page by Bill Pagel
Review by Doug Lilly
On the 2 hour flight from Melbourne to Brisbane I had another listen to
the partial Melbourne recording. Curfew Gull had done me another copy with
track markers this time. I thought I'd hand the other single track version
over to one of the Brisbane people to pass around.
After checking into my strange hotel with a neon burnin' bright, I caught
the train out to the venue. There was a storm brewing as the train speed
through the suburbs - dark brooding clouds penetrated by white bolts of
lightning. Rain started just as I arrived so I'm glad I didn't get caught
outside. Maybe we are going to get Shelter tonight - the mandolin was
tuned up on stage at Melbourne but never played.
Before the show I got to put faces to many email handles. Group of Dylan
Poolers in the front rows. Martin B was there with his partner and 2
daughters (8 & 4 I think), Peter L, Finny, Swanny, Denis D, John M, Chris
M and of course Sillynellie. I gave a copy of the incomplete Melbourne to
Chris and I think he will get it around to some of the others. Hope a full
recording emerges soon. I am in the third row but straight in front of the
piano. Very wide aisles at this venue so plenty of room to get up and
From the way the bass notes of Ani Defranco's guitar were sounding, this
was going to be a big improvement on the sound at Melbourne.
9:15 - the lights go down and the music comes up - rush to the rail from
those in the front rows. BUST #1 - for some reason, of all the people who
clambered over the front seats during the rush, I got fingered by a big
bruiser of a security guy and told to get back to my seat. I climbed back
over to the second row out of his reach and stayed standing there for the
rest of the concert.
Maggies's Farm - good strong opener, we've had 3 different openers so far
Got a bit worried that we would not get much variation from Melbourne when
we got the same setlist up to Things Have Changed. The security guy was
still staring me down and I wasn't focussed on the show - noted down
Wicked Messenger as Drifters in my flustered state (sorry again for this
wrong reporting from the show).
Baby Blue - new for this tour and got back into focus as Billy played some
very nice guitar on this. Bob sidled up to him with his acoustic during
this and I thought it would make a great photo so I pulled out my digital
and got a couple of shots off before . . . . BUST #2 - this time I was
tapped on the shoulder by another big security guy telling me to put it
away or it would be taken away. I have posted one of these pictures on the
Dylan Pool gallery. Again it is poor quality due to the absence of flash
and Bob looks like he has just had all his wisdom teeth extracted - but it
does show some nice Bob & Billy interaction.
A brief false start to Master of War, so before they re-started I screamed
out "This one's for you Johhny Howard". Unfortunately our war-mongereing
Prime Minister couldn't make this concert as he was over in Washington
licking Dubya's arse again. Anyway I hope to see this interjection as a
CEDAR fingerprint soon.
Forever Young - beautiful, Billy was playing some funky rhythm on the
Telecaster during this.
Don't Think Twice - Billy on the Gibson semi-acoustic for this and a nice
Waltzing Matilda lick at the end to please the locals. In 2001 they used
to do it during the second instrumental break.
Watching The River Flow - a joy to watch Bob striking poses on the piano
during this - out to the audience, to the band, crouching low, up high -
Saving Grace moved down to 13 from its 7th position in Canberra and 11th
in Melbourne. Enjoying this more and more.
As the bass & drums started up for Highwater, I fumbled for my mobile
phone in my pocket to call Curfew Gull to hear it - his favourite track at
the moment. He answered and I just held the phone discreetly to my chest
until . . . BUST #3 - I am a marked man. The first security guard is
gesturing wildly at me from behind the rail cutting his finger across his
throat. Does he want to kill me? I shake my head in disbelieve at him and
put the phone back in my pocket. Curfew Gull got half the song I think.
Did they think I was doing a recording via the phone - come on, give me a
Moonlight - another newbie for this tour, I love this song.
It Ain't Me Babe in the encore was a nice change. I had already noted down
Blowin & Watchtower and packed up my notebook, so at least I corrected
this after the show when I rang Curfew Gull with the setlist.
Another blistering Watchtower. Bob and band laughing and smiling. I
assumed this was because Bob forgot to do the band intros and he was
saying sorry to them.
Caught up with a few after the show and everybody was stoked. It clearly
was the best so far. Sound in venue was heaps better than Canberra and
Melbourne, Billy has settled in quickly and doing some very nice stuff and
Bob is in fine voice and good humour.
