- Bob Dylan
- The Pearl
- July 16
The last time I saw Bob Dylan, at the Aladdin in March 2005, I swore I was done with the man. The show that night wasn’t terrible; it just didn’t feel worthy, of Dylan’s songs, his words, his legacy. Yet after skipping a handful of his Las Vegas stops, I relented last Saturday, mostly because he was playing the Pearl. And everyone sounds good at the Pearl.
Even so, doubt crept in as the 70-year-old stood at his organ with his left side to the room, under-enunciating the words to his first two numbers, “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” and “It Ain’t Me Babe.” This was the Dylan from the Aladdin show, barely there, as if the crowd bought tickets as much to watch his five-piece band as to hear him sing his classics.
And then something happened. Something great. Dylan stepped away from the organ, picked up his harmonica and moved to the front of the stage. That movement alone eclipsed my previous Dylan encounter for excitement, and it was only the beginning. What followed was shockingly powerful, an icon proving he’s still a viable performer.
His tunes, classics like “Simple Twist of Fate” and “Ballad of a Thin Man” and newer cuts like “Forgetful Heart,” were often reworked, yet rarely unrecognizable. His voice was rough—we’re still talking about Bob Dylan here—but never gratingly so. And his presence felt real, as if he enjoyed each guitar chord, organ tap and harmonica bleat. Sure, he said nothing to his fans (band intros aside) and gave them just 85 minutes (encore included) of music. But this time, I actually walked away wishing he’d played more.