page by Bill Pagel
Review by Maris Sayner
The weather in Adelaide had started to take a turn for the worse from early
afternoon. It was cool. It was wet. The wind blew through your clothing like an
express bus. The Adelaide Entertainment Centre is Adelaide's premiere venue for
live acts that come through town, and this was the third occasion I had been to
see Dylan at this venue. I hear it said many times by many people, and it sounds
a bit cliqued, but last night will be burned in my memory for a long time. Dylan
was extraordinary! His singing was precise, measured, risky. His voice shone
clearly and distinctively through the mix, and the song selection was a treat.
Settling into my seat in the front/middle area about 10 metres back from stage,
Dylan came on with his band just before 9pm. It was a rousing reception, then
straight into "Duncan and Brady". Dylan played out the "too long" parts of each
verse to great effect. The acoustic work of Campbell was gorgeous. It's also
pertinent to add that though up front tickets have their benefit, I could not
get a clear view of David Kemper on drums, all evening. Elevated away in the
back left corner (and often behind Campbell) it was just one of those things.
I caught flashes of his sun glasses though, and a flawless cream hat.
Next was "The Times They Are A- Changin", and I'd be honest enough to say that
the eyes became a little moist at this point. How to describe this rendition?
Word perfect? Bathed in nuance! It was like having open heart surgery! I knew
at this very early point of the show that most of my expectations for a great
vocal performance were going to be met. Larry chimed in with violin on this
track as well, if my memory is clear.
I had a feeling that I might hear "It's Alright Ma" tonight and when the lights
dimmed and those chords began, the sound was as fresh and pulsating as you could
imagine. Dylan did the song incredible justice, displaying an inexplicable look
when it came to the line "not much is really say….credddddd". The version seemed
a little paired back than some of the heavier/Kemper thumping episodes that I
heard through out last year (not that these weren't awesome) with Dylan wrapping
it up in the ilk of his Bobfest performance of 1992 - with those sliding high
chords at the end, and the wringing of his strings. Wo!
What to say about this next one? It was one of only two songs for the evening
that I didn't immediately pick at outset. "If You See Her Say Hello" almost
stopped my breathing. If I was breathing it certainly wasn't obvious. This was
a stunner! Caressing the words tenderly, this was a moment of frank and open
hearted nostalgia, and indeed…. confession. The tempo of the song was upbeat,
and perhaps best described as musically similar to his performance of "If Not
For You" at the first Portsmouth show in September of last year. A few minor
lyric changes ('cut me me to the bone' instead of 'pierce me through the heart')
added a further ingredient of surprise. The way Dylan looked and forlornly
threw away his head at the end of the line "….tell her she can look me up, if
she's got the time" was literally heartbreaking.
"This Wheel's On Fire" and "Seeing The Real You At Last" followed. Charlie and
Larry were a great vocal backdrop to Dylan on "Wheels" and likewise, kept "Seeing
The Real You At Last" rocking to the final crescendo. Garnier was particularly
animated during the second of these songs, with what seemed to be some
interesting interplay between him and Sexton toward the end. Dylan's vocal
presentation was showing no signs of slipping at this point of the concert with
the amplification in the Centre moving up a notch.
As the lights dimmed down and rose again, the stage scene surrounding "Ring
Them Bells" was like a visual throwback to MTV Unplugged. Majestic curtains,
that swapped and changed their arrangement of hanging throughout the concert,
turned a sharp purple. It was acoustic guitars all round, and Garnier with
his upright bass - which he may have even played with a bow at one point. He
has an interesting style with it - half crouching with his left ear almost at
the point where his fingers are playing. He picked out a point to the side of
the stage to focus on, and his look never wavered. Dylan omitted the "St Peter"
verse on this one to sing the "St Catherine" verse twice, but this was easy to
overlook. The singing of the lines "..for the child that cries/when innocence
dies…" was ghostly, verging on chilling.
It was great to see Larry Campbell play the mandolin and there seemed no better
song for it to appear on than "Master's Of War". The crowd was very wired into
this one. Dylan's vocal led the track from go to woe, with Campbell's playing
reminiscent of the accompaniment that G.E. Smith provided Eddie Vedder when this
song was performed in New York in 1992.
