
or two for him to go on, then there were a few shouts from the crowd and
Bob heard one of them (i didn't, it came from the other side, and he
responded with a shy laugh, the one we've seen before and it was really a
rather sweet moment. With such a small comfortable
theater and only a 3 foot stage it was rather easy to hear shouts between
songs. This was a polite and appreciative audience. i seem to get those at
the shows i go to. Well after the mention of Elvis my thoughts were
confirmed, and Elvis was back in the building, and it added to Bob's
energy. The tribute to Warren Zevon adds a new dimension and Bob
gives it much respect with outstanding renditions. Not Fade Away was
cookin in the 6th slot. it fits well there. Bob almost played harmonica
during 'just like a woman', well he did play it, but off mike, just didn't
feel like givin it the full treatment. The show wound up with a very
sweet and moving "Knockin on heavens Door" and a blistering "All Along the
Watchtower". Once again another tremendous performance from the
ultimate performer. I dont know how long this tour will continue and Bob
will keep performing, but as long as he does, i'll keep showin up.. God
Review by Kathleen
My top three thrills in seeing Bob Dylan and his band in a casino are 1)
Casino shows usually seem to be heavier than average on Nashville Skyline
songs (Tahoe=check) 2) Casino shows seem to have Not Fade Away (or some
rocker) pretty often, and security usually will let people dance in the
back (Tahoe=check) and 3) I get to wear casino clothes I can't wear
anywhere else and pretend I am in a 70s James Bond-type movie (check mark
for Tahoe, of course.)
These shows were a ball! A portion of the crowd were not necessarily
people who see Dylan shows regularly (on the once every 25 year plan), so
they were excited before and gleeful after the shows. The regulars were
all there chatting it up with each other in this small space which created
a very party-like atmosphere. There were some high rollers who had won
tickets and who didn't seem to care much about who was playing, which
annoyed some of the faithful following who had not been able to get good
seats. I thought it added to the ambiance. One weird point on the venue,
though, I am not sure how the casino divvies out the tickets–it seemed
that they had saved a lot to give away (rumors of up to 50%), but somehow
these tickets were not used. There were many empty seats in the back
section, which was strange–those seats probably could have been sold ahead
of time. (For the venue curious, I would also say that the sound was a
little squished and muddy in this place. You just didn't get near the
separation that you get at the outside or larger shows. Not terrible, but
not my favorite venue for sound.)
So onto the show...
Usual music. Usual intro, the combo of the long goofy one followed by our
welcoming Columbia Recording Artist, Bob Dylan.
They guys were in various grey outfits (non-matching), and Bob was in a
black suit with a silver wheat chaff pattern in straight lines up the
front of the top and sides of the pants. The guys were placed quite close
together on this small, low stage. (‘could even see Charlie's fabled
white boots which are usually not visible to me in the front where I
stand.) They all seemed focused.
The rundown on the sound and sights:
Seeing the Real You at Last--Here goes yet another arrangement that was
very rocked up and sounded like the Rolling Stones. I have never liked
this song until now–it has so much spunk now. Plus, I kept hearing
"Satisfaction" in my head during it. In my opinion, the rockier the
better. Loved it as an opener.
Lay Lady Lay-Bob honky-tonk pianoing it. Quite nice all around.
Tombstone Blues: To me this is a strange arrangement of both the lyrics
and the music, saved by Bob's jazzy keyboard-jamming, Larry hitting some
heavy metal chords, and everyone using guitar effects to create some
interest. I'd call it a rumbling version of it. (Maybe it was the
acoustics of the place?) I probably will say this in every review, and it
doesn't just seem to be me who has notices, but Charlie is way down in the
mix compared to everyone else.
Even watching his fingers sometimes I find it hard to hear him. Someone in
the know needs to check this out, it's been like this since August.
Accidentally Like a Martyr– this song is so natural in the Dylan concert
repertoire, I hope it stays for a long time. I like how they really slow
down on those key change bridge areas of the song, much slower so than on
Warren Zevon's studio version.
Sometime along in here Bob said something like it was good to be back,
which is so much more than he usually says, I am thinking the call
everyone has made of more accessibility without the cowboy hat could be
Watch the River Flow– Bluesy as expected. Larry with a nice solo here and
everywhere the entire night.
Not Fade Away– maybe I'm breaking code here liking Bob doing covers. I
like this one especially because it has the Buddy Holly vibe, the Dead
contact high, and Bob and his fantastic band's cosmic force all rolled
into one. I hadn't ever noticed his changing to the more egalitarian,
"my" love for you has got to be real (instead of the "your")... dunno if I
have just been dancing too wildly at this for the past few years to the
exclusion of listening or if it was new. Anyway, it's always a dancer's
delight when this one is played.
Girl From the North Country– This was gorgeous, that's all there is to
It's Alright Ma– This rock arrangement really sounds mysterious, although
the person sitting next to me for the second show said to try the word,
"edgy." Whatever the word, it is a winning adaptation.
Just Like a Woman– The guys were totally riding the waves in this song,
Bob stretching out the words (...like it was yuuuurrrr whirrrrlllled).
For the pedal steel, my notes just say, "ohh ahhhh". They also say that
George (who from my angle was in every frame Bob was in in my binoculars,
so I watched him the entire show) was very intense the entire night. This
wasn't a smiling George night as have been reported (and as I have seen)
in the past few months, though his drumming is right on.
Lawyers, Guns, and Money–Glad I got to hear this one done by Bob.
Something about the look in his eye and his delivery of the lines in this
song ("I'm an innocent bystander....") made it both serious and silly at
the same time.
Baby Blue– ‘Had a different more choppy arrangement than this summer.
Old Man– As in several of the covers of the night, Bob had a lot of
feeling when he sang this one. He had lightening bolts of wisdom coming
out of his eyes on some of the lines... "give me things that won't get
lost..." He did some marvelous walk/falling backwards moves that had the
crowd revved up. (His rock star moves and poses at this show and the next
were in rare form.)
Rainy Day Women– Crowd continued at an even higher rev. (Those people who
hadn't seen Bob since the ‘70s were getting emotional here.) Nice job by
the band, pretty much everyone was taking solos chock full of triplets,
Charlie drawing on his blues pedigree. George was smiling by now, thank
Knockin' on Heaven's Door– Like the summer arrangements, I'd say. Charlie
and Bob both with some nice solos.
Watchtower– Brought down the house.
Splendid show, and the best thing for many of us was that this was only an
intermission in one long night of musical bliss!
page by Bill Pagel
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