November 17, 2018
Review by Peter Stone Brown
After a 20 second fanfare signaling the beginning of the show, Bob Dylan
took the stage at the Mark Etess Arena, a cavernous room buried in the
Hard Rock Casino which once upon a time was the Trump Taj Mahal. On the
way in there was a sign with a bunch of No’s. New Jersey has always
been big on signs with a long list of No’s. Go to any beach and you
can’t miss them. In this case the list included no cell phones which
was pretty funny since ticket bastard was pretty much forcing everyone to
have their tickets on their cell phones unless you had them mail you real
tickets for an absurd price. The list also included no talking, no
posting to social media, no tweeting, no recording, no cameras and no
Anyway, standing at the piano Dylan sang “Things Have Changed” with a
new arrangement in a shockingly strong and clear voice. He then sat down
for “It Ain’t Me Babe” which now included four no’s in the chorus.
Then it was back to standing up for a cool “Highway 61 Revisited.”
However all three songs seemed like warmups.
Bob sat again for “Simple Twist Of Fate” which featured fine harp
solos and a cool piano interlude at the end. On all the songs Dylan’s
piano was overriding the mix. I’m not sure if this was intentional or
just how the sound was where we were sitting.
Then came the new “Cry A While” which is sung to Link Wray’s
“Rumble.” On one hand it’s fun and sort of interesting, especially
how Dylan fits the words in to this arrangement, but I’m not sure if it
really works in the long run.
Throughout the first portion of the show there was some guy four rows
ahead of me who would stand up every 15 seconds, wave his arms in some
weird motion above his head, sit down and get up 15 seconds later and do
Then things slowed down slightly for a rearranged “When I Paint” with
a lot of lyrical changes. It was simply too dark to write them down, and
I’m not sure they were necessarily better, but it was fun to listen to.
Then it was back to rocking for “Honest With Me.”
I think it was during “Honest With Me” that a walking mountain who
turned out to be some sort of subhuman primordial creature with a really
terrible high and tight haircut sat down in the seat slightly to the left
of me. The primordial creature immediately began moving his 100 pound head
from right to left and back again which considering that whatever this
creature was, was blocking my sightline meant I had to start moving my
head back and forth. At the same time the creature took out his cell
phone and holding it high above his head, while never looking into it was
probably shooting the ceiling. The guy next to me who’d already been
warned by security, who clearly had a bad case of CCPUD (Compulsive Cell
Phone Use Disorder) since he was unable to go four minutes without looking
at his cell phone and also had spent the entire concert having a muted but
annoying conversation with his girlfriend who clearly had absolutely no
interest in the show, leaned over and told the guy security would pop him,
so the cell phone vanished. The primordial creature then announced to no
one in particular that he was a retired cop and a stagehand at The Beacon.
Meanwhile Bob Dylan was singing “Tryin’ To Get To Heaven” in an
arrangement that seemed halfway between the original and the jazz version
he did in fall of 2,000. I’d love to tell you more about the
performance but the walking mountain and the guy next to me decided it was
a good time to talk to each other. At first I tried the kinder, gentler
approach, leaning over and asking them if Bob Dylan was interrupting their
conversation. It worked for about 30 seconds. Of course the primordial
subhuman true to form would stand up and shout after every song, “We
love you Bobby” or see you at The Beacon Bobby” at the top of its
lungs after every song, living up to my friend Seth’s maxim that the
people who shout the loudest between songs are the ones who never listened
to the song in the first place.
Next came “Scarlet Town,” a song that is entirely dependent on how
Dylan phrases it since the music is one repetitive thing throughout. It
would have been nice to hear it, but the subhuman primordial walking
mountain decided it was time to have a conversation with the female
species that came with him. After three or four verses, I couldn’t take
it anymore and shouted quite loudly at them, “Shut up already, some
people come here to listen.” The primordial creature turned around and
said, “Shake my hand.” “I don’t want to shake your hand,” I
responded. The creature then threatened physical harm, at which point
Seth got out of his seat and went for security, who came and stood at the
end of the aisle.
Dylan by then was singing “Make You Feel My Love,” during which the
security person got into an extended conversation with the people behind
me about shooting the concert with their cell phones. “I understand
totally,” she said, “I do it myself.” Meanwhile the primordial
creature had taken out his cell phone and was filming the show again. I
started tapping gently on the security person’s back, but she was still
conversing with the cell phone users behind me. Finally she turned around
and I pointed to the primordial creature.
By then Dylan was into the new version of “Like A Rolling Stone” which
was pretty good, but the emphasis on the “La Bamba” beat strip the
song of the angst, the desperation and the cry of the original
Then it was into an okay “Early Roman Kings” and by this time the
primordial creature had finally settled down.