"Tangled Up In Blue" was a somewhat predictable choice in the ninth spot, with
Dylan and Campbell leading off on acoustic guitar. It wasn't long before the
other players came swirling in though. "Tangled" was just as it had been for
the last year - eloquent and rollicking. For me, though, it offered a brief
moment to take stock and contemplate what had come before now, and what might be
next. Aside from this, there was distraction a few rows in front of me during the
song, with a taper (presumably) being identified and escorted from the venue in
full view of Dylan and the band. He did not return.
"Watching The River Flow", which I imagine was a bit of a stranger to most of the
crowd, "Drifter's Escape" and "Leopard Skin" closed off the opening part of the
concert and didn't disappoint with their stealth and verve. I've always liked
"Watching The River Flow" and tonight was a great chance to focus on the vocal
which Dylan delivered with great touch. The wailing harmonica on "Drifter's" sent
the front rows into a frenzy. Dylan straddled his guitar to one side, played the
harmonica with one hand, allowing the other one to…shall we say, 'wave free'…
before he finished with a point right in the direction of Kemper, who even from
my position, looked visibly uplifted. "Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat" was well
received by the audience, but was oddly eclipsed by the band formation that
occurred after this. The crowd were beside themselves, numbers around me quite
surprised by this gesture. Campbell and Garnier seemed the most relaxed.
The appearance of "Highlands" as the opening encore song sent a shot of blood
straight to my head. I had been expecting either "Things Have Changed" or
"Lovesick". The atmosphere on stage seemed very relaxed. There were a few wry
grins between Garnier and Dylan on this one, with Kemper keeping it all
shuffling along in fine style. From 'Time Out Of Mind', this song is perhaps
the most extraordinary of the extraordinary. To have heard it live was like
being offered a chance of a sweet and great indulgence in a space and time that
I will remember fondly. To call Dylan's delivery of the words of this song wry,
would be the understatement of the year.
"Like A Rolling Stone" followed, and again, whipped the crowd up. Dylan performed
only three verses of the classic, with a curious arrangement that the front of
the crowd was bathed in red light at each chorus. It was probably the first point
of the night at which Dylan got a clear look at the first few rows, and the number
of people that had been let up to the stage front at the beginning of the encore.
"If Dogs Run Free" was a great tangent to move off on after "Rolling Stone". The
song seems to have evolved a little from the performances of late last year, with
a bit more body in the middle, and a little more guitar improvisation. Garnier
had a huge grin over the line "it can cure your ill's/pay your bills/if dogs run
free" at the end. This was so good to hear.
The beginning of "All Along The Watchtower" gave Charlie Sexton his moment in the
spotlight. Interestingly, as the amplification went, Sexton seemed to only boom
out from the speakers on his side of the stage. It was a great rendition, though,
with Dylan growling out the ends of each verse. "I Shall Be Released" was another
real surprise for me. Again the harmonising of Campbell and Sexton was spot on,
and a real feature. Anyone who has ever been on a aircraft knows the feeling and
roar of the plane when it has completed it's taxi-ing to the runway, and is
belting up it's engines for take off. This was the impression that "Highway 61"
left. It was relentless! I think my nerves are still recovering. True to his form
of the night, Dylan delivered it word perfect. At one point in the song Garnier
(on electric bass) crept over behind Dylan and almost joined Campbell on the other
side of the stage. He then shot a big grin to an attendee of the front row before
slipping back behind Dylan and resuming his original position. This guy would win
any lurking competition hands down! The style of playing by Sexton, too, was
interesting. At one stage of glancing in his direction he was hitting, almost
whacking his strings with a flat palm, wavy hair shaking off in all directions,
legs and hips twisting. Dylan introduced his band during the extended solo of the
song, which was an unexpected touch as well.
"Blowin' In The Wind" began with an extended introduction attributed to Dylan
missing his spot, but was exquisite. Many had no doubt waited anxiously to hear
this one, and the outpouring of applause was evident. For the second time of the
evening, the lights came fully up and the band stood again to enjoy the
acknowledgement of the crowd. There wasn't a lot of animation from Dylan here,
and the band exited with Dylan leaving last.
