October 18, 2009
Review by Howard Weiner
I've been to the East and I've been to the West and I've been all around the
world and I've seen Bob Dylan perform 100 times.
The Joint, at the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas was the sight of my
100th Dylan concert. My first Dylan concert was in Buffalo on July 4 1986 in
Orchard Stadium. The Grateful Dead opened for Dylan and blew me away with a Cold
Rain & Snow>Fire On the Mountain>Samson and Delilah. I wasn't a huge Dylan fan
at the time. I remember he was wore a vest with no shirt and Tom Petty& the
Heartbreakers was his band. I left the concert early, hitched a ride to the
airport, and made my plane a minute before the 747 began to taxi on down the
runway. The Hard Rock was the perfect venue for my anniversary. Photos of
legendary musicians surrounded the casino and classic rock filled the air, as
well as that sun-tan lotion scent is pumped into swank casinos. It was a serene
contrast to the usual clink-clanking and bell ringing of slot machines that must
be endured in most gambling dens. The Hard Rock also attracts many beautiful
women in snug-fitting designer dresses who have a predilection for flaunting
their cleavage as they strut around in high heels. The Joint was a classy yet
banal venue with a long bar inside. You could enjoy your favorite cocktail from
the bar without missing a howl from Dylan. There was a dance floor in front of
the stage with limited seating in the back and some VIP balconies. It was
decided that the band would wear beige jackets with their black pants. Dylan
appeared in his usual black suit with grey trim and matching black cowboy hat.
He opened on keyboards with a zesty Leopard-Skin Pillbox, possibly the best
Pillbox I've ever seen. Bob's artistic mode was adventurous. He glided over to
the center of the stage with his harp in hand and serenaded us with Man in Me.
His vocals rumbled The Joint and his harp blasts pierced ears. Donnie Herron
blew some nice trumpet riffs. I believe the last time I saw Man in Me was at the
Orange County Fair in Middletown, N.Y. back in September of 1988. Bob picked
some electric with the guitar neck held high on Don't Think Twice. Sexton and
Dylan had a freewheeling musical exchange on the final solo. The energy barreled
forward into a carefree romp through Beyond Here Lies Nothin'. Spirit on the
Water slowed things down, then the night got weird, in a satisfying way. I
eased my way up front through the sparse crowd which may not have even numbered
1000. This poor turnout did little for the audience X-factor on the music, but
it made everything seem extemely mysterious and surreal. Dylan went back to lead
singer mode during a haunting Forgetful Heart which was even more stripped down
and raw than the studio track. It was my first Forgetful Heart, and a
performance that will forever be etched in my brain. Dylan stood his ground
center stage leading His Band through Tweedle Dee as Stu and Charlie traded
leads. A disorganized Beyond the Horizon followed. Dylan can't seem to make this
one stick. A new arrangement of Cold Irons Bound was admirable as Bob sang and
played harp center stage. His hand held mic looked like a tiny club as he
stalked the stage like a caveman on the hunt. Though I was thrilled to see it,
Tryin' to Get To Heaven sounded a bit lost at first, but after Dylan's head
jarring harp solo, the final two verses flowed manificently. This performance
magnified everything that is great about live Dylan. After walking the
tightrope, the band blasted off on a sure thing, Highway 61. This rendition had
it all: soul, funk, blues, tempo changes, and deep knee bends from the maestro -
Cowboy Band Rock and Roll. A rare and sensational Po Boy ensued. Dylan's cadence
and vocal delivery was flawless. Thunder on the Mountain roared with it's usual
majesty. I was awe-struck during Dylan's presentation of Ballad of a Thin Man as
he strolled the cat walk and sang with as much power and commitment as I 've
ever heard. The encores came off like they do every night. Dylan sprouted off
some extra comments about Stu Kimball after introducing him, something about Stu
playing baseball, but I was too liquored-up at the time to remember. One
hundred shows. Like so many before it was brilliant, mysterious and weird,
leaving me hungry for more. Number 101 will be at the United Palace in NYC,
unless I get the itch and head up to Boston the week before.
Review by Michael Mishak
Bob Dylan soars ‘in full croak’ with Las Vegas show
Aging rock ‘n’ roll poet laureate’s lyrics prove lasting and relevant
Bob Dylan smiled.
