page by Bill Pagel
Review by Rich Wiseman
The Bernalillo show had been all but firmed up in late August, cancelled
shortly thereafter, and finally reinstated just three weeks ago, which may
have had something to do with the 2500-capacity room being only
three-quarters-or-so full. The $100-$85-$75 pricing no doubt dissuaded a
few would-be attendees as well. That's simply a lot of dough for many New
It was an interesting mix of Bob-crazy fans and others, including a few
dozen in the first few rows, who seemed reluctant to part company with
their seats. Bob and band had to work to get everyone up front moving and
grooving, and work they did!
Any doubts that Bob would not be "on" performing to less than a capacity
crowd in this small hall tucked in the back of a smoky Indian casino in
little ol' Bernalillo, New Mexico was erased within a minute or so of his
taking the stage and launching into a energetic, focused version of "To Be
Alone With You."
What a treat to have scored seats in the sixth row, and to have my
binoculars with me. That incredible face, and those amazing expressions
Bob makes. . . it was hard at times to put the binocs down. I loved his
almost fierce reading of "It's Alright, Ma," one of the highlights of the
night for me. Ditto for his intense, mad-scientist-of-the-keyboards
performance of "Honest With Me."
(Speaking of "Honest With Me," midway through this song Bob noticed a
group of highly demonstrative fans standing in the front to his left. He
directed the rest of his vocals at them, and, after the song ended feted
them with a six-shooter salute with both hands. Very New Mexico of you,
Bob's covers of "The End of the Innocence," "Brown Sugar" and "Old Man"
were big crowd pleasers. And "Summer Days" was a super-entertaining
main-set closer, with Larry playing a searing lead guitar, Tony mugging
with his stand-up bass (including feigning a back injury after attempting
to lift it at one point), Charlie plopping down on the drum riser, George
flailing away on his kit and Mr. D performing an impressive inverted "V"
with his legs while attacking his electric guitar. Also, I really dug this
night's "Watchtower"-a much more muscular version than Telluride, 2001.
All in all a very satisfying show. My one quibble: only one harmonica solo
from Bob, at the end of "Drifter's Escape." Keep the Yamaha electric
piano, Bob, but don't forsake your harmonicas!
P.S. We hightailed it out of the Santa Ana Star casino just in time to
catch a glimpse of two Prevosts taking off into the chilly New Mexico
night. It took us about ten minutes to finally catch up with those two
sleek buses heading north on Interstate 25. I couldn't resist honking our
thank-yous as we passed.
Review by Tom Thomsen
The New Mexico show was rumored, booked, confirmed, canceled, booked and
confirmed again less than a month before the show. I scrambled together
eight seats in 7th and 8th row center and made my plans for a great night.
I wasn't disappointed.
I got word that Bob's production company had reserved 19 rooms at Tamaya,
a Hyatt resort less than a mile from the Casino for their off night,
October 24th. My wife and I got a room there hoping for a possible Bob
sighting, and our room ended up being part of a package called, "BD19",
according to the credentials they gave me allowing us to charge things to
the room. We pulled in and the buses were there. We went to the bar for
an hour or so about 5 pm -- no Bob. We went out to eat at a five-star
restaurant half a mile down the road -- no Bob. We went back to the bar -
Bob's road crew! They were all sitting around the main bar watching the
World Series. No members of the band, however, and they all soon left.
One of my sons wrote "Hi Bob" in the dust on the bus, and we later learned
from our waitress that Bob reportedly had a cold and stayed in his room
for over 24 hours.
No evidence of a cold the following night. We took our seats about 45
minutes before showtime. I was irritated, as always, that the finest
seats were taken up largely by folks who were NOT big fans. There were a
lot of us starting at about row 6, however, the few in row 7 who were too
drunk to enjoy the show notwithstanding. A special hat tip to the lady in
row six wearing the Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat; nice touch. The Oscar was
up onstage as it has been throughout this leg of the tour, and I wish I
could confirm if it is the one from Australia.