Still coming down from the experience today, and writing this, has been a great
way to reflect. Dylan was a marvel in Adelaide last night. The evenness of the
show a hallmark. I felt very fortunate to have been so close up and able to see
it unfold before me. Fans in Australia who encounter Dylan and his band in the
next week or so will not be disappointed.
Perhaps it's all best summed up by the guy who was sitting behind me, who turned
to his mate at the conclusion of the concert and said: "Gawd….was he ON".
Indeed he was!
Review by Harry Leske and David Inkpen
Adelaide gave a warm welcome to Bob Dylan last night at the Entertainment
Centre. There was a good mix of ‘die hard’ Dylan groupies to younger folk
eager to experience this rock legend.
Paul Kelly was the opening act providing strong vocals to great tracks.
Bob entered the stage with no fan fare (as usual) dressed in a
Kentucky-styled black suit. The band wore gray jackets tonight. Straight
into an acoustic set of Duncan and Brady, The Times They Are A-Changin’
and a great version of It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).
We have been following Bob’s set lists from the Japan leg of the tour and
the Adelaide crowd experienced some different titles including The Wheel’s
On Fire, Ring Them Bells and Drifter’s Escape.
We recall a review from Japan about Bob’s knee bends and new dance steps
and he was in great form tonight. He seemed to enjoy the crowd rushing
to the stage and moved up a cog to satisfy their hunger for more.
Great versions of Tangled up In Blue and Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat saw Bob
get into top gear and ready for the Encore.
The band was great and backing vocals were superb. Bob introduced the band
swiftly before they leave the stage.
Bob surprised us all by playing Highlands as the first song of the Encore
cutting loose from Love Sick. Highlands was a great choice and Bob’s
voice was clear as he belted out the intriguing lyrics of this classic.
Like a Rolling Stone and All Along the Watchtower got the crowd pumping
and Highway 61 Revisited was fantastic. Best version we have heard for a
The band vocals in I Shall Be Released and Blowin In The Wind complimented
Bob’s vocals nicely to finish a great concert. Bob and the band lined up
at the front of the stage, Bob with hand on hip looking cool and satisfied
with the performance, then leaves to a standing ovation.
Bob’s voice is getting better with age and it was great to hear a good mix
of acoustic and electric than previous shows. Dylan is in fine form.
We visited the Pub over the road from the Entertainment Centre after the
show and Dylan’s songs were being played (nice touch by the Publican), as
the fans re-lived the excitement of a great concert.
See you in Adelaide next time Bob.
(Review by Harry Leske and David Inkpen)
Review by Mick Petrovski
I've seen Dylan perform four times now, 1985, 1994, 1998 and
2001(current tour), in addition I have the albums, various bootlegs,
collect the work of associated artists like The Band, Tom Petty and the
Heartbreakers and others, and I've seen the films. In short, I am a fan.
Now to the show on Tuesday night at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on
Paul Kelly and the Bull sisters were a perfect way to open the show,
really, I could have sat and listened to them all night - they played and
sang beautifully, piano and guitar being the only musical instruments with
the occasional tambourine etc. For those readers not from Australia, Paul
Kelly is one of this country's foremost song writers, and of the Dylan
ilk. It was apromising beginning to the evening.
Dylan's backing band of musicians is fantastic. They were a sharp
outfit, very disciplined and responsive to Dylan's little nods and
signals for solos and changes in tempo (which he did a couple of times)
and "on the money" with everything that was played.
It was quite apparent that there was no set list of songs for the night
but a random choice of the Dylan repartoire. They continually changed
from electric to acoustic instruments as they played an amazing array of
songs - for instance I never expected to hear "If Dogs Run Free" live.
Charlie Sexton was one of the guitarists, and talented he is. I'd heard
that he was a mean guitarist and a little of that was evidenced last night
(but not too much). I have to add though that Campbell is no slouch
either. It would have been nice to see and hear more of their talents but
there didn't seem to be much encouragement from Dylan on that front. The
rhythm section was spot on.
The stage set up was simple and the lighting was good.
The sound was good (I'll qualify this in the bad category later).
The crowd was hopeful.
