Newcastle, Australia
Entertainment Centre
March 24, 2001

[Tim Johnson], [Brian McMillan], [James Mackie], [David Ramsey]

Review by Tim Johnson

Newcastle turned out to be a great concert. It was quiet and rambling and
almost shamanic. I think the band was reaching towards an ambient Bob
Dylan sound where everyone is able to ignore the unpredictable empty
patches and hang in there till Bob sings another verse or ends the song.
There were some heavyweight older songs that I was hoping he wouldn't do
{Ballad of a Thin Man and Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat are just two) but these
were reinvented with an exhausted searching quality. Other older songs
like Chimes of Freedom and Tomb Thumb's Blues were a joy to hear. But they
did lack lead breaks. Where was the harp or some kind of solo when Bob
inched up the to mike for the last verse of Tom Thumb, then backed away as
the band played a verse wiht no vocal. 

Highlands was brilliant of course, confident, proud - as if only the most
recent song was obvious or relevent to Bob's current state of mind.
Tangled up in Blue sounded like the original, same pace and intonation.
Like on the last Australian tour, Bob seemed to carry the feeling of one
song onto the next giving unique readings of the narrative. Also sometimes
one song sounded like another song. Dogs Run Free and Tell Me That It
Isn't True were like excerpts from eras and the casual, edgy acoustic
guitar was like that on the two 90's acoustic cover albums. The overall
sound was also reminiscent of the live album Hard Rain. I think this is to
do with trying to beef up the sound of acoustic guitars that really
need specific effects. Sometimes it sounded like The Rooftop Singers - a
"Walk Right In" sound.

In a way it could all be more up tempo. There are areas where the sound
meanders, in a linear way, as if the musicians are looking for the end of
the song . Ambience needs a stillness - coming from harmony. Bob has a
unique sound on his guitar, but he overdoes it and the rest of the band
become a bit sad waiting for their chance. His voice was actually great -
deeper and wiser I think.But there was nothing like the perfect balance of
Little Moses from Sydney in 1992 or the coherence of When The Night Comes
Falling from 1986 in Sydney. But he was here - someone high - and we
rambled with him through his and our own memories. Newcastle audiences
have been known to riot and burn down buildings. None of that here - just
a priceless evening shared with Bob Dylan

The Drifter's escape, yes Jimmy Hendrix covered it as well as All Along
the Watchtower, had a 50's rock'n roll feel, but then there was also Bob's
appropriately gloomy personality and philosophising genius having yet
another whimsical look at himself. He escaped, "back to New York City, I
believe I've had enough." He was a poet tonight.


Review by Brian McMillan

Bob Dylan played to a packed audience of 5800 people at the Newcastle
Entertainment Centre last night.Dylan.....the legend....I heard it from
the audience,the opening act,I've read it a million times,but as a first
time Dylan live recipient last night I observed a different dimension to
his legendary status that I haven't considered before.The genius of Dylan
to breathe new life and feeling into 30 and 40 year old songs is a
phenomenon unequalled by any other performer.Combined with songs
"Highlands" and "Make you feel my love"from his recent and extraordinary
Time out of Mind album, this concert delivered tremendous satisfaction.I
turned up with my favourite few songs in my head hoping that they would be
played---they weren't---but the quality of music either from four electric
guitars and drums hammering out majestic rock'n'roll or the acoustic sets
delivering a unique sound caused me to quickly forget about what I wanted
and made me appreciate what I got.The vocals of Dylan combining authority
with emotion with some beautiful harmonizing from band in a totally
reworked "Blowin' in the wind" which had Dylan pitching his voice note
perfect in a song sounding so fresh it could have been released yesterday.
From Dylan's intrduction as " Columbia Records Recording Artist" - ( How
else does one describe him - ) to the farewell salute he gave at the end
this was surely a legendary performance.


