August 27, 2007
Review by Les Memory
Leaving last nights Civic concert was a most extraordinary experience, I have
never heard so many people of such varied ages saying that this was the best
concert they had ever been to. People milled around out front and outside,
it seemed no one wanted to leave and several people said they cried when
Bob sang, Visions of Johanna. There were so many under 30s and large
numbers of teenagers who all seemed to know that this concert was special.
Having really enjoyed the Christchurch concert despite the limitations of the
venue's acoustics, going to the Civic Theatre Auckland, I looked forward to.
Living at the uttermost part of the earth it was something I never thought
would happen in New Zealand, Bob Dylan in a 2000 seat old-style theatre
with good acoustics. My seat was eight rows from the stage and directly in
line with Dylan. On a random computer placement it was more than I could
ever have hoped for.
The show began with quite a good Watching the River Flow although the
vocal was a bit rough with Bob's voice showing the wear and tear of this
current tour. His voice hit the groove with the third song I'll Be Your Baby
Tonight and then the show really took off. Tangled Up in Blue like
Christchurch was phenomenal and I thought the reinventing of phrases
was a real hoot e.g. instead of "said to me, 'don't I know your name'?"
"said to me, 'I know your name' " followed by a retort "I said 'no you
don't'", all sung at the right tempo and fitting perfectly.
Spirit on the Water had a repeated verse which didn't detract and fantastic
audience interaction with over the hill and past my prime etc.
Dylan, Tony and Donnie just grinned at each other.
With The Levees Gonna Break, the band seemed to find something else and
it pulsated in a way that it doesn't on the album and when it seemed things
couldn't get any better Visions of Johanna just brought tears to the eyes.
While Highway 61 showed what a great playing band this is. Also Dylan's
rgan was higher in the mix and at times was adding great colour to the music.
What a privilege to hear Beyond the Horizon, perhaps it was something to do
with the good acoustics but it seemed that the song was bouncing around in
the air, to the left, to the right and up and down, travelling out into the
audience, bars of music becoming kinetic and the words somehow becoming
the thread which held it altogether, it was absolutely astounding.
Nettie Moore although slightly rushed in places was a showstopper and worth
the price of admission alone. In all six songs from Modern Times and all were
Much of the ground floor was on its feet for Summer Days and again for
Thunder on the Mountain and the floor was literally moving (there had been
a small issue where it needed to be strengthened after the $48,000,000
refurbishment and last night we certainly tested out the quality of the
The big band arrangement of Blowin' in the Wind was a great finale and then
there was Dylan with the band in the formation and the whole theatre on its
feet and Bob seemed genuinely moved by the experience because they
stayed transfixed for what seemed like a couple of minutes and then left the
stage. The crowd didn't let up and when the lights didn't come on we dared
hope for a second encore but after what seemed like an eternity they did
and "I (we) knew the night had gone".
Review by Noel Beasley
The Civic Theatre is a New Zealand icon and Bob Dylan added to the history
of this great venue last night with his presence. We last saw Bob in the
nineties with Tom Petty and co and before that in 1978 on the Budakan tour
that stopped off at Western Springs for an unforgettable night of music
We sat in the stalls at the back right side and had a great view of the
band. Bob was directly in front of us facing to the band. Great! Bob's
vocals seemed to develop as the concert proceeded adding to his charisma
and projection which the audience loved. The sound was bang on where we
were with and awesome drum mix and Tony Garnier's bass. George Recile and
Tony Garnier were excellent and always on the ball. The guitarist's worked
well and their interaction and playing was at times adventurous as they
worked with capturing Bob's new interpretation of his timeless songs.The
whole show was very balanced and Bob captured the audience and took us all
on a musical ride back into the past and the now with his new album songs
from "Modern Times".
The whole concert was for me excellent and I enjoyed every song. Good
to see Bob playing his stratocaster. The cry was there also threaded
throughout against man's interference and stupidity in the affairs of
this world and "Blowin In The Wind" was awesome. A special final encore
which went down a treat.
The Highlight for me though was "Highway 61 Revisited". One of the great
rock songs of all time that is true to the vein of the genre. It was very
powerful, and a true example of American rock music at it's very best.
