Reviews

Las Vegas, Nevada

Mandalay Bay Events Center

October 27, 2012


[Phil Levine], [Ana Morris], [Andy Carroll]

Review by Phil Levine



Well, amid the scantilly clad 20something ghouls and goblins walking
around the numerous Halloween-themed bars outside the Mandalay Events
Center inside the mega-Mandalay Hotel/Casino on the Strip prior to the
concert, one could both see/sense anticipation for Vegas Bobfest 2012. But
which Bob would be on display tonight? The benign Zimmy who rocked Vegas
last year with arguably his best show in years, or the one we'd been
reading about on earlier dates on this tour...the 'ghoulish' growling Bob
singing songs that were all called, essentially, "WTF?"

Happily, I am able to report it was more the former than the latter on
stage last night here in Sin City. Following a great set by the vastly
underrated guitar god Mark Knopfler, featuring mostly his recent superb
solo work and an exceptional 7 piece band, our Hero and his band took the
stage with no introduction.

But then, none was needed.

And from the opening chords of a very recognizable 'You Aint Goin'
Nowhere' one sensed that Bob was in a good mood and the band, all facing
directly at him with great intensity on their faces, were as well.
Sporting his usual flat brimmed chapeau, dapper Italian waiter's outfit
and spiffy boots, the Aging But Still Spry Hibbing Hobo sat down behind
his baby grand piano, and the festivities began. Next up, Girl From The
North Country which, tho certainly nowhere near as bucolic or melodic as
the original version, was both thoroughly recognizable and a welcome
addition to the set.

As was the case last year here, Bob was in full enunciation mode, leaving
no doubt as to the lyrics of each and every song...even if the melody
wasn't always immediately (or in some cases, ever) in play. And, also like
last year, his version of the Oscar winning tune Things Have Changed (the
trophy from which was, prominently, displayed upon aforementioned baby
grand for all to see) was rollicking, and more fun-filled than an Irish
pub on St Patty morn. Bob even stepped out from behind his piano cavern to
center stage, shucking and jiving (as a certain ex-Alaskan governor might
call it) to the band behind him as he wailed that "I used to care, but,
things have chaaaaaanged...."

A fine, tho not exceptional, version of Tangled Up In Blue (complete with
a new set of lyrics) followed...but ah. Hold on to your Stetsons, boys and
girls. Then...one of the two highlights of the night.

Quitely, and with no fanfare, a dark figure lumbered onto the stage to
join Bob and The Rounders in a magnificent version of his Beyond Here Lies
Nothing. Twas show opener Mark Knopfler his own bad self, and his
seemless, seemingly effortless yet majestic strumming played off
wonderfully against both Bob's piano tinkling and the always great Charlie
Sexton's lead axe playing. At the songs end (which came way too soon given
how really, REALLY great that moment was) Bob shouted into his mike a
hardy "Thank ya, Mark! That's Mark Knopfler" as though anyone wasn't
aware.  A great musical combination of "old" (Zimmy) and "new" (Mark)
Dylans, that should be repeated as often as possible.

Next up, one of the all-time epic Bob tunes, Every Grain of Sand--though
hardly as beatific as the original, just hearing the Zim-master recite the
words as a poem, which is what he did, made it a welcome addition and a
reminder of just how incredible a wordsmith our fair hero was, and
remains.

An above average and hard rocking version of Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum,
featuring some mighty mighty fine licks from the tall Texan on guitar, Mr
Sexton, was next.

And then, the evening's second highlight/surprise: the rarely seen/heard
(at least in this town) tune "Delia" from his early 90s, unjustly
overlooked album of folk/blues covers "World Gone Wrong". A truly wondrous
moment in which we were reminded of both Mr D's folk/blues roots and his
remarkable ability to call up the ghosts of Woody or Howlin Wolf or almost
any early pioneer of Americana musical glory. Clearly enunciated, and sung
with both heart and soul, this song was, as the cliche goes, in and of
itself worth the price of admission.

Building on that Bob-mentum (like 'mo' only more so) the next song marked
the last great moment of the evening, a rolling and tumbling version of
Highway 61. Not sure if Bob had ever made a "Robert Johnson-esque" deal
with Satan at any crossroads up in the north country, but if so, this song
was most certainly part of the bargain. True to its roots, if not exactly
its original melody, Bob literally wailed out the lyrics reminding one and
all that, lo these recent years, he has evolved into a fine ol' bluesman
whose music is both rhythmically as well as lyrically, sounding as much
like John Lee Hooker as any other of his earlier blues/folk heroes.