Review by James Mackie

The breathless excitement of a Bob concert. I traveled to Newcastle NSW
city of my birth; I've not seen him since 1998.  I've looked at the
reviews and setlists I'm ready but for what? With sweaty palms I walk into
the NEC for Mick Hart the support act, Mick a little under whelms me.  I
talk to so first timers to a Bob concert and assure them our "Colombia
recording artist" will surprise them.

Bob opened with "I am the Man, Thomas" it was quite loose I thought.  Bob
walks over and talks to Kemper.  I imagine he's saying, "We can do better
than that lets tighten it up a little".  They do! -Chimes of Freedom is
delivered to the assembled crowd with style and precision the real theme
for the night was set.  Bob chose to use control of volume and power to
captivate us.  "Tell me that it isn't true" was bit of a bummer he
struggled with it a little I thought.  Soon was to come "Don't think twice
its all right" and "Masters of War" we are in heaven here, excellent
delivery, clear and right on the money for mine. I would walk a long way
to see those two as good as that again.

Tangled was there and although a crowd pleaser was missing the feel of
most to the first 8 of the set. The encore set was memorable for a few
none better than "If Dogs run Free".  This is a complete change of style;
they have gone into jazz mode I think.  The depth of the Band is now
really apparent.  There is no doubt they are better than when I last saw
them in 98.  Charlie Sexton opened new doors he has allowed Larry to strut
his stuff. Very very tight with Kemper and Tony the industrial strength
glue that legends are made of!

The last four of the night were all delights Forever Young a real pleasure
as if to remind us that our star may well be!

In Summary this was a very gooood show. Bobs voice, burnt as it is, has
improved!  Could he have given up smoking I ask? Looking for a reason that
may or not be there.

Lets get back to Sydney to see what our man can do there.

