page by Bill Pagel
Review by Peter Stone Brown
Something weird seems to happen every time Bob Dylan plays Atlantic City.
Tonight it didn't matter at all. The difference between Friday's show and
Saturday's was like night and day with the energy level rising like "High
Water." The show was inspired on all fronts.
Starting again with a rocking "Maggie's Farm," they then went into "I
Don't Believe You," and with the opening songs both having shades of 1965,
I wondered where the show would lead. When it came time for the guitar
solos the difference in the band became apparent. Larry Campbell and
Freddie Koella had obviously worked out parts and I began to wonder
whether they'd spent the afternoon playing. And Dylan was on playing a
fine harp solo.
"Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" brought things back to the present in a
perfect version with the guitars really ripping and then it was a perfect
"Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" with Larry on steel and Dylan
playing not one, but two harp solos and since the arrangement was so close
to the original, like the night before on "Lay Lady Lay," I couldn't help
but think if he had played these harp solos on the original record, it was
would have been a whole other experience.
"Things Have Changed" was nothing short of amazing, Dylan tearing through
the vocals with unbelievable intensity. It may well have been the best
live version I've seen of this song. Then unlike the night before, Dylan
put on his strat for "Drifter's Escape," and again the guitars are
happening, and Dylan's into his guitar solo and Freddie does something
I've seen no Dylan guitar player do, he goes right up to him and plays
with him, playing around and with what Dylan is doing on guitar and then
Dylan has the harp and he is playing to the crowd and the level of the
show went up another few knotches.
The lights go down and in the darkness you heard the unmistakeable strum
of Dylan's Gibson J-45 and it's "Don't Think Twice," and again it's time
for Dylan's solo and again Freddie goes right up to him and starts playing
with him, and Bob shoots him a glance, but it's a glance of "hey we're
playing guitars," and Dylan finds this groove and Freddie goes right along
with him and Dylan sings another verse and then it's back into the guitars
again with Dylan finding the same groove and you knew something special
was happening. And the lights go down again and you wonder what's going
to be next and then there's prolonged silence, and then a voice announces,
"Ladies and Gentleman, the fire marshal has determined that the show
cannot continue until the aisles are cleared and people return to their
assigned seats. The lights go up. Plot of the eternal bring down. But
after about 10 minutes they go down again and Dylan and the band came out
and rip into a "Highway 61 Revisited" that made you forget what just
happened. The song is soaring.
Then there's deep, dark ominous piano chords and a swamp groove appears
that turns out to be an incredible version of "High Water (For Charley
Patton) and Dylan is laying out each line ferociously, and maybe it was
after the second verse he comes out from behind the keyboards and does
this strange little Dylan shuffle dance moving his hands around, kind of
pointing them and then goes back to the piano to repeat the same thing a
couple of verses later. But it was the singing, the voice, almost coming
from somewhere else, that thing that makes music be a magical experience,
and that thing that Dylan - when he wants to and the stars are aligned -
does better than anyone else.
The energy stayed for "Honest With Me," and then they shifted gears into
"Bye and Bye" which was both lounge jazzy and extremely funny with Dylan
actually cracking up on stage when he sang the line, "I'm not even
acquainted with my own desires." Now I've seen Dylan laugh when he tells
a joke or something to a band member away from the audience, and there's
been a couple of times I've seen him where it seemed like he was trying
his best to keep a straight face for most of the show and not exactly
winning, but the last time I remember him actually cracking up into
laughter during a song was at Philharmonic Hall in 1964.
This was followed by an excellent "Summer Days" that more than made up for
the one the previous night, with both Freddie and Larry going down on
their knees at one point! And then it was encore time, with a fairly
average "Like A Rolling Stone" followed by a standard but at the same time
quite good "All Along The Watchtower."
Now while Dylan was on from the first note singing with not only true
conviction, but fire, the difference was in the band. Tonight, they
seemed like a band and jelled like a band and they were having fun. There
were no missed cues, no glaring mistakes. It is obvious that Campbell and
Koella are working out parts where they both trade off each other and play
together. They are onto something, something that could take the sound of
this band to a whole other level. Freddie Koella can play in a variety of
styles and he's not afraid to step out and let loose. And perhaps at the
same time he is challenging Larry, long the backbone of this band to some
of his most inspired recent playing.
From talking to people who were there who've seen other shows on the
current tour, tonight's show quite possibly may have been the best one
"I'm having a hard time believin' some people were ever alive" -Bob Dylan
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.peterstonebrown.com
Review by Craig S.
