page by Bill Pagel
Review by Steve Crump
Dylan played to one of the largest Sydney audiences for many tours ... all
at once... in the middle of Centennial Park, a major city parkland used
for horse riding, games, picnics and whatever every other day of the week.
The concert itself was on the Parade Ground, a flat round patch right in
the middle., rain threatened all day, but held off most of the night
except for a few drops here and there. The place was PACKED despite the
rain, with young people encouraged by student discount charges for the
first time in Australia, and a picnic area behind the seats where you
could take children under 12 for free!. AND, given it is a huge public
park, hundreds sat outside the perimeter fence and heard it all for free.
The concert, I hear you ask, was pretty darn good. Much more up tempo than
last night in Newcastle (the other reviews got that pretty right) with the
band right on cue and looking less nervous - in fact enjoying themselves.
This was more a greatest hits night then the night before in Newcastle,
but that didn't hurt crowd response. After settling down with "Gambled",
"Mr Tambourine Man", despite its new phrasing, set up the night for a good
time. Desolation Row got a good response too, sounding very close to
"Unplugged", which may have helped recognition. "Sweet Marie" rocked and I
thought of a good friend, John Stirrat, sitting a few rows back and
knowing he'd have a BIG smile on his face.'Til I fell in love with you"
was played just like last time in Australia.. and that's how I like it..
funky to the bone. A few people groaned as "Maggie' started and someone
said this is "boring", but then halfway through said "Actually, I like the
country feel to it!". I nearly freaked when he started playing the intro.
to "Don't Think Twice" then dropped into "Mamma..."... a personal
favourite from way back and one I'd never heard live."Hard Rain" had the
band really getting into a groove, despite the repetition, and served up
another dish of "hits" that got the audience on its feet. The band was
playing so tight they looked like they'd snap. "Tangled" was not as good
as in Newcastle the night before, and the sound system had Bob's guitar
way up and the others messed up - from where we sat anyway (quite close!).
Bob's voiced started to crack a bit too and he even dropped into his yell
/ bray voice that spoilt so many songs a few years back, but only for a
few phrases. He ended it slow and sexy, teasing out the end of the song
with some nice guitar work.
Then "Standing in the Doorway" and it felt like we were. It was so cool
and bluesy and the clouds of incense blowing around the stage made it feel
like you were in a nightclub (more on this later). "Wicked Messenger" was
a surprise, though I'd read the reviews. I'm not sure how to react because
I love the originals from JWH so much, but Dylan really seemed to like the
words to this song and gave them a new edge. "Pillbox Hat" was used again
to take us to the break and I heard someone say on the way out that this
was " a pretty obscure song" but his girlfriend replied "Yeah, but a
pretty cool one!". It too had the audience bouncing in their seats.
"Love Sick" opened the encores and was pretty standard, but a good
statement that "here's one of my new hits" (my friends and I were all
waiting for "Things Have Changed".., alas not to come). "Like A Rolling
Stone" got people on their feet and hands in the air,. though slow and at
times Dylan struggled to get the lyrics to fit the pace. Then back to the
nightclub with a crystal clear, very sexy, "When Dogs Run Free". This was
a band that KNEW what it was doing. The crowd took it really well, picking
up the words from Dylan's clear articulation, though probably unaware that
it was one of his songs. Then back to Jimmie Hendrix and "Watchtower"...
by now establishing tonight as a "Greatest Hits" show, though definitely
NOT 'Bob by numbers" (my sister wanted a greatest hits night more than
anything.. fair enough when you only get to one show every 4-5 years). And
my 11 year old, Edwin, bopped and hopped around for the encores, happy to
hear some of his favourites - the next for example, "Knockin'..", though
he was desperate to hear "John Brown" - as played on "Unplugged"!. Bob
started to cut the songs short at the end, much shorter than the night
before, and so "Highway 61" didn't smoke as much tonight. "BITW" was pure
bliss to 30,000 people, and Dylan looked stage struck almost at the end
when the band gazed out to the audience now EVERYONE on their feet and
applauding like crazy... and like crazy and like crazy.. until Bob came
back on for a 2nd encore which had to be.. "Stoned". This was quite timely
given the wisps of smoke appearing in the crowd by then!.. but, yes,
no-one should have felt too lonely out there tonight. Bob had brought us
together through his music.. and what a happy crowd we were tramping back
to wherever we came from...
Review by Chris Familton
Great to see Bob playing an outdoor show in the picturesque Centennial
Park. The dark and cloudy skies threatened but never really opened. The
only shower fell during Hard Rain (surprise, surprise!) and we were
treated to a spectacular show.The abnd seemed to grwo in strength and
spirit with each song. Tangled up in Blue kicked along with Bob's retake
on the chorus melody at first distracting but by the end of the song
inspiring. Maggies Farm was a treat with solos opening up and the first
sign of the knee bends accompanying the runs up the neck of his guitar.
