Wellington, New Zealand
Queens Wharf Events CentreArena
February 24, 2003

[Arie Dekker], [Rowan McArthur], [Derek Jacombs]

Review by Arie Dekker

Mr. Dylan came to Wellington and well quite frankly - it was another
real treat.  I was a bit worried at first because his voice sounded
pretty rough in the opening Tweedle Dee and IMHO I'll Be Your Baby
Tonight was a bit average.  But when he rocked into Highway 61 - wow!  I
was mesmerised for the next hour and a half as he came up with, what at
least for me, were a few real surprises.  Highway 61, Lay Lady Lay and
Things Have Changed were all fantastic.  Again, IMHO Drifter's Escape
doesn't suit the electric arrangement they using on it but any earlier
concerns with his voice were laid to rest good and true when he started
what was just an absolutely fantastic acoustic set.  I couldn't believe
that I was hearing My Back Pages, Desolation Row and It's Alright Ma.
Don't Think Twice was done beautifully as was Back Pages and D. Row.  I
love It's Alright Ma - probably very close to my favorite single Dylan
song if I had to have one.  I was in heaven.  And he pleased the crowd
when he sang "Sometimes even the President of the United States has to
listen".  Honest with Me and Summer Days rocked - the latter in particular
is a great concert song.  To get Floater (Too Much to Ask) was another big
treat for me.  The musicians faded in to the background for this one and
Bob was crystal clear - well you know - for Bob.  This is a beautiful song
and I didn't mind that it was effectively replacing Bye and Bye which
could've been in the same spot I guess. 

I was sure that the two song encore would be Blowin' in the Wind and All
Along the Watchtower.  What I got instead was Like A Rolling Stone and
Watchtower.  Words fail to say how much those songs went off.  Bob's voice
is in fantastic shape and he roared through these two anthems. Like A
Rolling Stone almost when past Its Alright Ma as my highlight for the
night.  Sure am glad I bought the tickets for Christchurch on Wednesday



Comments by Rowan McArthur

Well i'm afraid everyone else missed it. those at wellington tonight saw
what must have been the show of the tour.  it can't get any better than
this was!!

I can't do the setlist comprehensively - too busy enjoying to take notes.

But "Rolling Stone" for the first time on this tour I think - as the first
of the encore set (all along... was the last).  Positively 4th St was
there, Lay Lady Lay, My Back pages (a first also I think).

Seen dylan four times now - once in '78 (auckland), again early in the
90s(auckland) and here in 2000. This was an awesome show.  what a band.
and thank god for the sound mix this time - fantastic!! Last time here in
wgtn it was crap.

Summer Days closed the main set and absolutely brought the house down.

dylan even put his own little  fingers in his mouth pretending to wolf
whistle in adulation of the absolutley crack outfit he has playing with
him. I'd have paid to see them alone.  they and dylan looked sensational
in the suits.

receli!!! what a drummer.

dylan looked majestic in a song and dance man kind of way and they all
seemed to enjoy themselves tremendously. fabulous and it happened in
Wellington, New Zealand.

Rowan McArthur


Review by Derek Jacombs

Well he may not be playing 2I songs, and there may be nothing new that
wasn't in the Fall US shows but this was possibly the best I've ever seen
Bob (bin going on and off - more off than on since moving to NZ - since
Earls Court '78). This was just one of those special nights. My thoughts
may not be shared by people further back (where I suspect the acoustics
were a bit dubious), but from where I was it was just something else.

Got front row seats, a bit to the left, and the show started at about
8.I0pm. Saw Ani this time and she was very good.

Bob came on just before 9.00pm, with the big "eye" behind him - grey
"country gentleman" suit again - and the whole band dressed in grey suits
with black shirts. Problem was, in the break they'd set up Bob's monitors
directly between us and him. Couldn't see the piano or drums at all (or
Bob). So I stood up and could see his head and shoulders. A number of
others joined me, and this was not popular (though anyone behind us
couldn't have seen him either).

But, the music: a good solid T & T, and no problems this time with I'll Be
Your Baby, which was a little more laid back and sat nicely with Bob
singing well. Tony was smiling and really enjoying it. Some slightly duff
harp though (the few times he played harp were all a bit off, so I think
that's why he gave it up after Drifter). Highway 6I was good - Bob sung it
like he meant it, and Billy played a good solo.

Then Lay Lady Lay, lovely lap steel from Larry and a bit more duff harp -
it wasn't actually the greatest version (I think some of the piano chords
were a bit "experimental"), but Bob seemed to be getting into it and it
was a true pleasure to hear.

First real sign of the special stuff was Things Have Changed. The band
were more settled on this than in Auckland and Bob was really "on" -
really "inside" the lyric - at one point it went "You can't win"... big
shoulder shrug, pause..."with a losing hand." Very cool.

The general aggravation was coming to a head in our section by now - many
loud complaints, mainly from people who couldn't see Bob because of the
dumb stage set-up. But, shit, after waiting in line for half an hour and
paying $I00 (NZ) for tickets I wanted to SEE Dylan, so I wasn't sitting
down for nobody.