There he was, the self-styled cowboy drifter, poet laureate of rock 'n' roll,
fronting a five-piece band at the Joint Sunday night, playing some down-home
rockabilly blues and breathing new life into classics that got the
middle-aged-office-job crowd swinging their hips and shaking
some serious tail.
By any measure, it was a knockout. And Dylan, who celebrated his 68th
birthday in May, seemed to love every minute of it.
By the third song, a reworked, slow-burning "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright,"
Dylan, dressed in black suit and hat, was grinning at the tale of failed love he
penned 46 years ago. My friend turned to me and said his voice sounded like
"it has been put through a meat grinder." That meat grinder is called life --
chased with a steady diet of cigarettes, booze and world tours. For better
or worse, this is Dylan, as a colleague put it, "in full croak," and the songs are
as relevant as ever.
Time and the recession have given new meaning to lines like, "Something is
happening here/But you don't know what it is."
In nearly two hours time, Dylan and his band pounded (and there is no other
word for it) through 17 songs, drawing heavily from his last three records,
which gave the whole set a Mississippi Delta vibe. Dylan stationed himself
behind an electronic keyboard for most of the set, but came out front
occasionally to play harp and sing. (For the record, Dylan has said he just
can't find someone who plays piano the way he wants.) Even behind the
keys, it was clear he thrived on the music, leaning into the notes.
That's a marked departure from the first time I saw Dylan perform a decade
ago. In 1999, he played a double-bill with Paul Simon in Camden, N.J. The
two dueted on "The Sounds of Silence" and Dylan flubbed the lyrics, singing
the same verse twice. When he did his own set, things didn't get much
better. A friend and Dylan fanatic Sorry.
Two years later, I saw him at the old Spectrum in Philadelphia, fresh off recording
"Love And Theft," the second masterwork in what many consider to be a modern
trilogy. He was good, if removed. The set list was stellar, but something seemed to
Sunday night, everything clicked, starting with the opening cut, a slow-shuffling
"Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat." Dylan emerged from behind the keys to play harp on
"The Man In Me," then guitar on "Don't Think Twice," and then it was into the
Tex-Mex stomp of "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'."
On "Spirit in the Water," from 2006's "Modern Times," Dylan sang, "You think I'm
over the hill/You think I'm past my prime/Let me see what got/We can have a
whoopin' good time." Everyone did -- even the guy crowing into a cell phone about
catastrophic life insurance in the will-call line.
Each song built on the next. And then it got loud. "Highway 61 Revisited" was a
revelation, punctuated by treble guitar. Three songs later, Dylan was pointing and
gesturing the verses of "Ballad of a Thin Man," ripping into a killer harp solo. A short
break, and the band was back playing "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the
There it was, life -- its ups, downs and in-betweens. Dylan may croak, but his lines
Submitted to Bob Links by Michael Mishak
Las Vegas SUN
Review by Sergio Zurita
It was a thing of beauty listening to Bob Dylan sing about “trying to get to heaven”
right in the middle of Sin City, officially known as Las Vegas, Nevada, this past Sunday.
The concert took place at The Joint, a venue for 2,000 people located inside the
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, one of the most compelling arguments about rock & roll
being nothing but a money machine.
Well, it was in that cultural desert, built upon an actual desert, that Bob Dylan decided
to give the best concert I’ve seen of him since November 2001, when I started to go
to every show that my time and money allow (this was my 47th, if I’m not mistaken.)
The night before, Bob took center-stage –as he has been doing since guitarist Charlie
Sexton rejoined the band a few weeks ago. Without the protection of the guitar
across his chest nor the safety net of his keboard trenches, Dylan had only one
resource at hand: his singing voice. And, by God, does he know how to use it.
This is going to sound crazy for people who only like the sound of pristine vocal chords,
but Bob Dylan is one of the greatest singers in the world. His voice is incredibly
expressive and evocative, and he can really interpret a song and transmit images and
emotions through it.
The night before Vegas, at the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix, he sang “Workingman’s
Blues #2? with all his might, making it the perfect song to describe these hard times.
The lines “Some people never worked a day in their life/ Don’t know what work even
means” had a very deep resonance with that evening’s audience of farmers and
agricultors whose governments tell them that “low wages are a reality if we want to
But it wasn’t just the right time and place that made the song so powerful. It was the
way Dylan sang it, with great feeling and masterful technique, modulating his voice from
notes of deep melancholy to dry indignation.