The rest of the evening was enjoyable, though less noteworthy with the
exception of Ballad of a Thin Man which, again much like last year, was
superb and obviously, given its powerful delivery, a song that 'means'
something of note to its author--but, of course, I don't know what it is.
And perhaps neither does Mr Jones.

Among the triumvirate of closers--Rolling Stone, Watchtower and (a vastly
different) Blowing in the Wind, Watchtower remains the favorite, calling
up the spirits of both Jimi (whose version Bob has long since preferred to
his own original) and good old Neil Young whose forever Young take on the
classic song made it his own to some degree with his timeless rendition at
Bobfest 1992.

Bob reminded us that those two "approaching riders" have been coming for
sometime now...as both the wind, and the writer of same, howled their
warning.

As the show wound down, always a taciturn fellow, Bob's only conversation
to the crowd was a warm "thank you, friends" and an introduction of the
band.  But then, he's never been much for talking...that's the job of the
songs he proffers.

Though the large, cavernous venue was not much more than half full, hard
to imagine that--given Knopfler's sensational guitar playing and Bob's
well above average (for 2012, anyways) concerto that too many folks left
disappointed. Sure, there was no sign of any song off his latest
mini-masterpiece album, but hey, why make a Tempest out of a tea party
(with a good deal of pot in the air)?

Given the fine vibes left this evening, I think I speak on behalf of all
denizens of Sin City when I say that both His Bobness, and the Sultan of
Swing, are welcome in my town anytime--and so, till their boot heels bring
them back to my hometown, goodbye is too good word... so let's just say
'fare thee well'.

Happy trails, Mr D...until we meet again.

[TOP]

Review by Ana Morris



Oh yeah!!!† Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler at Mandalay Bay
Las Vegas. To give an idea how much fun I had, when I left the
building I walked like a duck and smelled like a skunk, and hadnít even
had a drink!. Because of a ticket mix up, I ended up with a seat 30 rows
back. Me and my friend who had come from Michigan for the gig decided to
move to the side slightly raised section when the lights went down, for a
better view. So we did, and had a perfect view of the stage. Happily I was
surrounded by awesome peeps who were also on their feet for him. I loved
Knopflers set. A mix of† Sea Shanties and Irish drinking music. He is
adorable, him and his band so talented. Bob came out in the dark without
his hat I spotted him instantly. He put on his hat when he sat at the
piano. He started with You Aint Goin Nowhere. Took me back in the time
tunnel. †His voice was young and strong, made me want to get down in the
easy chair with him. A sweet rendering of North Country, then came to
centre stage, closer to me, with Things Have Changed. He put so much heart
and soul into his songs, hard to imagine that he does this almost every
night, its so FRESH!! Mark came quietly on stage to back him on Beyond
Here Lies Nothing, which was superb. Guess my flood gates opened when he
sang Every Grain of Sand. It was just so heartfelt and made me feel the
importance of the ones we love, and how fragile life is. Hard to explain,
but tears were falling from my eyes. I donít want to wait a year to see
him again. Wow he sang Delia!! Every friend I ever had is gone, a bit
weepy again on that one. Something very funny happened. I wanted to go
back down to the floor for the encore as everyone was suddenly allowed to
go forward. The guard wouldnít let me down!! He said I have to have a
floor ticket (which I had). I produced the ticket he said ďThatís not
your ticket, thatís your seatĒ and pointed to the seat we moved into.
I said NO† I bought a floor ticket. He said, yeah you stole it LOL, and
wouldnít let me down. He made me go back to the place we had sneaked
into. Never mind, had a great view and a whopping good time!! The rest of
the set rocked.† Danced and screamed, waved my handkerchief, hope he 
saw it. The new arrangement for Blowin in The Wind seemed to fit the time 
we live in perfectly, BOB DONíT LEAVE!!! Then it was over.† Guess Ill
start picking out my clothes for next year. He is a light in my life, and
I wait him to shine on me again. LOVE YOU BOBBY.

[TOP]

Review by Andy Carroll



On the morning of October 27, 2012, I drove from Hollywood to Ontario
Airport and flew to Las Vegas. The flight from Ontario to Las Vegas takes
an hour. The drive from Hollywood would have been about six hours. This
was my fourth and last show this tour, and as with the others, I would be
right up front. I bought the Hot Ticket Package this time. Hotel shuttle
picks me up from the airport, and after good Barbeque at Ellis Island on
Koval, I cross the street and catch the bus to Mandalay Bay. I arrive
early and find my front row seat. I had it all planned out. On previous
reviews, I've failed to mention that Mark Knopfler has been great with his
Cajun, Appalacian sound. The newspaper reviews call it Celtic. At any rate
it's an eclectic melding of old-timey music with fiddle, accordion, some
type of bagpipe instrument, and other odd string intruments making it all
sound kind of bluegrassy at times.

