Reviews

Brisbane, Australia
Brisbane Entertainment Centre
March 30, 2001


[Simon Munro], [Glenn Henry], [Ian McLaughlin and Elza James], [Brett Hay], [Zac Dadic], [Helen Farley]

Review by Simon Munro



Bob was on tonight. Sure, he took a little while to warm up (My Back Pages
was a bit rusty) but he was relaxed and in fine voice. I had been to great
shows in  Tamworth and Newcastle last week, but this show was even better.
Sure "Mama" and "Cold Irons Bound" were unbelieveable in Tamworth, and
"Highlands" truly spine-tingling in Newcastle, but Bob's set tonight was
more intense. Also he really seemed to be enjoying himself tonight and
moving round the stage a lot more. "Duncan and Brady" was a perfect start
to tonights set, a rootsy number in the vien of "Roving Gambler", another
of Bob's openers. Then came "My Back Pages", a personal favourite, but one
that was just the tinyest bit disapointing tonight. However, Bob's harp
solo was great, his whole body seemed to be driving that harp. Next up was
one of tonights highlights, "It's Alright, Ma". Bob treated his microphone
with scorn during this song, powerfully rapping his verses into it,
questioning each and every person in the audience. As with Newcastle, the
line "sometimes even the president of the United States must have to stand
naked" got a loud cheer. "I Don't Believe You" was the first electric song
of the night, a pleasant surprise. "Standing in the Doorway" was next, a
beautiful song that I felt was played with more contrast and intensity
that in Tamworth performance. Then came another highlight of the evening,
a rare performance of "Stuck Inside of Mobile", a wonderful arrangement.
"Masters of War" was a powerful performance. The combination of Bob's
sneering vocals and the subtle work of his band made for a memorable
version. With songs such as "masters", Bob is not simply churning out old
favourites (like other songwriters of his vintage) but giving them a new
voice and direction. "Visions of Johanna" was a wonderful surprise. He
sung it without depending on rythym like in the original, focusing more on
expressing the meaning of each line. I never realised how good the lyrics
were to this song! "Don't Think Twice" was another treat, with the now
familiar nod to "Waltsing Matilda" moving the crowd to a frenzy. A great
performance of "Dignity" opened up the next electric set, followed by the
delightful "Drifter's Escape". The only way to explain this song is ROCK -
the band rocks out on this number. Larry's inspired guitar work on this
song was complemented by some great improv work by Charlie. Once again,
Bob's harp solo was wonderful in this song. The only prediction I would
dare make (before the encore) was that the last song would be LSPBH - i
was right! This performance took off where Drifter's left off, giving the
band a chance to get a lot off their chest. "Love Sick" began the encore.
It was a flawless performance, a song that really does prove that Bob's
got the right guys backing him. "Like a Rolling Stone" was next (or
course) followed by the delightful "If Dog's Run Free". I love Dylan's
vocals in this number, relaxed and humourous, attracting more than a few
chuckles in the audience. "All Along the Watchtower" was next, a song
which, in its current incarnation, people have said resembles Hendrix's
version. This is a long way from the truth, tonights performance was
extremely BOB. "Forever Young" was great, Larry and Charlie's backing
vocals really added to the song. Tonights performance was made more
memorable by Bob's beautiful extended harp solo. "Highway 61" was a heavy
number as usual, getting all the band members involved. But Dylan of
course shone out, sneering "highway sixty....waaaaaaaaaaaannn" - after so
many performances of this song, I guess he just assumes that people know
what highway he's talking about. "Blowing in the Wind" closed the set,
pissing off many of the stoners in the audience desperate to hear Rainy
Day Women. But I was happy, spoilt rotten by three Dylan experiences in a
week. My life will seem so dull from now on.....come back soon Bob!!

[TOP]

Review by Glenn Henry


A wonderful Bob Dylan performance in Brisbane last night.

This was my third Dylan concert. The first was at Brisbane's Lang Park in
1986 when he was with Tom Petty. The highlight was a riveting 'Masters Of
War' and the solo acoustic set in general.

The second was in 1998 when Patti Smith played a terrific supporting role.
However this night at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre was not one of
Bob's best. Poor sound system, turned up way too loud, and Bob yelling
into the microphone, ruined the show. There were some glimpses of beauty -
'Born in Time', 'Blind Willie McTell' and especially 'It's All Over Now
Baby Blue', plus a rare chance to hear 'The Man in Me'. But the sound was
so bad most people didn't recognise the less well known songs.

Now to last night. Recent newspaper reports had me apprehensive, but they
were just bad journalism. The reviews on the websites gave some hope. I
bought a tee- shirt, but was disapointed there were no programs, none last
time either!