A day off in Brisbance before the flight to Adelaide on Thursday morning.
I am going off now to buy myself a wig. After being busted by security
once in Canberra (for photos) and 3 times in Brisbane I am clearly on
Bob's most wanted list. A new persona is needed.
Review by Glenn Henry
This was one heavy concert. The little old ladies who came to hear
acoustic folk were blown out the window. It was not loud, but it was
HEAVY. Bob's singing was just as good as two years ago at the same venue,
his harp was great, better than last time in fact, and his guitar playing
still sucks like a hoover. If you don't know what key the song is in Bob,
ask someone. Then play the appropriate notes, not random ones. But what
was really appalling was Bob's piano playing, reminiscent of a very fat
elephant running through a piano shop. An insult to the band, and the
knowledgable audience. But the singing and harp were beautiful. After The
Waifs (7 out of ten) and Ani DiFranco (4 out of ten, maybe I'm being
generous here) we got Bob (8 out of ten). In his black suit with red trim
Bob and band came out after the long introduction and did a terrific
Maggies Farm, better than 5 years ago when he opened his Brisbane show
with the same song. Bob stayed on piano for the first 5 songs, to the
annoyance of about 100 people who couldn't see him at all behind the
amplifiers. Many of them walked out, probably looking for a refund. Baby
Tonight had a lovely harp solo. Highway 61 was a good version because it
was sung clearly and loud. Ain't Going Nowhere sounded like the Basement
tapes. Things Have Changed was great, Wicked Messenger was not sung that
well so it's no surprise some people thought it was Drifter's Escape. Bob
on electric for this one with great harp. The four acoustic songs that
followed were all terrific, despite Bob's awful guitar adventures (with
the occassional moment that almost rose to mediocre status). Larry
finished Don't Think Twice with a quote from our unofficial national
anthem, Waltzing Matilda. A nice touch. Great versions continued until an
awful Highwater that stripped a classic, stinging, evocative folk
masterpiece and turned it into a blues boogie reminiscent of the bad old
days of Live at Budokan. Then amazingly came the highlight of the night
for me - Moonlight. It was perfect, and reminded me of why I was here.
Summer Days saw Bob go from the piano to the guitar and back again. The
encore was the surprising It Ain't Me Babe instead of Blowing in the Wind.
Lovely version, with Bob singing off the rhythm like Frank Sinatra. All
Along the Watchtower was the best version I have heard. Larry and Tony
were great throughout the night - without them Bob's career as a touring
musician would be over. Billy is going to fit in well when he learns to
just ignore Bob and play the song. The band are all watching Bob and
trying to play along, but it's like putting the cart before the horse.
Billy played some lightning runs, he reminds me of Mike Bloomfield and to
a lesser extent Robbie Robertson. I think he has more to offer the overall
sound than Charlie Sexton. But much of the time he played rhythm to
Larry's lead. In conclusion, the show was not as good as two years ago
(but then again, that was one of the greatest concerts I have ever been
to), or five years ago for that matter, but the great moments made it all
worthwhile. I just wish Bob would play in the same key as his band, or
give the instruments away. The greatest person who ever lived -
Shakespeare and Beethoven rolled into one, still managing to draw faithful
worshipping crowds despite resembling a zombie with an out of tune guitar
in a silly suit. Boy I love him.
Review by Jay Beatson
No sooner than Ani Difranco had departed the stage, one of Dylan's road
crew began to distribute incense at strategic intervals amongst the band's
equipment. The aroma filled the Brisbane Entertainment Centre immediately
and the crowd began to buzz with excitement and anticipation. The house
lights dimmed and Brisbane warmly welcomed 'Columbia recording artist -
Bob Dylan'. Cameras flashed and only at this point did I realise the
absence of any signs prohibiting such devices from the auditorium (a Dylan
first?). In attendance for my fifth show (lightweight compared to others)
I'd abandoned all preconceptions and expectations of his performance.
