Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 08/21/98


August 21, 1998

Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne Park

Thanks to Carsten Wohlfeld for the following review:

After a day off that I spent exploring the lovely sights of the Great
Ocean Road (thanks Stephen) it was time for the proper start of the Dylan Oz
tour at the wellknown Flinders Park, the same venue that usually sees Steffi
Graft win the Australian Tennis Open in January. We got down there from the
Corner Hotel where our little pre/show gaathering had been at around 7.45pm
only to find Australian war-up act Deborah Conway (I hope that's the way you
spell her name) was just closing her seemingly unspectacular set, accompanied
by a guitarist. The show was a sell-out with 12,000 folks attending, but
the hall actually didn't look *that* huge and the sound was execellent down at
the front, where we had our excellent second ro seats (thanks to Tricia!).

At 8.05pm the lights went down and the woman and her crew who were so
much more than just a support act took to the stage. Now Patti Smith is without
a doubt my favourite female singer and when I first heard about the joined
Dylan / Smith tour it was her who made me decide to go cause I really would
get value for money here. Later on, whe I had my flights booked and
everything I totally had forgotten about her, but when she came on stage I was
absolutely thrilled.... Patti was wearing the exact same outfit that she wore
on the famous "horses" cover 22 years ago, same hair, same guitarist
(six/string god Lenny Kaye), same drummer / JD Daughtery and the excellent new
additions Tony Shanahan on bass and Oliver Ray on guitar. I was going to do a
song-by-song rundown of Patti's set as well, but since I didn't write down the
setlist, I probably would miss out on a couple of songs and so here are just
some general notes: They were absolute FANTASTIC. I never have seen a
better support band in my life! After the Patti greeted the umm - select word -
very well behaved Melbourne crowd's shouts of "Patti we love you" with "oh,
they speak English here" even before one note was played she launched into a
very slow, laidback version of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl". Next up was mz
alltime/favourite Patti song already: "Free Money" and boy did the rock on this
one. It was absolutely amazing to hear a note/perfect version of that
terrific song 22 years after it was recorded played basically by the exact same
band that broke up for 16 years in between. Patti's very well paced set included
a number of great songs from her recent "Peace And Noise" album such as
"Whirl Away" and a rough romp through "Dead City" but it was the classics that
finally brought the house down - well sort of anyways: A perfect "Because
The Night" four songs into the set, a hard-rocking "Pissing In The River" and
the amazing adrenalin rush of the punky closer "Rock And Roll Nigger" which
faetured some excellent Lenny solos and saw Patti ripping four out of the
six strings from her guitar! Punk rock indeed! After a disappointingly short
50 minute set it took the roadies about 20 minutes to set up the stage for
Dylan and his crew. They came out at 9.20pm, usual outfits, Bob in a different
suit than on Wednesday (still a grey one though) to jump straight into:

> Gotta Serve Somebody

Great version as Bob obviously enjoyed to have all the people right at the
rail (the stage rush had happened as sson as the lights wentdown), strong
singing courtesy of Bob complete with the funny back-up vocals by Larry and
Bucky. Excellent way to start a show, IMHO.

> Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)

Bob had already started to smile and dance during the first number and
that meant that we got a different kinda tone on "Senor". Whereas he sang it as
though he was suffering in Europe in June and July this was the shiny happy
version. A much appreciated choice of song nevertheless.

> Cold Irons Bound

Followed as expected and was maybe not as good as on wednesday night at
the Mercury Lounge but still above average I'd think. Bob didn't put too much
engergy into his singing though. A semi-autopilot rendition, if you know
what I mean.

> What Good Am I?

A louder, more full-on version than in Europe and surprisingly he got all
the words right as far as I could hear.  

> Just Like A Woman

Strange choice for the #5 slot, but beautifully done. He played around
with the phrasing on the first chorus quite a bit, till he found one he liked
(and one I never have heard before). Very nicely done, sung with a lot of
convincig passion. The start was a bit funny though, as Bob launched straight
into a solo instead of the first verse, leaving behind the band looking
puzzled. Actually Tony had to smile big time...

> Silvio

Long discussion whether or not to play it (here's hoping...) before they
went into an okay, but not overwhelmingly great rendition of this old
warhorse. David got one of the breaks wrong again (he usually fucks up at some
point during this song - which I kinda understand cause it has a hell of a lot
different part) which obviously didn't improve this average version.

> Mr Tambourine Man (acoustic)

Well, he did this one again, didn't mess up the lyrics as he did wednesday
fortunately but he still doesn't find a decent arrangement for this. There
was a short harp solo at the end that falls into the "crowdpleasing only"

> Masters Of War (acoustic)

Another excellent rendition, apparently as a reaction to the US bombings.
Could be.

> Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)

Very interesting version as Bob caame up with a completelz new guitar
solo! Larry, Bucky  and Tony all had to laugh out loud, but it actually sounded
pretty good and the band did a great job following Bob.

> Forever Young (acoustic)

Started out okay, but as soon as Bob went into the solo it all went
horribly wrong. Messed up the intended twin solo with Larry *completely* - Larry
actauuly said "ouch" at one point! - but Bob didn't care and let Kemper
virtually stop playing drums to go into a second round of axe solos that goteven
worse! At that point Bob decided that he just wanted to get out of the song
and they did and improvised a-capella ending similar to "Blowin'". Weird!

> Can't Wait

Was better than at the last show but nowhere near as groovy as the
renditions  that I heard in Miami Beach or Europe. Quick band intros followed.

> Highway 61 Revisited

Pretty cool version that all the people who didn't get to see the Mercury
Lounge show liked alot, but it was less dynamic and shorter, so there's
really no way to compare the two. Then they left. The crowd was actually so
quiet that they turned on the houselights for a microsecond: "Hey folks, you
better wake up or it's all over NOW, Baby Blue"! Some people actually woke up
and Bob and band returned for yet another pretty nice rendition of:

> (encore)
> Love Sick

It was good.

> Rainy Day woen Nos. 12 & 35

was loved by the first-timers and hated by everybody else. 

> It Ain't Me Babe (acoustic)

followed even though the roadies had put the electric gear up. Maybe for a
patti duet on "Released"??? "Babe" was pretty nice, especially since
everybody expected "Blowin" in this spot. Featured yet another rather unconvincing
harmonica solo at the end too. After the song they stayed on stage and even
though the  roadies came up with the electric guitars again they stayed for
another Patti-less acostic version of:

> Blowin' In the Wind (acoustic)

Nowhere near as nicely done as on Wednesday but still a huge crowd pleaser
of course. A couple of smiles and bows later Bob was gone and the lights
came on. Approx. 110 fun minutes had passed, Tricia and I left slightly
disappointed, not because the performances had been below average, but simply for
the fact that after "Just Like A Woman" at 35 he only repeated songs from
the show two days ago (bar "It Ain't Me Babe", which you hardly can call a
"new song" or "a surprise". Anyways, it was a more than promisig start for the
tour proper and if he only brings out Patti for a song tomorrow or at one of
the later shows, I'll be the happiest little camper around. thanks for your
time, see y'all at Flinders Park on Saturday evening!

"her name is eve and she lives two floors below, she is 22 and looks like
linda ronstadt" (birdy num nums)  

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