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Review by John Pruski
"Welcome to Atlantic City, America's Favorite Playground" read the huge
sign at the city limits by the coastal marshes. And I thought America's
Favorite Playground was the cool Cowtown Rodeo that I passed on US40 in
scenic southern New Jersey on the way to last night's shows! Anyway, in
the middle of the ride from DC to Atlantic City yesterday afternoon to
go see our messiah Bob Dylan, I was getting restless and thinking that
I'm too old to keep doing this. Well, in the middle of last night's,
well technically this morning's, nearly four hour ride back to DC from
two fantastic shows with four post-set formations at The Showroom of
the Tropicana Hotel & Casino, I'm drinking coffee and thus still restless.
However, now I'm thinking that I'm glad I'm NOT too old to keep doing this!
Last night's great shows at the Tropicana seemingly compare favorably
(albeit with no Blue Bonnet Girl, nor 10,000 Men) to the other shows of
this Fall 2000 swing through the northeast. But because last night was
the penultimate night of the tour I couldn't help but think about those
November Sands shows (and the unique early show) of last year (Nov. 19, 1999),
that night also the penultimate night on a northeastern Fall swing by "Bob
Dylan and his Band!"
I've never been to Atlantic City (yes, I sadly missed last year's Sands shows),
and arrived early so I could go see the boardwalk. I was pleasantly
surprised to see dunes and some coastal vegetation intact, fine gray sand
that borders on being silt, sea shells, and waves rolling onto the shore.
Before the shows I had time to meet back up my friends Alex and Josh, who
I saw last at this Summer's Camden and Columbia shows, with Josh fresh from
winning a thousand plus in the casino! They saw last week's Lehigh show,
whereas I'm a light-weight and had not seen Bob since the Camden and
Columbia shows. I ran into Russ and Iris too, who said this Wednesday's
Salisbury show was great. The Bob-less band sound-checked from about
5-5:30PM, playing Judas Priest and Fourth Time Around. When I got inside
for the early show and made it to my seats center in Row S ( I was just
behind that in Row X for the second show), I was awed by a few new idols
on my left who've been to 40 plus shows this year and on my right by
Mitch B., a long time archivist, who has seen 100's of shows since the 60's.
Way-to-cool! From my seats of both shows I could see Bob's thin new
mustache and black boots with white basal patterns, that is through my
binocs, and I think I perhaps noticed Bob's hair a bit more gray too.
Of course, anything Bob and Band choose to play would be more than all
right by me, and by the first set's 5-7 song slot were knew we were
getting a great (standard-ish) Fall 2000 show, Country Pie signaling that
were we not going to get the nearly-all-acoustic first show that opened
with Roving Gambler that surprised all during last year's AC stand. But,
Bob's already been there and done that, so… Perhaps the highlights of the
night for me were the back-to-back Man In Me and Tom Thumb, songs 7 & 8 of
the first set, and of course the encore (both shows) of If Dogs Run Free.
As usual, the band alternately played sweet and rocked hard, rocking
especially hard on Cold Irons, Leopard-Skin, Drifter, Cats & HW61. And
Ramona, Soldier's Grave, and Tomorrow (among others) were very very pretty.
David Kemper was really cooking on those stop-time songs in the #11 slot.
Bob played harp only in the late set, and the late set's TUIB had a
fantastic long guitar lead by Bob. Actually, it'd be hard for Bob to have
played better leads than those of last night, he was freaking hot from the
get-go, as was the whole band! And it's really fun seeing Larry and
Charlie trade off leads on the rocking songs, each having his own sound.
I noticed that Charlie has lots of (7 or so to start) flat picks on his mic
stand and many way pretty guitars too! But Larry thumb picks and plays
pedal steel, fiddle, and mandolin, so he doesn't have as many guitars.
Tony played his acoustic Coma (rather than his stand-up bass) during an
acoustic (except for Larry's fine electric runs) first show encore of Dogs,
even though his stand-up was available.
