Auckland, New Zealand
North Shore Events Centre
February 21, 2003

[Dave Bartram], [Derek Jacombs]

Review by Dave Bartram

one goes to a dylan concert not knowing what to expect knowing that it will be 
unexpected,one goes not knowing if you'll ever be there again,this could be the 
last one. you go hoping you'll hear your favorite song and hear ever one song you leaves knowing some of the answers but one,will i ever see him again.and 
amongst the war mongering and scare tactics in the world tonite you wonder.I went 
tonite to my 5th bob date knowing he would play the keyboards,some idea of the set 
list and some worries that his recent concerts have been a mixture.
didnt start too well,we entered the hall 15 minutes before the show was due to 
start and guess what the show had started-think it was ani difranco or someone-no 
offence-how come it had started,20 minutes trying to find seats in the dark with 
no ushers-not a great start.
but we got over it and eventually the other singer stopped and the lights went on 
and we found our seats.
now we are ready,yes ladies and gentlemen the grammy winner for the soundtrack of 
our lives and loves is MR BOB DYLAN
and hes there playing keyboards,singing tweedle dee tweedle dum.,i go mad totally
mad,whilst the announcement was being made-not the one above-i could barely sit 
still and really couldnt even sit. here he is the man,its BOB DAY.
the song moves well thecrowd slowly stand up and by half way thro the whole crowd 
is up,bob sounds a bit croaky but is clear enough,sound mix a bit bad-typical for 
a 1st bob track,im on my feet,my partners somewhere,im sure she is.
tweedle finishes and a bit of an intro to ill be yer baby tonite sort of hums along 
nothing to rocky untill suddenly its stopped and the rock comes back with highway 
61 and boy does it rock,it really rocks. the venom coming from this really shakes 
the house and eveybody is now standing,jumping,rocking. its such a strong powerful 
almost scary performance poor old george w is starting to wonder if saddam isnt the 
only one concealing weapons. things change next and its a bit fuzzy sound wise and 
some of the less educated in the crowd take a while to catch on,george w is still a 
bit worried though cos some do actually catch on to the chrorus.
at this point i still havent taken advantage of my expensive seat,my partner im sure 
did actually turn up with me,sure youlll be ok. Sorry the next few songs may be 
slightly wrong in sequence but they were all amazing. wicked messenger screeched 
and screamed through the system.dubyas starting to wonder who the wicked messenger 
really is and has he been targetting the right one,not a great version though uncle 
bob,too much screaching thro the system and im sure he cuts it short. what a 
difference a different song makes though heres bob on the guitar warming up to baby 
blu altho im sure a few thought it sounded like the intro to grain of sand-it wasnt. 
the soft almost mellow tones of baby blue amazing,now the tears are here,so many 
times so many people so many memories captured by this amazing soundtrack of my life 
in so many songs-baby blu no was a really lovely version,but old dubyas 
a bit paranoid its all over bob says,what does he mean,dubyas sure baby blue is code 
something important. then bob gets to the,all yer sea sick sailors are rowing home 
and maybe its just an americas cup prediction.Again sorry the sequence is a bit 
dubious.aint me babe was a very quiet version as was just like a women,the latter 
seemed less vicious than other times,kind of sad really so a few more tears as more 
reminders of that scene from the movie that bob wrote the soundtrack for. then a 
real brave step but not unexpected,you see this guy bob starts and delivers and 
stuns with a incredible message called masters of war,just check out the grammys 
bet you dont see and hear anything like this is amerika,unless bob is invited. 
anyway this masters of war really scares dubya,it thrills the crowd here and it 
delights me completely. so dubya is now really convicned there is a guy out there 
more dangerous than saddam,whats he going to do? well the people here are wondering 
how bob and dubya came from the same country,how could they ?
the other songs from tonite again in prob the wrong order but here goes,a medley of 
love and theft-honest with me,bye & bye & summer days,all really well done,the 1st 
and last totally rocked but a bit spoilt by the sound mix again,bye and bye a lovely 
scene setting piece-very quiet,subdued reminding of a late night cafe or restaurant.
In there also a real surprise,watching the river flow and a happy birthday to larry
on guitar-wow fancy having happy birthday sung to you by the one the only bob dylan,
how could your life be better.
twist of fate strangely found its way into the set,fortunately really cos my 
partners hand found mine just to remind me she was with me tonite and another 
memory song brings tears,twist of fate really was a brilliant performance with 
voice ebbing and flowing
summer days finishes it off so powerfully almost as much as honest with me and bob 
looks happy,the crowd are happy,dubyas still not sure whats going on. bob and the
band stand on stage very strange sight,never seen bob do this before,they just 
stand there listening to the crowd but not acknowldging them,what are they doing,
then suddenly they walk away and we realise its over but it isnt cos we wont let 
them,a awesome,deafening demand almost frightening demand to come back seems to 
go on forever and finally suceeds,bob is back to an incredible reception. the 
encore starts with a quiet version of blowing in the wind,the band and the crowd 
help bob with the chorus,personally wish i would stop playing this song,he doesnt 
need to play it but it is his song so i guess its ok. and then and only when hes 
finished a full blown lauch into along the watchtower,hes finally taken this song 
back from all the pretenders. its full of apocolyptic images,dubya is now taking 
steps to hand over the reins of power.and thats the show folks,no chance of another 
return tonite anyway.we clap,stamp,yell anyway but we know its pointless,have to be
honest thought bobs voice for the last 4 or 5 songs was starting to go.
so its over,bob keeps another clause of his contract with his fans intact,even 
though some of them may have trouble reading the small print,hes walked the 
tightrope again.i walk away thinking if this was any other artist the media would 
have been bombarding us for days with news of whoever it was,but not with bob he 
just turns up plays and goes. thats how we like him,no comeback tour.,hes never 
been away like some stars who only tour when they are down to their last 5 million 
bucks,not our bob hes still out there with us.
so what did i think of the concert,brilliant,outstanding,better than 4 years 
ago-yes i admit to all of that and more.the best part was the mixture of it,the to 
and fro from straight full on rock to the gentle and even a bit of melody.
bob if you dont come back youve left one helluv a memory,if you do come back,next 
weeks good for me.but please how about a decent venue,this one sucks. my partner 
liked the concert, she told me when  we got home.
and as for dubya,still cant believe the same country can produce 2 people, 1 of 
whom has so much to offer and asks for so little and dubya..