WANT TO START BY THANKING THE REVIEWER OF THE WAIFS, FROM THE OTHER NIGHT.
THE WAIFS WERE A 10 TONIGHT. THE GIRLS ARE GREAT, THE HARMOICA PLAYING IS
VERY STRONG BY THE DARK HAIR ONE, SHE HAS A GREAT VOICE TOO. HER BLONDE
SISTER IS VERY COOL. THE ORIGINAL ABOUT THE GRANDMOTHET BY THE DARK HAIR
WAS SLOW MOVING, BUT SHE MADE UP FOR IT BY THE HICCUPS ON THE TRAIN SONG.
EVEN MORE IMPRESSIVE WAS THE GUITAR PLAYING BY THE GUY, HE IS ACTUALLY ONE
OF THE BEST GUITARIST I'VE SEE. IN FACT FOR THE FUTURE BOB SHOULD SEE WHAT
HE DOES FOR THE ARRANGEMENT. MOST OF HIS LEADS ARE DONE WITHOUT A PICK,
HE'S ALSO GOT SOME COOL TRICKS. WHAT CAN I SAY. I BOUGHT A CD!
MAGGIE'S FARM WAS KIND OF NORMAL ROCK BLES. IN FACT, ONLY 3 SONGS ON THE
LIST WERE NOT ROCK OR BLUES. THE FIRST, I DON'T BELIEVE YOU, HAD A N
INNOVATIVE ARRANGEMENT, BUT BY THE END WAS A LIITLE SLOW, NOT DISAPOINTING
HOWEVER. ON TWEEDLE DEE BOB AND THE BAND WARMED UP, FREDDIE'S GUITAR WORK
BECAME MORE UP FRONT. BOB REALLY MASTERED THIS ONE. ON TONIGHT I'LL BE
STAYING HERE WITH YOU, LARR'YS STEEL GUITAR WAS SO PERFECT, YOU WONDER WHY
HE USES IT ON ONLY ONE SONG, USUALLY. ON THINGS HAVE CHANGED I BELIEVE I
CAUGHT A NEW VERSE OR SOME NEW LYRICS AT THE END. THIS SONG WAS DONE
PERFECTLY, WITH SOME HAND DRUMS IN THE BEGINNING. FREDDIE'S GUITAR WAS
VERY JAZZY, BOB'S VOICE HELD THE SONG'S SURRENDERING ATTITUDE, "I USED TO
CARE, BUT THINGS HAVE CHANGED. NOW ON DRIFTER'S ESCAPE, THEY ALL WANTED
JAZZ, BUT WHAT THEY GOT WAS SOME GREAT BLUESY LEADS AND AN
UNRECOGNIZABLE SONG. DON'T THINK TWICE WAS DONE ONE VOICE, IN FACT
THERE WERE NO HARMONIES TONIGHT.
HIGHWAY 61 LIVED UP TO IT'S EARLIER REVIEWS, A GREAT VERSION. DITTO FOR
HIGH WATER, VERY STRONG DUET GUITAR WORK FROM LARRY AND FREDDIE, THEY ARE
GREAT TOGETHER. HONEST WITH ME TOO MAY BE DONE NOW ALL THE TIME, BUT IT
DOES ROCK. NOW FOR BYE AND BYE...... THIS WAS MY HIGHLIGHT, DONE VERY
JAZZY, WHICH SHOWED DOME OF FREDDIE'S GUITAR TRICKS. LARRY GAVE HIS BEST
LEAD, ONE WHICH NO GUITARIST COULD OUT DO. AROUND NOW LARRY WAS SMILING,
AND ON THIS SONG DYLAN LAUGHED ATT LEAST 3 TIMES, BOTH AT SOMETHING AND AT
HIS OWN WORDS, HE WAS GOING TO INHALE EVERYTHING THAT LIFE CAN STILL OFFER
UP. AT THIS POINT THAT MEANS ONLY ONE GUITAR SONG, AND HIS HARMONICAS MAY
NOT HIT WHAT HE IS GETTING AT, THE WAY THE WAIFS GIRL DID. BUT THEN AGAIN
WHO WOULD EVEN BE PLAYING HARMONICAS IF NOT FOR BOB? LARS WAS NORMAL, BUT
FREDDIE'S STYLE IS NOT MEANT FOT THIS KIND OF SONG. AND ON WATCHTOWER,
BOTH GUITARISTS DIDN'T BOTHER TO HIT THE A CHORD(SONG WAS DONE IN Bm). SO
IN SHORT, THIS WAS A HEAVILY INFLUENCED BY BLES AND THEN ROCK. DYLAN HIT
HIS MARK, BUT OFFERED NO SURPRISES TONIGHT. THE DRUMMER HAS IMPROVED, NOT
SO OVER POWERING. FREDDIE REALLY HAS A GREAT STLE, AND AS USUAL TONY AND
LARRY WERE PERFECTO. THIS ONE WAS JOHANNE'S SECOND DYLAN CONCERT, I
BELIEVE THIS QUEBECOIS GIRL IS BEGINNING TO REALIZE THAT THIS ARTIST IS
MORE IMPORTANT THAN A HOCKEY TEAM. MY BELIEF IS JUST THAT DYLAN MUST BE
SEEN A MINIMUM OF TWICE A YEAR. AND WE NEED MISSISSIPPI, STANDING IN THE
DOORWAY, BOB. AND RETRY MINSTRIL BOY! CRAIGS
Review by Willy Gissen
As a Bob Dylan Christian, I don't gamble, so normally I wouldn't be going
to Atlantic City. But when it's the only East Coast stop on his tour
within driving distance of New York City, I have to make an exception.