The first set had 15 songs, whereas the second had one more encore (after a
brief threat from the Fire Marshall to clear the aisles or cancel the encores),
and thus 16 total songs. Songs 5-7 (TUIB, Soldier's Grave & Country Pie) and
encores 1 & 2 (Things Have Changed & Dogs) were present in both shows, so thus
by my count we got 31 performances of 26 different songs from about 7PM to
just before midnight. Wow! The (whole?) PA went out and the band was playing
only with their small stacks and monitors during most of Back Pages & Ma in
the second show. Bob just kept playing and singing (largely inaudibly from
my seats) through it however, just like he did during the sound-challenged
Desolation Row at Columbia this Summer. Tony was cracking up and talking to
Bob throughout parts of this disturbance, and man did the audience come alive
during the PA problems and the fixing thereof, which seemed to take at least
5 or more minutes. Oh well, so this AC show is perhaps unique too!
The posters were again $10, and the colors were a kind of blue for the early
show and maroon for the late show (the maroon poster nearly matching the color
of that show's suits worn by Larry, Tony, and Charlie; Bob too changed between
shows, wearing a long black coat and bronze shirt & tie for the early show and
a shorter black coat and black shirt for the late show). Bob's picture and
harp didn't reproduce as well on this year's Summer and Fall posters as
compared to those of last Fall's tour that used the same photo, where the holes
in the harp were plainly visible. I did all my souvenir shopping last night
at the Tropicana (the cool red-dotted long-sleeve Bob shirts were new to me),
since I guess I'll be rushing the stage when the doors open at today's general
admission show at Towson.
Well Dear Friends (ala Firesign), I arrived safely home at 4AM this morning
and I'm off to Towson University in nearby Baltimore tonight for Dylan's
final concert of 2000 (of the millennium in the strict sense too, I guess).
Of course, we always anticipate rarities at every forthcoming show, so stay
Nov 19, 2000
Review by Peter Stone Brown
Sometimes it seems there are nights when Bob Dylan decides he's going to
out and show everyone exactly why he is. well. Bob Dylan and the first
show at the Tropicana was one of those times. Dylan was *on* from the
first note of "Duncan & Brady," followed by an astoundingly beautiful "To
Ramona" with Larry Campbell on mandolin, and then, a "Desolation Row" that
rocked with Dylan finding what he was looking for on guitar and not
letting it go in two different solos that kept building in intensity. But
it was the singing that made the show. There were times when he was
sailing and it didn't matter that the set list wasn't all that exciting,
even standard compared to some shows on this tour because he made both
"Don't Think Twice" and the ever-present "Tangled Up In Blue" come alive.
"Country Pie" again served as a vehicle for Sexton and Campbell to show
their stuff. Who ever would've thought an absurd song like "Country Pie"
would be an opener for the electric set, but it works especially when
Sexton and Campbell get into the call-and-response leads at the end.
Then came the show's one surprise, a rearranged "The Man In Me" with Larry
playing gorgeous steel followed by a reasonably strong, "Just Like Tom
Thumb 's Blues," with Dylan playing the lead-and he hit some funky crazy
groove, but as good as it was I ended up wishing he'd let Sexton loose on
The energy level was then brought down for "To Make You Feel My Love"
which had into which made me thing it was going to be the superior "Simple
Twist of Fate," but this may have been part of Dylan's plan, "playing the
master arsonist" as Sam Shepherd said in order to make the blast of Cold
Iron Bounds all the more effective and the guitars were cranked and they
were loud and Dylan is clearly having a good time, but then the band
introductions and triple sunburst Strat attack on "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box
The energy level stayed high for an excellent "Things Have Changed" and
another great "If Dogs Run Free," masterfully delivered with Dylan
changing lyrics: "My ears hear a *reverie* of rhyme" and stretching out,
If doggggggggggggggggggs run free."
The set ended with a more straight-ahead "Like A Rolling Stone" than the
previous night in Princeton before the rather hysterical formation lineup.