Dylan was disappointing 1. It is clear that his voice is not up to it.
About 30 to 40% of the songs performed were acceptable (but acceptable
only), the rest could be discarded.
Let's be perfectly honest here, the man is famous as a great lyricist and
a great singer (my point about his singing relates in particular to his
delivery, not just voice). What's the point of listening to his songs if
you can't hear the words - and what's even worse - that you can hear the
words (because he obviously has worked at not mumbling in recent years)
but the punch is not there to create the tension, express the anger,
emphasise the tragedy or (dare I say it) the injustice. I think he/they
have tried to compensate for the lack of vocal punch by enveloping the
songs in terrific musicianship built around the core melody of the songs.
Yes the sound was good but that's a technicality - the vocal
delivery/performance was bad.
A classic example was "It's alight Ma (I'm only bleeding)" - his vocal
delivery was not all that bad bad, but then they put in these guitar solos
in the middle and the end which diluted what impact or tension his vocals
created. Remeber this is a song that meant to be intense - go to the
lyrics for proof.
It took him about 1/2 dozen songs to actually warm up his vocal chords to
a point where he could exercise consistent control, but in those 1/2 dozen
songs a great deal of damage was done to what most performers would
consider to be A list songs kept for the climax of a concert.
Dylan was disappointing 2. I am only picking one song here but there were
many (probably about a dozen) I could talk about, but he "sang" a version
of "If you see her say hello" which relegated an exceptional song to the
ordinary. It is just one of those songs that stick in your mind from the
first hearing but that night...well, I don't know what I was hearing. It
was up-tempo and unemotional.
I can understand a desire to rearrange or make changes to a song, but when
its integrity is lost, the song itself is lost. I think he was guilty of
that on the night. I do not comment on other nights. Too many songs were
lost in this way.
Highlands - from the "Time out of Mmind" album and it was better than the
album version. The best performed song of the night.
If dogs run free - original and good jazz song, done well.
Watching the river flow - good rock'n'roll delivery, didn't try to do too
much with it.
Highway 61 - yeah, good.
Leopardskin pill-box hat - not bad.
Ring them Bells - better than the album version.
Ther were a few others but it's not worth going on.
The concert lacked structure and cohesion - there was no build up - it
remained at the same level from start to finish. The breaks between songs
were huge, there was no sustained momentum at all.
I am still a fan of the music of course and will continue to buy the
records and probably go to future concerts, but I cannot allow what I
would like to hear overshadow what I am really hearing. What I was
hearing on Tuesday night was not good enough. We have to be objective
about his performance and give no concessions. Would he expect any
concessions? I would argue not.
In 1985, I saw him at an outdoor venue and the performance was a 2 and 1/2
hour celebration of his music - a revelation. He exceeded all
expectations. On 20 March 2001, I walked away from the concert 'and
muttered underneath [my] breath, "Nothing is revealed."'
Review by Elizabeth Karalaus
This was Bob's 5th time around to Adelaide but my third show.
I live quite close to the Entertainment Centre but a rainy afternoon
forced me to get a cab to the venue whereas I would otherwise have walked.
The taxi driver was conversational:
'Who are you going to see?'
'What does he do?'
He's a singer
'Where is he from?'
'Is he famous?'
Yes, VERY famous. Where do you come from?
Then we were at the Centre.
Seating wise I was not too happy ?my seat was off to one side, none too
close for my $82.00. I could not see Bob's moustache - which I later
The local opening act was followed by a half hour's intermission after
which Bob and his band came out and plunged straight into a bracket of
Duncan & Brady (I think) was first ? haven't heard this before but it was
a nice tune and best of all Bob's voice was really strong ? and he was
tapping his feet and really into it from the first notes. And the sound
in the Entertainment Centre was great.. The sound was excellent all
Bob wore a very neat-fitting grey suit with white dots or stripes down the
sides and arms and down the back ? he looked very trim. I read later that
the suit was black ? maybe the lighting faded it to grey. And white sort
of spat shoes ? couldn't see too well. Larry, Tony & Charlie were also in
varied grey outfits ? it was a good look.
Next song ? Times Changing ? OK ? plenty of power in the version. Bob
made it on most of the choruses.
