page by Bill Pagel
Review by Adam Dean
The Borgata is a nice place but the seats in the concert hall remain less
than comfortable (or perhaps I was spoiled forever by the plush seats at
NJPAC last Tuesday) – the Bob Dylan Show on a Sunday night was a must see,
especially since this tour didn’t come to Philly. There was a great crowd
and the Ballroom was full, people were excited and cheering loudly the
entire evening. It was a very relaxed atmosphere.
Amos Lee put on a nice show and I saw many people buy his CD (a very good
CD!). Merle Haggard was INCREDIBLE – boy, can he sound like Willie Nelson!
He did a whole bunch of his greatest hits and the crowd was really into
it! The highlights for me were Rainbow Stew, If You’ve Got The Money, Mama
Tried, and a just brilliant version of Unforgettable to close the set –
it’s great for Merle to get this kind of exposure to so many new fans, and
brilliant of Bob’s staff to pick this group as touring partners. The
question remains: will Merle make an appearance on stage with Bob? New
York City will be the place if it happens at all. I would be very
surprised if he doesn’t get at least one song on stage with Bob at one of
the Beacon shows.
Why is this night different from all other nights? Because it’s Sunday!
And on Sunday, Bob Dylan takes us on a mystical and spiritual journey.
This was my umpteenth Atlantic City show and it was a thrill to hear two
songs I’d never heard Bob perform (God Knows and St. Augustine). The set
was punctuated with religious themed songs (God Knows, Ring Them Bells,
Tryin’ To Get To Heaven, I Believe In You, I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine)
and the rest of the set fit in very nicely with this theme (except maybe
Watchin’ The River Flow which always seems like a “throw away” song to
me,. A chance for the band to play loud). Actually, that was my other
impression from last night – THIS BAND IS LOUD!!! Without Elena to smooth
out the sound, this new band really rocks out – Drifters Escape, God
Knows, Watchin’ The River Flow, Highway 61 – all played very loud and
heavy on the guitars.
Mississippi was an interesting re-write, although having seen this song
performed in its original version (when Bob still played guitar on it), I
prefer the original version – but the new one is very nice.
On to New York City – and what an interesting week it will be! Looking
forward to The Beacon next Friday night. See you there!
Review by Frank Moriarty
Last night's show was the first I've seen with the currently revised
band - in fact, it was so revised that Elana was not on stage, nor have I
been able to find any info at all about her whereabouts, and if this
absence at the Borgata show is temporary or permanent. Regardless, my
brief comments follow: it was great to see Merle Haggard, and the crowd
gave him a warm response. There a lots of delicate silences and passages
in his music, so I was concerned that the party atmosphere that
characterizes so many Bob shows might trash the Hag's performance, but the
audience was quite attentive and responsive. Bob and company took the
stage at roughly 9:30, lumbering into Drifter's Escape with more power
than I'd expected. There was a lot of sound with two guitars and the
mandolin, but to me it did not sound as focused as shows from the Larry
era. You can check the set list for the overall flow of the show, but I
have to admit that the performance I saw at the Borgata last year just
after Stu joined and this one are the two most disappointing Bob shows
I've seen in recent years. I'll admit to being a fan of Freddy Koella - a
controversial stance in some parts - but I don't think there any arguing
that some of the shows from last Spring were incendiary, with the band
being a real powerhouse. I saw the last Detroit show last year and it was
fantastic. But this band, I don't know - Stu does nothing at all that
perks up my ears, Denny makes some interesting note selections, and
Donnie's pedal steel is fine, but this band lineup - at least last night -
was nothing more than OK, to my ears. And again, Elana was MIA. As for Bob
himself, it was the usual from recent years - crouched over the piano,
barking out the words or relying on that up-note style to end lines, and
taking occasional forays to the center of the stage during his harp solos.
And if I hear TweedleD and TD one more time... I hate to sound
unenthusiastic, but I'd gladly trade last night's whole show for a few
songs by the Larry/Charlie or Larry/Freddy band. Naturally, this all
nothing more than my own personal opinion, blah blah woof woof - if you
were there, I hope you enjoyed it!
Review by Lenny Rock
Just like alot of you, I hear it all the time from friends--"Why the hell
do you go to so many Bob Dylan shows?" My answer is always the
same--"Because you never know what's gonna happen. Expect the unexpected!"
Case in point was Sunday night at The Borgata in Atlantic City...If I
would have missed this show, I would be very pissed today!
I think Sunday night marked Dylan show #119 for me, and the surprises came
flying at my eardrums for a splid 90-minutes. There is something about
Sunday shows that transforms Dylan's keyboards into a ministers pulpit.
It's not just a concert, but a deeply religious rock event.
The one-two punch of "God Knows", (which sent electric shockwaves through
the crowd), and"Ring Them Bells" (which made the crowd so quiet it felt
like being outdoors under the stars)--Together, these two songs set the
spiritual tone for the entire night. This was going to be something very
"Tryin' To Get To Heaven" keeps getting better with age, and "I Believe In
You" came at us with more passion and intensity than I can remember in
quite sometime. Then came true magic--Song #10 was "I Dreamed I Saw St.
Augustine"--are you kidding me? I have never been lucky enough to be in
the audience when Bob has performed this tune. By the crowd reaction, I
think alot of folks in the sold-out congregation felt the same way. There
was even a big smile on Tony Garnier's face while Bob was singing it--A
smile that said, "Oh yeah boys, we're gonna keep this one around for
awhile." I slapped the dude sitting beside me. "Can you believe we're
hearing this one?", I shouted. He was not smiling. His smirk was was one
that said, "Why did you just hit me asshole?" So if you're reading this
young tie-dyed stranger, I apologize for the whack on your back.
"Ballad Of A Thin Man" is quite simply one of the heaviest songs ever
written by any artist (has it ever sounded better?), and Dylan's latest
arrangement and phrasing of "A Hard Rain's-A-Gonna Fall" makes the song
gather momentum--layer upon layer--until reaching the "...know my song
well before I start singin'" mountain top.
Sunday night...casino town...losers & winners...gambling, drinking, street
walkers, cheaters...Doesn't seem like the type of environment most people
would find salvation. With Dylan, always expect the unexpected. Amen.
Actor Ethan Hawke ("Training Day", "Dead Poets Society", "Reality Bites")
was in attendence, and was checking out the Dylan t-shirts at the
merchandise stand--Along with a huge bodyguard! I'm not a big fan of his
movies, but I really dig his ex-wife Uma Thurman. Merle Haggard has a new
cd available for sale at the shows. It features an awesome rendition of
Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable". Amos Lee closed his set with a brand new
song called "Dirt". Sounds like an early Woody-Dylan "talkin'-style" song.
(1) Coors Lite, (1) Diet Coke, (4) Jack Daniels on the rocks...Total: $34
page by Bill Pagel
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