The crowd loved Bob and his band and the encore's were great, hoped he
would come out and play one more but no.
Keep going up that Thunder Mountain Bob, and keep coming back down to
share with us what you hear.
Review by Stan Lockie
What an exceptional night we just observed, Bob was at his best and the
band were in great condition.
I saw the show at the Vector arena which was fantastic but this one was
something else, I guess it was the intimate venue that made it, about 2000
seats, the assorted audience was mainly people of my vintage, people that
have followed him for more years than we care to admit, however there was
also a number of younger people who seemed to enjoy the show.
The set was nothing unusual, starting with a reasonable rendition of
Watching the river flow followed by It Ain't me babe both of which the
voice was very rough, as usual on the first few songs, I'll be your baby
was next this was done well and the voice was starting to hit the mark,
that concluded the Guitar section for Bob, he shuffled to the keyboard,
and we were into Tangled which was very good better than the version at
Vector in my opinion.
The next was Spirit which was sung with much feeling and was much
appreciated by my wife who has had to listen to Bob for many years, and
still struggles to understand my passion.
The next one was The Levee's which was really smoking the band were
fantastic and Bob was singing real well, not one of my favourites but this
was so well done that I was totally rapt, that's the thing about Bob even
the ones you don't like too much he can bring alive and reinvent.
Next was Visions which slowed things down a little this was well done and
the words were easy to follow, next came Cry A While which nearly caught
me out wasn't expecting that, again very well done by Bob
Back to Modern times with Workingman's Bob was very animated tonight
doing his little side saddle thing on the Keyboard those little legs
jerking away it was good to see he looked like he was enjoying himself.
Into Highway 61 which was done pretty well as it should be as it's
almost a standard these days.
Beyond the Horizon was next again well done with the voice sounding
pretty good, nice to hear the Harp always appreciated by the followers
Next we raced into Mobile which was ok nothing special in my opinion,
followed by Nettie Moore again well put together, next was Summer Days
again not a favourite but so well done, that I was caught up in it.
I knew we were getting to the end now and sure enough Bob finished the set
with Masters which was absolutely brilliant very similar to the version at
Vector last week, the words were crystal clear and just as vehement as
they were originally all those years ago.
The band returned and were introduced as usual then we were into the
Encore which was Thunder and Blowin both of which were excellent, and so
soon it was all over. Bob was most animated at the end with both thumbs up
for an extended period looking almost embarrassed as he does at the close
of the show, and so NZ returned to normal I drove home with the sounds of
the evening still ringing in my ears, satisfied that I had been part of a
brilliant performance by a man who never fails to impress and surprise me
after all these years.
Review byDerek Jacombs
After a few days, as I think back on the second show at the Civic, I find
myself almost doubting my feelings on the night. Could it have been as
good as I thought it was? For at least seven songs in the middle of the
set I just sat there in amazement and after each song I'd turn to my
girlfriend and say "that was incredible!"
I realise that in a venue as good and intimate as this, with the sound
very good, with almost perfect seats (Row C, centre), and with an excited
crowd, my perceptions might have been influenced, but everything seemed to
come together on Monday - not only were the band playing well and (unlike
Sunday) were comfortable with the size of the venue and sound, but they
seemed to be having a helluva good time, as did Bob, who danced and smiled
(and laughed!) more than I've ever seen, even if his voice was showing
some end-of-tour wear.
Despite that, I'm afraid I have fewer specifics about this show. Normally
at a seated venue I jot down the odd note to remind me of specific bits.
Here, after the third song, I thought "this is simply too good to even
think about anything else" and I put away the pen.
Watching The River Flow was a surprising opener and suggested an unusual
set-list. That didn't happen, but this only reinforces the fact that it's
the performance that counts, not the choice of songs. It was a good solid
opener, with Bob a bit hoarse but singing well. (Musician note - it was in
It Ain't Me Babe was also a bit hoarse, but Bob was having real fun with
the phrasing and already the band was smiling and digging it. Bob also
played some really good guitar(!), as he did on I'll Be Your Baby Tonight,
where his voice started to relax and his legs started to dance.
And, after only three guitar songs he hit the keyboard (again suggesting
perhaps something unusual, but no) for a stunning Tangled Up In Blue. This
time it was even more laid-back - Stu was playing very sparsely throughout
so there was no constant acoustic guitar, and George played brushes all
through, flipping them round to make sticks for the between-verse tags.