Opening on piano with Maggie's Farm, Dylan was visibly energised and
appeared fighting fit (who starts these ill-health stories, anyway?)
decked out in a black suit with red trimming and a polka dot cravat .The
unexpected nature of this opening number served as a surprise and enhanced
its appeal. The following tune, I'll Be Your Baby Tonight, was delivered
with more crispness and clarity in Dylan's vocals than was observed for
the same tune in Melbourne. The title line was nowhere near as drawn out
and occasioned a superior rendition. In Highway 61 Revisited Bob treated
us to some outstanding rockabilly work on the keys and his face
occasionally broke into a grin as he milked the last line of each
verse...highwayyyyyy sixxttyyyyyy oooooooooonnne. Billy Burnette also
appeared much more assured than in Melbourne, treating us to some fine
guitar work before the final verse of the same song. He still watched
Dylan's every move in a hawk-like manner and at one stage was given hand
signals as cues from Tony Garnier. Billy is yet to settle in and the band
still has some fine tuning to do with a few creases to iron out but
overall the quality of Billy's work is testament to his professionalism
and musicianship. The performance of You Ain't Goin' Nowhere was
exceptional and a personal highlight. The casual observer could have been
excused for thinking the Basement Tapes were being played through the PA.
Things Have Changed followed and as Bob began the verse 'This place ant
doin' me any good/I'm in the wrong town, I should be in Hollywood' his
face broadened into a smile for all close enough to see. Bob was clearly
enjoying himself and at ease with the Brisbane audience. To this point
Dylan had yet to touch a guitar, alternating from piano to harp. When he
did finally strap on a stratocaster for The Wicked Messenger, those (few)
who recognised it were richly rewarded. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue was
the first acoustic number of the evening and Larry Campbell's slide guitar
(the one he sits down to - I'm clearly no musician) strained evocatively
throughout the arena. Billy also contributed some beautiful work for this
number. Bob, however seemed less than impressed with the guitar he'd been
given and during the second verse viciously raked at his guitar in
disgust, a musical interlude obviously not part of the rehearsed
arrangement. Masters Of War followed and in the current political climate
was received with rousing appreciation. The musical arrangement to this
number was not dissimilar to that of 2001, however Dylan delivered the
vocals in a more bilious tone lending more poignancy to the lyrics and
resonating and fuelling the anti-war sentiments of the Brisbane audience.
Forever Young was delivered acoustically and aside from a little
disharmony between the backing vocals (it was tightened up by the last
verse)Bob seemed to delight in 'testing' his new backing vocalist by
deliberately altering the phrasing and metre of each chorus. Musically
Dylan seems to have taken on more of a leadership role in the band after
Charlie Sexton's departure and appears to be relishing the opportunity.
The musical finale to Forever Young was almost interminable as Dylan
shifted the band up and down through the gears. It's beautiful to notice
that, in the age of split-second choreography and electronic wizardry,
Dylan decides to conclude each song with a simple nod to his drummer.
Don't Think Twice, It's Alright was heartfelt and touching with sensitive
playing by all involved. Bob appeared to drop his plectrum before the
finale, however, this made no difference to his playing. At the song's
conclusion Larry treated the audience to a slight, but nonetheless
impressive, grab from Waltzing Matilda. The more alert sections of the
audience roared their approval. Watching The River Flow may have intimated
at Bob's affinity with Brisbane and a cheekily improvised final verse
began with...'People disappearing everywhere/Makes you wonder why' as he
cast his eyes to one of the stairwells being used, for one reason or
another, by a handful of people to exit the arena. Honest With Me was
electrifying in its intensity and vocally flawless. During one of the solo
breaks Bob exited stage left and appeared to blow his nose. He is human
after all. Saving Grace also contained some of the finest vocal work of
the evening with each line delivered in hymn-like fashion with the clarity
and grace unparalleled. During the song Bob appeared to take a slight
break, resting against the piano. By this time he'd invested such energy
into his performance, the level of which is seldom seen in artists half
his age. High Water (For Charlie Paton) was another standout of the night,
vastly reworked to a driving, electric blues sound. It worked for me. This
part of the show was where Bob got to treat his Brisbane fans to some of
the new(ish) material from Love & Theft. Moonlight was another personal
favourite with the silkiest vocals I'd been witness to in the five visits
so far. It also included a slight lyric revision in the penultimate verse
that, from memory, went...'The trailing moss and mystic glow/Purple
blossoms soft as snow/My tears keep flowing without end Doctor, lawyer,
Indian chief/It takes a thief to catch a thief/For whom does the bell toll
for, love? It tolls for you my friend' Summer Days had Dylan begin on
piano, switch to electric guitar only to encounter more technical
difficulties (c'mon, guys - how hard can it be?), virtually throw the
guitar at his roadie/tech and return to the piano. Bob, animated and
active throughout the entire show (especially toward the show's
conclusion)gave the audience a double-thumbs-up, soaking in the
appreciation and applause with genuine pleasure. The band returned shortly
after with It Ain't Me Babe with all standing band members presenting
themselves at the forefront of the stage. This number featured some of the
finest harp playing of the evening (possibly ever). All Along The
Watchtower commenced with Dylan seated on the drum riser and necessitated
a longer than usual intro to allow him time to find his feet and catch his
breath. He was clearly in command of the Hendrix-esque rendition, taking
lead breaks throughout with the power and intensity one is rarely
privileged to witness. Cameras were flashing constantly during this final
encore as Dylan jigged and bopped like a teenager. At one point during
this finale Dylan could be observed posing on one leg during his solo for
a fan holding a camera aloft in the first few rows (another Dylan first?).