The problem went away a bit with Drifter's Escape (when Bob moved to
centre stage and we could all sit down... but not for long ). And, despite
the unenthusiastic things I said about this song before, I realised why
Bob likes doing it live - it's just so much fun singing those rhyming
blues couplets over a ROCKIN' band. And they were. During solos Bob stood
next to Billy and they played a whole lot of stuff together and did guitar
poses. Larry looked on laughing. It was very entertaining.

Incidently, what a difference a couple of shows make - Billy was looking a
lot more relaxed and soloing A LOT more (more than I remember Charlie
doing for about 6 months). I think he's actually not uncomfortable (except
when he gets the "Bob Look"), but he holds his mouth in a funny way when
he concentrates - kinda biting his lower lip - and it makes him look a bit
dorky/uncomfortable. Great dynamics too in Drifter, one look from Bob and
George dropped right down in a flash, for the best (and I think last) harp
of the night.

Then - maybe because of the increasing fracas - they suddenly let the
front row up to the rail (about a yard from the stage). Voom, I was there
like a flash and had the pure pleasure of watching the rest of the show a
few feet from Bob stage centre. It was - need I say - awesome...

...especially when Larry cracked out the fiddle and Bob did a really
committed Back Pages. But it got better. Desolation Row was simply
fantastic. Words pure and clear, a really cool - and quite heavy - drum
part from George (starting with floor toms which was very effective) and
some spot-on guitar from Bob - yep, he nailed it, with Larry doing a kinda
mandolin imitation on acoustic behid Bob's lead. Funny thing, before they
started Billy had a quick conflab with Tony who held up 5 fingers - I
wonder if he was saying that Bob only sings 5 verses? Would be a brave
backing musician to hazard those sorts of guesses, even after I4 years...

Don't Think Twice was great too - no fluffed words this time - and very
long, as Bob again played great guitar and really got into it. Then,after
his guitar solo, he sung the entire last verse with that "up on the last
note" thing - the whole verse on 2 notes. Only time in the night he did

Then It's Alright Ma, with Larry on bazouki or citern or... (well Bob had
a good name for it later). It was great. Fantastic drums again, a long
piano solo from Bob and fine singing. At one point George played the roll
for a chorus just as Bob started a verse, so he immediately dropped out
and both he and Bob laughed. It was happy Bob tonight.

Positively 4th street showed the 3 guitars coming together nicely -
interestingly it was Billy again who soloed (along with Bob, who did OK).

(By the way, by this time the Eye had gone, replaced by grey curtains,
which had also been drawn to reveal more grey curtains I think - lovely
dappled lighting made it look very elegant.)

Honest With Me rocked with a vengence and - again - Bob nailed every word
this time. Then there was a slight pause so I yelled out "Floater" (was
going to call for Sugar Baby, but I really didn't think Bob would do
anything too slow from his mood). And, bugger me, he looked at me, and
then PLAYED IT. OK he was probably going to anyway, but I was buzzed.
Especially as it was a simply stunning version. Great care and poise in
the lyrics and... just incredible.

Band intro time and Bob started with "Larry Campbell on the lap steel, and
electric guitar, oh, that other thing" (mucho laughter from the
rhythm section). On George he said " George Recelli on the drums - snare
drum and kick drum."

Then Summer Days - better than Auckland - the same wildness but still a
measure of over-the-top-control. Perfect. And, again, Billy played a
kick-ass solo - actually stepped up centre stage and just nailed it. And
Bob loved it too. You could see him grin at Billy and react by amping up
his playing another notch. Seemed to go on a while too. Really really
good. At the end as they were assembling for the formation Bob and George
were laughing together. It seemed a much happier formation than Auckland.

Off and a few minutes later back on, and Bob obviously changed his mind at
the last minute, since they had his, Tony's and Billy's acoustics ready
for them. Suddenly roadies were running everywhere bringing electric
guitars on. I think Billy might have used one of Larry's (a big hollowbody
Gibson, not the red 335 though) since it was the only time he didn't have
his red tele on and there seemed no reason to change guitars when all he
did was strum along. And into Rolling Stone.

I definitely had the feeling that the concert ended for Bob with Summer
Days. On LARS he was just having fun. There were a couple of young kids on
the rail just along from me (about I0 or I2 yrs old) and he was mugging up
for them and striking all the Elvis poses with the guitar. He was just
being silly and having a ball, so much so that after the solo (during
which he unfortunately appeared to have picked three notes in a different
key from the band - it'll sound rotten on tape but seeing Bob getting off
so much, who cared?) he completely lost it, forgot the last verse and only
recovered half way through. Tony burst out laughing and so did I. Bob
didn't care - he was just partying.

Watchtower was a bit slower than usual and again featured good work from
Billy (and from Larry). But the show was effectively over at Summer Days,
this was just a goodnight kiss.

So, a really really good show - would love to hear a good boot of this -
Bob was really into it and taking care too - no sloppy diction, excellent
guitar (except LARS). Shit, it was just all-out wonderful. I am a happy
man (so much so that I can just about accept not getting to tomorrow's


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