Ballina, Australia
Seagulls Rugby League Football Club
Kingsford Smith Park
March 31, 2001

[Peter Lawrence], [Zac Dadic], [Sue Robinson]

Review by Peter Lawrence

This was my third Bob concert for the week. Starting off in Sydney last
Sunday-onto Brisbane Friday night and ending tonight in Ballina. All three
show were fantastic-really. To see Bob back alive after his previous two
Australian tours in Sydney was awesome. The sound in Brisbane on Friday
night was just exceptional-all the lyrics clear. If only the inane
security guys hadn't been so successful in keeping everyone seated!

But Bob Dylan-playing in the Byron Bay area. Now that is something only
dreams are made of. The venue was perfect-a football ground where everyone
stood up and crowded as close to the stage as possible. An overcast night
threatening to rain but holding off-and Bob Dylan-not just a legend in
Byron but a soul mate-literally.

Bob started a little slow with Duncan and Back Pages but by the time he
finished Desolation Row you could see the devotion of the crowd inspiring
him. This was to be no ordinary Dylan gig. These were friends who have
never met loving each other. Magic was in the air tonight and everyone who
was there was affected and infected.

No songs from Time Out Mind tonight-but incredibly Down In The Flood and
Seeing The Real You At Last. From It Aint Me Babe thru Watching The River
Flow, Wicked Messenger and Pill Box Hat, Bob rocked and the crowd adored.

The first encore opened with a great Country Pie and just got better.
Highway 61 on this tour has been a feature and tonight as good as ever.
The noise that demanded and pleaded with Bob to return after Blowin In The
Wind was something you only expereince once in a lifetime. It was more
than cheering. You had to be there.

A TWO song second encore for Byron. How appropriate. Not Fade Away and
Rainy Day Woman-again the adoration-tonight Bob acknowledged the crowd-a
first for this tour??. You could see he felt the love.


Review by Zac Dadic

Here we are in Ballina, northern New South Wales. A three hour drive south
of Brisbane and a mostly relaxed journey through the lush green
countryside of farms, forests and rolling hills. This is the final night
in Australia on a tour that has seen Dylan fans reaching for new
hyperboles and the man reaching another new generation of adoring and
curious fans. Tonight's show had originally been scheduled for nearby
Byron Bay, Australia's alternative lifestyle capital. Apparently Bob has
stayed in this village before and specifically requested that the
promoters put on a show there. Unfortunately the logistical problems of
complaining neighbours and the local council couldn't be solved. And to
the promoter's great credit the gig was moved 20 minutes down the road to
the next town rather than scrapped altogether. An outdoor gig on a
football field is a risky venture. If it rained, the whole event could
have been a disaster but thankfully everything went right tonight. From
the heavens above to the support act, Tex Perkins, to the great natured
crowd, and of course to Bob. Perhaps lifted by an open field full of
standing cheering people having a great time, or maybe the very relaxed
atmosphere of the Byron area, (where he stayed), the show in Ballina was
simply amazing. The general entry tickets allowed the true fans to camp at
the front of the stage and get as close to Bob at as would be possible at
just about any of his shows in the world. They and everyone behind could
not have been disappointed as Dylan and his band played what was perhaps
one of their truly great shows in recent years. Check out the set-list and
you'll get a picture of how special it was. But most of all Dylan and the
band seemed very happy and relaxed. There were plenty of smiles and
laughter between them on stage all night in contrast to the mostly serious
and straight faced determination of the previous night. The atmosphere was
a snowball of the crowd and Dylan feeding off each other all night. From a
visitor's perspective it has to be said that the people of Ballina, Byron
and surrounds who attended the show were incredibly friendly, welcoming
and made up a fantastic crowd. Obviously, there was a lot of respect and
admiration that Bob Dylan had come to their part of the world but there
was a lot more than that. This is simply a great place to spend time in
for anyone who ever has the chance. To the show - The first two songs were
exactly the same as the night before leaving me temporarily wondering what
was going on. By the first chord of track three I knew that everything was
going to be just fine. Desolation Row floated across the crowd in all of
its poetic beauty for a magic eight or so minutes. At this point I noticed
Dylan's Academy award sitting in front of his back guitar amp. Onstage he
has two cream and brown Fender Deluxe amps. Behind these is a standard
grey Fender amp in front of which the award was placed. Was this a
practical joke by the crew on this last night or did Dylan assuredly place
it there for good luck? Whatever, he didn't seem to look at it all night
and in typical Bob fashion again didn't play Things Have Changed. The
entire first set was astonishing with all on stage enjoying the impact
they were having of the large crowd. I Want You became recognisable after
several bars when Larry rolled off the melody on his pedal steel. Gates Of
Eden was soft and lilting. Likewise It Ain't Me Babe. The encore delivered
some fun with Country Pie and Dogs and the standard mammoth emotional
responses to LARS, H61 and Blowin'. The inclusion of I Shall Be Released
amongst this was truly beautiful. Additions like this into the fairly
formulated encore can be all the difference between a standard gig and
something really special. Blowin' again included Dylan's only spoken words
of the whole night with the in-song band introductions. After this, they
soaked up the overwhelming reaction from the crowd in their line formation
but there continued to be plenty of smile on stage during this
appreciation as opposed to the night before. Then things got really
special. With the lights down and the crowd not moving, an encore seemed
certain. The band were welcomed back to the stage with a rousing response
and chugged their way into Not Fade Away. Truly this was a statement from
Bob that he knew he was back at the peak of his performance and wasn't
going anywhere. The crowd loved it, but were desperately waiting to here
one more particular song. Larry's pedal steel intro to Rainy Day Woman
gave them what they wanted. Ballina was a golden gig where no substances
were necessary for everybody to get stoned on the power of the
performance. Some final questions for the statisticians out there. How
long has it been since Bob played 21 or more tracks in a show? Also, when
was the last time that not one track from Time Out Of Mind was played?
Whatever the answers, this show was magic and thanks to all who made that