The support act, Mick Hart, was very good. He sings and plays in a similar
vein to the late Jeff Buckley, but the songs are not as well developed. A
lot of potential though.

I was not expecting Bob onstage till 9pm, but he came out at 8.45 and
launched into 'Duncan and Brady'. The sound was crystal clear, (must be
that new French sound system?) and Bob's singing was sweet and powerful. I
had a smile on my face all night, as did just about everyone else.

Great to hear 'My Back Pages' and 'It's alright Ma' then a real treat with
'I Don't Believe You', Bob really emphasising the words just like 'Royal
Albert Hall '66!!!

My brother yelled out 'Standing in the doorway! and Bob obliged with a
heartache version. We had the best seats, second row left of centre, in
front of Larry Campbell. The crowd of about 8000 had many aged in their
40s and 50s plus.

The terrific versions of all songs continued, everyone was rocking. I
yelled out 'Visions of Johanna' and was rewarded with a lovely version,
but why has Bob cut it back to 4 verses? Much better than the version
found on the Net. 'Dignity' was flawless, and great harp to close out
'Drifter's Escape'. Everyone sang along with 'Pillbox Hat', I thought we
might get twenty songs tonight after hearing this one, (look at recent set
lists). The band came to the front of the stage and Bob surveyed us, he
was really animated tonight and looked well. They left the stage.

The encore was the usual fare. 'Love Sick' just as good as 1998. Instead
of singing the line "I want to take to the road and plunder", Bob sang
"I'm getting ploughed under!" Oh No! Then 'Like a Rolling Stone' sounded
like 1966 Albert Hall and 'If Dogs Run Free' was simply brilliant. Larry
on steel for 'Watchtower' - reminiscent of Hendrix. I'm not fond of the
backing vocals on 'Forever Young,' - I'd rather Bob sang it by himself,
however I think it sounds great on 'Blowin' in the Wind' which closed the
night. During the encore, I noticed Bob's "OSCAR" was sitting on his amp!

The BEC is not a great venue - too big and cavernous. Even with an
enthusiastic crowd, which this obviously was, the clapping doesn't
generate as much noise as most venues. Bob thought we weren't making
enough noise, so didn't return for 'Rainy Day Women' But we all loved the
show.. I did do one stupid thing, I yelled out 'Quinn the Eskimo' and Bob
thought I was an idiot ... sorry Bob, you're right, leave that one in
1967.

I only have one criticism. Bob often plays his lead breaks in the wrong
key, which sounds pretty awful sometimes. It's a shame when the guys are
giving such great backing in the key af "A" while Bob's playing in "B
Flat"! (go to the blues scale at the fifth fret, Bob, not the sixth
fret!). Not a bad harmonica player though ...

Thanks Bob for a great night. I hope you stay healthy and return to
Australia some day.

Glenn Henry   g1.henry@student.qut.edu.au

[TOP]

Review by Ian McLaughlin and Elza James



The Boondall Entertainment Centre lacks atmosphere. A purpose built cement box, 
it fails to exude the nostalgia worthy of an icon who has spanned three 
generations. Fortunately, on this particular night, Bob Dylan and his band were 
able to transcend the aesthetic limitations of the venue with a tight, 
professional performance. 

The two thousand plus audience was composed of an eclectic group of fans, from 
beat generation hippies wearing rainbow head scarves to teenagers. They stood 
to welcome Dylan onto the stage. When the stage lights faded to black between 
songs while guitar changes were made, audience members would yell, "We love 
you Bob" and "We want more," just in case he needed reassurance in order to 
continue. This was an easy audience. Did Dylan excel? Possibly not, but he 
didn't need to. Dylan was already playing to the converted and he did so with 
enough energy and flair to ensure that the entire stadium provided him with a 
standing ovation at the end.

The set list contained an excellent range of blues, folk and rock and roll 
songs,  the highlights undoubtedly occurring during the encore with Like a 
Rolling Stone, All Along the Watchtower and Forever Young mesmerising the 
audience. Strains of Waltzing Matilda which appeared during the rendition of 
Don't Think Twice, it's Alright also elicited tremendous crowd response. The 
finale with a fresh interpretation of Blowing In The Wind was a fitting 
culmination to a fabulous concert. 

Dylan's vocal chords may be a little worn but the voice is still unique and 
raw with emotion. The band was highly polished whilst still managing to allow 
Dylan to shine. Dylan and the band are a much tighter outfit compared to his 
last two Australian tours. 

