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August 21, 2014

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10 surprises at the Bob Dylan concert

Veteran performer’s show still offers the unexpected

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Bob Dylan

Beyond the Sun

Bob Dylan has been doing his thing – painting, singing, writing, and otherwise expressing himself – for a half-century.

He’s kept generations of audiences both guessing and singing along for years, and the now 68-year-old did it again when he took to the stage at The Joint last night.

Though he’s toured extensively during his long career – both on his own and with the Grateful Dead and, in the late 80s, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – Dylan’s shows still manage to have a few elements of surprise.

Here is an overview of some of the more unexpected aspects from last night’s show at the Hard Rock Hotel.

1. The show started on time, at 8 p.m. No opening act, no shenanigans, just right into “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.”

2. Dylan was uncharacteristically coherent. A rough estimate suggested about 15 percent of the words that exited his mouth resembled words drawn from the English language. This was 14 percent more than normal and 14.5 percent more than expected.

3. There was an abundance of parking in the hotel’s parking structure, despite a decent turn-out for the show. Parking at The Joint can be a royal pain on concert nights but Sunday was a definite exception to the usually unfortunate rule.

4. He played the harmonica during an inspiring rendition of “Forgetful Heart,” then guitar during “Don’t Think Twice It's Alright” – and wowed the crowd with both.

5. The brightest spotlight onstage was focused on the pedal steel guitar for the duration of the show instead of the iconic headliner. Yes, Dylan is famous for literally avoiding the spotlight, but that was just silly. Meanwhile, a wash of overwhelming and bright lighting blanketed the entire stage during a handful of Dylan’s more prominent songs, including “Highway 61 Revisited.”

6. There was an attractive blonde woman in the audience wearing a skin-tight, fire engine red mini dress. While yes, it is Las Vegas and pretty much anything goes, she looked terrifically out of place. The two best guesses were either she confused “Bob Dylan at The Joint” with “A night at XS” or the airline lost her luggage while she was flying from XS to the Hard Rock.

7. A young, emo-esque couple cuddled, rather uncomfortably, near the bar throughout the show. They looked as if they were lost yet, for whatever reason, unable to leave; perhaps they were just resentful because they were being forced to wait for their parent(s) to leave.

8. Eco-friendly cloth Bob Dylan grocery bags were available from the merchandise booth. Talk about progressive – and in seasonal colors, too: green or orange.

9. As Dylan and his band kept things tight onstage, several couples kept time on improvised dance floors. And unlike most random acts of messy and poorly-coordinated choreography, the dancing pairs at last night’s show seemed to know what they were doing. Well done.

10. Dylan did an encore. For a guy who refuses to be photographed onstage, demands the spotlight be kept off of him, and generally doesn’t appear to do anything he doesn’t want to do, not everyone was expecting him to oblige. But he did and the three-song post-show set (“Like A Rolling Stone,” “Jolene,” and “All Along The Watchtower”) just further impressed the already-wowed crowd.

Melissa Arseniuk writes about Las Vegas entertainment and celebrity events. She can be reached at 702-948-7823 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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