James Mackie


Review by David Ramsey

after having lived in newcastle for 12 years i decided it was time to
leave a couple of months ago.  as soon as i decided to leave i heard that
dylan was coming to town, so i thought, well, i guess i'll be back pretty
soon.  there was no way i was going to miss this - two months shy of his
60th birthday bob calls in to rockville (as some of us like to call the
place) for the first time ever, the city of my turbulent teenage years
where i heard dylan for the first time in high school and never looked
back (actually dylan was going to play newcastle as the debut performer at
the new entertainment centre back in '92, but there were delays in getting
the seats installed so it never happened).  from time to time i have made
good money playing dylan's stuff busking on the streets of newcastle, so
this was going to be a special gig for me (i guess i mean ultra-special). 
i got all choked up before he came on, feeling such amazing gratitude and
love for the man who has taught me so much, and who has given so much.  so
there i was - my 5th dylan concert, 9 years to the day after i first saw
him live (sydney 24/3/92), in the dirty old city that i had grown to love.
i guess most of the crowd didn't know what they were in for. for the most
part they were a pretty boring lot, mostly immobile, seated like stones,
not knowing how to groove.  bob sure gave them some good lessons!  rebecca
and i couldn't keep still, dancing and hugging and weeping in our seats. 
thanks becca, there's nothing like sharing a dylan concert with you.  the
stage presentation was the best i've seen for bob, beautiful and subtle
lighting & drapery effects, and that incence sure did smell good!  but
what of the performance?  what can i say, dylan opened my heart.  the
choice of songs, the impeccable deliveries, the phrasing - i have never
heard him sing better, delivering the lines with wonderful poignancy and
emphasis.  the rough edges of the show just served as a reminder that bob
and the boys were not playing by numbers. they were taking the kind of
risks that ensure a great vitality and absolute relevance to NOW.  and
what other time is there?  it was apparent that the sound quality was
going to be excellent from the first line of 'i am the man, thomas'.  you
certainly are, bob, i don't doubt it.  'chimes of freedom' was next, a
rare treat.  a great performance of a wonderful song.  there was a
significant change in the lyrics of the last line - something like 'and
for every son of liberation in the whole wide universe'.  bob could've
walked off stage after that and i would have got my money's worth a
thousand fold - but then i heard the riff of 'it's all right ma' start up,
and could hardly believe my good fortune.  i didn't dare hope that he
would do that one.  take it from me, dreams come true. and straight after
that, hearing the intro to 'just like tom thumb's blues', well, words just
can't describe how i felt.  it was a fantastic version, too, a bit more
up-tempo than the versions i've heard from recent years (thank goodness). 
'tell me that it isn't true' seemed a little like the throwaway of the
evening.  many people enjoyed it, but compared to the intensity of the
other material it was a little lightweight & lacklustre.  perhaps we all
needed the respite before the band launched into 'ballad of a thin man'. 
awesome delivery, great phrasing from bob.  then 'don't think twice'.  i'm
beginning to run out of superlatives now, as is so often the case with
dylan.  he did the same trick as in melbourne, playing a short burst of
'waltzing matilda' (during the instrumental) which was over just as soon
as you recognised it, prompting whoops of delight and appreciation from
the crowd.  this was followed by the menacing and dark 'masters of war'. 
such a great arrangement.  'tangled up in blue' was sub-standard compared
to other versions i've heard him do, and i wonder if he's getting a little
weary of it.  i've never been to a dylan concert where he hasn't played
it.  'make you feel my love' was so, so sublime.  he used a bluesy
intonation on the verses which sounded fantastic.  the great rockin'
version of 'drifter's escape' was next, featuring bob's bluesy harp (its
only appearance at the show).  after the line 'just then a bolt of
lightning...' Charlie pulled off a very convincing lightning riff.  nice
work, charlie! and then the final song of the main set, the blues workout
'leopard skin pill-box hat'.  bob introduced the band while the song was
still going, which was a nice change. 
after the song bob and the band stood in a line without their instruments 
to acknowledge the crowd and receive adulation.  i love how they do that. 
then the first encore. what was it to be?  probably 'love sick', i
thought.  but bob was very kind to newcastle that night, and i could
hardly believe my ears when i heard the slow, groovy blues riff of
'highlands' start up.  what a dream.  'my heart's in the highlands, gonna
go there when i feel good enough to go...'  i couldn't resist calling out
'nearly there, bob!'. a funny lyric change - 'she said you probably want
scrambled eggs'.  he fluffed a few lines which is not surprising since the
song has so many verses, but he recovered ok.  'like a rolling stone' was
next. this was the oddest performance of the song i've heard since the
isle of white version on self portrait.  it was like a loose jam, sort of
lilting as though it could fall apart at any second.  bob contributed to
the effect with an experimental vocal delivery, tinkering with the melody
and obviously enjoying himself.  then the expected 'if dogs run free'.  i
always loved bob's quirky songs, and i'm glad this one has been given such
an extensive airing.  slight lyric change: 'just do your thing, you might
even be queen or king, if dogs run free'.  then the band rocked into 'all
along the watchtower', which is familiar fare for seasoned concert goers,
but great for those in the audience (and i suspect there was a lot of
them) who only knew a handful of dylan songs.  then 'forever young', a
beautiful rendition, during which rebecca and i cuddled and swayed slowly,
remebering wollongong in '98 when bob had sung the line 'may you stay
forever young' while looking straight at rebecca in the front row, while
she sang the line back to him.  priceless memories.  by this stage i was
quite overcome, and bob astounded me with his stamina by launching into a
wild & raucous 'highway 61'.  i think at this point most of the audience
realised that they were privy to one of the greatest performances of one
of the greatest songs by THE greatest singer/songwriter that this planet
has ever seen.  needless to say, it brought the house down.  bob was
getting into it, doing his groovy little dances and pulling wonderfully
ironic faces.  tony paced around the stage, shoulders hunched over his
bass in his own particular fashion.  what a show. 
and then the finale, a soulful and passionate rendition of 'blowin' in the 
wind'.  oh, so moving!  i don't think i'll ever be able to repay the debt
of gratitude that i owe to bob dylan.  the man is a saint - you can tell,
because if you pay enough attention to him you can actually see light
surrounding his head.


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