As we drove from the venue, Dylan's stretch limousine faded into the night. 
This is his second last concert in Australia and one of which he can be 
rightly proud. One wonders if he rates himself whilst contemplating the 
night's performance on his way to the hotel. If he does, tonight would 
receive an A-. He made the audience work hard to gain their money's worth, 
playing some obscure songs and as usual, changing the melodies of old 
standards. No one seemed to mind and perhaps that is the essence of the 
Dylan phenomenon.

One gets the impression that Dylan plays to please himself, whether it's a 
decision to make unusual choices or changes to the melodies of old favourites. 
He does these things because he's an icon and he can. Is Dylan worth seeing?  
My definitive answer is - absolutely!! However, if you prefer your music crisp 
and manufactured, save your money and buy his CDs. A Dylan concert makes no 
attempt to hide his shortcomings from the world. Tonight, moments of his 
brilliance shone through.

Ian McLaughlin and Elza James

[TOP]

Review by Brett Hay



A terrific concert; probably eclipsing '98.  Bob was in absolutely
fantastic voice.  The higlight was an exquisite "Visions of Johanna",
atmospheric and tenderly delivered.  A rollicking "Highway 61" saw Bob
hitting some of those notes of old; the sound cut to the very soul.  A
country-twinged "Don't Think Twice" had a special nod to Australia with a
few bars of "Waltzing Matilda" thrown in for good measure.  90's songs
were all performed brilliantly; a haunting "Dignity" and an almost scary
"Love Sick".  "Standing in the Doorway" shows what an expressive singe the
great man still is.  A few terrific surprises.  Apart from "Visions", 
"Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again" was totally
unexpected for me, as was "Masters of War".  Just goes to show that great
poetry and perceptive critical comments about society are timeless; some
of the lines in "It's Alright Ma" are probably more relevant today than
they were in the 60's.  Bob also showed what a consummate "musicologist"
he is with a variety of different genre presented for different songs. 
From country to jazz ("If Dogs Run Free") to some old fashioned heavy
rockin' ("Drifter's Escape").

Bob was immaculately attired in a charcoal suit; he looked well.  I am
never ceased to be amazed by the artisty of the man.  Last night, I saw an
(almost) 60 year old artist doin' what he did, without a care for what
anybody thought.  This was true artistic expression.  Dylan is the king.

Brett Hay

[TOP]

Review by Zac Dadic



First of all thanks to Jim (our Friend of the Devil) for getting the great
seats, and to the friends and relatives who travelled great distances to
be in the presence of Bob on this lovely Brisbane night. On his sixth tour
of Australia in 35 years, Dylan has been wowing the crowds and critics
with his current shows. But as we know, Bob being Bob, anything could
happen on the performance scale tonight. The Brisbane Entertainment Centre
is a concrete barn located on the northern outskirts of town. It is devoid
of any character or atmosphere and unfortunately remains Brisbane's only
indoor venue of the size required for most international touring artists.
This is the third time that Dylan has played the BEC and hopefully any
future tours will find him in a venue more suited to his artistry and
sensitivity. Following the disappointing show here in 1998, Bob in the new
millennium is quite clearly back in excellent form. Thankfully the
promoter has utilised a brilliant sound system as opposed to those that
have reduced Dylan to a sonic nightmare on the previous journeys down
under.  That combined with a renewed singing voice, a mostly fantastic
band, and interesting song selections made the show in Brisbane a great
experience. The main ingredient missing from the night was crowd response
and enthusiasm. For this I blame the venue and its restrictive nature
rather than the seven or eight thousand faithful fans and adventurous
punters who turned out to see and hear the legend that is Bob. The crowd
on the floor, especially those in the front rows remained seated
practically throughout the show and seemed at times quite restrained in
their responses. Of course the big hits drew huge cheers and adoration but
mostly it was just polite applause. This was a shame because musically
Dylan was brilliant for most parts of this show. After a throwaway
introductory Duncan and Brady, the first set included a number of acoustic
songs where Dylan sang as intensely and passionately as I have ever heard.
Think of the acoustic set in Brixton Blues and you will have an idea of
how carefully and thoughtfully he delivered My Back Pages, Its Alright Ma,
Don't Think Twice (with its Waltzing Matilda guitar melody loved by the
crowd) and most special of all, Visions of Johanna. Without doubt this was
the highlight of the night. Thanks to some binoculars, we were able the
study the lines of his face during these remarkable tracks and share in
the obvious concentration and study that he was putting into every line.
Full marks to Larry Campbell for his sensitive yet seemingly effortless
accompaniment throughout. Is this guy talented or what? The only
suggestion I could make to improve the band is with the drumming. Too
often David Kemper just sat on a beat and held time. One of the true
secrets and measures of a great musician is knowing when not to play, when
to hold off and give a minimal contribution rather than hitting every
beat, chord or note. Kemper used brushes on maybe two of the acoustic
numbers when perhaps all of them would have benefited from this approach.
How about no drumming at all for some of the songs? Surely Bob isn't
afraid to hold a few songs together all by himself, or maybe with a little
help from Larry and Tony is he? Anyway, back to the performance. Amongst
these amazing 'quiet' numbers were great electric versions of I Don't
Believe You, Standing In The Doorway and Memphis Blues Again. Brisbane was
also treated to a rare Dignity and the very rockin' Drifter's Escape. The
first set concluded with a spirited Leopard-Skin but this is a pretty
stale song that doesn't add much to any Dylan show. Special note has to be
made of Bob's shoes. Anyone who spotted those black and white flamed
pointy boots was jealous of the guy's total cool from head to toe. Dylan
and co. left for a few minutes with the crowd in their ears. The return
number, Love Sick was in the same position as the previous show here in
'98. On that night Love Sick was the only genuine highlight, but tonight
it was just one of many. Like A Rolling Stone was delivered with the
attention and care of Dylan greeting a long lost friend rather than the
ubiquitous performance nature of this song. It was stirring and rousing
and the crowd were finally out of their seats and screaming. If Dogs Run
Free seems to have settled in its current spot of 15 and if Bob likes it
this way then what might have been, might have been. Watchtower, Forever
Young, H61 and Blowin' finished in a tandem acoustic electric pattern. The
four big 'hits' went down a treat with Bowin' containing the only spoken
words from Bob for the whole show. After the final verse the band were
introduced before slickly flowing into the last chorus, and the final
notes of the night. Other than that, there was not one 'Thank you
ev'rybody', not one word. With the song over, Dylan and the band lined up
and stared the crowd down soaking up the very justified screaming and
praise. A few smiles were cracked but it looked as if Dylan was standing
there like Ali saying 'I am the greatest' (silently of course.) And so he
should have. The Brisbane performance produced some stunning singing,
phrasing and performances, the requisite number of songs out of
left-field, and of course the few contentious additions. The lights stayed
down for a few minutes with the crowd screaming and hoping for more but
the second encore remained elusive. Perhaps the restrained nature of the
crowd throughout contributed to Bob's decision that this wasn't to be a
truly special night. Fans would have to wait one more night for that.

