Bob Dylan - Bob Links - Review - 09/03/98


September 3,, 1998

Sydney, Australia
Sydney Entertainment Centre

Thanks to Tony Hunter for the following review:

My perspective is as a local rather than an international obsessive
following the Tour.
First off the Venue, the Entertainment Centre is a barn with ratshit
acoustics.Last tour , 1992 from memory was in smaller venues and though
most people hated the shows I loved  them.
Patti Smith came on to a totally disinterested audience.."is the singer a
man or a woman" I heard.Lotsa people there who you half expected to boo if
Dylan played electric.Pretty sad.
Anyway I went up the front to try and get involved because no-one much
cared for the first few songs , including Patti.
Contrary to Carsten's adoration most reviews have regarded her as a relic
with dinosaur rock riffs from the band.Patti complained about hayfever
...hey it's the start of spring.

A few songs in saw  her playRedondo ( ???it's a while since I've played
the track but you know which one I mean ) Anyway it was a real perfunctory
effort.The guy next to me said "C'mon Patti you can do better than that"
to which she responded "oh o.k!" and seemed to lift her game a bit.

The poem lead in to Not Fade Away was great and had the crowd motivated
but the next few  I think were mainly older stuff which lost them
again.Rockin In the Free World was ok but for me a bit passé .

Bob came  on, 9.20 again I think with Maggies Farm .The crowd were all out
of their seats and it looked like it might be a night where everything
would be going off.

Alas security spend the rest of the night hounding people to sit down even
when no views were obstructed.I hate sitting at concerts .Give me a bar
and a cramped environment anyday.

Maggie was just a thumper , Baby Tonight was good and the one I was
waiting for Cold Irons Bound was ruined due to the mix.Bob's vocals were
really hard to hear from the rear of the ground level seating where I was
...even when you know all the words.

Vocals were (oh) mercifully better for the acoustic set.Bob buggered up
tangled , switching the rhythm round he seemed to end up with having too
many words and tagled himself up ironically.

Shelter was tops , haven't heard a bad version of this, O.K. well maybe
Budokan was ordinary but the song lends itself to so many
interpretations.The mandolin took me back to Steve Earle's show earlier
this year and that's no bad thing.The highlight was Desolation Row which
had a real Pat Garrett soundtrack feel .Everyone liked the extended very
country Don't Think Twice but I got bored.Stone Walls was OK and Willie
McTell was pretty good.

By now I was hankering for some harp but no joy.

Sadly we were not to be spared Silvio.As ponderous as everyone else seems
to think too.It's only saving grace is the band like the riff and stretch
out on it.Till I Fell in Love was where band and Bob got into a groove
that showcased their cohesion after so many shows together.Gimme more of
that swamp music Bob.

I may have the sequence wrong  but after then and 70 minutes of the show
we got the first exit.The crowd leapt to their feet to cheer , it was a
bit hard to get more involved unless you were in the front section due to
the security people.I told one , "you realise you are killing this concert
" but it did not change any thing.

Lovesick was first song back , I'd have preferred it slower.Then ,erk
Rainy Day Women mercy yet again .Like Carsten I fucking hate that is just so OBVIOUS and it as insult to his song catalogue that
he plays it.More galling , on go the lights .After being told to sit down
all's O.K. kids time to get up dance , have fun , go wild...but
not too much coz when the lights go off at the end of the song you gotta
sit down again...everybody understand.Thirty years ago this sort of social
programming would be fertile material for a few stanzas in Subterranean
Homesick Blues.Very cynical.

Highway 61 cooked along but after the reviews of Mercury Lounge I was
expecting more.(Goddamn I used to live in Melbourne and I would have been
there).Funny how he always seems to do this one the same way more or less
copying Johhny Winter's version more than his own.

Second obligatory encore .The lights were left off so you all know he will
be back.

Forever Young was OK but I'd have preferred an electric end to the show
with more from time out of mind.