The audience, a little timid and sedate, raucously applauded and cheered
these antics, and after he left the stage called for another encore. With
no joy. Also, strangely, Dylan gave no band introduction. After All Along
The Watchtower had ended, one was left with a feeling akin to unwrapping
the last gift on Christmas Day. There were to be no more surprises left in
Review by Judy Foley
The scene upon my arrival at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre looks
identical to the last time I saw Bob here in March 2001. It appears as if
a big party is in progress. An open-air bar is set up in the courtyard &
there are thousands of people drinking and having a good time on the steps
and balconies. The night is warm (20C) & it's raining lightly.
The Centre seats around 13,000 and appears to be less than half filled. I
am seated in the middle, several rows back from the front with a clear
uninterrupted view of the stage. To my left are two fans discussing how
long they have been 'serious' fans (20 plus years). They are speculating
who is going to play the keyboard. I find myself wondering if they have
heard of the Internet. To my right are a couple. The guy has 2 tiny
microphones pinned to the upper collar of his t-shirt. He spends time
during the support acts adjusting wires under his shirt.
As I take my seat the first support act is playing. The Waifs are an
Australian punk folk group. They are excellent and have the whole place
rocking. Next up is Ani Di Franco, an American folk singer, amazing
The anticipation is building. This will only be the 3rd show with the new
guitarist Billy Burnett. I wonder how he will sound and if there will be
an audible void without Charlie Sexton there?
At 9.15, the familiar intro music starts and we hear the "voice of a
generation/60s counterculture" introduction. The stage lights come on and
Bob's standing at the keyboards on the far left of the stage, then it's
George, Tony, Billy and Larry in that order. Bob is looking fantastic.
He's wearing a black suit with red trim. His hair looks as if it's been
cut recently, it's quite short for Bob!;-)
I took a little recorder in my bag for my own reference and managed to get
the whole show recorded. These comments are made from re-listening to the
show and from memory.
A highly energised, totally revitalised Maggie's farm, a fun way to kick
off the show. Bobs vocals are strong and clear allaying any fears I held
for the remainder of the night regarding rumours of his recent cold and
I'll be Your Baby Tonight
Bob croons this beautifully and gives a fantastic harp solo at the end. I
notice Billy is playing to Bob and not the audience, he hasn't taken his
eyes off Bob for a second since they came on stage. It remains this way
for the duration of the night!
Highway 61 Revisited
Powerful, gutsy and fast paced, even better than the Melbourne MP3 from
the previous weekend. Billy's guitar is sounding good.
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
Bob's voice is sounding fantastic but Larry's vocals are drowning out Bobs
to the point where it sounds as if Bob is the one singing backing vocals.
I've often wondered if this ever ticks Bob off. Not that I'm complaining,
I love listening to Larry.
Things Have Changed
Bob hits some pretty bad off-notes on the keyboard and he talk-sing's most
of the lyrics. Usually a favourite but this one was nothing spectacular.
The Wicked Messenger
Rocked! Some great guitar work by Larry and Billy.
Masters of War
Standard issue but great nonetheless and nicely delivered. Due to the
current political climate it received a huge crowd reaction. I wondered
for the 100th time why I neglected to pick this in the pool.
Bobs phrasing is precise and crisp. Billy and Larry are on harmonies,
Billy's voice isn't very good but fortunately Bob's and Larry's vocals
override him on most of the harmonies. Its still a beautiful version, this
song is always a joy.