"To Be Alone With You" opened the show as a driving rocker with strong
vocals from Bob and the first of the keyboards performances I had seen
since the Slow Train Comin' tour. Other than the piano, the arrangement
was the same as the summer 2002 shows. We were then were treated to the
setlist surprise, "In the Summertime." The song was faithful and stripped
down, and a pleasure to hear for its rarity if nothing else. "Tombstone
Blues" followed, and in it's complete form (I believe), including the
verses about the commander in chief and the sun's not yellow, it's
Then came the night's first cover, "The End of the Innocence." As with
all the covers, I was amazed at how true he stayed to the original and
still made the song his own. To hear him growl, "DADDY had to die" gave
me a chill. "Watching the River Flow" was followed by the great cover of
"Brown Sugar" with Tony and Larry adding vocal support. Bob's phrasing
here made the song even dirtier than Jagger ever dreamed of. ". . .HOW
come you taste so good. . . just like I KNEW you would!. . ." What a
treat. "It Ain't me, Babe" included one of those vocal moments that fill
me with glee. . .". . .It ain't me you're lookin' forrrrrrr (babe)". An
angry "It's Alright" was followed by an acoustic arrangement of MTM that I
hadn't heard but loved. I have to confess I didn't even recognize
"Drifter's Escape". A nice rocker. I hadn't heard it since a 2000 show,
but it didn't do much for me, outside of giving me the only harmonica we
heard all night.
I was floored by "Tell Me That It Isn't True" which Bob delivered with all
the passion of unrequited love. I just believed him when he sang this
plea to a cheating lover; it was that good. "Old Man" was another great
cover, fairly true to the original, yet taking on new depths being sung by
the only Old Man who could do it justice. A hostile take on "Honest with
Me" was followed by a stripped down acoustic Blowin' with harmony vocals
from the band, which bothered me mostly because it meant we were in for an
only 2 song encore. I decided I'd like to see the banjo back for
Highwater, after hearing the summer and fall 2002 versions of this song.
"Mutineer." If you haven't heard Bob's spin on this, get to bobdylan.com
right now and play it. The tenderness with which he sings, "You're my
witness" followed by the exaggerated enunciation of "I'm your mutineer" is
not to be believed. "Bye and Bye" relaxed the crowd before the band
launched into the extended, "Summer Days." My God, did they cook on that
one! Physically, the band tightened up their formation and just had a
great time. Tony once half picked up his standup bass and started playing
it like a guitar, and Charlie once planted his ass on the drum riser. The
crowd went wild, and then the encore consisting of the same great
"Knockin'" we got during the summer shows and a blistering "Watchtower."
A couple of the folks I brought along are almost reverent in their respect
for oldies as originally performed and had no idea what to expect. They
were left in jaw-dropping amazement to find Bob out there still playing
inventive and valid music. I saw them raiding the T-shirt booth after
the show and assume they are out to find TOOM and L&T in an effort to
catch up. Ahhh, blessed are the recently converted . . . .
Review by Brian Doyle
We arrived in town fairly early, at aproximately 12:37, following the
early departure from Denver long before sunrise. It's quite a scenic
drive, enjoying the area around Santa Fe especially. The downhill stretch
from there lends to some specatular Southwest desert land. I had not
visited the area since seeing Dylan at the Mesa del Sol, about 37 miles
further down the highway in July (3rd) of 2000. The Santa Ana Star Casino
is located on the outer edge of Bernalillo, and a very new facility. I
hope they are not struggling with the economy, the Hotel adddition is not
anywhere near complete and weeds are grwoing which seems to be a sign that
it has at least slowed down. Perhaps that lent itself to the higher ticket
prices, although most of the Casino shows always seem that way. We were
kindly ushered in by a friendly lady at the ticket counter inside to
observe our seats and the venue itself. The crew was still setting up and
I would say only about half done at the time. The rest of the day, we
basically bummed around, although I did spend 75 cents on three slot
pulls, of course I lost it all. Around 537pm or so, a small band of
people were around, and I had a chance to hear some of the soundcheck from
the doors. Boy, if they play what I heard on later stops people are really
going to be shocked. Clue: Other covers of other artists. At showtime the
line was ready, security was all over the place, and finally at 7pm they
opened the doors. The venue is really quite small. It looks like a brand
new High School gymnasium that has been updated for a Saturday night
dance. No lavish garnishments, just a clean and very tidy arena. The sound
was also acceptable, and not a bad seat in the house except for a few who
were too far to the right in front and obscured by the stage amps and
monitors. I can't really describe it as intimate, it's just too sterile
looking and no warmth, but nice in it's own right as well. The show began
almost exactly on time. Al gave the now infamous intro, and then the magic
began, led by the newest magician on the circuit, Mr. Bob Dylan. I half
expected him to saw a woman in half or something, it just has that new
feel now. His interactions are more animated, and the Yamaha piano is like
a little play toy. I pictured in my mind, Bob playing one of those laptop
keyboards on the bus the past few months and decided to take this to the
test. He passes, the piano seemed much more a part of the music then from
what I had heard from previous Fall sets. The opener "To be alone with
you" is done with flair, and wastes no time divulging the contents of the
rabbit hat tonight. Then, Bob starts in with a song I truthfully knew the
title of, and had to consult the sage afterwards for his assistance in
tracking down where it came from, that being, "In the Summertime". I had
in the back of my mind, that this was a Clapton cover, but of course it
was indeed the song from "Shot of Love". It does not sound like the
version on that, sort of a laid back and far less piano, no harp, and
gospel singers version, and no bite, just a sweet little love song now.