The songs and even this review don't tell the story-Dylan's singing
tonight was on a spectacular level.
Now the Tropicana is one very crowed and claustrophobic casino and getting
out of this theater was no easy task and once outside back in the casino
you couldn't even stop to talk to people because the security wanted the
line to keep moving. And everywhere you went in the casino whether it was
on an elevator there were just tons of people.
For the second show the band appeared in matching sort of maroon suits
with Dylan dressed in a black suit with a black shirt and a tie that
matched the band's suits. He immediately changed things by opening with
"I Am The Man Thomas," and then "My Back Pages" with Larry on fiddle. But
halfway through, maybe less than halfway, there was a loud pop-the kind of
sound when a very loud electric object is unplugged and Dylan's mic went
dead and he kept singing, hearing himself in the monitor apparently not
realizing that the audience couldn't hear him. This was followed by a
very long instrumental break and I kept wondering if anyone was doing
anything about the sound and if Dylan knew something was really messed up
but then he started singing again and no one could hear. And then he
started "It's All Right Ma" but no one could hear and everyone started to
wonder how long this was going to go on. Then a stage hand said something
to Tony and Tony said something to Bob and then finally the sound came
back for the last verse. But when something like this happens it's kind of
like letting the air out of balloon and it takes a while to get things
back to where they were. However Dylan is of the old school of performers,
those who believe you do not stop the show for anything.
Like the first show (and just about every show on this tour), "Tangled,"
"Soldier's Grave" and "Country Pie" were next. Then came "I'll Be Your
Baby Tonight," one song that I've never particularly cared for live. On
John Wesley Harding, the song is pure C&W going right back to Hank
Williams, but in concert Dylan turns it into this bluesy shuffle. Tonight
they did a little more with it especially on the bridge, but the best
moment came when Dylan finally brought out the harp-the first time I've
seen him play harp on this that I can remember and it was a great solo.
"Tombstone Blues" brought the energy level a bit higher followed by
"Trying To Get To Heaven," and then instead of "Pill-Box Hat," a very
funky and rocking "Cats In The Well" to close the first set.
Then something really weird happened, perhaps the strangest thing I've
ever seen at a Dylan concert. While everyone was waiting for the band to
return for the encores all of a sudden Tropicana people were on stage and
made an announcement that all the people in the front of the stage had to
clear out or the show would stop! They said the fire marshals were there
and would stop the show. The house lights came about three quarters of
the way up and we wondered if the show was going to continue or not. This
was really bizarre and totally unprecedented, but then Dylan shows in
Atlantic City have built up a rather bizarre history no matter what casino
Finally the band and Dylan reappeared and Dylan rescued what was left of
the show with an mighty "Things Have Changed" during which he kept
smiling, prompting my friend Andrew to comment, "Only he would never crack
a smile on "Country Pie," and smile throughout "Things Have Changed."
The remaining songs were good but standard, but despite a good performance
by Dylan and his band, the sound problems at the beginning and the
Tropicana people at the end kind of put a damper on this show.
"Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times." --Bob
Dylan Peter Stone Brown e-mail: email@example.com
Review by Josh Leik
What a great night. The first time I've ever seen two Dylan concerts in
the same night. While walking into the casino around 4:30 or so, my
brother, my friend Scott, and I ran into Charlie sexton. He was very
polite and signed our ticket stubs and asked if we had won anything.
Well, at that time I hadn't yet won a $1,000.00 so I had to say no. But
it wasn't an hour later when first Scott hit five of a kind on the poker
machines and not 15 minutes later I did the same thing. This is the
second time I've set foot in a casino. It was looking to be a great
For the first show we had a partially blocked view on the left side
orchestra but generally good seats. I thought the first show was good but
got the feeling they were pacing themselves which I guess would be
necessary. Duncan and Brady was very nice as was Ramona and Desolation
Row, but bob seemed lost on the guitar. His noodling was really missing
at some places. But Don't Think Twice was really something special. Bob
was whispering the lines at some points which he can't do in some of the
larger venues. The showroom was very nice and acoustically sound. It
seemed rather large for a capacity of 18 or 19 hundred that I think it
was. A lot of space. Tangled/Searchin/Country pie was very enjoyable but
still everyone was holding back a little. Being on the extreme opposite
side of the room, we could not hear Charlie's guitar playing very well.