Then the conclusion Blowin In The Wind which I could have done without but
it was better than I'd braced myself for.At least we had no singalongs and
thankfully Australians have by and large eschewed the habit of waving
cigarette lighters in the air.

Guy next to me said "Gee did Bob Dylan write that ? " All I could do was
nod  in stunned amazement.

So all in all a hot band some good songs not done justice by a crap venue
and a shitty sound mix.They had a day off before the show so the sound
should have been better.

The set list was rather pedestrian and seemed to lack spontaneity.No Man
In Me, Lot To Laugh ,Senor etc . Not much guitar from Dylan ,no harp...Bob
by numbers.

But tonight's another night, maybe the mix will be better ..Then there is
Wollongong on Saturday to close the Oz leg .Bob will be opening a new
venue in a city a couple of hours out of Sydney , big steel processing
town with top beaches and countryside surrounding the town.Should be a
reason to try something different assuming the venue didn't get washed
away in the heavy flooding they had recently.


Thanks to Stephen Crump for the following review:

First I enjoyed it as he played most numbers I'd never heard live before
including "Tonight I'll be Staying here with you" (though as the 2nd song
his voice wasn't ready for this one) and a stunning "Forever Young" to
finish. Intersting versions of "Shelter.." and even interesting "Silvio"
though why he plays this is a mystery. "Love Sick" was spot on and one of
the few songs the band sounded like it knew what it was doing... too many
award instrumental sections for my liking in nearly all the songs.

He was certainly fit and well, lively and purposeful on stage.. though a
little posed. The audience was a 'greatest hits' group and gave the loudest
cheers for "Don't Think 2" and "Blowin in ..." but the later was a pretty
good version.

From the set list from Brisbane, I'd rather have been there than Sydney...
for no other reason than the sound was TERRIBLE. I've been going to
concerts for over 30 years and this was the worse ever. You couldn't make
out the words to the first 5 songs.. mostly sound problems but Dylan was
also shouting and braying. It wasn't 'til into the acoustic set that the
sound started functioning properly and Dylan started singing. As I took my
8 and 15 year old, I was pretty disappointed for them to have to sit
through such an aweful mess.

Let's hope tonight is better.

Steve c


Thanks to Carsten Wohlfeld for the following review:

First of all, thanks to all the people who commented on my reviews before
and after the Sydney shows. It's really nice to have some feedback and I
really appreciate that. Thanks also to Sean, Darren and Brett for helping
me getting a ticket (and one in the front row it was, too :-)) Most of us
missed Matt Walker & Ashley Davies' set cause we were still at the Crystal
Palace Hotel trying hard to get drunk, but we were all there at the rail
when Patti came out at 8.10pm. She played a weird set tonight and I was
pretty sad that I missed her instore appearnace in Sydney the day before. I
even was in town, but I just didn't know about it :-(.  Anyways…usually she
does three old classics that everybody will recognize, three new songs and
couple of covers. Tonight she pretty much played songs from her last two
albums, opening with the excellent "Waiting Underground" and pulling out
"Whirl Away" for the first time since the tour's premiere in Melbourne.
"Summer Cannibals" was as impressive as ever and a big singalong, but it
was interesting to hear, that the sole two songs from the 70s hardly
classify as "monster hits". "Ghostdance" was dedicated to the victims of
the plane crash in the US and "Redondo Beach" was a great song to dance to
as usual. The was a little sick and as a consequence wasn't as talkative as
before, but it was still great to see her go berserk during the latter part
of "Memento Mori"/"Not Fade Away" which wasn't as good as the previous
renditions though.

The lights went down again at 9.20pm and as soon as we were informed that
it was time to welcome Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan, Bob and the
guys started yet another version of:

 Maggie's Farm

Which was pretty average, even though Bob started smiling and making
eye-contact with the audience immediately. Bucky played the pedal steel
instead on the acoustic guitar, even though it was right there on stage.
Maybe he knows that he just can play the pedal steel better than the

 Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You

Sounded pretty impressive from where I was standing. Bob seemed to have a
lot of fun singing it and again he played a lot of lead guitar and he
actually did a pretty good job on this one. He obviously will never be a
Jimi Hendrix (or a Lenny Kaye, for that matter), but if you remember the
solos he's tortured us with in the past, this was pretty good.

