The good: Solid setlist. He picks the best of his recent comeback along with refreshingly reworked chestnuts like “Blowing in the Wind” (the saloon remix), “Highway 61 Revisited” (the honky-tonk remix) and “Ballad of a Thin Man” (the David Lynch remix). His quintet performed with the usual precision and flair, setting the standard for backing bands. Dylan occasionally wandered over to the center mic, where he really comes alive, throwing verses out like fastballs, integrating the harmonica with enthusiasm and maintaining a wily character acting out the lyrics.
The bad: Nothing from Tempest, the brand-new studio album Dylan has all but left off this tour leg. Also, Dylan seems to think he’s some sort of piano player, for his work at the keys sounded disproportionately louder than anything else coming from the stage. He nearly drowned out his bandmates, sometimes banging on the ivories like a toddler who finally worked his way atop the bench when Mom wasn’t looking. Dylan should concentrate on being the shuffling, vamping showman at center-stage.
The ugly: Bob Dylan couldn’t sell out The Joint last time he played there, and he may have barely done so with the embarrassingly sparse Mandalay Bay crowd. As for his voice: We expect the bleating, the croaking, the phrasing shifts, and the gruff, weathered-bluesman affectations. But Dylan sounded downright phlegmatic at times. Between that and his instrumental shortcomings, one must question whether his performance warrants a triple-digit ticket charge. The answer, my friend, may just lie in that 3/4-empty arena.
A longer version of this review can be found here.