Reviews

Melbourne, Australia

Margaret Court Arena

August 13, 2018


[Jonathan Feldman], [Alan James], [Tony Wells], [Paul Grieves], [Peter Elliott], [Mark Cowan-Aston], [Laurette Maillet], [Alan James]

Review by Jonathan Feldman



Where do I start! Letís start with the venue - much better than Rod Laver
Arena and even the Palais. The sound quality was outstanding - well done
to the technicians. Highlights were a very unique Tangled Up In Blue and a
version of Donít Think Twice almost reminiscent of When He Return for its
solo piano work and skilful vocals...and of course Gotta Serve Somebody
was a treat with a few new lyrics, even compared to Singapore! The big
take away is that Bob is central to the music - vocals and keys, itís not
just the band propping him up. Amazing to see him reinvent his songs yet
again. As always, thanks Bob!

[TOP]

Review by Alan James



Wow, wow and wow. This was my 17th Bob show - starting at Blackbushe back
in 78 - and, believe it or not, the show performed in Melbourne ranks
really high on that list. Based on the reviews from the Asian leg of the
tour, expectation was high but, hey, it's Bob, anything can happen and
nothing can be taken for granted. And yet, this was simply amazing. In
Australia, last time round he was a sweet but frail old man re-living and
re-delivering the songs with resolve and occasional insight  but here, he
has been transformed, re-energised and re-awakened into what can only be
described as a fully-fledged rock star. This is the Bob show - yes the
band are as awesome as they have been in recent years but there is no
doubt who their leader is. Bob sings (yes, really - those crooner albums
have re-focussed his delivery) he plays piano with more confidence and
more dominance than before, he (of course) still blows harmonica and he
commands the stage - even when mainly posted behind the piano. There were
smiles form the band to each other throughout the show and it seemed
evident that they were aware of just how good this was.

And it is; a polished and, dare I say it, rehearsed show where each song
merged seamlessly and sequentially into the next despite how surprising
and inventive the melodic and - in at least three songs - lyrical
re-inventions have been. The highlights are virtually all 20 numbers but
for me at least, Early Roman Kings, Pay in Blood, Simple Twist and Don't
Think Twice really stood out. At times you could hear the ghosts of Blue
Moon and even, in Gotta Serve Somebody, echoes of Peter Gunne. It was an
amazing performance and a great experience. Cleary, judging from the
comments from the crowd leaving, whether you were new to the Bob
experience, a die-hard or merely a passing stranger, this was a show for
the ages. Thank you, Bob- keep on, keeping on.

Alan James

[TOP]

Review by Tony Wells



Bob Dylan played Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne, Australia last night - a venue
in the complex where the Australian Open Tennis is played each January and 
named for arguably the most famous woman tennis player Australia has produced.  
An almost perennial feature of the Australian open is the extremely hot weather 
here in the Australian summer. But August is winter in Melbourne and a chilly 
evening last night was forgotten in the enthusiasm of the response to Bob - more 
than enough to warm the spirit.

Bob Dylan and his body of work have been a constant since the sixties from when 
Times Were A'Changin' to more modern times where Things Have Changed.  The 
transition is reflected in the catalogue featured in last night's concert.

Selections in the set list included favourites from across the years and what amazes 
is the freshness that Dylan brings to concert with old songs reworked and more 
recent material crossing new horizons. Dylan in maturity is durable. His voice is strong 
and his performance and energy in 2018, and that of the band, are as good as it 
gets.  The timing and phrasing of the full ensemble is exquisite. And the music is 
enduring.

There were many highlights last night, but I'm not a music critic and I'm not reviewing 
last night's set list (although for entertainment value I thought the tour version of 
Don't Think Twice was a standout) because the moment for me has come and gone 
and the next performance will have its differences. A Dylan concert is not just about 
content; it is also about acknowledging his contribution since the 1960s.  Even so, it is 
fair to say the total package - Bob, the band, and those unseen who make it work - 
provided another memorable Dylan experience. 

The enthusiasm of the audience for Dylan "Down Under" last night was manifest - no 
more so than the reaction of Adrian who accompanied me for his first Bob concert, 
something he would never have anticipated coming from tiny Tulendeena, a farming 
hamlet in the north east of Australia's small island state, Tasmania. 

There are surprises in life!  And we should cherish them. Thanks Bob!

[TOP]

Review by Paul Grieves



I thought I would just drop a few thoughts in here after Bob was last here
in Melbourne, 2014. As others have said the sound is great in this arena
and Iím going back again tonight for a second helping. I noticed their
was less of a focus on country blues and swing and that the Triplicate
songs have allowed Bob another way of interpreting some songs...and I
thought this Donít think twice version would have sat easily on
Triplicate and maybe TUIB too. Thereís still lots of blues based band
pumping songs to lift the energy after the ballads and Serve Sombody
(which seems like itís being rewritten every day at the moment) had this
riff that kicks the song off that I thought sounded just like the
Courageous Cat theme from the TV show. That riff from Charlie and that
sound definitely and successfully achieves confirming we are all in some
type of servitude. 

Paul Grieves

[TOP]

Review by Peter Elliott



How do you find the superlatives to adequately sum up this performance.
Four years ago at the Palais in Melbourne I thought I had seen an
unbeatable best concert ever.

Well the great man rolls back into Melbourne and astonishes us once again.
I feel deeply sorry for those folks who don't get Bob and therefore fail
to realise how lucky we are to have one of the artistic giants of human
history still walking amongst us. "Don't you dare miss it" indeed.

This show was sublime, phenomenal, astounding, jaw dropping, breath
taking, overwhelming and add whatever superlative you can think of.

Looser and less stylistically staged as 2014 this showcased a genius at
the absolute top of his game. Classic songs in "it ain't me babe" and
"Don't think twice" we re-imagined as slow beautiful piano ballads that
brought tears to the eye. Up tempo songs like "Thunder and the Mountain"
and "Early Roman Kings" were joyous toe tapping rocking delights. You
can't mention highlights when a twenty song set list has 20 highlights. Oh
but the majesty of "Desolation Row", the wonder of "Simple Twist" or "Make
you feel my love", and to get a wonderful version of "When I paint my
masterpiece".

The band as always were sensational. Bob's piano whether slow and
beautiful or rocking or honky tonk or jazzy was amazing and glorious - why
isn't there enough attention paid to his magnificent mastery of guitar,
piano and oh my god, harmonica. It is such a thrill that the harp has
returned to the show and Bob didn't disappoint on the times he blew his
little heart out.

Finally to the singing - "Something is happening here but you don't know
what is" so I guess I'm Mr Jones because what is going on? How can the
voice of a man in his late seventies be getting better.

I have always considered Bob's voice to be the greatest musical instrument
ever and was thrilled that he sang so gloriously four years ago. BUT it's
better again. It has become smoother again and more powerful again. For
two hours my soul was stroked by the majesty of his singing.

"Gotta serve somebody" had a great new line- "You may be hallucinating,
you might think you've seen a ghost, but you still have to serve
somebody."

I wasn't hallucinating Bob I really was in the company of sheer genius.

Can't wait for tomorrow night's show.

[TOP]

Review by Mark Cowan-Aston



They say every time you buy tickets to a Dylan concert, you pay your money
and roll the dice.  I've seen every concert he's done in Australia since
1982, and can honestly say I must have been lucky; despite what I admit is
a somewhat biased view, I have never come away disappointed.

I loved his last gig in 2014; pinstriped pants, white fedora, big 1940s
style microphone, giving us a varied set list that included many of his
songs from the great American songbook.  His voice was strong, but in the
scheme of things he was pretty subdued.

Last Monday I rolled the dice again, and went off to Margaret Court Arena,
a nice venue; not too big, great sound and able to accommodate a good
number.  The set list was a veritable greatest hits,and the man himself
was full of energy, animated and playful.  Dressed down with a loose white
jacket, Bob was banging that piano like a latter day Killer, Jerry Lee
Lewis, his voice was strong and his arrangements amazing. It Ain't Me
Babe, Trying to Get to Heaven, Tangled Up in Blue, and Soon After Midnight
were standouts, and the rock and roll of Highway 61, Gotta Serve Somebody,
and Ballad of a Thin Man was high energy, pumping, and frankly off the
chart. His band, as usual was superb. The best thing was that Bob was
clearly having a great time, was having fun, and doing well what he does
best; making great music and singing extraordinary songs.

Who knows if he's coming back again; we all asked the same question four
years ago.  If this was it, I've finished seeing Bob on a very high note.
If he comes back, well, I guess I'll probably roll the dice again.

This time, though?  Double six again.

Cheers,

Mark Cowan-Aston

[TOP]

Review by Laurette Maillet



I caught a train from Glen Waverley to Richmond station.
20 minutes walk and I spot the Margaret court Arena.
It's 6 p.m. and some folks are already waiting at the door.
The temperature should be 10 celsius† (at least this is the way I feel).
I start looking for a ticket when a woman literally runs to me. † -	 "I
have 3 extra" she says † -	 "thank you, I need only one" † She's over
enthusiastic. After she had sold the 2 extras we enter the venue. Our
seats are on the balcony, extreme right. I know I will see the back of Bob
at the piano. Fortunately we will have a good view on the stage , so
tonight, I will see the Band clearly. The venue is huge (Bob's standard),
maybe 5 or 6 000. Bob takes his position on the piano, white jacket and
black pants. I expect the setlist to be unchanged from Adelaide, so I am
ready for the songs one after another. The public is polite but never over
enthusiastic. My Good Samaritan doesnít recognize the songs and even
makes a comment† on the bad quality of his voice. Oh!oh! But it is true
that the sound, here, is not the best. At some point the words are
mumbled,† particularly on "Duquesne whistle". From another point of view,
the show might be excellent. The fact that Bob is at the piano at all time
doesn't give a chance for the fans who have a "bad" seat to have a good
view. Sometimes even completely obscured by some elements. My view is
certainly not all the best, at no time I will see Bobby's face. But I will
clearly see some baldness at the top of his hair. If I listen to the
recording of that show it might be excellent but this is not the way I
feel. But Bobby seems to be happy and bow to the public, join by the Band,
at the very end. The only time he is actually facing the public. A good
show, no doubt about it, but not my ever best. My Good Samaritan gives me
a ride back to my Couchsurfing host. All for the best. Thank you all the
good people. Good night Bobby. See you tomorrow. Same place, same hour.

[TOP]

Review by Alan James



Wow, wow and wow. This was my 17th Bob show - starting at Blackbushe back
in 78 - and, believe it or not, the show performed in Melbourne ranks
really high on that list. Based on the reviews from the Asian leg of the
tour, expectation was high but, hey, it's Bob, anything can happen and
nothing can be taken for granted. And yet, this was simply amazing. In
Australia, last time round he was a sweet but frail old man re-living and
re-delivering the songs with resolve and occasional insight  but here, he
has been transformed, re-energised and re-awakened into what can only be
described as a fully-fledged rock star. This is the Bob show - yes the
band are as awesome as they have been in recent years but there is no
doubt who their leader is. Bob sings (yes, really - those crooner albums
have re-focussed his delivery) he plays piano with more confidence and
more dominance than before, he (of course) still blows harmonica and he
commands the stage - even when mainly posted behind the piano. There were
smiles form the band to each other throughout the show and it seemed
evident that they were aware of just how good this was.

And it is; a polished and, dare I say it, rehearsed show where each song
merged seamlessly and sequentially into the next despite how surprising
and inventive the melodic and - in at least three songs - lyrical
re-inventions have been. The highlights are virtually all 20 numbers but
for me at least, Early Roman Kings, Pay in Blood, Simple Twist and Don't
Think Twice really stood out. At times you could hear the ghosts of Blue
Moon and even, in Gotta Serve Somebody, echoes of Peter Gunne. It was an
amazing performance and a great experience. Cleary, judging from the
comments from the crowd leaving, whether you were new to the Bob
experience, a die-hard or merely a passing stranger, this was a show for
the ages. Thank you, Bob- keep on, keeping on.

Alan James

[TOP]

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