Desolation Row, Roving Gambler were pretty standard and Leopard Skin..
really had a bite to it, the interplay between all 5 players driving the
sound along. It was the 2 tracks off Time out of Mind that really shone,
the pace and emotion of Lovesick and Standing in the Doorway were
beautiful and the music provided the perfect backdrop for Bob's weary but
raggedly strong vocals. We were treated to a pretty tour standard encore.
The highlights of which were a rousing Rolling Stone and Highway 61
Revisited and the beautiful take of Blowin.. For the first time on the OZ
tour (I think) we got a second encore of Stoned with Bob offering a smile
(or was it a smirk) or two and a bag full of dips and pelvic thrusts (!).
All in all a briiliant night - easily surpassing the performance from
Sydney 2 years ago.
Review by Paul Grieves
Sydney had little rain tonight when we were outside.there was security all
over the front at the stage and the promoter was threatening people with
more security,cops and holding up the show. the cops did come and some of
the people at the front were arm twisted and pushed around. i went to
Newcstle yesterday and after the concert had a brief chat with sound board
man, Pablo..(.yes your name is out!) his feedback was "Bob loves people
dancing and having fun up the front it really fires him up, especially the
young girls who bop around". we`ll that didn`t happen in Sydney because it
was a shamble with the promoter screaming down the mic to "get back and
back off.!" by this time the crowd had seated and settled. still the cops
force people to get up and move. Bob came out and went straight into his
trade of hammering the a standard 14 nails from his nailbox then it was a
sullen stance by all the band with no "thanks everybody or anybody" .when
Bob plays he`s looking at the front stage floor(can he see?) and nodding
to Charlie mostly about when he can and can`t be let off his lead for a
neck run. back out they came to do the next five hits and the last one
completed the workmanship!.another blank staring stance without a glance
and he`s gone.the 98 shows here were alot more intimate and animated. the
promoter turns up at the end of the show and asks the crowd how they`re
going and thanks for coming.someone next to me says "that wasn`t a show
that was a shame".do these people communicate?
Additional comments added 5-11-01:
I was actually thrown out of the concert and felt very angry about this. i
blamed bob and his performance for that. i appologise for saying he looked
sullen he looked satasfied and complete about the concert and there was no
other person to say the show was a shame. just me and my anger.i would
like to acknowledge bob and thank him for coming to australia to share his
music with us.
Review by Bob Howe
It's been 25 years since I first started attending Bob Dylan concerts, and
in some circles that makes me just a beginner. Over many years and three
continents, this was a night worth waiting for! Encouraged by great
reviews of Dylan's recent European tour, the audience flocked to witness
the touted return to form. His Bobness did not disappoint the faithful,
but still baffled the innocent newbies. It must be accepted now, as the
Never Ending Tour lurches on in its 13th year, that Dylan will not sing
the original melody of any but the most recent of his songs. Not content
with merely reworking the arrangements, like a jazzman improvising a new
tune to a familiar set of chords, he stretches the boundaries. If that's
what it takes for him to continue to deliver those magical lyrics, then so
be it. After all, it was never about the music, man!
His voice is in pretty good shape, with plenty of gravel at the bottom
these days. Then there are the guitar solos. Even the most generous would
have to admit that Tangled Up In Blue is probably long enough without
having a guitar solo after every verse. If you were compiling a live
recording, the digital scissors would definitely get a work out. But
tonight, even the guitar playing began to make sense. It is as if the
band, now complemented by eighties guitar hero Charlie Sexton, have
realised that Dylan is the lead guitarist in the band. Instead of some of
the sonic convolutions of past tours, the other guitars now defer to
Dylan's axe. Utility man of the band, Larry Campbell supports with strong
strumming or smooth steel guitar when Dylan twangs, and plays supple lines
when Dylan plays choppy rhythmic phrases that hark back to his pre-folk
era rock roots. Sexton follows suit, offering a few tentative licks and
waiting for the nod of approval from The Bobfather before launching into a
full-blooded wail. And wail they did, turning a formerly country The
Wicked Messenger into a Chicago Blues styled romp, ending with a fine, and
now sadly infrequent, harp solo by Dylan.
At the age of 59, he looks back on a huge catalogue of songs. Every night
the set list changes; some classics, some obscure. Tonight we got a
blistering Highway 61 Revisited and All Along The Watchtower, a rollicking
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, and many full-band acoustic numbers including
Mama, You Been On My Mind. Twenty songs in two hours - I saw him smile and
it made me happy. May the tour truly Never End.