Plus the thrill of seeing Bob Dylan in a 2,000 seat arena held the
potential to be an unforgettable experience.
There was one other obstacle this time, however. I had not been closely
monitoring the Bob Dylan web site, so by the time I realized the concert
was taking place, it was already sold out through Ticket Master. With a
few calls to ticket agents listed in the Yellow Pages, I was able to snag
a ticket, though at some additional monetary cost.
After getting the directions through MapQuest, I headed out about 1:30 PM
on a dreary Saturday afternoon. The highlight of the drive was just
outside of Atlantic City where there was a giant billboard promoting the
two Dylan concerts at the Hilton. After arriving there, I found the hotel
and quickly realized that it doubled as a casino as well. Holding fast to
my principles, I went in to locate the arena and resolutely walked by all
the slot machines. When I reached the still-closed entrance, the band was
doing a sound check. I listened for a while through locked doors and then
headed out on the Boardwalk to explore and find a place for dinner. The
restaurants in the hotel/casino were way too expensive, but I found a nice
place on the Boardwalk called the Country Kitchen where I settled down for
a meal and to wait.
Upon entering the arena, I realized that it was basically a theater. The
seats were just chairs that had been moved into the room, which was about
the size and shape of a basketball court. Every seat was a good one.
The Waifs were the warm-up band. They were okay, but the main attraction
for me was the pretty blond who seemed to be the leader. The last song
about "burying me at home" after a roaming life was good -- even though it
was gratuitously offered for an un-requested encore.
I know that Bob likes to keep his audience waiting, so after the Waifs
finished around 8:30 PM, I estimated that Bob wouldn't appear until around
nine o'clock. Of course, by now I should know that with Bob you can't
predict these things. He's not going to come on stage until he's ready to
come on stage. So his concert finally started about 9:15 PM.
One thing you can say about Bob Dylan. His concerts never go stale.
There's always something new and different even beyond an ever-changing
set list and evolving interpretations of his staple songs. Some
observations about this event as opposed to the last tour: one) I didn't
see the eye logo adorning the stage though this might have been because of
the logistics of having the Waifs as the opening act. 2) Dylan has
significantly improved on the keyboards. It still amazes me that he would
learn a new instrument at this stage of his life. 3) Dylan has added a
little dance that he used on more than one occasion. He would step out
from behind the keyboards and do a little perambulation around the center
of the stage, shaking his hands in little waving motions in time to the
As to the set list, I was familiar with most of the concert versions
though I've never heard "She Acts Like We Never Have Met" live. Also
tonight, Dylan was in a good mood -- which makes all the difference. That
occasional smile, the enthusiasm and application to each song, and the
pouring of effort into the improvisations made each song a masterpiece in
itself. You knew this was going to be an event to remember after Dylan did
a driving version of "Things Have Changed." "Don't Think Twice, It's all
Right" and "The Drifter" were the best I've ever heard. Even a forced
intermission by the theater staff to have everyone return to their seats
could not blunt Dylan's momentum.
My drive back to New York was a familiar one after returning from a
relatively distant Dylan concert. Satisfaction and a weary contentedness
were my companions.