Review by Derek Jacombs

I should start by mentioning I thought it was a pretty average show,
though I only mean that by the standard of the incredible boots I've heard
of the Fall US (piano) shows: the band were excellent (of course), but Bob
was solid rather than inspired and there were no moments where he made
your jaw drop. And his piano seemed less active than on the boots. Perhaps
listening to some GREAT shows makes you more blase - after all Bob played
guitar and piano very musically, sang well (even when being a bit loose
with specific lines), and played a lot of fine harp.   

First off, it's the worst promoted show I've ever seen - started at least
half an hour early so most people caught maybe one song of Ani and after
being told by a doorman that Dylan would be on a 9.00pm he started at 8.40
so there was a huge crush getting in, no ushers and everyone just rushed
the stage immediately. I had 4th row tickets but by the time I found them
it was just a scrum - forget the seats!

Bob was wearing his grey "country gentleman" suit and a rather nice dotted
tie (or cravat maybe - looked too big for a tie). Piano stage left (from
audience) next to the drums. I missed most of Tweedle Dum, what with
pushing throught the crowd 'n' all.

I'll Be Your Baby started badly: the band obviously were expecting an
instrumental round but Bob launched in singing straight away -
unfortunately just as they all went up to the second chord. The first
verse subsequently received some "unusual" phrasing.

Highway 61 was great. Bob got really animated on the piano and sang it
with real commitment. And Billy played some good guitar. He seems to be
getting over that new guitarist thing (very noticable with Mick Taylor on
"Real Live" for instance) where they finish the solo after every round and
then have to start again when Bob doesn't start singing. He still didn't
look terribly comfortable, however.

Just like A Woman had some nice harp and was OK, Things Have Changed was
pretty average - none of the interesting guitar interplay until Billy gets
a bit more settled. For the only time of the night the band were a bit
dull on this. Also Dylan seemed to be throwing away a few words.

Drifter was rocking but - excuse me for the heresy - what is the point of
this song live? Surely there are more interesting rockers than one which
just repeats the same musical couplet endlessly?

Baby Blue, Don't think Twice were OK. Again Dylan seemed to be getting
lazy on a few lines. On Don't Think Twice he started a couple of verses
with those sounds he makes that seem to be words but aren't, then got the
second line alright. Or maybe his diction is getting even weirder. (Lovely
lap steel from Larry as usual in BB and some pretty decent guitar from Bob
in Don't Think Twice).

Masters Of War was a little more powerful - so much so that it caused a
guy next to me to yell out "Take That Saddam!". Kinda surprised me, I must

Watching The River Flow found Billy buggering up the chords just as Bob
started singing, cause for a swift glance from Bob and Billy looking even
more uncomfortable. Again Bob didn't seem totally into it - none of the
exciting Leon Russell piano from the US tour, just a bit of plonking here
and there.

Simple Twist Of Fate - at last a small surprise and rather well done -
again nice steel from Larry and a line where Dylan got out of bed put his
"shoes back on". I remeber "clothes", but Bob's probably done so many
variations by now...

Honest With Me ROCKED, (George really surpasses the great David Kemperrrr
on this one) with Bob fluffing through lyrics again - a number of lines he
just sang the beginning and the end, skipping the middle rather than sing
more quickly.

Bye And Bye was very lovely - good singing and rather more engaged piano
from Bob, and three beautiful extended jazz guitar breaks from Larry on
that big ol' 335. During them Bob seemed to be having a lot of fun with
George, trying to do little hits together on the brushes and piano. It
seemed Bob would do a bit and get George to join in rhythmically. George
was smiling a lot at Bob, and they both seemed to be digging it.

Then, as the band intros started Bob said a couple of things about Larry
and launched into Happy Birthday on the piano, in a slighly wavery voice.
Sounded like he was putting it on for comic effect. Everyone joined in and
a good time was had by all... It was a very sweet moment. The rest of the
intros were straight and Summer Days threatened to go totally out of
control - Larry was grinning like an idiot all the way through, but who
can blame him! - it was that fast and wild. Not hugely long though.

Then a very long formation, with Bob doing these weird half thumb ups.
He'd stand with his fists out and his thumbs nearly raised and kept
looking like he was going to give the thumbs up but didn't. Maybe he knew
it was a half-good show too!

Encores were pretty routine - the harmonies in Blowin' seem to be settling
in better and Bob played some nice lead. Then the formation again and
again the strange half thumbs up.

Odd to be a bit disappointed on such a good show. But, honestly, I
preferred the 1st show last time in Auckland, where it may have been a bit
sloppier musically but Bob was in a real party mood - grinning all over
the place and dancing like there's no tomorrow. Not a lot of smiles this
time round.


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