 Cold Irons Bound

Bob wasn't singing this one, he was yelling. Not quite sure if that was a
good idea or not, it sounded somewhat different and "different" is always
good when you see a lot of shows, I guess.

 Shelter From The Storm

Well, it became apparent during this song that he was gonna do a "safety
first" set tonight just to make sure he'd please the Sydney audience and
the assembled press. Even though the greatest hits went down very well with
the crowd, this version of "Shelter" never reached the heights of previous
renditions. It was much better at the Mercury Lounge.

 Can't Wait

I have this theory that you can tell from the "oh honey" line alone if it's
a good or bad rendition of his song. If that's really the way to judge it,
this rendition was pretty good, but not superb. Which in fact sums up the
whole performance quite perfect :-)


Went by in a flash. I don't know where I was during this song, but I hardly
can remember that it was played at all. Must have been a pretty average
version then, I guess/hope.

 Stone Walls And Steel Bars (acoustic)

Well, nice one to hear, but you can't really comment on it cause I guess
it's not only short, but looks like it's pretty easy to play as well, so no
big chance of messing it up there.

 Desolation Row (acoustic)

A highlight for all the people that heard it for the first time in the new
fast, full-band arrangement, but I was kinda disappointed with it, cause it
never came close to the renditions in New York earlier this year and it was
way better in Rome in July as well. Then again, you shouldn't complain when
Bob pulls out such a terrific song like this one…

 Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic)

Was pretty good as it always is these days. Many people were kinda
disappointed that he chose not to play harp. The guitar solo that graced
the end instead was kinda repetetive, but still at least nice to see.
Especially when Bob throws in best Chuck Berry impersonation as well.

 Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (acoustic)

Was done differently tonight, cause he kinda changed the perspective. For
the first couple of verses he didn't sound cynical at all, it was more like
"okay, what I say it 'leave me alone', but I don't really mean it".
Interesting. Unfortunately the last verse was back to normal and kinda
shattered my theory.

 Blind Willie McTell 

I know this looks pretty cool on paper or on a website, but it was a pretty
rotten version. From the first on chord on, Dylan didn't get *anything*
right on the guitar and it just sounded bad. As a consequence, he whole
show went downhill from here.

 "Til I Fell In Love With You

Followed the usual band introduction. Bob was still connecting to the
audience pretty well, but musically he just seemed to lose it all. It
wasn't a bad version, but it was no more than average either.

 Love Sick

The last highlight of the show, pretty powerful version, as slow as in
Brisbane, which really improves the whole performance. Nice guitar solo as

 Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 & 35


 Blowin' In The Wind (acoustic)


 Highway 61 Revisted 


 Forever Young (acoustic)

Sorry, can't comment on this cause I fell asleep. Honestly, the five song
neverchanging encore doesn't do the show any good. Bob played the same
seven songs at the end of the show he did the two nights before in Brisbane
and they just went on auto-pilot after, well, actually after "Desolation"
and what followed was one of the least inspired hours of Bob I've seen in a
very long time. Don't get me wrong, it was a solid show and I can
understand why the people who saw him for the first time tonight were
pretty impressed, but all in all it was just Bob-by-numbers. Having said
that I'm convinced that the second show willl be better, usually the second
night of a residency is the better night, and not only Ray is of that
opinion. Thanks for reading. See ya!

Carsten Wohlfeld
please reply to:
"what once was your home is now a minefield" (damon & naomi)

Return to Current Tour Guide page
Return to Bob Links
Go to the Set Lists (by city) page
Go to the Set Lists (by date) page 1997 Tour, 1996 Tour , 1995 Tour, Pre 1995 Tours
Go to the Cue Sheet page