August 28, 2018
Review by Mike Reid
My first Dylan show was 20 years ago, September 1998, when this Arena
(with a different sponsor) opened. I wasn't a huge fan at that point. I
enjoyed the show, but appreciated support act Patti Smith more. By 2000,
when I saw Bob in May 2000, in Cologne, Germany, I was a hard-core fan.
Those, and the 2003 show here, were in the "high rotation" era and though
Bob played some keyboards in 2003 there were some epic guitar duels.
By the time of the last 2014 show, there was a fixed setlist and a much
more arranged feel, which had a lot of positive aspects, but didn't have
the unpredictable and dangerous feel of, in particular, the 11 May 2000
Cologne, concert, where Larry and Charlie reworked Cold Irons Bound into
Led Zeppelin style stadium rock (see Mike Willy's review of the night on
Before this show I had listened with anticipation to a few of the recent
shows from Europe and then Asia and Australia, and the singing and
arrangements seemed to be getting better and better, so I was looking
forward to the night. I got there early and managed to run into a few
dedicated fans I've known for some time, from back in the days when you
had to transmit bootlegs on physical media...
On the face of it, this should have been a similar show to 2014. But for
me it wasn't. For me 2014 was highly enjoyable, but not the same level.
The radically new arrangements, and the emotion that he brought to some of
the songs gave them a freshness that blew me away.
I had a seat out to the side, opposite Bob's piano, so had a great view of
him and the band. The sound was pretty good, and his voice was clear
enough to pick up the variations on lyrics (Gotta Serve Somebody is a
completely new song...), and the emotional emphasis of key phrases.
He swapped out a couple of songs since Auckland, so we got an awesome
rendition of "Like a Rolling Stone", and a slow, heavy, "It Takes A Lot To
Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry", with Bob leaving the Piano towards the
end to do Rock God poses between Charlie and Tony. The bitterness, and the
magic, of those 60s songs seemed remarkably fresh, especially the biting
anger of the closing "Ballad of a Thin Man". Was the last verse a
commentary on modern technology or was he was referring to the ban on
"There ought to be a law
Against you coming round
Next time you do
Don't forget your telephone..."
I felt like I'd been transported back to 1966, and that when he sneered
"You are very well read, It's well known" he was talking to me! Ouch!
The safe choice would have been to close with a feel-good "Blowing in the
Wind", as he did last time here. But on this occasion that was the
second-last song, and we were left with the scathing accusation that
something was happening and we really didn't know what it was... Genius..
Review by Andrew McCallum
Both NZ shows were great, but CHCH was a notch ahead. Great singing on It
ain't me babe, Masterpiece and both nights beautiful Make You Feel My Love
- which, given it was considered by most the worst song on TOOM in 1997,
says something. Love Sick with Dylan not centre stage as reported, but
standing back with Tony and George - was ferocious both nights. Don't
think twice - you've no doubt heard the piano version - a highlight. The
surprise Like a Rolling Stone in a new arrangement made CHCH something of
a unique experience. There was a huddle beforehand. And then It Takes a
Lot to Laugh instead of Soon after Midnight. Also a huddle beforehand with
Donnie Heron kind of patting Dylan on the arm as though he was saying
"lets do it!". Great heavy blues rendition. Again a treat.
I was sitting with Bill Hester, elevated on the right side of the stage,
so we had excellent view of Dylan at the piano. Our row was empty by the
encore... still the unhappiness after all these years. The edginess of
many of the arrangements caused me to have thoughts of deconstruction and
the avant-garde and Miles Davis. The frequent comments that Dylan is
disrespectful of his audience are obviously not true... what greater
respect could give your audience than to challenge their pre-conceptions
and trust that at least some of them will appreciate your performing art?
It was also a very efficient show. Very short break before the encore,
very short line-up at the end and then off, lights up.
When at the piano and singing, he still looks much like the Dylan we've
come to know, but when standing and taking a bow, he looks like the little
old man he is. Albeit one with apparently boundless energy.
Review by Bill Hester
Random thoughts through the night.....