Review by Jeffrey Johnson
"Meet me tonight in Atlantic City."
Oops, sorry, that's His understudy. But it was a recurring theme as
kinships spanning the globe were rekindled. Regrettably, some folks who
have enriched and enlivened prior shows enormously could not be present,
e.g., the taxi cab telephone call recapping the 2002 Manchester UK show
and perpetual recounting of the chance meeting with the Maestro on the
Newcastle Quayside. For that we suffered.
Anyhow, tonight's show featured especially clear vocals aimed carefully
into the microphone and enhanced by a tad bit more volume than normal.
During the sound check there was evidence of acoustic instruments on the
premises, as "Baby Blue," "Most of the Time," and "It's All Right Ma"
leaked out onto the boardwalk. Though not used Friday night, they emerged
tonight, but were used sparingly. Tonight, Bob finally picked up some
strings for the first time in this double header. Though yet to be
proclaimed "the best band in the land," this incarnation nevertheless has
relegated His competitors to garage band status. (Sorry again, traveling
from Sodom to Sodom and back to Sodom two nights in a row amidst
casino bus chat affects even the least vindictive guy.) The world's
best-dressed band wears burgundy suits, recycled from Cardiff 2002.
The first four tunes met the exacting standard of excellence we now take
as a given.
Tweedle Dee: Bob was all eyebrows and knees: you had to be there to
Things Have Changed was a bit more rousing and lively that the prior norm,
apparently due to a tempo change, perhaps thanks to Freddie(?).
Drifter's Escape quelled any debate about that misguided notion the rock
is dead. The Maestro's first guitar work in two nights, featured a duet
jam with Freddie, reminiscent of His Bourenmouth 2002 jam with Charlie
during the band intros.
Don't Think Twice (acoustic) followed, with full force and tempo, only
to be followed by some minion fire marshal's interruption of the show.
Again, Bob and Freddie stood side to side, dueling acoustic along with
Larry. This acoustic trio does not match the Maesto/Sexton/Campbell days,
but was still over-the-top fantastic.
Play resumed with a hot rockin' Highway 61. This became the beginning
of the first encore and set the stage for Highwater, which should perhaps
be renamed "(for Charlie Sexton)."
Highwater (Bob dance solo) Even before His piano-punctuated
rearrangement, Highwater was, at minimum, the best song of the 21st
century. It seemed that there was no room for improvement over, say, His
Manchester, New Hampshire 2002 show. But, the MSG 2002 shows and tonight
proved otherwise. Whenever performed, this is the showstopper. (It was a
wacky, delightful solo dance.)
Summer Days: Vote your proxy for Freddie's permanent admission to the
Honest With Me confirmed that Larry's fantastic guitar rifts have been
demoted down the mix, a travesty hopefully corrected soon.
Bye And Bye definitely featured the best vocal emoting of the night, much
Second) Encore: Again and again played to perfection, Rolling Stone and,
The Gunfighters': The Maestro's in-your-face salute to the
crowd and His one-of-a-kind gesturing, to the soundtrack of the band's
Sodom, New York
Review by Country Mike G.
14 songs for $100.00! You can't be serious, Mr. Bob Dylan.
I drove two and a half hours and paid $100.00 to hear you play 14 songs?
I'm not sure who's crazier, you or me. Was there some place more
important that you had to be?
Where was my Blind Willie McTell? My Standing In The Doorway? My
Dignity? Where is the justice, I ask you?
A 14 song set list dominated by selections from "Love & Theft"...I would
review the show if there was an actual show to review.
Here's my review:
Listening to new guitarist, Freddie Koella, is painful.
And, I really can't think of any justifiable reason, short of the stage
literally catching fire, to shorten an already minimal set list. To pull
the plug early because some idiots wanted to dance in the isle and/or rush
the stage is absurd. It is a rock n' roll show, isn't it? Isn't it!?
If the Hilton's security is to lame to handle a crowd of 1200, that's
their problem, not mine.
You want to blow me kisses at the end of the show, Bob? Save it. I enjoy
being in your presence, just as much as the next guy, whether it be in a
stadium or gymnasium - hey, that rhymes - but I've come to hear the music.
You are a musician, aren't you? Aren't you!?
Fourteen Songs? The Waifs set was longer.
One Hundred Dollars? Who do you think you are? Bob Dylan?
Bottom Line: It could have been great. It wasn't. Too bad.
Country Mike G.
page by Bill Pagel
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