[TOP]

Review by Helen Farley



With a career spanning some 40 years, countless albums, a diversity of
styles and hundreds of songs, Bob Dylan is arguably one of the most
influential performers and songwriters of contemporary music. More than
150 artists have covered his tunes and heís collaborated with everyone
from the Grateful Dead to Tom Petty and The Band. It was always going to
be a hard task to keep an audience happy with such an enormous back
catalogue of material to choose from but Bob pulled it off, blending some
well-chosen classics with his newer material.

Dressed in a dark grey suit, Dylan came on stage at 8.45. He was dwarfed
by the enormity of the Entertainment Centre and it was hard to believe
such a diminutive could have been responsible for so many great songs. The
audience was composed of a motley assortment of ageing hippies, various
parent and progeny combinations, the well-heeled and downtrodden aged from
10 to 80. It was a sure indication of the far-reaching and diverse
influence of this enigmatic performer.

Dylan opened the concert with the acoustic Duncan and Brady. The band,
featuring Charlie Sexton (guitar) and Larry Campbell (guitar/fiddle/pedal
steel), were tight with a raw rootsy feel, just delicious. Dylan himself
was in fine form, his vocals evocative sometimes spitting into the
microphone, other times caressing and sensuous. He moved with the music,
his enjoyment and satisfaction in performance obvious.

The band moved readily between acoustic and electric numbers, keeping the
proceedings dynamic. Audience favourites included a blistering version of
All Along the Watchtower featuring Larry on pedal steel and Stuck Inside
of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again. Forever Young which appeared in
the 45 minute encore, was another highlight with Bob on harp as was
Standing in the Doorway from his fabulous 1997 release Time Out of Mind.
The acoustic Donít Think Twice, Itís All Right flirted with a few bars of
Waltzing Matilda to the surprise and delight of the enthusiastic audience.

Bob Dylan was on stage for about two hours. To his credit, he performed
the material in a fresh and interesting way rather than just regurgitating
the tired old studio versions. I did hear that his Oscar which he won for
his song Things Have Changed from the soundtrack of Wonder Boys, was
sitting on his amp but I must confess I didnít see it myself. Though some
fans with a more superficial interest in Dylanís music may have been
disappointed he didnít perform more of his vintage hits, most I think
would have been well-satisfied with the concert. Great material, a great
band and a legendary performer in fine form.

Helen Farley

[TOP]

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