Great set list - strong vocals, piano and harp from Bob, superb band,
Don't miss him (especially if you can get good viewing and listening
I've been watching and listening for a long time. Two songs at the
Christchurch concert I first heard live nearly 54 years ago at Boston
Symphony Hall - a place full of musical history which resonated that long
ago night with a one man symphony. It Ain't Me, Babe and Don't Think
Twice - songs sung well by a then 23 year old on his own.
And then the same two songs heard live in a large modern box arena called
Horncastle Arena in Christchurch in 2018 - the arena having little musical
relevance other than being a big arena - this time a 77 year old man with
a tight backing band. Thankfully the sound was very good (where I was
sitting) by big arena standards - and his words still ring true - the same
two songs deconstructed and performed so well (in a city which was
deconstructed eight years ago by earthquake and is slowly recovering
The concert was my favourite of his sixteen NZ concerts that I've been to
over the years. A very good experience - strong vocals on all twenty
songs, dramatic arrangements, wonderful backing band, and a couple of
surprise song inclusions after huddles in the dark with some of his band.
I'm hopeful that Bob chooses to continue what he does so well - and hope
that I'm able to be there for the next concert where our paths cross in
time an space. As he said long ago: "Then you heard my voice a-singin'
and you know my name".
Review by Laurette Maillet
For economic reason I will fly from Auckland to Christchurch on the 28th
of August, the day of the show. Hopefully my good Star will be with me and
all will go well.
The flight is 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
The bus from the airport is dropping me straight at the Youth hostel.
Second good omen.
I take a walk in the city. All devastated by an earth quake few years ago,
the buildings are either damaged either in reconstruction. It gives an
air of .... after the apocalypse. But I feel a good karma. The walls are
covered with street Art, murals. The streets are large and clean. People
are super kind. There is a feeling of hope and good will.
After checking in my dorm I take a long walk towards the Horncastle
Arena passing by the botanic garden.
By 6 p.m. the area is....empty.
It is again one of those sport arenas, next to a ball arena of some kind
and next to a horse track. Only one cafe is open. I hesitate for a short
time about "begging" for a ticket. I want to be happy tonight, no stress,
no panick, no security harassment. .. So, against all my logic and
resolution I find myself buying a ticket at the box office. Oh what a
sensation! To feel like all the rest. I keep preciously my 112NZ $ ticket
in my hand. Feel the relief of being rich. I walk inside early to be away
from the cold. Take the pleasure of passing by around the hall, again and
again. Is this ME or another ME? The seat is not the best but it's mine!
I don't shit and seat on the balcony, behind the piano. I was chatting
with a young guy who expected to hear "like a rolling stone". I tell him
it would be most unprobable. ...what a fool I am!
They all come on time.
Stu, George, Tony, Charlie, Donnie and yes Bob.
There is an empty seat on my right, all for the best.
1. Things Have Changed (Bob on piano)
Good. The sound is correct.
I see Bob from up right. I have the feeling he had a new hair cut! Must be
the light. 2.It Ain't Me, Babe (Bob on piano) I focus on Bob, never
leaving my eyes out of him. Try to see him as a 25 years old. From far, it
does the trick. The body didn't change, just the face which I don't see.
3.Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on piano) A good reaction from the audience.
At least some freaks behind me, who paid 92nz $ for a high perched seat.
4.Simple Twist Of Fate (Bob on piano with harp) The harp is welcome. And
Ben must have been right when he said there was no medical reason for Bob
not playing any harp in Europe. 5.Summer Days (Bob on piano) (Honky Tonk
version) Honky tonk, blue grass, ragtime?.....I'm not sure. Donnie is wild
on violin. 6.When I Paint My Masterpiece (Bob on piano with harp) I feel
the phrase "Everything will be different when I paint my Masterpiece"
- money - recognission - respect 7.Honest With Me (Bob on piano)
Even if it is one least of my favourites, tonight I appreciate. 8.Tryin'
To Get To Heaven (Bob on piano) Maybe this is what I'm doing too, running
after the time. 9.Make You Feel My Love (Bob on piano with harp) I sing
along. Definitively not the way Adele is doing it. Plus that line about
not getting wet. A parabola? 10.Tangled Up In Blue (Bob on piano) No big
voice effects, all for the best. 11.Pay In Blood (Bob on piano) Clear.