His very expressive hands added the right amount of drama to the song, making the
singer look like the working man of the title and also, at times, like a scarecrow in an
abandoned farm, telling the whole story to no one but the wind.
But I digress. We are again Las Vegas this past Sunday, at THE concert. It began with
business as usual, with an ass-kicking “Leopard -Skin Pill-Box Hat”. The extremely good
looking and extremely talented Charlie Sexton is the frontman. Bob is on the right of
the stage, playing keyboards.
Half of the jewelry-incrusted collar of his shirt is inside his jacket, the other half is not.
(I mention this because in every single concert, in between songs, Dylan is constantly
tucking his curly hair inside his hat and/or straightening his clothes.)
But this time he doesn’t seem to mind the asimetry of his look. In fact, I don’t think he
could care less.
For the second song, he takes center-stage again. But instead of the sadness of
“Workingman’s Blues #2?, he sings “The Man In Me”, one of his sexiest creations. What
happens then is hard to describe without superlative phrases: Dylan swings and croons
the song, he smiles at the audience in complicity, he moves his hands with masculine
gracefulness. He sounds like a Dust Bowl Sinatra, like Dean Martin’s smoother brother,
like a pale Sammy Davis, Jr.
In other concerts, Dylan in Vegas was an oximoron. But on Sunday, he was as in place
there as Bugsy Siegel at the Flamingo.
In “Forgetful Heart”, the haunting ballad of Together Through Life, Dylan became Sinatra
again. The darkest Sinatra, the Wee-Small-Hours-Of-The-Morning Frank. At that moment,
you knew that behind the tinsel, we were in the middle of nowhere, rolling around like
In “Spirit on the Water”, Dylan sang that he “can’t go back to paradise no more” ’cause
he “killed a man back there“. And later on the show, he tried “to get to heaven before
they close the door“.
The truth is this: in Las Vegas, the city closest to hell, everyone who went to see and
hear Bob Dylan on Sunday was accepted back in paradise and got into heaven, at least
for a little while.
Review by Phil Levine
Well, it has been just over a year since The Hibbing Hobo last
visited our Fair City.
And, my oh my, what a difference a year makes.
Since His Bobness’ last visit to Sin City (a.k.a. ‘My City of Ruins’, with
apologies to The Boss) much has indeed changed.
Of course, the financial tsunami hit, big time, last fall giving the term
"Vegas craps" an unintended, and unwelcome, double entendre.
In addition, the Hard Rock Hotel’s old ‘Joint’ where Bob played several
times over the last decade closed earlier this year, only to reopen with
twice the capacity (yes, timing is everything.)
So given those two changes, it should come as no surprise that tonight’s Bob
Show was not sold out. Not even close. The Joint was probably, at most, three
quarters full. But then, you don't need a full house (or a weatherman) to know
which way the show goes.
All that’s by way of background…the REAL news of the night was of course the
performance—180 degrees different than last year’s lackluster showing. This
year, unlike last year's Vegas show, the songs seemed to *matter *not only to
the audience, but to the singer.
And for that we have two words to thank: CHARLIE SEXTON.
Don’t let anyone tell you that one talented man and his guitar can’t make a
Charlie was inded the musical spark to Bob’s ‘plug’ tonight, as he moved
around on bended knee, wailing on the Stratocaster, simply reigniting The
Master. The rest of the band also seemed to take their musical cues from
Charlie as much as Bob.
Mr D was so attuned to his tunes on Sunday that he was actually smiling,
quite often, in addition to doing his now renown ‘Bob Jig’ (copyright!)
multiple times throughout the evening.
From the opening strains of the old warhorse Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat (hey,
those kids just love Jackie O references!) to Bob’s playing of some tasty guitar
(GUITAR! Bob! What a concept!) on Don’t Think Twice to, what for this listener,
was *the* momentous musical moment of the evening—a heartfelt rendition of the
great Forgetful Heart, off his most recent CD, it was indeed a night to
*“The door has closed forever more….(*he growled) *if indeed there ever WAS a
Somewhere Howlin’ Wolf was smiling.
Another magic moment was found during a crystal clear rendition of ‘Trying
To Get To Heaven’ off of Time Out of Mind.