But when Larry played pedal steel on "The Man In Me" it was crystal clear.
I haven't heard him play this for a few years and they did a nice job
with it. Tom Thumbs Blues just didn't compare to the version I heard at
Penn State last year though it was good. Make You Feel My Love was when
I felt Bob (and the band) really seemed to come alive. Although it is a
gentle song, they really started playing with some emotion and that
carried over into Cold Irons Bound. Although they missed the beat during
the first few lines (it's a tough one) they got it together quickly and it
really livened the place up.
Leopard skin pill box hat continued that feeling with bob really finding
his lyrics amusing. I felt that tonight's versions of If Dogs Run Free
were the best yet. They just really nailed it. So overall I thought it
was a good show but if you wanna see Dylan twice in the same night I guess
you have to expect him to take it slow for at least a little bit.
For the second show I had a totally different feeling. From the second
row in the center orchestra we moved to the stage as soon as the lights
went down. It seemed like "We made it through the first one, now lets let
it all hand out." And some nice changes in the set list. I've been
listening to I am The Man Thomas a lot lately on some recordings I have
and thinking how I was missing hearing him play it, so this was a great
start. My back Pages was very nicely done with Larry playing fiddle and
then things started to get weird. There was a very loud pop in the main
speakers. Since we were right up front, we were hearing the monitors and
not realizing for a while that there was no vocal out in the room. If I
remember correctly it lasted almost the duration of it's all right ma. but
again since we were hearing it all along I don't know exactly when his
vocal came back. But it was in time for Tomorrow is A Long Time. One of
my favorites, and boy was it sweet. Larry's really got a great voice and
this is one of the times where it really shines.
Tangled/Searchin/Country Pie. A little more lively this time and again
the "new melody" he's singing on tangled makes it fresh again.
And then........some of the best guitar playing I've heard bob do was on
I'll Be Your Baby tonight. He was putting fills in between singing lines
and most of them were right on and some of them were downright tasteful.
I really enjoyed this and haven't heard it for a while. Tombstone Blues
was loud and rockin and even though Bob flubbed a verse (he started
singing at the wrong time and to my surprise, the band didn't pick up on
it) it was maybe my favorite of the night. None of the reservation of the
first show, they were on fire by now. Tryin to Get To Heaven, I like it
more each time I hear it even though I was at first disappointed that the
original version was changed. Drifters Escape was very hard rockin and
bob kept everyone together counting off the verses. Some adventurous
harmonica playing, he stepped outside of the 3 or 4 notes that often
comprise his solos. Cat's in the Well also rocked, they kept turning up
the volume and everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Then, more weirdness. The first time I've ever seen this. They announced
that if the area in front of the stage was not cleared, Bob would not come
out for his encore. Well, my brother and I headed to the back for the
last few songs and they actually did clear it out. So we watched the last
few songs, a Beautiful IF Dogs Run Free, a burning Hiway 61 and a tight
version of Blowing in the Wind, from behind the soundboard and watched
security break up a fight and then we were gone.
Firsts: first time for two Dylan concerts in one night, first time vie
met Charlie, first time i won $1,000.00 at a Dylan concert (or anywhere)
and the first time I've seen a show stopped, that may have been the first
time I've heard him sing tomorrow is a long time. (it was at least the
first memorable one)
Review by Adam Dean
Went to both AC shows on Saturday night.Well, at least there weren't any
songs I didn't remember hearing. My reaction to Bob's mike going out
during My Back Pages was a little different than most - the look on Bob's
face was one of fear when this loud "POP" appeared from nowhere. (Now this
is a sad thing to say, but) I would bet that Bob for an instant thought it
was a gunshot; he took a few steps back and looked all around, and as
soon as he realized it was sound related he came back to his mike (which
he didn't realize was not working) and continued to sing. The crowd became
restless and people started to yell at the stage. The wierdness only got
wierder when he dove right into It's All Right, Ma and continued to sing
into a dead mike. About halfway through this song the sound re-appeared
and a very loud cheer went up - Bob had to then realize he could be heard
again, and he really tore into the words the rest of this song.
