Atlantic City, New Jersey

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
Event Center

November 26, 2010

[Peter Stone Brown], [Howard Weiner]

Review by Peter Stone Brown

For whatever reason Bob Dylan's last few shows in Atlantic City have been at the
Borgata, which isn't necessarily as much fun as some of the other casinos, but
then again weird things have happened at other Casinos like shows getting
interrupted by the Fire Department, drunk fans deciding to jump onstage and sing
and all kinds of things.  The Borgata has its own set of weird things like
getting in and getting out, and then once you're in, you're getting out to get
out and parking lot exit system that was designed by a moron, though the Dylan
fans leaving the lot decided to heed Jon Stewart's you go then I'll go maxim,
which I can tell you from experience doesn't happen in real life at the entrance
to the Lincoln Tunnel.  

In any case not an empty seat was to be seen at the Borgata and after a rather
speedy run-through of the usual announcement, Dylan and band ripped into a
charge version of "Change My Way Of Thinking" with Charlie Sexton playing a
bottleneck lead.  

Bob quickly left the keyboard for guitar, and Stu Kimball started the intro to a
not bad "Girl From The North Country," with Donnie Herron's pedal steel quite
audible and intermingling with Bob's lead guitar, weaving in and out of Bob's
guitar lines which again on this tour managed to stay on track.  Bob stayed on
guitar, and Donnie moved to a loud and clear trumpet for a cool rendition of
"Beyond Here Lies Nothin'."  The show was starting to pick up steam as Bob
returned to the keyboard for "Just Like A Woman."  The band was tight, but on
this song tonight Dylan's voice just wasn't up to the task of really singing the
melody and he ended up sounding like a combination of Jimmy Durante and Popeye
with a slight dose of Charlie Patton.  The was the usual stop for the audience
to sing along on the chorus which they mostly didn't, and during the last
instrumental I was hoping Dylan would pick up the harp and really let loose but
he didn't.

Dylan's voice more than returned for "The Levee's Gonna Break," in fact he
sounded maybe 20 years younger.  Bob Dylan can sing in such a way that every
word stands out when he wants to, but what he was singing half the time on this
song tonight, I have no idea, though he appeared to be having quite a good time
doing it.  The band was all high energy, with an extra long jam at the end
before returning to the first verse to close things, with suddenly jumping into
revival tent preacher mode on the last line, "Everybody saying this is a day,
only the lord, only the lord, only the lord could make."

Moving back to center stage, but no guitar, the band kicked into a not bad "Most
Likely You Go Your Way" with Sexton playing a very cool lick straight from
Stax-Volt Memphis.  The bridge had some very cool stops, the precision of which
seemed to please Dylan immensely.  The judge (stop) he holds a grudge (stop)
he's gonna fall on you.  The songs then veered into some crazy direction as
Dylan played a wild harp solo that ended up being back on the bridge.  Dylan
stayed at center stage, strapped the guitar back on the band went to Chicago,
for a slow but smoking, totally in the pocket "My Wife's Home Town."  A lot of
the audience decided this was a good time to get a drink or whatever, but quite
a few people in the audience also picked up on the groove that was happening

As Dylan walked back to the keyboard, Stu Kimball started the acoustic intro to
"Desolation Row," followed by Recili on drums, and after a couple of hits on the
bongos, Dylan started his merry-go-round organ.  Unlike last year, the organ
riff from "If You Ever Go To Houston," wasn't transplanted beneath the verses,
with the guitars returning to the song's original guitar riff.  And while that
transplanted riff did take the song to certain heights, tonight it didn't
matter.  Suddenly, it wasn't like you were sitting in the audience at some
glitzy casino.  Instead you were on the midway of the last windy autumn carnival
on the ledge of some lonesome town on the edge of nowhere.  And you're walking
down the midway going from left to right and right to left and each verse is
like the next booth, or tent or ride.  And just like those different booths,
each verse is sung in a different voice with different phrasing, sometimes into
the staccato singing for a line or two and then out again.  

"Cold Irons Bound" could have picked up in the same lot 20 miles out of town,
except the carnival's pack up and gone and all that's left is the wind and it's
maybe four in the morning.  After that what could you do except seek "Shelter
From The Storm, with Donnie Herron standing out on pedal steel, and Bob playing

A fairly routine "Highway 61 Revisited" led into a "Nettie Moore" that was more
playful than wistful.  In many of the versions I've seen before, what hit you
was the beauty of the melody of the chorus but tonight Dylan was toying around
with the phrasing of the verses, in a way that where there once was reverence,
there now was absurdity, and where once the focus was on "I miss you Nettie
Moore," tonight he barked out, "The world has gone BLACK before my eyes."