“*They tell me everything is going to be alright…but I don’t know what
“alright” even means…”* he growled, expressing the exact sentiment shared by a
vast majority of denizens of this town as we muddle through these Hard Times.
Another wondrous moment of the evening was on a truly righteous, and
thunderous, rendition of Highway 61.**
*“The next time you see me coming, you better run!!!!”* the Bard warned us, and
for a moment one could be excused for forgetting whether it was God or Bob who
was being quoted…come to think of it, is there really much difference on nights
such as these?
One last notable note was struck with a thundering rendition of the timeless
“Ballad of A Thin Man.” Bob seems to have rediscovered some sort of timely
meaning in this one--though of course it would be pointless to try to discern
what that meaning was.
Still, something was indeed, “happening here” and though Mr. Jones might not be
sure of what it was, the rest of us were just enjoying the ride. Sizzling guitar
solos and great harp playing by Mr D.
Yes, the show was relatively brief (less than two hours) but sometimes great
things do indeed come in small packages.
The encore seemed somewhat perfunctory, if necessary in its own way, but did not
diminish from the major chord struck between Artist and audience.
In a year of an inordinate number of showdowns, putdowns and, more than
anything else, *letdowns,* it truly was a wondrous gift to be reminded that the
Greatest Songwriter of Our Time (given the Times, not sure that is even a
compliment anymore, but…) is still able to muster such a spirited performance as
he approaches his 70th birthday.
Ladies and gents, if you should have the opportunity to catch this edition
of The Never Ending Tour (he hates that name, so it is mandatory!) I would urge
you to do so.
In this age of PREtenders, and CONtenders, there is only one true reigning
And you can call him Zimmy.
Although these days, there are indeed many here among us who believe that
life is 'but a joke', I assure you I do not speak falsely now…for the hour (or
year) is, indeed, getting late. And we best savor every moment of nights such as
these, while we still can.
Review by Isaac Lane
Last night Bob Dylan brought his band to Las Vegas. What a night. Right off of
Las Vegas Blvd is the Hard Rock Casino which the joint is inside. Me and my girl
are new to town as we have moved here from the great orange state of Tennessee.
Having Bob come play so soon to us moving is God on our side. I needed Bob. Have
seen him play in Tunica, Knoxville, Little Rock, and would love to see many,
many more. The will call was horrible as you had to stand in line with every
drunk and non sociable just to recieve the tickets. We had the standing room
right up front and was anxious to get a good spot for the night. The rudeness I
personally had to put up with made the pre show experience, which I usually
love, almost too much to bear. The dang bartender was so rude I almost went to
jail. I just needed one drink, one drink that was all! Very snotty. We got
there almost 30 minutes before show time and Bob and his band ended up coming
out around 7 minutes or so after. The wait and and anticipation was fine with
me. I love checking out all of his and the band's gear. They have some SERIOUS
equipment. And all the dorks and jealous boys like me like checking it out. Bob
set up is very comfortable and he has everything he needs at his side. His
guitar/organ tech has the best job in the entire world if you ask me. I look at
him in awe. The audience is, around me anyway, pretty middle aged and drunk.
Think the open free bar at the Hard Rock had a lot to do with this. They were
saying things I couldnt believe but tolerated, as my extensive jail and arrest
record needs no more charges. But for two hours hearing the same woman yell out
"PLAY TAMBOURINE MAN!" can push any parole to the limit. Right when enough was
enough, the announcement started and the band hustled to the stage and Bob
sauntered in..... Rockin the house with "Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat." He was
getting into it and it was quick to note that freakin Charlie Sexton ladies and
gentlemen was back in the building. I was thrilled beyond imagination. I took
note of Bob's appearence first off. Stipped Civil War pants with a beautiful
jacket. Hat with a small feather this time. The place was roaring by the end of
the song. The next one was straight after and was "The Man in Me." Have loved
this song since before the Big Lebowski and appreciate it even more last nite.
Loved the rearranging and the almost "Jumpin Jack Flash" licks in the middle.