The sage advised that this had not played live since 1981. "Tombstone
Blues" follows, same sort of sound from previous nights, and then we are
treated to an absolutely hit the nail on the head "The end of Innocence".
This was by far the best cover of any Dylan has done while I have been at
a concert. I am sure that Bruce would love to hear this, but in due time I
am certain that he will. I am saving the rest of my comments for the
Denver show, I am writing this and that at around 3AM Denver time.(Sunday
morning) I would add that the show was excellent, and "Bye and Bye" was
great to finally hear live. "Summer Days" flat kicked, it's been magically
transformed by the magician and his staff. I can only thank the entire
band for such a delightful presentation, please read my Denver review for
greater insight. Thanks also to the people at the Casino, all very
friendly and sincere folks. It was a long drive home and I have had two
hours sleep since 5am Friday morning, but, two Dylan shows in two nights
can lift my spirits anyday. Brian
Review by A. Trujillo
"I've never engaged in this kind of thing before."
It's been a couple of days since Dylan and Co rolled away. I'm still trying to
recover! Good thing for me that I took Friday off and a couple more days. What
can I say, the concert was great and the timing was perfect! I used to stop in
Bernalillo sometimes, especially coming back from the mountains. I would stop,
usually just for gas. It's still a shock sometimes to drive back from the mesas
and foothills, where one hour you are deep in the mountains and desert, in the
middle of nowhere with your little beat up truck. Then you stop into these once
dusty little towns and see the bright lights of the casinos. It's part of the
changing landscape of NM and the SW. Glad that Bob and Co. could add his special
brand to it. Last Friday Bernalillo was the center of the universe for two hours
and 12 minutes, at least for the Southwest! The Santa Ana Casino is so accessible.
Driving in from Albuquerque was no problem. We parked and joined the crowd that was
snaking their way in from the scattered parking. Someone had "Floater (Too Much to
Ask)" blasting away and I almost stopped and listened to the rest of the song until
reality snapped me back.
Three weeks ago I still remember getting off of work and calling the casino to see
if the concert had been rebooked. I was used to the usual reply from the ticket
agent saying that the concert had been cancelled! And I asked the same question.
Do you think that it will be rebooked? She said that they rarely are rebooked. Well
maybe I can still have time to make it out to Vegas at the Joint. It's always a
good show! The next day my sister, Bernadette calls me and tells me that she read
in the paper that the show was on and tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10:00. I was
ready! I show up Saturday morning at the ticket office and was lucky to be the first
one in line. I end up walking away with 10 tickets in the middle front row!! The
coupe of the century! They quickly got swallowed up and I was lucky that my brother
got 4 more tickets in the third row for some other friends!
Sometimes you have to make a choice. Do you want to sacrifice sound quality or do
you want to be up close! Being up close won out! My cousin Anna and I walked in
and met the rest of our party and quickly took our seats, I went out to try to find
my brother who was not seated and decided to check the beer line. Nowhere in sight.
