Las Vegas, Nevada

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The Chelsea

October 13, 2016

[Phil Levine]

Review by Phil Levine

Some times the Lords of Karma are in a good mood, and they just smile down
upon those of us consigned to life here on Desolation Row.

Thursday October 13, 2016 was definitely one of those days for those of us
fortunate enough to see Robert Zimmerman (a.k.a. Dylan) the Night of the
Day that the world learned he was—at long last—recognized for a
lifetime of literary creation that has done nothing short of transform
modern songwriting—and in the process realign the way writers of song--
and prose--thought and wrote from Tokyo to Toronto, from Laos to Las Vegas
for more than a half century.

If that sounds hyperbolic, it isn’t.

And the 3,200 folks attending the sold out show at The Chelsea theater, in
the Cosmopolitan Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas were there to attest to that in
what had to rank as one of  'Uncle Bob’s' best Las Vegas performances in
recent years (only 2011’s near perfect Pearl @The Palms show might
surpass last night’s) Thursday night’s show also was Bob’s first
Vegas performance since 2012 (almost to the day) and it was apparent from
the start that both the crowd and performer were happy about his return to
Sin City.

Hot on the heels of his Nobel Prize for Literature victory (damn but that
feels good to say/write) Bob was in a party mood—or as close to one as
we will ever see him in on stage. The night began with a rollicking Rainy
Day Women, with Bob illustrating that Little Richard’s piano pounding
influence from his high school days is still very much felt after all
these years.

But rather than dissect each song by song, here’s just the summary of
highlights of the night:

*a hard rockin’ Highway 61, with Bob once again pounding the
in “a Nobel Prize for THIS?…man you must be puttin’ me on!”;

*a surprisingly sentimental and lovely take—with updated lyrics about
meeting the fair maiden in question too late in life, and how they should
have instead met “way back in ’58’, blamed upon a Simple Twist of
Fate..(those of us who’ve experienced that special ‘one that got
away’ could most definitely relate…)

*and the flip side of love—as in, revenge and love lost—followed with
a John Lee Hooker-esque ‘Boom Boom’ version of Early Roman Kings—
and what could well be it’s B Side, a kick-a*ss version of Love
Sick..with Bob center stage, grabbing the stand up mic, a la vintage
Elvis, as tho it was the femme fatale in question

*then the back-to-back evening highlights—a killer (literal and
figurative) version of 2012’s Pay in Blood off the great Tempest LP (his
last, to date, original studio record) proving that, even at 75, our boy
Bob can rock with the best of ‘em…followed by a bittersweet, and
surprisingly heartfelt version of a song that perhaps as much as any other
illustrates why the Nobel for Literature was, indeed, well earned: the
forever young, and timeless Desolation Row (*who else *could possibly
write a line like “

*Ezra Pound & TS Eliot, fighting in the Captain’s Tower, while calypso
singers laugh at them, and fishermen hold flowers…”)*Next time someone
tells you Bob is ‘overrated’ as a uniquely brilliant writer/poet, hand
them a copy of THAT record… and send them on their way…

Ending the set was first a crooning version of Tempest’s best love tune,
the angelic ‘Soon After Midnight’—and given Bob’s celebratory
mood, and this being Vegas—he may well have had (as the song suggested)
“a date with a fairy queen”, …followed by a fine version of his
classic Ballad of A Thin Man…featuring, as always, the forever clueless
“Mr Jones”. Given the day's headlines, somehow I think Bob might have
had a certain presidential candidate in mind as he growled out this one…

For encores: A jaunty, reflective Blowin’ in the Wind, and the
evening’s sole Sinatra tribute song, the *extremely* apropos Why Try To
Change Me Now? ended the evening…why indeed? With the Nobel winner and
his exceptionally talented band (damn but that Charlie Sexton is one
helluva great guitar picker) then taking center stage for the  standing
ovation/band "stare down" of the audience that has come to be the
customary way of Bob saying ‘adieu’.

Every Bob show has a “special feel” to it, some much more so than
others of course, but having attended every Dylan concert in Vegas since
moving here way back in ’99, there really was, to coin a phrase
“something happening” on stage last night. Although of course he never
said a word to the crowd, content as always to let the songs do his
‘talking’, Bob seemed to appreciate the Global..and
permanent…significance of THIS particular literary award just given to
him, and that self pride shined through in his performance. Contrary to
what he may have said back in the mid 60s, he is far, far more than just
"a song and dance man." And he has the Nobel Prize to prove it.

To paraphrase one of Bob’s many, many musical ‘heirs’, one Bruce
Springsteen, “what Elvis did to free your body, Bob’s lyrics did to
free your mind”. And so, for all his flaws and foibles, a top notch
performance Thursday night reminded again that there was, is and forever
will be only one Robert Zimmerman—a “nobleman” in every sense of the


Click Here
to return to the
Main Page

page by Bill Pagel

Tour Guide
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location