One other thought - it was obvious from the beginning of the early show
that this was "New York" crowd, well heeled, and diehard Bob fans. Bob
really played his heart out (especially in the first show) and when he got
to the end of Tom Thumb's Blues the crowd went nuts over the "going back
to NYC" line.
Well, another tour in the books - THANKS,Bill for all the great updates on
Bob Links - to paraphrase... "You are The Man, Bill, you are THE MAN..."
Review by Duncan Hume
As we rolled into Atlantic City we passed a huge sign proclaiming Bob's
presence at the Tropicana. 'An evening with Bob Dylan'.
A very plush venue paid for by gamblers with losing hands. There was no
balcony, just a gently rising floor, making the 2,000 seater look bigger.
We'd come a long way for these two shows and our efforts to secure decent
seats had worked very well. 2nd row center for both shows. With the usual
pre-show drinks behind us, we headed in to see where Bob was taking us
tonight. Another show. Another piece of the mosaic. In today's wired world
we all knew roughly what to expect. Gone are the innocent days of waiting
for the latest issue of the Telegraph to plop on the mat with its priceless
enclosures. Brown envelopes torn open in eager anticipation of finding out
what he played 6 weeks ago. These days it's up early, on to Bob Links and
last night's set list appears. Things have changed all right. I'd tracked
the set lists more closely recently, knowing I was going to the Atlantic
City shows. 10,000 Men and Blue Bonnet Girl stirred my train spotting senses.
Seated in the 'Showroom' we were joined by two girls to our right, both
clearly thrilled to be so close to the stage. The couple in front of us
turned, we chattered. The usual stuff. War stories. How many shows? Where
did you come from? 7.10pm and out came the band followed by Bob. We stood
up and remained standing for the rest of the show, as did everybody else
around us. I've been closer but somehow tonight the air seemed very clear
despite the dust and the smoke from the josticks, which drifted across the
stage, picked out in the navy blue lights. Suddenly he was there in front
of me, so close. I felt almost as if I was intruding, being so near. The
girls next to me had binoculars. I couldn't have used them. How close do you
need to get? He looked well, maybe a little more gaunt than a few weeks ago.
His attempt at a Garnier moustache startled me. It looked more like an
adolescent effort. It won't last. A good gust of wind will take care of it.
As Duncan and Brady rolled around I relished the thought that even when this
show was over we had another only an hour later. People began to fill the
void between the stage and the seats in the front row. An elderly couple
walked down to the front. She'd spent a good part of the day at the
hairdressers. They looked uncomfortable. Out of place. Desolation Row proved
too much for her and she sat down on one of the unused front row seats. Her
husband valiantly stood for a while before they both moved away. The acoustic
set washed over me and before I knew it I was being served a slice of Country
Pie. Appleberries included. Later I played guess the intro and confidently
told the girl next to me that it was I Shall be Released. My 'cred', if I had
any to begin with, was blown with the opening line of Man In Me. I smiled
apologetically at my neighbour and decided not to play that game again. Just
like Tom Thumbs Blues got Bob singing with his body as well as his voice.
Leaning, bending, moving, building, to the New York City punch line. If Dogs
Run Free gets funnier with each performance. I'm almost sure he'll crack up
completely singing this one-day. But not tonight. He managed to keep his Bob
Dylan mask intact. As the closing bars of Like a Rolling Stone wound down,
I consoled myself with the thought it was only halftime.