I did spot his wife Tina who was in the middle of a long winding ride to the bar.
I joined her, much to the dismay of the man that I cut in front of (One of the few
sour spots for the night). Why did they only have two bartenders working? We
waited for a while and then we heard the familiar Rodeo Intro playing! We waited a
little bit more and then we both looked at each other, each reading each other's
mind. Not a word was spoken. I grabbed her hand and we both rushed back, almost
pushing some people out of the way (completely ignoring one of the bouncers that
was telling us to slow down). No alcohol until the end of the show, didn't need it,
beside there would be plenty of time after the show
By the way, the Santa Anna Hotel and Casino is a class act! They know how to
balance the concerns of security and still allow people to have a good time. My
party was getting a little excited! I only saw an occasional glance our way from
the bouncers. They seemed to be having a good time along with the rest of the
crowd, but they were watchful.
Being up close, you don't get the full effect of the acoustics, especially the
vocals but I knew that! It took me awhile to figure out some of the songs,
especially "Mutineer"! Not too familiar with it but I am now. He opened with
"To Be Alone with You". Good opener. Kind of got everyone settled down and
pumped up at the same time for what was to follow. Besides I've always liked
Nashville Skyline. "One More Night" would have been nice! I used to study that
opening lick on the guitar so hard.
"In the Summertime" was a complete surprise! I remember playing that tape until
it wore out. I never thought that I would hear that live! "Tombstone Blues"
is always good to listen to and I never get tired of hearing different versions
of it. "The End of the Innocence" was sweet and "Brown Sugar" was solid rock.
EOTI was good, He took the song and sang it liked he owned it. I'm not used to
hearing him singing other artist's songs, especially when he has so many of his
own that I would love to hear. They did sound good though!
My particular favorite of the night was "Watching the River Flow" Larry did a
good job on this one. I could almost hear a trace of Leon Russel. Some people
describe them as Rock-a Billy. In a way yes, but I think that's only a small way
to describe them! This band creates their own sound. They have created their
own unique sound . I had heard rumors about Charlie Sexton maybe leaving the
band but I'm glad that he's been sticking around. He is always so professional
and attentive. Larry is so smooth and talented. Tony is always behind the scenes
keeping everyone happy and entertained besides being a masterful musician. You too
Larry. Tony is always smiling and having a good time that it transfers to the
crowd. That's a pretty heavy instrument that he tried to pick and jam with!! This
was the first time that I heard George Receli. He never missed a beat! I hope
that this band stays together for a while. They are so good!!
It took me awhile to recognize "Drifter's Escape"; it was the only time that he
played the harp. I want to echo what Rich said. Don't give up the harp. However
he really looked comfortable with the keyboards. From our viewpoint, his keyboard
playing was strong and seems to be natural with his movements and expressions.
Seeing him step back and then move forward and pound the keys and then step back
and then stretch his neck out to the mic, especially when he's having fun,
especially for such a strong song like "Honest With Me". They really came
together for this song. I enjoyed listening to all the songs from Love and Theft,
especially the way they played this one. The Love and Theft songs were really a
treat especially after you've had some time to digest them. The highlight for me
was when he shot the double six-guns during "Honest With Me" at our direction; He
looked so relaxed and energized at the same time. The girls kept the applause
going, especially my niece who is only twelve years old. She wanted to go to
this concert so bad! She's grown up with all uncles, aunts, and mom listening
to Bob that it has rubbed off on her in a big way. There will be another
generation listening to Bob after we're all gone!
Before that though they did an excellent job on "Old Man". To me it was the best
acoustic set of the night!
Mutineer was smooth! Could have almost been one of his! I'll have to look into
buying a Zevon CD! I was hoping to hear "Floater but "Bye and Bye" was good!
I knew that it was just to give the band a break and to prepare them for the
closer, "Summer Days! God What a treat! Seeing him play lead like that, and the
rest of the band playing so hard. They played this one so hard that for a moment
when they were all jamming, they seemed to have gone their separate ways for an
instance and just when you thought that they were going to separate, they "brought
it all back home" together with a polished ending! You can tell that this band has
been playing together for a while and it showed tonight.