So Bob comes out again, no introduction, hat in hand, puts it on his head,
goes to the keyboard and much to my delight, starts "You Ain't Goin'
Nowhere." From the baby grand, "Girl Of The North Country" follows, then
the center stage antics of "Things Have Changed" and "Tangled Up In Blue."
Love the theatrics and that strut on "THC." Knopfler joins for "Beyond
Here Lies Nothin,'" which sounds very close to the album version. Bob
annunciates every rhyme of "Every Grain Of Sand," and more poetry follows
with "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum." I still love that song. Loved it ever
since 9/11 when "Love And Theft" was released and still love it. Quite
frankly, I don't understand how anyone can dislike it. It has some very
clever rhymes and shows that Bob is still a great wordsmith. Always happy
to get "Tweedles." Even happier with the next song, ladies and gentlemen,
the crown jewel of the evening, "Delia." I couldn't believe it. Bob
tinkles a few notes on the piano, then, "Delia was a gamblin' girl,
gambled all around." I don't think many in the half-filled arena
appreciated the moment, but I did. I've been to over a hundred Dylan
shows. I stopped counting in October 2009, my hundredth show at the
Hollywood Palladium. Some people might think that's a lot of shows, but
it's all relative when you think about how many shows Dylan has played,
and how many shows he plays every year. Research shows that in his entire
performing career, Bob has performed "Delia" only eight times. Amazingly,
even though I have only been to a hundred plus Dylan shows, I have now
seen "Delia" performed twice. So I have seen two out of the eight (1/4)
total performances of "Delia."

While Bob is singing about Delia and her rounders in Las Vegas on October
27, 2012, I am reflecting back on a surreal moment I experienced on July
1, 2000 at the Del Mar Fair. It might have happened during "Long Black
Veil" or "Visions Of Johanna," as I remember being more coherent during
"Delia" and being thrilled in the moment hearing Bob sing it. My
experience transcends understanding and explanation, dear reader, but I
assure you I was not under the influence of any substance. I was, however,
lacking sleep as I had followed Bob from Reno to Las Vegas to Irvine to
Ventura and now back down to Del Mar. Every show was G.A. so of course I
was at the front of the queue after racing up and down from town to town.
The Del Mar G.A. line was a long wait, then they moved the line from one
place to another, and once inside it was a huge dissapointment as the
stage was thirty feet high. All that waiting in line and then we had to
stand way back just to see the stage. People were showing up right before
showtime and getting right in front of me. But I'm making the best of it
and quite happy when Bob comes out and starts singing "Somebody Touched
Me." Sometime between the opener and "Delia," I had what I can only best
describe as an out of body experience. My body was standing there watching
the show, I could see myself, but I was up on stage with Bob too, almost
as if I WAS him. It was an odd sensation that lasted a long time. I mean
it wasn't like a fleeting dream or Deja Vu that comes suddenly and then is
gone. I was even wondering as it was happening when it was going to stop
and was surprised at its duration. It never occurred to me until right now
as I write, that perhaps Bob or Jesus, through Bob, layed hands on me.
Like when Bob experienced Jesus' presence late in 1978 in a hotel room.
Del Mar is in San Diego where Bob picked up the cross from the stage. At
any rate, it was real, I felt it strong, and the sensation would not go
away like a dream that you're chasing, and the more you try to remember,
the more distant it becomes. Even though I was conscious of it happening,
the feeling remained, somebody touched me, must have been the hands of the
Lord. 

?
So "Delia" was the highlight of the show for me in Vegas. I savored the
sadness of every "all the friends I ever had are gone." Such a sad, tragic
figure, Delia, and the mourning narrator is crestfallen as Delia "loved
all them rounders, never did love me." The rest of the shows' highlights
are always welcomed by casual and hardcore Dylan fans alike, so finally
the crowd stood near the ending of the show. I turned around to see the
crowd. The arena was half empty, but it didn't matter to me from my front
row point of view. Besides the crowd pleasers, "Mississipi" has a great
musical interlude towards the ending. Bob plays off members of the band as
they exchange little solos with each other. I told some teenage girls
behind me to be quiet, and once they shut up, it seemed everyone could
enjoy the song. Why people go to a concert and then talk through the
entire show is beyond my understanding. Another thing I just can't get
used to is people texting and tweeting their friends that they're at a Bob
Dylan concert. Meanwhile they're missing the show. Things have changed
indeed.

On October 28, 2012, I took the shuttle from the Super 8 on Koval St. in
Las Vegas to the airport and boarded my plane to Ontario airport. I took
the airport shuttle to my car and drove home. My tour was over.

[TOP]

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