Bob also had fun with the lyrics - I'm sure he said something like "she
said I know your name, I said no you don't". It was as good as I've heard
this in recent years (and - if memory serves - even had a keyboard solo,
but I may be wrong).
Spirit On The Water was simply gorgeous. I think Bob sang a verse twice
but he and the band all smiled at it and Denny played a fantastic guitar
solo to much applause. Levee's Gonna Break was everything the song can be
on a good night, with impassioned singing and wild instrumental breaks. At
the end Bob sang "Everybody's saying (pause) What are they saying? This is
a day only the Lord could make".
And then the song I most wanted to hear (sentimental old me), Visions Of
Johanna. Which was perfect. I actually had tears in my eyes as Bob pealed
out one sublimely sung verse after another. The lyrics were clear and
controlled. He nailed all five verses, and sang the last one as
committedly as the first. The only line he skipped was the "cape of the
stage". There was an extra instrumental verse at the end which served no
function but it seemed almost like Bob just didn't want to finish it.
Cry A While was also excellent. Though not as explosive as the
Charlie/Larry days it had real power and intensity and the band were
cooking. Then Workingman's Blues and Bob's voice seemed a bit rough until
the last verse which he sang in a very mellow tone. It was the only song
that was possibly better on Sunday, but was still very fine. They had
mainly white lights on the stage and looking at Bob's profile, lit in
white, I could swear he looked just like the Rolling Thunder profiles with
the white make-up, leaning impassioned into the mic. At the end they
flicked the lights out over the audience, lighting up all the "workingmen"
And then Highway 61, which was fierce. Towards the end Bob and Donnie got
more and more wrapped up together and seemed to be spurring each other on.
Then Tony walked over to the front of the keyboard and started grooving
with them and the next thing you know the last round became a bass solo!
Need I say it was very very good?
We speculated before the show whether Bob would attempt to redeem the
dreadful mess of Beyond The Horizon from the night before and sure enough
he did. Actually the show lost a bit of energy here, but at least everyone
seemed to know what they were doing and Bob got his vocal entries right
and even played the harp - with a couple more run-throughs it should be
fine by the US tour!
Memphis Blues was next and was the only song of the night that failed to
click. Bob obviously thought so too. After two verses he started singing
"Ruthie." then stopped, and after a round of solo sang two more verses and
wrapped it up abruptly. Bet he wished he'd picked another song for that
slot. I certainly did.
But things got back on track with Nettie Moore, Bob's voice a bit rough
but certainly game. I'd never heard the remarkable power this song has
live and it didn't disappoint. Nor, surprisingly, did Summer Days, which
was as wild and excitable as you could ask. Bob urged the band to higher
and higher levels on several extended rounds of solo and they really
responded. George and Tony have so many gears that even when you think
they're at full power it seems they can still bring things higher. (As an
aside, as opposed to Christchurch where Bob held the "good. luck" back for
a ridiculous length of time, seemingly to crack up Tony, here he sang the
line so early that it was over before it should have started. and he and
Tony both cracked up again.)
Masters Of War was solid and solidly sung, with Denny playing a lot of
slightly menacing dischords during his solo (musician note - lots of
flattened fifths). Oddly, to me it seemed like the wrong choice of song.
Everyone - the audience who were on their feet cheering after every song,
Bob, and the band - was having such a good time that Masters sounded a bit
"serious". It might have been a better spot for Blowing In The Wind.
The encores were great too. The whole crowd were on their feet by now,
despite the theatre seating and Thunder On The Mountain was as good, and
as long, as I've heard. They simply rocked the walls with many many rounds
of increasingly dynamic soloing - Brilliant.
And Blowing In The Wind was the song I most wanted to hear at the end and
- despite roughness in the voice - Bob nailed it. The arrangement seemed
to have lost a bit of the Dwayne Eddie thing and gave plenty of room for
the vocal. And, to cap things off almost perfectly, Bob finished with a
After that, the formation lasted longer than usual. Bob looked happy, the
band looked happy, and, goddamn, every single person in the crowd was
happy. A brilliant night.
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