Talker behind me said: 'Oh, what a guy!'.
Then It's Alright Ma I'm only Bleeding ? clear diction. Although the voice
is different now, the phrasing and delivery remind me a lot of the old,
younger Bob ? and after all isn't the phrasing a key part of his appeal ?
though I love all his different voices as well - the presentation and
subject matter are interwoven aspects of his artistry. In Adelaide the
line about the President of United States having to staaaaand naked
doesn't get any response. 'It ain't he or she or it or them that youuuu
Lights were dimmed and there was a pause before the next song ?
commentator behind me said "We don't care if he's getting the electric
Then into 'If you see her say hello', Wow! Larry on violin. Sweet
version ? sort of Cajun feel to the outtro ? ooh nice.
Lights fade out again then 'If your memory serves you well' with chorus
provided by the guys - 'This wheel's on fire ?'. The song sounds dark
and broody ? though my memory may not be on track here. Next, 'Seeing the
real you at last' ? this song I am not too familiar with must listen to
the original some more. Bob as guitar player is very cool during this
song ? holds guitar up and horizontal and down ? the guitar poses thing
I've only read about before.
Lights dim and then it's 'Ring them bells'. This is the highlight so far.
This song is sung very prettily with great fluidity ? he has found
something extra in it - I like it better than the original version on 'Oh
Mercy' which I like a lot anyway ? but he has improved it ? wish I could
hear it again and again.
Change in mood to 'Masters of War' - again excellent diction ? but this
song is depressing the message is still so relevant. Bob looks so
comfortable ? the easy way he moves around.
Then Taaangled. Great song ? but crowd response is lacking. This is a
good dance tune ? but only one person gets up and no-one else takes her
cue. For some reason I was looking around the crowd a bit here and didn't
concentrate on the song as well as I might have so not sure if he sang all
More electric ? 'Watching the River Flow'. Larry on pedal steel ?
although this song is not a personal favourite it sounds pretty good live
? the melody seems stronger to me. More Bob struts during the outtro.
Next is 'Drifters escape'. Huge change in mood ? they are all revved up
and giving us their all ? love the searing sound of the guitars and the
way the tension builds up ? then at the end just a short burst of harp
playing from Bob ? everyone cheers ? but it didn't last long ? was that
all he had to say on the matter or did he have second thoughts about it -
and the song's over. Still great song ? very powerful.
Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat ? slowish version ? there was a bit of a rush for
the stage ? but security was tight and would only let people from a few
rows in the front get close ? I lost part of the song in trying to get
down there but to no avail.
Formation time and applause.
Now a curious thing happened ? the flat area in front of the stage was
divided by a central aisle with probably 800-1000 people on each side ?
but ALL the people on one side of the aisle stayed up when Bob came back
for encores, but everyone on the other side of the aisle stayed seated
until the end of the show. It must have looked very lop-sided to the
artists on the stage.
First encore song Highlands ? great version ? Bob's voice was rich and
deep and expressive and he didn't falter. But I have heard another live
version on a recently issued CD which came out in Australia with a Best of
Bob CD and there is a bit of audience reaction on that song which added
something to it ? like Bob and the listeners were engaged with each other.
Tonight's rendition was the superior one I think, but in Adelaide there
was no response from anyone ? it was almost as if people had never heard
of the song and there was only polite applause at its conclusion.
My note taking fell away here so the rest is a bit brief.
Onto Like a Rolling Stone-great crowd pleasing song.
Then some coolness with 'If Dogs run free' ? Bob does this recitation
thing so well ?I'm not crazy about this song on the record because of the
woman in the background but tonight it was fun.
All Along the Watchtower ? love the song but it is not long enough.
A pleasant surprise followed with 'I Shall be released' ? the guys singing
on the chorus.
Highway 61 ? rocked and rolled!!!!! Band intros were done musically on
the end of the song ? an interesting innovation.
And the last song was 'Blowing in the Wind' ? and finally everyone stood
up (about time) and cheered Bob.
Musically this was a great show ? Bob and his band were in fine form and
performed with loads of style and the dignity that is an integral part of
page by Bill Pagel
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