Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday at the Borgata 11-26-10


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 Avatar.

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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