Have never seen Bob center stage with no instrument before. Knew, from other
reviews, that he was doing this now, but still really struck me as
fan-freakin-tastic. He did not seem self concious at all without his axe around
his neck. Really hamming it up, as he did all night when he did this, pointing
his right index finger to some imaginary/real women standing up front in the
spotlight. His eyes were fixed and his feet and hips a moving. The lights went
down and when they came up Bob know had aforementioned guitar and had it looking
so good. They way it slung high around his neck reminded me alot of the way Bill
Wyman used to play his Vox bass. From the start of the song until the end, he
was all over the guitar with his great solos. Charlie Sexton standing nose to
nose almost egging him on for more. I love the way Bob solo's. Just my style.
Sounds a lil like Neil Young without the Bigsby and the distortion. ALA the
Grammy's "Lovesick" solo. It was a particular moving piece for me anyway. Shed
my first tear right then and there...... Bob moved back to the keyboard/organ
in the almost darkness of the stage and could hear the band getting ready for
"Beyond Here Lies Nothin." Donnie is the man. Dont care what others say. His
talent and love for playin with Bob is right in style. He got down and gave this
song such an overpowering glow. This song is still playing in my mind. "Spirit
on the Water" was the next choice. This song has a most special place in my
heart. It takes me back to Little Rock at the theatre on the river. My first
show with my girl, with the geese flying a perfect V over the audience. It moves
me just to think about it. Somewhere in this song my mind came too and realized
that Bob was wearing a very diamond encrusted wedding ring on the correct
matrimonal finger. I almost fell down. Maybe he did find him another wife.
Maybe. Now came the best live moment of any show I have been too. I have seen
alot of shows by alot of different band/songwriters whatever. BUT NOTHIN has
ever came close to this. "FORGETFUL HEART." What an arrangement and what a song.
He had me in tears the entire song. Garnier used the bow to really get the lows
all over the hall. Donnie's perfect, lonely violin. THE MARACAS! My God what a
performance. Was worth the money there alone. Bob was in full blast tear them
apart mode. Will never forget this song and will cherish its performance the
rest of my life. This is gettin so long winded I cant help it. I will put the
rest of my story on the blog. Email me and will show you where to find it. The
night was magical. It ended up with us 10 feet away from Bob getting on his bus.
We followed the two tour buses right down to the interstate on the way to Salt
Lake City. What a story. Email me at email@example.com and will give you
the blog link. THANK GOD FOR THE TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS AND BOB DYLAN.
Review by Myrna Morris
This tour is historical as Bob Dylan takes on yet another form.
This was by far the best concert I attended ever. I saw Dylan at Stockton on
15th August, it was a wonderful show, but this surprised me so much, because Bob
Dylan has re-invented himself again. The new Dylan is making all the moves on
stage that he was too shy to make in his youth. I think that Charlie has come
back possibly had an influence on this, because Charlie kept dropping to his
knees in front of him, and playing to him like an angel. The whole band had a
different feel, but the main difference was the song delivery. No guitar, he
strode up to the mike, and it was not that he changed the tune, or the lyrics,
it was the delivery that made me feel I was hearing Balllad of a Thin Man for
the first time. He slowly unbuttoned his jacket, and his sexy moves had every
female in the house in hysterics. He was bumpin and grindin like I never thought
Id see Bob do except in my dreams lol. His moves when standing at the keyboard
were also very surprising. He was getting down, legs spread out, and his pumping
moves (not seen Bob do them before) had us swooning. He sang 5 songs centre
stage, with occasional harmonica breaks. His low toned harmonica sounded like
the lonesome train, and he played it so sweet cant describe how beautiful a
sound. A few times he licked his fingers then touched the hair left and right on
his shoulders. His outfit was hot too. He wore a short black jacket with gold
trim, a light gold satin shirt, the jeans to the outfit were the low crotch
type. At one point he pulled up his jacket, (I saw his boxers) then hitched up
the pants a bit. (Swooned). He smiled when he made us scream. The jeans had a
gold stripe, and occasionally the bling on his sleeves and collar flashed. His
black boots were perfect. and the small black fedora topped it off. He was
laughing, dancing, and his moves were too sexy, Spirit on the water nearly had
me on the floor. His body looks same as when he was 20. I had to think is this
man 68, and got 17 year old girls screaming. Cold Irons Bound, and Thunder on
The Mountain had the whole crowd jumping. Seriously he didnt look a day over 40,
and his singing was the best its ever been. Wonderful, please come back soon
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