After a fairly hot "Thunder On The Mountain," "Ballad of a Thin Man" at center
stage closed the show.  It's hard for Dylan to do wrong and this song, and him
standing at the microphone, half acting it out, half dancing, half preacher,
half comic, it's hard to do wrong.  Tonight, I noticed on the screen behind,
throughout the song they'd focus on the shadows of various band members in
different sizes.  The shadows thing had been going on all night against various
backgrounds, at times more evident than others.  On "Thin Man," is was
deliberately evident.

At this point, and from what I've seen (one other show) and heard of this tour,
is how not good, but great this band is.  In terms of tightness, precision,
doing what's right for the song, and arrangements that work, this may well be
the tightest band that Dylan's had on the "Never Ending Tour."  There may have
been other bands that rocked harder at times, or took things to a certain crazy
edge, but in terms of nailing it every time, pulling off intricate little runs
and jams that actually go someplace, this band is way up there with the best of
Dylan's bands. 


Review by Howard Weiner

After a rejuvenating day of rest and aggressive feasting, I returned to
Manhattan at noon. I worked Turkey-Day toxins out of my system with twenty
brisk minutes of jumping rope and then sang Jokerman and Sweetheart Like 
You in the shower. I had no plans for Black Friday; however I was nursing an 
itch to go see Dylan at the Borgota.  I snatched a ticket on the Internet.  
The sliding skies were gray with a speck of blue as I boarded the 85th 
St. Academy bus.  Destination: Monopoly Land – home of the Jitney, the worst 
public transportation system in any civilized city.   In the thirteenth spot, Nettie
Moore was the performance of the night.  The world’s gone black before my
eyes –a mantra for business owners on Black Friday. When Dylan sang “She’s
been cooking all day gonna take me all night, I can’t eat all that stuff with
a single bite,” I tapped my belly and thought of the prior day’s feast
starring two plump turkeys and a humongous ring of rather large shrimp from
Ecuador. The highlight of Nettie Moore was Dylan’s surprise harp attack. I’d
never heard him improvise a harp solo on this one before, delicious. The smiling
Cowboy Band was digging it. Dylan was in a mischievous mood, sneaking in
harmonica solos on the sly, skipping them when expected Dylan has locked into
Change My Way of Thinking as the opener lately. I’m digging this version with
refurbished lyrics. Dylan looked great in his white hat, green shirt and black
pants with the gray stripe. His athletic gyrations were fabulous: hip swivels,
knee bends, yoga kicks. This tour he has really settled into playing some nice
lead guitar as evidenced on Beyond Here Lies Nothing.  Suave Dylan growled for
the ladies up front, “Oh how I love you pretty baby.” The verses of Just
Like a Woman were handled with tenderness and the band knows how to treat this
lady. Girl From the North Country was a nice choice, it has a day after
Thanksgiving feel. Desolation Row was stuck in the middle of this rumbling set.
It’s tough for Dylan to do his epic song justice, so Bob just has fun with it
in-the-moment. During one of the stanzas, he matched his vocal cadence to what
he was plinking on the keyboards. Shelter From the Storm appeared out of
nowhere. The arrangement sounded odd at first (a creature void of form), but Bob
and his perceptive group rode this to glory. And hearing Dylan bellow this funky
remake made me appreciate the lyrics in a unique way. The Levee’s Gonna Break
was the hardest hitting groove of the night. Nothing but the blues – My
Wife’s Hometown and Cold Irons Bound emphasized that. I like the intent of the
new Cold Irons, but prefer the explosive renditions from 2004. For theatre
lovers, Cold Irons was the keeper. Dylan appeared center stage, sang into the
mic on the stand and carried his wireless silver mic like a hunter carries a
tiny club. On the screen behind the stage there
 was a live black and white feed of the band, and you could see Dylan’s black
 shadow against the screen. Dylan before our eyes in 3D, it was better than
                Highway 61 and Thunder on the Mountain suffered
from lack of lead guitar. Dylan engages Sexton with trade off licks, but Charlie
just answers back with low-key spurts. The rhythm section does the serious
jamming in this band. During the band introduction, Dylan introduced Sexton as
the rhythm guitarist. Then (I have to confirm this on tape) Dylan said, “And
on lead guitar Tony Garnier.” Sexton jerked his head backwards with a big mock
smile. If he did say that, it was a precise dagger – Tony’s bass was leading
the charge. Recile is a force; I appreciate his drumming more each time around.
And Donnie keep up the excellent work. Rest well gentlemen, I’m looking
forward to tour 2011. Peace.


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