By Bob Howe
For an illustrated version of this review, click here
Review by James Mackie
An outdoor venue with rain in the air. As nice as Centennial Park is why
do we do it? I suppose the thinking was lots of aging baby boomers would
enjoy sitting in the park perhaps even bring the kids.
There were plenty of the true believers; the front 15 rows had plenty of
faces identical to last night. I didn't know them except I see them at Bob
shows. There were a few Aussie stars (movie types) in the crowd. I wont
mention the names in case no one else really noted they were with Bob
rather than be at the Academy (good choice!!).
Paul Kelly opened, quality quality and quality will sum him up (as
Our man arrived at 7pm to open with Roving Gambler tighter start than last
night I thought. Second was Tambourine man this could have been better.
Next an acoustic Desolation Row I thought I had heard it electric last
night I was dreaming I think. There of course was a loud cheer as we were
all expecting rain.
As he motored into Absolutely Sweet Marie, the acceptable standard was set
at a high level. We would not be disappointed at all for the rest of the
Tonight of course is very different from last much more pump out the power
kind of show. More consistent than last night
The only Hard rain came from Bob and band, a rough and ready kind of
version that sits sweetly in the memory bank. After Tangled came some
really high points, Standing in the Doorway and Wicked Messenger.
After the break Love Sick was back, powerful as ever. If Dogs run free
again another very high point.
The promoter had billed this Australian meander as the "Things Have
Changed tour" Bob was not having any of that. This was supposed to be the
"Oscar Show" even Bob Dates said that but no "things have changed" was to
be heard! Did our man have the word he was not a winner or was it that he
chose some irony to entertain us? We got of course an absolutely
delightful "Knocking on Heavens door" Does Bob feel this should get the
Oscar for best Motion Picture soundtrack? Can anyone find a song written
for a movie that continues to stand up so defiantly? An anthem for anyone
who wants to play it- the guitar beginner or the seasoned rock band
everyone knows and loves this.
After Blowing there was enough enthusiasm to get him back again for Rainy
Day Women - plenty of joy here for all with this standard closer.
At end Bob stands hand on hip looking down at the crowd almost scowling at
us. Was he disappointed we were not clapping hard enough? We could not
have enjoyed it any more! There was certainly no salute to the masses as
we got last night.
We all know he is the King the last two nights have once again reaffirmed
that for me. Nothing has really changed; Bob is still always different.
Always provoking us just like it should be. Only the continued development
of the band has us wondering, can it really get any better?
We get to pick up the children filled with a warm glow from an exceptional
quality show. My four year old Joe wakes and asks me "did he play
Tangled up in Blue" oh my god what am I doing to them I think. Then I hope
this is the beginning of the enquiring mind? - another new generation of
Bob fans who with the benefit of increasing bandwidth will discuss the
subtleties of the King with their global soul mates, if this is the case
then we are all the richer for the opportunity.
Review by Paul Byrne
It was billed as a concert "under the stars". The setting was Centennial Park,
on the outskirts of Sydney. The 1st thing I noticed on the way there was the
number of female fans in the crowd. At any other Dylan concerts I’ve been to,
there were usually significantly more males present, many of those youths of the
60’s. There was a picnic area at the back of the field, which saw families
camped to enjoy the concert. This was fantastic to see such a mix of people.
The organizers should have anticipated that people would want to stand at the
front rail, as Dylan is known to feed off, and bringing the police in was a
little heavy handed. I made a remark to a fellow fan that we should have brought
our handcuffs to facilitate our protestations!
Dylan, accompanied by the band, walked onto the stage with absolutely no fuss at
7.10 PM. He was dressed in one of his standard black trousers & jacket with black
& white checked stripes down each side, and a polka dot tie/cravat. David Kempner
had his usual Stetson, shades, dark shirt, jeans. The other 3 had gray suits.
Roving Gambler – Straight into this standard opener, the band gelled immediately,
sounding completely tight and together. Dylan had his blank look from the outset,
staring down at the stage. It sounded good.
Tambourine Man – The last time I heard this was in September in Europe, and he had
changed the phrasing in it. It sounded good. He was running the end of each line
into the start of the next one, not pausing in between. It seemed to roll out better,
sounding like a never-ending story that kept coming and coming without cease. I am
still amused by his face-pulling/grimacing that occurs regularly after the end of
verses of many songs, almost like he has gotten it out of his system with a foul
Desolation Row – This sounded good also. But I still felt that Dylan was on semi-
auto pilot. He was playing methodically, technically they all sounded very well,
but he hadn’t reached that higher gear. He made the song sound fairly fresh though
I have to say. He really growled out a few verses, that deep, gravelly voice just
swallowing up the microphone. I love that pointed plucking that accompanies this
song, and keeps it moving along nicely.