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
Bob finishes the end of each line with that annoying 'sing-song-up-note
style' he's reverted to so much in recent tours.
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Bob and Billy are playing together. The melody of Waltzing Matilda is
incorporated into the end of the song just as they did here in 2001.
Watching the River Flow
Bob begins to play electric guitar, but it isn't plugged in. He is looking
cranky and is clearly frustrated at his guitar-tech. He goes back to the
keyboard and remains there for the duration of the song. This next bit was
strange. At one point, Billy turns himself completely around to face Bob,
he is side-on to the audience with his back to Larry. He walks closer to
Bob and plays a fantastic guitar 'solo' directly at Bob. Billy's eyes
never leave Bob's face. He's smiling at Bob but Bob's face is
expressionless and he doesn't look up. Billy now goes down half way on
bended knee, his eyes fixed on Bob. Is he looking for acknowledgement of
some sort? Bob chooses this moment to turn his back completely on Billy
and spends what seems an age scratching around for a harmonica on the amps
behind his keyboard. Billy is now playing to the back of Bobs head! It
feels as if this has gone on for minutes. Eventually Bob turns back around
and begins playing the harp, never acknowledging or looking up at Billy
who appears unfazed and still smiling. Billy continues with his 'Bob
tribute' for a minute longer before returning to his normal position.
Honest with Me
At one stage Bob leaves the band to play on their own and he wonders off
stage behind the amps near his keyboard and comes back again. He then
walks around in front of the band looking very much like the bandleader,
his head keeping time and nodding to the music. He wanders over to the
amps near his keyboard and wipes the perspiration off the back of his neck
and face. He repeats this many times during the night. It's very hot in
I find this to be pretty ordinary. Bob seems to be just going through the
paces and not really connecting with the song. I know its 20 plus years
since Saved but this is not a scratch on the album version.
I was hoping to hear this and I feel a tingle of excitement go down my
spine as those first haunting notes ring out, simply amazing! A much
bluesier stomp than other versions I've heard. I am fascinated by George's
novel drumming technique of drumming a single conga drum with his right
hand (with his unused drumstick clenched in his teeth) and hitting a snare
drum with the other drumstick in his left hand!
This is nice. An identical sound to the album version. Bobs singing is
tender and his phrasing precise. The audience is hanging on his every
Another one on my wish list and I'm not disappointed. This is the
highlight of the evening. Bob starts out on keyboard, then straps on a
guitar and jams with Billy and Tony then finishes on keyboard. We receive
the first smile (I've seen) from Larry who has been dead-pan all evening.
We're treated to a fantastic (longish) guitar jamming session but on a
much smaller scale that was the highlight of the fall tour (most notably
Red Bluff). Some great guitar again from Billy. The whole place is
Despite the audience going wild, after several minutes I begin to think
they aren't coming back. Then I notice Bob, he seems to be playing with
us, I can see that unmistakable silhouette against the backdrop. At last
Bob and the band finally reappear & the place erupts again!
It Ain't Me, Babe
Softly sung, we are spoiled with an utterly breathtaking harp solo.
All Along the Watchtower
This song rocks & ends the night with a bang! At the start Bob is sitting
on the drum-riser but doesn't look comfortable. He gets up again after
about half a minute. Bob's smiling (the first I've seen this evening) and
the band is all smiles.
Its not until the lights come on that I realise there hasn't been any band
In conclusion, Billy is animated and looks very much the seasoned
performer, smiling and enjoying himself. However he's very showy with his
guitar playing which looks out of place with the sedateness of Bob and the
other band members. I read in a previous review that Billy 'appeared
nervous on stage'. He doesn't appear to be nervous of performing but he
does appear to be nervous of Bob. While Tony, Larry & George faced out to
the audience, Billy intently watched Bob like a hawk and seemed to forget
we were there. I found it a little distracting to be faced with Billy's
side view the entire evening. The consensus of opinion was that Billy was
watching for 'Bob's cues' (all of the time?) No doubt that's part of it,
but I think there was something else as well, there was no mistaking that
look of admiration on Billy's face.
Bob's voice was at its best tonight. The band sounded hot & despite
Billy's nerves he's fitting in nicely and is sounding great. Overall a
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists