August 17, 2007
Review by Ian Bevington
Absolutely priceless performance! Irish outfit The Frames did a fine
albeit short set that quite simply set the scene for the nightly ritual
of a Bob Fest (or with this show, Feast) Dylan and his band opened the
evening with a Rainy Day Woman 12&35 (Oscar stage left) huge warm roar
surged forward from the audience Bob grinned! I new we were in for a
treat. It Aint Me Babe, Watching The River Flow followed lyrics slightly
blurred but the voice of rock's poet laureate had risen to a higher
plain, deep, drawn and venerable. Tangled Up in Blue follows, it is
during this classic Dylan song that you recognise the talent that Bob
has surrounded himself with, truly these guys are masters of their
chosen instruments and to hear this new arrangement is divine Bob has
dismissed his guitar for the evening and seated behind his electric
keyboard he reinterprutted another classic with emphasis on words "and
all those words rang true like it was written from me to youuuuuu"
phrasing totally rearranged and his keyboard playing brilliant (a huge
improvement on his last show in Melbourne 2003) as the song draws to a
close his harmonica playing, again draws a roar from the audience half of
which sang along to this one. The very rare & sublime anti war song John
Brown is next and Bob with help from Donnie Herron on banjo and Tony
Garnier on standup bass knock me out! this is to yours truly the
highlight of the evening! again, his phrasing and tantric like timing,
shows that he is a musical shamen words are wasted on describing this
performance you had to be there! The Levee's Gonna Break kicks in again
Bob's voice just brilliant the band so tight and the audience again roars
with delight. When The Deal Goes Down follows with Bob assuring us that
he will be with us at the end and hallelujah to that. Things Have Changed
comes in at the perfect time eighth song of the night. Bang! another
revelation the lead into Desolation Row just blows me away tonight he
reads this who's who like it was written last week and the band are just
so focused through it! Honest With Me opens and as the faders brighten
up he is grinning again!! I am only five rows back and this time I see
the grin from a set of binoculars!! Spirit On The Water next and once
again the band all eyes on Bob make this modern classic really standout
as another highlight of the evening. highway 61 revisited is orated
gloriously. Nettie Moore next and Bob again shows how damn good his
vocal range still is. Summer Days follows and then Ballad Of A Thin Man
and the audience again join in! Bob leaves the stage and the applause is
deafening some five minutes and Bob and his merry men return to the
stage for Thunder On The Mountain telling it like he is a later day Moses
come down from the mountain! "friends let me introduce the band" and we
are into another excellent re-interpretation of a Dylan classic Like A
Rolling Stone, a luminous finale for an astonishing performance. and
just for a few seconds there is a feeling in the enraptured audience
around me that he may even do another encore, alas not to be. Stage
lights up and out comes Bob and Band to take the bow and its all over.
Truly the show tonight will go down as one of the best shows I have seen
for years - Bob's generosity the catalyst tonight .
Review by Anthony Stock
Having seen the opener in Sydney i had concerns about Dylan's voice
holding up for 3 straight shows. The crowd were mainly on the older side
(like me) and I think they probably had a good appreciation of Bob's back
catalogue. Like the Sydney crowd they really appreciated the new stuff and
judging by the responses from those nearby most appeared to recognize
what was being played.
Rainy Day Women was a strong starter and it got the crowd in the mood.
Dylan sang well and my wife who is an admirer in preference to a 'fan'
felt Dylan was in much better voice and mood than he was at the Melbourne
Blues fest several years ago. It Ain't me Babe ws well received. Watching
the river Flow was a little too close to RDW in terms of musical feel.
Tangled was better than Sydney, slightly less rushed.
Then came one of the real high points a brilliant John Brown with Dylan
really getting inside the song. Any ruggedness in his voice added to the
telling of the tale, although for the most part his vocal was spot on.
Very intense and compelling, with the crowd silent and very appreciative
at the end. Donny Herron played superb bango.
Levee's gonna break was charged and again the vocal was crisp. Freeman
played superbly all night and received several bursts of applause from the
Tony Garnier played a couple of bass solos that were not in evidence at
Sydney and Stu seemed more animated. He actually moved.
When the deal.... was emotional with Dylan for possibly the first time
showing some vocal stress but if anything it added to the vocal and at
that point I really appreciated how tough it must be to put yourself on
the line night after night.
Things Have Changed was tight and fairly faithful to the original.
Desolation Row was sublime with Freeman playing superbly, a new kind (for
me anyway) of refrain.
Honest With Me was well appreciated and the band which cooked all night
really were letting loose.
Spirit on the Water, Bob seems to love this one and so do the crowd, not
as good perhaps as Sydney perhaps but very enjoyable. Bob's harp playing
was spot on all night and he clearly loves the audience interaction when
they yell back emphatic "no's" when he he exclaims "you think I'm past my
Highway '61 is more dynamic than ever before, shorter and more focused on
the lyric than guitar jamming.
The first bars of Nettie Moore produced an audible buzz of appreciation.
At one point Dylan mishit a note and stalled for a fraction of a second
but his overall delivery of this song reflects the passion he feels for
this contemporary classic. In Sydney I was struck by Dylans intense vocal
on Summer Days and again the words were more important than the jam,
although the band really moved on this one.
Ballad of a Thin man was brilliant. Simply the best rendition of this song
I've ever heard with the band cooking and Dylan's harp playing excellent.
When the crowd finally realized that the band had exited stage left, they
began to clamour for more. The guy next to me announced "no worries he
will come back out and play two more songs including Watchtower." After
several minutes the confidence began to ebb and the cries for 'more'
became more insistent, but still tinged with an almost smug confidence
that they would reappear.
Sure enough the band came out and played two more songs including a
Thunder on the Mountain that featured one of the best vocals of the night.
Like a Rolling Stone came as a surprise and the band and Dylan deivered
totally. They huddled tightly together at the front of the stage and Dylan
waved and smiled. The crowd rose and as they moved away the noise swelled,
but Dylan did not look back. The roars now were different now, there was
an edge of real desire for just one more. The clamour grew and for a
minute even I thought as we headed for the exit that he might just come
out again. Then the lights came up and once again Bob had left a crowd
On the way home my wife asked about the music that preceded Dylans arrival
on stage. I told her it was Fanfare for the Common Man, and she simply
said ,"How appropriate."
There are no airs and graces about Dylan, he just plays his songs says
"Thankyou friends" and leaves.
Review by Gabe Snyder
By any standard, this was a very generous show. Over 2 hours without
stopping, which is longer than any of the other Dylan shows I have seen
over the last 10 or so years. What really suprised me was how busy Bob
was behind the keyboards . . . . . not the tinkering that we got on the
last 2 tours, but really enthusiastic and inventive playing that added
hugely to (and was often the centrepoint) of the sound. Rainy Day Women
and It aint Me were a great way to start . . . 2 tours ago I think he
started with Rainy Day Women as well, but this version was barely
identifiable, and impossible to sing along with. Tangled up in Blue was
bizzarre - the order of the verses seemed a bit jumbled. The electric
guitarists were playing a similar arrangement to the Jerry Garcia Band
version. John Brown is not a song I am familiar with - amazing anti-war
sentiments, and the words and story were really clearly conveyed by the
quiet arrangement. Mesmerising! Desolation Row and Ballad of a thin Man
were both brilliant, as were the 4 or so songs from Modern Times. Bob was
clearly smiling, dancing with his feet in a very funny way. The weird
spoken word introduction which seems to be intentionally mumbled so that
all you catch is phrases "poet laureate" and "haze of substance abuse" was
there! The Oscar was back - has it got its own passport? What is the
theory behind that? Nothing wrong with the band . . . . if anything I
would have enjoyed some longer solos from Denny Freeman, who obviously has
many tricks up his sleeve.
Looking forward to Sunday night - presumably there will be a different
Review by Tony Wells
A Bob Dylan concert experience is a uniquely personal experience and Friday
evening's performance in Melbourne, Australia was no exception. It was a great.
In prospect a Dylan concert has no certainty. Will he engage the audience? How
will they respond? How will he sound? What will the play list include? And so on.
But the constant is Dylan's music which connects the light and shade in our lives.
That's why we listen to him. A concert performance simply adds a personal layer
to the dimensions of the recorded material we know and appreciate.
On Friday night Dylan took us Freewheelin' through the repertoire to Modern
Times and for those familiar with the body of his work there could be few
disappointments in this concert. The performance was vintage Dylan. No frills.
Sparse production values. Predictable play list. Unique vocals. Excellent band.
In totality, it works.
The times are always changin' and the Melbourne concert reflected Dylan's
continuing contribution over more than four decades to how we think and what
Dylan in concert can only showcase very few of the more than 400 songs he has
probably written. Others will choose to review this concert and the play list,
which will be of interest to many. But for me this misses the real point.
Dylan's music is more than entertainment. His concerts are an experience. What
he writes and sings encourages us to consider values, attitudes and relationships.
The ideas he presents extend beyond the here and now to what has been and
what might be.
That's how it was on Friday night. And that's why I will remember it.
Long may Dylan's wonderful journey continue! And if by chance it doesn't return
to Australia, I will be able to say I was at this memorable concert on a winter's
night in Melbourne in August 2007.
Incidentally, while I and many others have had an interest in Dylan since the mid
sixties, there were many younger people at the Melbourne concert, which says
something about the continuing relevance of his work and his capacity to
communicate across generations.
Review by Tony Bowd
First things first. Bob owes me nothing. Having paid $100 for tonight he
could have stood on stage for 2 hours plucking his nose hairs and I'd
still be in front by a country mile. With this attitude I went along
tonight not expecting a lot.
Walked into the arena to hear the public announcer say that alcoholic
beverages could be taken INTO the auditorium. What? Pleasant change. Must
be something to do with Robert DeNiro's B'Day- he's in town blowing out
candles on $200 pieces of sashimi. I'll drink to that.
Full House. Lights down and a ridiculous preamble from the announcer.
"Voice of a generation through the 60's. found God in the 80's. blah,
blah, blah (and now for the good bit). Please welcome Columbia recording
artist Bob Dylan" Certainly.
Interesting stage costumes for the band. Black Gangster Leather? Bob
strapped on the guitar (not leather, he had standard issue black suit and
white (very) broad rimmed hat) He opened up from the Punt Road End with
Rainy Day Women. Probably not the greatest start. Too many guitars (x 3)
and it seemed to wash out the vocal. Bob might have been better of
plucking his nose hairs? Moved into It Ain't me Babe and the band started
to warm up. But I'm still not entirely happy with the sound. Followed on
by Watching the River Flow- this seemed to suit the band better. Bob then
jettisoned the guitar and made way for the keyboard on Tangled up In Blue.
Immediately the sound improved. Vocals were clear, other guitars found
space and the band was in sync. Terrific arrangement- stilted in the verse
and delivered the punch line like an old pro. Bob was animated on
keyboard; he ducked, weaved and gyrated his diminishing frame till I
thought his nose hairs would fall out. Gig Highlight.
John Brown was next- a rarity and it moved along swimmingly. Loved the
banjo from Donnie Herron. The pace then kicked on with Levee's Gonna
Break. Tony on the Double Bass was providing a great groove- unfortunately
drowned out a little by duelling lead guitars- not to worry, still enjoyed it.
Deal Goes Down was a lovely waltz type arrangement driven by some cute
work on the drums by George Recile. Things Have Changed was next. A nod to
the Oscar on stage? Who knows? Who cares? (probably lots) Good song.
I might get shot for this but Desolation Row didn't really push my
buttons. Seemed flat and a little drawn out. On the plus side the
lighting was good with a Blood Red thing happening. Spirit on The Water
provided another highlight. If Bob didn't get a huge kicked out of singing
and emphasising the line "You think I'm over the hill. You think I'm past
my prime" I'll be stuffed.
Highway 61 had a great arrangement and the band was on song- terrific work
by Stu Kimball on lead guitar. Wonder if Bob could write such a great song
about the Eastern Freeway?
Nettie Moore was subtle and restrained. The opening up of the violin
during the chorus nearly broke my heart.
Summer Days was a highlight- band in full swing. A professional outfit
getting the job done. Thunder on the Mountain was expected as the first
encore and it still delivered. Very much like Summer Days- accomplished
band doing it justice.
And now for the final song. Watchtower? No. Rolling Stone. Get out of
here! Outstanding. Drums and lead guitar drove it home and the lyric- well
we all know the words. Can't help but feel that everyone in the audience
felt privileged to witness this with a great arrangement to boot. Absolute
highlight. A fitting finale to an enjoyable gig. Standing ovation to
finish and well received by the band.
Overall the gig had some great high points interspersed with clever
subtlety. Probably not a lot of improvisation from the band, they needed
very little direction from Bob but great arrangements well delivered. They
knew what they were doing, where they were going and delivered it like
professionals. Well Done.
Review by Dylan McTaggart
Just left the the front bar of the Napier hotel, Fitzroy, where all the
talk is whether Bob will make an appearanace this weekend on the grungy,
if much loved, Smith Street Collingwood as he allegedly did a few years
back while searching out some LP's on a stinking hot Melbourne day. It's
a bit colder this time round, but what was hot tonight was Bob's fist
Melbourne gig, which featured a great set list and a tight performance by
all. For myself it was the first night my dance-happy, not so into
twanging-guitar, wife has seen the great man in person and having dragged
her to the table of bob-dom I'm thankful for tonight's feast. Also
thankful for not getting Cats in the Well as an opener. Who could have
hoped for better than Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35, followed by It ain't me
Babe. New spin on both as we got used to the fact the bloke we hear so
regularly warbling on our home stereo is 66 not 26 -- we're all a bit
older too these days just quietly. Afraid to say that the follow up
Watching the River Flow was a mess from our seats .... but redeemed
moments later by a brilliant version of Tangled up in Blue. Bob's voice
was great on this track and it prefaced the standout track of the night.
Yes, can you believe it? John Brown ... haunting, stunning, unexpected
and oh so current. Who says Dylan doesn't have anything left to say? I
guess he said it all a long time ago, but my god doesn't it need saying
over and over again. Other highlights, Nettie Moore hit me tonight as an
exceedingly personal song ... was always my favourite track off Modern
Times and Bob's treatment just reinforced that. To hold my wife's hand and
know that she is sharing this crazy journey with me despite the regular
dylanological rantings of my band of usual suspects, well, I'm just so
damn happy, that we've all made it this far. To cop Like a Rolling Stone
as the finale was just an absolute bonus. Roll on Sunday.
Review by Paul Grieves
The concert started right on 8.30 pm. There was Rugby across the road and
football next door...this meant there were people everywhere. The footy
stadium can hold a 100,000 people. Bobs gig had 15,000...at Rod Laver
Arena. You know the set list...and the songs seem well rehearsed in
Bobness Business. Bob played 3 songs on his electric axe and at times
looked like it was heavy and hard to hold the weight...so he leans back a
bit. The keyboards allow him to sit down or stand up...and any persons
arthritic hands can still play keyboard quite easily. Sometimes he looks
like he's surfing during some of faster tempo songs...and he looks like
he's surveying around with a gaze and "ducknods" . This concerts not like
the last 2 times he was here (5 and 8 years ago). He's well back from the
front of stage. that means less interaction whether you're up front or
against the back wall...it`s basically the same for all. Bob probably
won't notice you paid for front row ticket. I thought the concert was like
looking through a window into a room of people jamming. Only at the end
...do they look back at you before they close the window and leave. Bobs
pretty careful and keen to annunciate his lyrics clearly and sometimes the
music seems quiet or turned down so as to hear him sing or growl his
lines. There was some delicate treatment to songs. People want to hear him
sing clearly and I reckon he knows that...and tickets here are expensive.
the continuity theory in aging works well for bob. he knows can do this
keyboard stuff for years..I believe he'll just keep singing songs and keep
himself in front of audiences...even sitting down. He'll be back...to
melbourne.. but the guitar jamming man of the 90`s waddling the duck
walk...may have to sit it out on the ivory.
Review by Chris Franklin
I flew up to Sydney (from Melbourne) for his second show there and was
thrilled with a close seat on the 'correct' side of the audience to see
Bob. I too, as a previous reviewer has stated, feel that seeing bob's back
all night must be very disappointing for those on the 'wrong' side. I
know Bob is Bob, but just 45 degrees anti clockwise would have the whole
stadium happy. It's a must to see him more than once, to soak him up, as
its hard to believe its actually him for most of the first concert. So
back i fly to melbourne for his first concert there.
My tickets aren't great, a fair way back on the 'wrong' side. I chose
them there because the last time he played keyboard in Melbourne, at
the Blues Festival, he was on the the left side as you face the stage.
Never mind!!! The sydney show was good, but his first Melbourne show
He has the fancy gear on and the round grey hat which looks pretty
cool. reminds me of the pic on the front cover of the Masterpieces
collection set. Not quite the same hat. Through the binoculars, i
notice there are about 4 or 5 Fender Blues deluxe amps around the
stage. Sitting on one of them, just behind where Bob stands at the
keyboards, is a little statue. Is it an emmy? has this been spoken
about in an earlier review? I love the fine details. The same drink in
the same place. Everything replicated exactly all round the world. I'm
sure they have it down pat now.
Larry on Bass is a dude. His eyes are watching Bob like a hawk. Some of
the instructions from Bob are so subtle that the band are on guard for
the whole show.
Kicking off the show with Rainy Day was a pace setter. Never get sick
of that song. Then another oldie of it aint me babe, and i was just
listening the day before to his 'Real Live' album where the audience sing
out "NO NO NO IT AINT ME BABE" and Bob lets them go for it, not so
in Melbourne last night but a Damn good version.
If you dont know the words to his songs, don't expect to be
enlightened at the show, because he is almost impossible to
deciphere. Howevere if you do know the words, his messages seep
through each phrasing, and your favorite lines hit home and fill the
Three of my favourite songs got a run last night, Tangled, John Brown and
Desolation. Anything from 1978 is a damn masterpiece, he could have
picked any of them... but thats a winner. John Brown the anti war ode,
rammed it up the ass of all the war mongers as Dylan growled the lines
sourly especially the lines "But as he turned to go, he called his mother
close And he dropped his medals down into her hand." God I love that song,
especially the version on MTV. Another classic version was gifted to us of
Desolation. I have literally heard that song about 1000 times and i still
have NFI what he's talking about, but i love the line... "is that some
kind of joke?" Is Bob havin a laugh?
Things have changed is a ripper and the band moves into full blues
mode on levee and especially on summer days. Bob was lovin it,
wigglin his boney ass like a 20 year old. Well Done Bob!!!
The absolute highlights last night were, nettie morre, truly
indicitive of a genius who is not 'over the hill or past his prime'. He
gives so much to that song. And the missing Watchtower was fittingling
replaced last night by Thin Man. What a song that is. 45 years down the
track and music 'ologists' are still trying to figure him out. That will
never happen. I wonder what he is doing on his day off today. My friend
suggested he might be visiting the aquarium, I kinda a wonder if we might
catch him having coffee in Lygon st with Bob De Niro who is also in town
at the moment.
Dylan "You talking to me?" (What Was it You Wanted)
De Niro "That's my line Bob, get your own"
See you Sunday Bob!
Australian Blues and Roots Portrait Project
Review by Janine and Peter Evans
We were there, my 50 year old “Bob tragic”, husband and I his 46 year old
wife who loved Dylan as a young teenager, then drifted away. Then with my
husband, eating, living, breathing Dylan daily I heard his last 3 albums.
WOW, I was again interested in Dylan.
Enough of our history, just wanted to give you a bit of an idea of where
are coming from, so to speak.
Dylan and his band were on fire last night, we actually saw Bob smile more
than once, a sight in itself! He seemed to be right into the show and his
voice still has much power when he chooses to use it, then he would
delicately and so sweetly sing the next line, a good example was Nettie
Moore. Today my body aches from dancing to every song, but well worth it,
I couldn’t stop my feet moving even if I wanted to. (Much to the chagrin
of the security staff.) They soon realized I wasn’t going to stop and nor
was anyone around me. I reckon Bob loved it too; he must want to feel the
energy from the crowd and we gave it our all, the least we could do for
this wonder of a man who has traveled so far to treat us to his magic.
Word has it he was punching the air when he left the stage, stating “we
beat Sydney”! I must say the Melbourne crowd did rise to the occasion and
I feel we nearly got a second encore; we sure tried damn hard to get him
back out there. Still at 66, I don’t know how he did what he did, so no
2nd encore is fair enough.
He opened with a classic and finished the same way. Desolation row was
surely an unexpected treat as was John Brown. When the Deal goes down was
heart rending and his latest arrangement of Tangled up in blue worked a
treat. Spirit on the Water was so melodic and anyone who says Bob’s voice
is shot obviously needs a hearing aid. When we left the crowd was joyous,
all chatting to each other expelling the virtues of the “poet laureate” we
has just heard. We were freezing on the way there on a cold wet Melbourne
night but Bob fixed that, on the way home I didn’t notice the cold, the
blood was surely pumping by then.
Thank you for your web site Bill and patience with people like me emailing
you. You may read this you may not, but I couldn’t help sending it. I just
had to make a comment on one of the best concerts I have ever seen. His
band deserve great praise too, they fell in with Bob and played with
Cheers Janine and Peter Evans
(in the land of Oz) - MELBOURNE
Review by Matt K.
I have been to three live Dylan concerts. 1998 in Sydney at Entertainment
Centre, 2001 in Sydney Centennial Park and now 2007 at Rod Laver Arena.
The 2001 "Things have Changed" Oscar eve concert was noted by a Music
journalist as one of the top five most scintallating concerts out of the
three hundred concerts he had seen (various artists).
If that is the case, then if memory serves me correct which I am confident
it does, last night's concert would have been this journalist's best
concert by a 'country pie" mile! The band seemed like they had been
transported from a late 1950's jazz / blues bar in Memphis or New Orleans.
Their raw edge and mesmerising "coolness" windswept the crowd from the
very first song, "Rainy Day Woman".The lead guitarist was like Robbie
Robertson but instead waltzing the guitar not rocking it! Dylan said in
his recent sixty minutes interview how he never saw himself as a prophet
and messiah like some of his fans and how he always wanted to be like
I think the weight of other people's expectations of him has frustrated
him over the years and limited his enjoyment of his own music. Finally he
is getting back to doing things the way he feels comfortable. Some could
say he's always tried to do this, but there seems such a calm demeanor
about his presence on stage now that he has transgressed the embroiled
debate over his legacy and found a place in himself of "peace, love and
tranquility" as he quoted in his Oscar winning acceptance speech.
Even his recent lyrics seem to reflect his transgression away from the
more serious agendas of his previous music. His last 3 albums and the
Things have Changed single show a Dylan embracing the more simple
pleasures - even in a jocular nonsensical fashion. "Put her on a
wheelbarrow and wheel her down the street". There is no debate here
The concert unleashed this newer reinvented Dylan. We keep saying that
about Dylan, but the difference now is the polished performance and
harmonious disposition of him him and his crew. Whether Dylan was just
having a good night - in high spirits on the water is also debatable, but
to see this 64 year old bopping so merrily against his keyboard nearly non
stop was testament to the place he now finds himself - home. There is
direction home in Dylan, it's just not geographical! It's found in
If the band were any tighter they would have had trouble dissataching
themselves from each other. The never ending tour has forged the closest
knit group of musicians in the world. Even those who would scoff at
Dylan's croaky voice or be a "greatest hits" only fan would be awe
imspired with the performance last night. It was a sellout crowd of 15000
who even after the last song, "Like a Rolling Stone" (NOT ALL ALONG THE
WATCHTOWER) were literally crying out for more. It was only when the
lights came on that I looked around at the arena and didn't notice anempty
seat! Anywhere! This was a first to see for me. That reassured me more
than at any other time Melbourne is indeed the cultural capital of
Australia and appreciate talent when they see it.
My friend and I were still bamboozled by Dylan's performance this morning
and could hardly describe how we felt about what we saw last night. It was
as though the performance was seeping into our bodies and souls. As sorta'
hippy and cosmic that sounds, it was true. The bass of Larry still seemed
to shudder through our physical selves and the intoxicating and alluring
scenes dwarfed anything else we work up to.
The fact I bought tickets to Sunday night as well is a weight off my mind.
I want to ensure it wasn't just a dream, but a series of dreams.
Review by Mende Joveski
Great one last night. I went in not expecting much, but got a nice
surprise. As for the crowd, when RDW started, everyone stood up to clap.
Some people behind me (a few rows back) threw a scrunched up piece of
paper at the back of my head and told me to "fucking sit down". I sat down
and couldnt see a thing on stage (which was pretty high) due to the front
row still standing. Then there was a sudden rail rush for the first 3
rows, which I joined in on.
Those guys behind were yelling and swearing between the first 6 or 7 songs
to sit down. Like I payed $165 to watch someone’s back or arse?
Anyway, to the show:
I was also standing directly in front of one of the speakers on the stage
that was Bob's. During the guitar songs, I could hear his guitar and voice
the clearest, which gave a different way of hearing the show. A graphic
equalizer couldn’t do that. Even during the piano songs, his voice was
louder for me than the rest of the band... and it sounds in better
condition than earlier this year. I also thought Watchtower was also going
to be played at the end, since it took a while for the house lights to
come up. The organ was low in the mix where I was might have helped
highlight were John Brown and It Ain’t Me Babe... the weird thing is all
the warhorses like Summer Days, LARS and Thunder seemed to be the best
One thing with the band, they sound better than they did last year or in
2005. I've noticed that they're competent enough on the OWN, but playing
together as a band is what seems to wreck things up at times. Denny had
some nice solos. During John brown, I was quite impressed with Stu... then
Denny would come with some fill or solo which would dampen things..
don’t know if that makes sense!
Another thing I noticed is that the Modern Times songs seemed to get the
most applause.. and I saw some of this coming from older folks (not people
that just got introduced to Dylan through the album)
Also, when he gets to over the hill/past my prime part in Spirit on the
water, does he always turn to the crowd with an ear-to-ear grin just as he
sings it??. Happened last night and got a louder cheer than the naked
president line in Its alright ma.
Was looking forward to getting the new Its alright ma, but looks like he
forgot to play it again.
Spoke to some people that followed the whole tour around and they said
last night was the best so far.. We’ll see
Rainy Day Women: great strong start with the band/audience clearly
It Aint me Babe: I was hoping for this in the 2nd slot.. nice beat to it
and nicely sung
Watching The River Flow: I guess it was done okay, but it seemed to slip
over everyone’s head. It seemed like a “ok, lets get this over with”
Tangled Up In Blue: Over to the Casio now and it sounded pretty good
overall. Some verses were mumbled/rushed/growled, but the dynamics were
John Brown: Stu really impressed me on this one. Bob sort of spoke the
lyrics on it but it had a nice steady groove all through it
Levee’s Gonna Break: He seems to enjoy doing these 12 bar blues songs.
It was sung pretty good
When The Deal Goes Down: Denny played some nice solos here and Bob sung it
pretty well. The audience seemed to love it from the intro
Things Have Changed: Yep, they have. So shoot me, but this was a dampener.
The band sounded average, but Bob spoke/growled the lyrics. Occasionally
the chorus got a bit of care, but otherwise, bleh!
Desolation Row: Improvement here. Most verses were one (if not all – I
wasn’t paying attention to lyrics).. It sounded better than recent
version’s I’ve heard
Honest With Me: Standard run-through version
Spirit On The Water: Audience loved it. It doesn’t compete with the
album version, but the reaction to over the hill/past my prime was nice
(considering Its alright ma wasn’t played!)
Highway 61: It’s shorter than it has been, which is good. I never liked
this song in concert but it was quite listenable last night, with the
guitar jamming eliminated
Nettie Moore: Hmm, it had everything – some nice singing, some standard
talking and some bad growling. I’ve heard better versions. The chorus
was sung nicely, though
Summer Days: Cant believe it, but it was quite enjoyable! I wasn’t
really paying attention to the band cause the vocals were really good
Ballad Of A Thin Man: I know I’m in a minority – never liked this song
on the album. I guess it sounded ok last night, but I was looking around
for other things to distract me when it was played
Thunder: Sped up quite a bit from the album version. Bob was enjoying
himself and we all seemed to like it.
Rolling Stone: I turned to my friend beside me and said “watchtower
now”. Glad I was wrong!. This sounded a lot like the pre-keyboard days
versions. Bob was pointing and smiling to the band just before the intro
started – and it ended up being an excellent version for 2007.
All in all, this was quite a good show. Compared CD’s I’ve heard from
earlier this year, it was quite an improvement. Whether it’s the “they
haven’t seen me for more than 4 years, so I better put an effort in”
attitude, I don’t know. Lets see how tomorrow shapes up
Review by Benjamin Wornes
I’m a late convert to Bob, the Scorcese doco, No Direction Home was the
hand that set the spark and i’ve steadily become a hopeless addict since.
The Friday show blew away all expectations considering what I had heard of
Bob’s hot and cold nature, amazing, mesmerising. Highlights of the evening
were a mystical ‘John Brown.’ This was beyond a war protest song with
very little of the outrage you would associate with an early years
performance and even the empathy and sorrow found in the unplugged
version. It was as if Bob was channelling the lord of destruction himself
to recount a favourite sinister tale of his, recounted on some backwater
carnivale stage. truly chilling.
The show really hit into another gear with ‘levee’s gonna break’ and
overall the Modern Times material rolled along nicely, Bob and his cowboy
band were fired up. The show also drew heavily on material from Highway 61
revisited and it fit like a hand in glove with the Modern Times feel. The
main set finished with a great version of Ballad of a Thin Man topped off
with a harmonica solo from Bob which was truly trance inducing sent
shivers up the spine. Encore!
Bob and the band really finished us off with ‘Thunder on The Mountain’
which I was really looking forward to, and then finally climaxed with
‘Like a Rolling Stone.’ The crowd was left enraptured, and hanging on a
palpable thread that a second encore could just happen. It was’nt to be,
but any one who think’s Bob isn’t generous to his audience or doesn’t
connect is missing the point, he gives his soul and more, why waste breath
with small talk with the audience take em straight to the source.
Needless to say I spent the following day going about hunting down a
ticket for Sunday’s show, the addiction continues.
Review by Tony Hunter
Now maybe I am a hard task master it is me but I reckon I have seen
about 4 Dylan shows in Australia that were very good or better. 78 shows
"the Budokan tour" - maybe coz they were my first Tom Petty tour - maybe
coz I was front row at kooyong Time out of mind tour - Sydney and
Wollongong with the latter superb I have read the other reviews and
maybe seating is everything. This time my seats were not so good due
to this travesty whereby seats are offered through a host of different
segmented offerings. Give me the queuing up at 4 am and ensuring you get
a good seat - but I digress. Here is a question - does Bob do a sound
check or can't he be bothered and just lets them sort it out in the first
few songs? The sound quality was particularly poor on his first numbers
with guitar and this seems to have been the case with most of the
shows. I think a lot of the reviewers were close or at least at stage
level but his voice remained indistinct all night. Being on the 'wrong
side'( right of stage) not only meant Bob had his back to you but
presumably due to the smaller p.a. stack facing us you couldn't hear the
pedal steel.... ever. Heard the other instruments the guy played but did
not hear the steel. Denny Freeman not off the leash enough or loud
enough although I loved the different riffing on Highway 61 and the
build up in speed as they went along. We all know the voice is shot. I
think this one is my first show where he didn't actually "sing" a single
line preferring his Rex Harrison style level delivery in short bursts with
an upper inflection. Was amused how he just leaves out words or lines from
songs as much to say - you all know them anyway. My main beef is not
enough of the new stuff. It is a tribute to his resurgent creativity
that these songs can hold up in the catalogue and you could feel the
crowd were keen to hear them. Give me a shot of workingman's blues over
yet another grind out of Rainy Day Women any day. The new bluesier stuff
suited his voice better and the band like them. Unfortunately we got too
many of his parlour ballads with the only thing missing being the ukulele.
Some fine harp playing with a really interesting approach with long notes
at the of desolation row??? Would I go again? -certainly but not sure
whether it will happen. Fantastic we can still see him at 66. Fantastic to
see old couples with walking sticks and teenagers at the same show.
Review by Michael W.
These days seeing Bob is more of a cultural event than just a concert, and
Friday night in Melbourne we had an EVENT. Much has been said on other
emails regarding the songs and band etc so I will only touch on that
briefly. The sound mix was very good with Bob's voice out front, nowhere
to hide here, and the band are just great. What a great set and all songs
treated to new arrangements which suited Bob and his band well.
Now to Bob...
What was noticeable was that he was comfortable with the music and his
song selections. It showed in the vocal delivery and his playing, be it
guitar or the organ, they were all committed. The small things were good,
Bob playing a bit of carnival style organ between the songs, the smiles,
the almost impercetible nods to the band to finish songs, the pointed
finger at the crowd when a point wanted to be made, his changing stance
behind the organ, he was really getting into the groove on some of the
songs and was bopping up and down, when playing the harp, holding it with
one hand whilst playing the organ with the other, a missed note and a bit
of a slip on Nettie Moore, (the guy is human after all). The Oscar, all
Maybe instead of playing " Watching The River Flow" he should play " When
I Paint My Masterpiece" ...
An event to remember ,
Review by Tim Cribbes
Bob walked out wonky in a broad rimmed hat looking jaded, whacked and
Hard Reign. Hard rain he was, with anger below his surface sufficing for his
oil. Jaded, whacked and wonky he wasn't. He launched into Rainy Day Women
playing lead guitar. This pleased many and I went along with it though
being 'only' 33 years old I'm not much into this song. Considering what
else is on Blonde on Blonde I've always skipped it like spam. The sound
was too loud and Dylan had to sing like a delegate on a boisterous picket
line. The next song It Ain't Me, Babe also had sound problems. It was all
folding back. The third song Watching the River Flow Dylan used as a
bounce against the back wall echo of the National Tennis centre (where the
dud scud used to make echoes with his real balls) in order for the technos
to get a grip. They got a good firm grip! By the fourth song they had it
fixed. The sound was blended and what a band! Tight and adventurous bass,
banjo, mandolin etc. The first song with Bob on keyboard was Tangled up in
Blue. I'd call it an art deco pull down...at one crossroads he had two
notes on the keyboard 'trotting' with two notes from his harmonica - two
from his right hand and his left hand holding the other. It was an
ebullient reduction to sugar...the sugar that manifest Dylan as the 20th
century plus greatest artist. When he let it return to another verse you
could only thank God he was Bob Dylan. The undoubted highlight came next:
John Brown. It physically got to an appreciative Dylanised Melbourne
audience. When he delivered the line "and I saw that his face looked just
like mine" it was via a supreme troubadour's amalgam. It was the moment
within a moment as he looked up and all we could see was that 1975 face
under that hat (we were in the third tier up high - how they could call it
'silver' is by fraud. Only the last few rows of the third tier are
'bronze' and yet sections of floor and tier one, as with tier two, are
'silver' -- but at least we were on the side Bob Dylan was facing...the
poor buggers behind him...) and we wondered where all the hate, including
our own, comes from. And I saw that his face looked just like mine. So,
having achieved his aim it seemed Bob was already free to do as he
pleased: the gig was successful after the fifth. I won't go too into
everything after that except to say he played some Modern Times tunes.
Modern Times is his best album since Slow Train without a doubt. Wow, I
love Modern Times. I think it took me a while to realise what we have
here. I presumed it a natural progression from Love and Theft BUT THERE IS
A QUALITATIVE DIFFERENCE. It made a friend wonder if anyone had put out a
paper on Dylan from a Heiderggarian perspective. And its leads us back to
1913 and the first etchings of surrealism. The second highlight of the gig
for mine was a beautiful (pretty identical to the record) Nettie Moore! A
subtle structural masterpiece. A joyous song. Other interesting renditions
were a surprisingly angry Ballad of a Thin Man that conjured some
unexpected images of late 1965 live. And a kind of MTV unplugged early
1990s version of Desolation Row but with with the steel slide and
associate twangs holding a more joyous positioning to the melody and
singer. Most enjoyable. I don't need to tell you all about the band. When
the banjo came out to John Brown...well. And the steel slide....! Oh I
wish I could have it over again.
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