Review by Sue Robinson

So we come to the final concert at Ballina Footy Ground with
expectations of something a bit special based on past experience of
final shows at Wollongong '98 & Melbourne '92. As the 4-hour bus trip from
Brisbane stretches to 41/2 hours & the showers turn to heavy rain, I start
getting anxious about missing the start or even the whole show - what if
the box office is closed & I can't pick up my ticket? (It wasn't) What if
they start early because of a curfew on the noise outdoors? (They do) But
all goes ok, my cabbie from the bus stop tells me he's been taking people
from all over Australia to the show, even Melbourne:-) He also says
they've had heavy rain for the past 3 nights but predicts fine weather
tonight.(He's right)

I jump the huge queue & find a spot on the rail slightly to stage left. At
last, a show where I'll be able to stand & dance all night without having
to fight security & all the corporate types who always seem to get all the
front seats & then refuse to have any involvement in the event other than
complaining about those who are standing up & enjoying themselves.

Tex Perkins & Charlie Owens play a decent opening set, people are
impressed at how laid-back Tex seems about the whole thing but that's Tex,
one cool dude.

As the band take the stage, people crowd forward but none are too pushy.
Bob is looking good in the dark suit with silver arrows up the side seam
of jacket & pants, with a very dashing yellow cravat. The Duncan & Brady
opening (does he really think he's been on the job too long?) is followed
by My Back Pages with Larry adding fine violin & Bob giving us some great
harp. Then a lovely Desolation Row, Bob is in fine voice tonight & the
'expecting rain' line gets a big cheer as usual. I notice Larry's look of
displeasure when Bob came in  half a bar too early at the start of the
song. Interestingly, later in the night Bob starts to do the same thing 
then stops himself - it's great to see that Bob seems aware of these
things now, & has enough respect for the music & musicians to not just
plough ahead regardless.

Then the Magician starts pulling  rabbits out of thin air. We are
treated to some amazing songs - Down in the Flood, Seeing the real You at
Last, Gates of Eden are all wonderful. But the highlight is an exquisitely
tender Tomorrow is a Long Time, I notice I'm not the only teary-eyed
person there. This is immediately followed by the denial of It Ain't Me
Babe, but no-one believes him! A rollicking River is great fun, Tony's
grin is even wider than usual, & a searing Wicked Messenger with more
great harp. They know how good they are & look to be having a lot of fun
tonight, & Bob seems to be in a genuinely benevolent mood. He even allows
some extra time for us to applaud each band member as he introduces them

Tumultuous applause brings the band back for an encore, it's my first
Country Pie & is delightful. The usual well-balanced encore set follows -
it's so good to be able to dance to the rockers - hope the promoter
Michael Chugg reads this!

We're desperately hoping for a second encore & can hardly believe it
when that Bo-Diddley beat starts up for Not Fade Away, what a treat & what
a fine performance. RDW brings it all to an end & those of us who have
followed the tour are left feeling stunned by tonight's amazing show.

We share a cab with some locals after the gig & they express the usual
view of  casual fans who would have liked to hear more  songs they know -
the  perennial problem of how to please the hard-core fans  (and the
performers!) who get bored with the more popular songs & yet still keep
the interest of those not so well-versed in Dylan's music. This tour seems
to have attempted to address this, with mixed success .

So that's it, the end of a fantastic couple of weeks. The Man & his band
are playing with great energy & focus, the addition of  Charlie has added
immeasurably to the range of expression & the vitality of the music. Larry
is now free to be the multi-instrumentalist he always should have been.
David Kemper copes seemingly effortlessly with the unenviable task of
keeping it all together. Tony continues to be the linchpin of the whole
thing & is still smiling.

You'd be a fool to miss them if they come to a town near you.


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