Absolutely Sweet Marie – Out with the electric guitars for the first time. This
has always been a favorite with me from the album. There was a great 3-step la-te-do
riff at the end of each verse, stepping upwards, then coming down, all in a minor
key. It seemed to hold the whole song together. The band was playing with great
gusto at this point. I felt that Dylan was waking up a little more, I was ready
for him to step up a gear!!
Till I Fell in Love with You – A nice version of this song
Maggie’s Farm – A rousing version of the song, Dylan had reached that gear finally!!
He was howling out the lyrics with great passion. He had found a new lease of
energy. He changed the line "she’s 68 but she says she’s 24" instead of 54 – maybe
some young woman on the front rail had caught his eye… The band, as always, feed
directly off Dylan’s vibe/energy/body language, and was following him closely in
this new tempo. This was a highlight of the show for me.
Mama, You’ve been on my Mind – A beautiful version of this song, I hadn’t heard
this live before. His voice was soft and tender. A lovely arrangement.
A Hard Rain’s a-gonna Fall – This was absolutely superb. This and the previous 2
songs were the best section of the show for me (which would turn out to be quite
a greatest hits night). He had changed the timing of the chorus, waiting at least
]double the time between each of the 4 "It’s a Hard" phrases. It just seemed to
build the tension at the 2nd, 3rd and 4th passes of this line, and the audience
were singing in between with their "It’s a Hard". The razor-sharp imagery of this
song was very evident, making me realize why it is so famous. The words to this
song are incredible.
Tangled Up In Blue – This song is one of those greatest hits which is played for
those fans who come to hear greatest hits. I feel it was really churned out, Larry
looked like he was on autopilot, and I felt this at least once at a concert last
year. Maybe a different greatest hit here Bob??
Standing In The Doorway – Played beautifully, very gentle beginning, the 1st song
from Time Out Of Mind.
Wicked Messenger – A nice version of this classic song.
Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat – Again, a clean-sounding rendition of this hit.
Lovesick – First song of the encore. Played well, nothing out of the ordinary
Rolling Stone – He manages to change this song slightly every time I’ve heard
it. A rocking version, which sounded fresh and full of good guitar playing.
If Dogs Run Free – A great version of this song.
All along the Watchtower – A really noisy pass of this song, it rocked! Sounding
more like Hendrix’s version these days, it was full of gusto. The band was really
going with this one.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door – I thoroughly enjoyed this. Charlie & Larry singing the
seconds, making it sound a little like Gabrielle’s version of the song may I say!!
Fantastic to hear this song working so well.
Highway 61 Revisited, Blowing In the Wind, Rainy Day Women – Dylan was throwing a
lot of glances to Charlie at this stage of the gig, I think it was to allow him a
little slack and to have his spot on the limelight. Charlie shone in my opinion
towards these songs. He did a few superb solos. He was on fire, blazing. He’s a
guy with a HUGE amount of guitar ability, and I’m sure Bob is well aware of this
and therefore doesn’t loosen his leash too often. Dylan was loving it, and the 4
guitarists including Tony were kicking, playing off each other, especially Charlie
and Tony at one stage, with Charlie almost on his knees on the ground. They were
almost as 4 equal guitarists there, all on fire. The crowd was boiling with
excitement, jumping, roaring.
Then it was over, no rendition of "Things have Changed", the very song he was up
for the Oscar for!!! I couldn’t believe it, and then I thought of something my
friend Brendan said to me once "He’lll be awkward and unpredictable, and do
exactly what’s not expected". Too true. It was a concert that was at that
fairly consistently high level we have received from Dylan over the last
few years, but not at that high level of Milan last year, or Dublin (The
Point) to a slightly lesser extent, of the concerts I’ve seen. The crowd
loved it. Long live Dylan, he deserves that Oscar tonight
Comments by Tony Hunter
The previous reviews pretty much got the flavour of the Sydney show
...from up front close to the stage.
I was in the second block back ,right next to the mixer. While the sound
quality was excellent there just wasn't enough of it ! No doubt local
resident restrictions caused this. However the lack of volume , the lack
of darkness (there was a lot of lighting in the surrounding parkland ) and
dissipation of the applause into the sky made this a concert lacking in
atmosphere. This wasn't helped by having a large mixing tent which meant
that a large swathe of potential audience area being left vacant due to
Nice idea having the outside show but I reckon indoors is better.
page by Bill Pagel
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