12.Early Roman Kings (Bob on piano) George and Charlie are fantastic. I
don’t hear the bell in the public. Gone!
Tony and Charlie grouped around Bob. Could be for consultation on the next
13.Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on piano, Tony bowed double bass)
(new arrangement with slow passages)
Oh my! Immediate reaction from the audience.
And I scream the verses
"How does it feel
To be without a home
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?"
14.Love Sick (Bob center stage)
Excellent performance of Bob playing with the mike and bending on his
knees. No static position on this one! 15.Don't Think Twice, It's All
Right (Bob on piano with harp) Bob is now full of energy. 16.Thunder On
The Mountain (Bob on piano) Of course a great solo by George, back up by
the 3 musketeers; Tony, Charlie and Donnie. 17.It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It
Takes A Train To Cry (Bob on piano then center stage) (heavy blues) I
don't recognize this one at first. Bob is center stage again with all
power. He is taking pleasure to chalange the public. Even though most of
the fans don't know it's a treat they appreciate a fantastic
performance, well synchronised by the Band. 18.Gotta Serve Somebody (Bob
on piano) (Boogie Woogie version) As good as always on that tour.
I wish for "Forever young" but that would be greedy.
19.Blowin' In The Wind (Bob on piano)
20.Ballad Of A Thin Man (Bob on piano with harp)
Bob leaves the stage rapidly after the last bow.
I follow him with my eyes, he's trotting out.
Must this be a goodbye and not a farewell!
I hesitate for 4 seconds : to go down the floor and say goodbye to the
crew people and meet with the Bobcats? I decide to keep on a good feeling.
The crew people seem to perceive me as an enemy more than anything else.
As for the Bobcats? ... We never discuss anything much before the show. I
wear the coat of the forever beggar. Don't have the physic of M. Don't
have the chat of I. Don't have the desire to get drunk. Yes, I feel like
a ROLLING STONE
Review by Les and Margi Memory
His Bell Still Rings
I first saw Mr Dylan in Auckland, 1978. A great concert and I can still recall an
amazing reworked version of, "Going, Going, Gone" all new with only the
chorus from the original song. Also great versions of, "Like a Rolling Stone
and Tangled up in Blue."
Last night at Horncastle Arena, initially I thought our seats were rubbish as
we had been relocated, we ended up in low tiered seating at the end of a
row but with a direct line to Bob's piano. It turned out to be the best
place we could be because the sound is never good in Horncastle. What
we got to see was Bob close-up and that he was 'taking no prisoners on
his piano'. A couple on my left were at their first concert and thought it
fantastic (we did too). It was also interesting to see the age-group present.
The oldest would have been late 80s, and there were a surprising number
of teenagers, also lots of people in their 20s.
13 Concerts Later and at Horncastle Arena for the fifth time I always hope
at Dylan concerts to get something random and last night we did. "Highway
61 Revisited" was a tour de force that really set the scene. While "Tangled
up in Blue", had a hard-driving rhythm which actually worked and is possibly
the best live reinterpretation I've heard since 1978.
But last night 'the quite random' was an amazing version of "Like a Rolling
Stone." Quite stunning he slowed right down on the chorus' and then it
surged back into life, really amazing. The hooting and shouting and clapping
at the end was deafening and Bob who now never really acknowledges the
audience bowed his head and gave us a definite nod. This was followed by
an incredible version of "Love Sick" (centre stage), then back to the piano
for as close to a solo as we will get with the band very subdued and Dylan
singing (yes singing) a wistful "Don't Think Twice It's All Right" which brought
the house down and a tear to this eye. Then came surprise number two an
incredibly good bluesy version of "It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train
to Cry" (don't know when he last performed this song). This was followed
by a boogie-woogie version of, "Gotta Serve Somebody" with lots of new
lines that he really spat out and the chorus had a lot of punch. The closing,
"Ballad of a Thin Man," still incredibly relevant and ominous. Whatever's
happening I hope Bob remains in good health and continues "heading for
Les and Margi Memory
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