For the encore, they broke into the familiar "Knocking on Heaven's Door". I thought
that I had heard enough versions of this but I was surprised again! I've never heard
it sung like this. Charley and Larry did a good job on back up vocals. For
Watchtower, the band seemed to pick up where they left off on "Summer Days" and
played this one strong and hard. Before you knew it, it was over! As he walked
away, he motioned to the girls in our group, like he was going to write an autograph.
That only got the girls in our group excited and made it hard to make them give up
their place on the front row. The stage crew manager finally convinced them that he
was only teasing with them and that he had already left the building and they
finally left happy that he had at least acknowledged their presence. Of course they
all thought that he was motioning to them!
After the show the lounges were alive with everyone talking and realizing what a
good show they had witnessed. I saw one man holding a poster in his hand, walking
back and forth slowly and then I realized that he was giving his account of the
Dylan walk. I never did see the lady in the pillbox hat!
When I woke up that morning, I tried to keep myself busy, trying too hard to fight
the anticipation of that evening. I figured that after this show that somehow that
quench would be satisfied. It had the opposite effect! It just left me with a
greater thirst. Especially after talking to some of the people that have said
that they have been following him around for the whole tour. Don't know how they
do it but sometimes I'd trade places with them in a minute if I could. My hats
off to them. Let's see, who do I know in Kansas City!!
Wish I had a CD of this concert!
Review by Greg Johnston
Dylan Lives Up to His Legend in New Mexico Performance
By Greg Johnston
It was a rare treat, if not an expensive one, to see Bob Dylan Oct. 25 in Bernalillo
at the Santa Ana Star Casino. Dylan surprised many in the crowd with his level of
energy and selection of material in a rousing 20-song set. Fans, many of who paid
$100 to be along for the ride, were extremely pleased.
At 61, Dylan seems to have reinvented himself on this latest tour. Whereas for years
he has performed primarily on guitar, nowadays he opens his shows with several songs
on keyboards front and center. It seems to have created a new persona for the master
performer. As he pounds on keys with his legs flailed out, he bobs and shakes with
all the moves of a possessed rock star. Dressed in a dapper western-style grey and
black suit and black and white cowboy boots with flames on the sides, the rock and
roll icon was in command of his domain. He even displayed his Academy Award "Oscar"
for the song "Things Have Changed" on his amplifier at the back of the stage.
Dylan is known for his stoic, impersonal stage demeanor, but early on this evening,
he exchanged a few quick smiles and words with band members. During one tune, he
connected directly with a woman in the front row through eye movements and gestures.
Dylan is an enigmatic chameleon who changes styles, song structures and stage
mannerisms to keep his work fresh. An early selection during the evening was "In
the Summertime," from the album "Shot of Love," a tune that according to the Dylan
web site he had not performed live in 20 years. Also thrown into to the mix early
on was the Don Henley/Bruce Hornsby hit "The End of the Innocence."
After five terrific songs on keyboards, Dylan shifted into high gear. He strapped on
his electric guitar, and launched into the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar." Guitars
were wailing and the crowd was whipped into a delightful frenzy. That was followed
by three classic songs performed on acoustic guitars, "It Ain't Me, Babe," "Mr.
Tambourine Man," and "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding.)" The classic songs were
not obvious and sometimes you had to wait for title to be sung to recognize the
The set went on to include another well orchestrated cover, Neil Young's "Old Man,"
with beautiful, stirring harmonies. Four songs from his most recent album, "Love and
Theft." included the retro rave-up, "Summer Days." It was proceeded by a brief
introduction of the band, which were the only words Dylan spoke to the audience.
The band was astounding in their capacity as backup to perhaps the greatest
contemporary songwriter. Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell on guitars gave ample
doses of exquisite solos throughout the evening. Together with Dylan, they would
head into exhilarating guitar jams where each would take a long turn working out
on the strings.
The evening came to a close with an emotionally powerful acoustic version of
"Knockin' On Heaven's Door," followed by a song that hundreds of other artists have
covered, "All Along the Watchtower." It was reported that Dylan immediately headed
for his tour bus, where a police escort awaited to deliver him to the Interstate,
on the road to the next stop in his continuing evolution.
page by Bill Pagel
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