The highlight of the show, a sad slow “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All
Right” came next. His singing was truly beautiful and this new version
brings a sense of regret to the lyrics.
A fairly strong “Love Sick” came next, but at this point band-wise, I
found myself missing the guitar of Stu Kimball. When I saw this song a
year ago, the added stops were truly dynamic, even breathtaking, but that
extra force, that wham that should have been there was absent.
“Thunder On The Mountain” and “Soon After Midnight” were both
pretty good, and then came a new rocking arrangement of “Gotta Serve
It’s probably based on some obscure rockabilly guitar lick, but I’ll
have to find a copy of this version and get it to some friends who are
encyclopedias of guitar licks to identify it. The song is now a
full-fledged rock and roll song with continually revised lyrics and Dylan
was clearly having a good time singing it, taking it very far from its
original gospel origins. At the song’s conclusion Dylan briefly walked
for the first time to the front of the stage, and stood there for a few
“Blowin’ In The Wind” was in the usual arrangement and followed by a
semi-reggae “All Along The Watchtower” that was interesting because of
the arrangement, but simply didn’t reach the heights it could have.
“Watchtower” works because the song is inherently spooky and the best
versions can scare the shit out of you. Maybe if this arrangement
develops a bit more, it will hit that mark, but it didn’t at this show.
There’s a thing Bob Dylan does where when the forces are right, he can
drill a long right into you in a way you can’t forget and can’t help
but react. But it’s also a thing that can’t be forced and has to
happen naturally which Dylan is no doubt well aware of. It’s a matter
of churning up the magic and once the magic happens sustaining it. When
the forces are right, Dylan is a total master of this. That didn’t
happen in Atlantic City.
Review by Glenn Hertzler
Just saw my 108th Bob Dylan performance . After some of the shows over the
last 2 years was not sure what to expect. This absolutely was in the top 5
shows I have seen. You could understand every word and the arrangements
amazing. First show in a long time that those around me listened instead
of talking. Bob was excellent on piano and the whole band is amazing. If
you can get tickets to any of the remaining shows you won't be
disappointed . Highlights , Blowin In The Wind, Don't ThinkTwice,Simple
Twist of Fate , Make you feel my Love. Actually all the songs were
highlights. Can't wait for Philadelphia . Hope I can find a way to land a
copy of this show it was exceptional!
Review by Barry Gloffke
Atlantic City. Saturday night. Always an awkward scene when Dylan plays a
casino. Even more so on a weekend where everyone's pockets are loaded, and
their spendin' every dime. The Hard Rock cafe boasts a pedestrian
warehouse called the Etess Arena, a soulless excuse for art in
architecture. Fortunately the designers of the warehouse know a thing or
two about acoustics. The show started later than usual... maybe by 5-10
minutes. That was my good fortune, because even though I gave myself 4
hours to get from Forest Hills, NYC to Atlantic City, NJ, it took me that
long to get there. By the time I parked my Jeep and made a mad dash into
the casino and down to the arena it was just after 8:00pm. The crowd was
mostly over 50, polite, somewhat energetic and in my section, thankfully
not too many people talking during the songs. At around 8:10pm the band
hits the stage. Immediately evident is that Bob's voice is up front and
the sound is crisp and clear.
From the familiar and stellar opener of THINGS HAVE CHANGED to the
fabulous climax of ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER, Bob was in terrific voice and
the band was sharp (as usual). Most notable tonight was Bob's harp play,
knocking out more than a few great solos. Also significant was his
compelling piano work. And kudos to the band and Charlie. Tonight we got
20 great Dylan compositions, and for me the only one that was lacking a
bit was PAY IN BLOOD. Usually delivered to my liking, but tonight it was
slightly less ominous than I prefer. But that is splitting hairs because
there were tremendous versions of almost everything else. Quickly, some
HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED rocked.
CRY A WHILE was a nasty blues stomp.
WHEN I PAINT MY MASTERPIECE was masterful.
HONEST WITH ME rocked again.
TRYIN' TO GET TO HEAVEN and MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE were beautifully and
deliberately delivered. LIKE A ROLLING STONE was re-invented and was a
crowd favorite. EARLY ROMAN KINGS was another blues stomp. LOVE SICK was
spooky. THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN rocked again and again. GOTTA SERVE
SOMEBODY was a distant cousin of Gotta Serve Somebody
Our hero constantly keeps it new and intriguing. It never ceases to amaze
me the breadth of his musical genius and lyrical dexterity.
Of course it would not be a Dylan show without seeing a few Bobcats. Good
to see Barry and Dylan inside the arena and Ed outside. See you guys at
the Beacon shows. Enjoy the others.
PS. How many of these shows does he/do we have left? Each is precious.
Savor them. Thanks for another great show Bob.
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