Back to the very same seats for the 10.00pm show. From 9.45 we were
entertained by the attempts of a lone 'security' lady trying to stop people
gathering at the front of the stage. Each time she shamed a few into
returning to their distant seats she'd move to other side of the stage, only
to see the opposite side had now filled with people she had, but a few moments
before, sent scurrying back from whence they came. It reminded me of watching
a child trying to build a wall around a sandcastle to protect it from the
incoming tide. In the end she scrambled up on to the stage and told everyone
to return to their seats. 1% did, the rest ignored her. Shortly before the
lights went down the cavalry arrived in the generously proportioned shape of
another 'security officer'. He managed to make more progress, though once the
lights went down a successful rush for the stage ensued. The band and Bob
appeared, in changed outfits, though Bob still wore those black boots with
curly white inlays. Very tasteful. The band dressed in their matching purple
suits Bob in one of those smart dark suits and red tie. He somehow looked
I am the Man Thomas kicked off, Bob immediately on. No three song warm up.
This was the eyebrow raising, eye popping Bob. They really are bluer than
robin's eggs. He glanced back and forth between Larry and Charlie and
deliberately sung the chorus a little faster than them, just to keep them
on their toes. Towards the end of My Back Pages, with Larry playing some
fine fiddle, there was an alarming electrical bang that made the whole room
jump, including Bob, who momentarily pulled his head away from the mike.
Its Alright Ma started up and Bob stepped up to the mike. I could just hear
him but it was obvious there was a problem. The crowd began shout, trying to
alert Bob and the boys. Tony eventually got the message and whispered in
Bob's ear. Bob carried on singing. I was reminded of the scene in Don't Look
Back. The back stage panic during 'Times' when someone had disconnected Bob's
mike. What seemed an age passed until suddenly the sound came back, the crowd
cheered. Bob never blinked. In true Soy Bomb fashion he ignored the chaos
around him, I guess he accepted it.
Tomorrow is a Long Time was tender, loving and delivered with care. The band
really has these gentle ballads figured out now. I was relieved the mike had
recovered for this one. Bob playfully repeated his vocal gymnastics in
Searchin' For a Soldiers Grave. Getting slightly ahead of the boys, just to
beat them to the punch. The space between the stage and the front row was
now full with potential deportees but nobody seemed to mind. Trying To Get
Heaven was the lounge bar, Ronnie Scott version. Wonderful. Cats In The Well
ended with that great final closing line and after the amusing pose, Bob doing
his boxer, hand on hip, eye squint, head wobble routine, they left the stage.
At this point the familiar pattern changed. After about a minute, a member of
the crew appeared on stage and took Bob's mike from the stand. For an instant
I thought maybe Bob was ill or something terrible had happened. He looked
serious. He said something like "The fire marshal has told us we cannot
continue until the people in the front return to their seats. So if you want
the show to continue please return to your seats now". Well that was different!
After a few minutes the crowd at the front thinned out and Bob returned to
the stage. The longer break had got him pumped up because he delivered a knock
out Things Have Changed. He stared in to the crowd who had by now reassembled
at the front of the stage and belted out the lyrics with a swagger and a smirk.
He loves the wheelbarrow line. If Dogs Run Free again. A grin broke across his
face. Someone near me called out for Bob to "mix it up" perhaps asking for
more than the 26 different songs in two shows with only 5 repeats. There is
no pleasing some, is there? Security managed to clear the front for Highway 61.
They crouched down in the front saying this was the last song. "Oh no it's not"
I wagered. Thankfully I was right and we got a Blowin'in the Wind as good as
any I've heard. Bob closed and adopted the pose in line. He looked into the
crowd and someone made him laugh. He pointed, laughed again and left the stage.
We struggled to get out of the 'Showroom' past the merchandise table,
thoughtfully placed at the narrowest point of the only exit. My pal reflected,
"If you'd have told me 5 years ago I'd see Bob perform If Dogs Run Free twice
in one night, I'd have said you were mad". "Yep" I replied "Barking mad".
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