page by Bill Pagel
Review by Chris Harris
Well you can,t imagine the stories floating around this town when they first
announced that Bob,s concert was coming to Tamworth. Why would a rock legend
be coming to do a show in a small rural city of 35,000 people when the towns
only claim to fame is that it is the "Country Music Capital of Australia." Does
he know what he's getting himself in for? We know Bobs not really country and
we were sure he'd never heard of this place, but by the size of the crowd of
fans in this near sold out centre just maybe he has. After a very much
shortened break at end of opening act (Pixie Jenkins) Bob came on with "Roving
Gambler", a good choice to open with and well done. Next was "Song To Woody",
in a close to original format followed by "Desolation Row" (Not his nicest
version) Country Pie, Lay Lady Lay, I'll Be Your Baby Tonight, and Girl of the
North Country followed, all done well with the exception of Lay Lady Lay (His
song done his way on the night), shame though. Bob looked tired but came alive
when he swapped guitars from acoustic. This "electrification" brought the crowd
forward across the front of the stage, which seemed to swell as the night
progressed. Highlights of this session were "Love Sick" and "All Along The
Watchtower". Best song of the night would have to be "If Dogs Run Free". A great
version. Last song and a very good version was "Rainy Day Women. With 19 songs
played all in all a very good show.
Review by Joy Barnes
I read the review by Chris Harris - I disagree entirely about
his opinion of the "Lay Lady Lay" - was different but excellent, not at
all disappointing. And he didn't mention the few bars of "Waltzing
Matilda" (that was very cleverly included in the guitar work in "Girl of
the North Country") that brought smiles to the alert members of the tha
Australian country town audience. Overall the skills of all the musicians
and the diversity of the music was astounding - fantastic. My friends and
I travelled 6 hours to get there, stay staying overnight before the return
journey and I will always be glad I did it. Bob is great.
Review by Rob Barnes
Bob Dylan coming to town. Just like a major cultural event or art show - a
must see. I write this not as a Bob Dylan fan but more an admirer of those
who can or have inspired. Like many of the audience, judging from the ages
40's and 50's predominated, my memories of Dylan come from adolescence and
a few scatchy vinyls between Cream and Led Zepplin. Having read the
reviews I also knew not to expect anything in particular. What I got was a
feast, not of the familiar, but the vaguely familiar mixed with new
colours, added flavours and aromas.
Artist and sculptors, film makers and writers usually have their works
"locked in". Few opportunities exist to modify art once created, but as an
artist Bob has come back to the canvas to fiddle, and stroke and strum new
interpretations. Sometimes the threads of the originals are barely
recognisable beneath the fabric of the new, especially to the inquisitive
rather than devoted. The originals were genius, the re-works range from
almost parodies to soaring expansions. My highlight was "All along the
watchtower", made in my mind famous by Hendrix, Neil Young and even U2,
electrified and energized.
Like the country audience around me, I was slow to warm, but grew
increasingly expressive as the night expanded. And it did, to a treat, a
full suite of songs. Like a visit to a good art exhibition, I came away
not thrilled or pumped, but wondering and curiously satisfied.
Thanks for coming Bob.
Rob Barnes, Armidale
Review by Ian Cameron
My name's Ian Cameron... my wife and I drove the four hours from the coast
to Tamworth in a bid to feel a bit of the fabric of history offered by Bob
Dylan's concert in the self-styled "Country Music Capital of Australia".
I saw Dylan in 1978 at his outdoor Sydney show - it was a shocker, so my
expectations hadn't been high when we heard he was out here this year.
But all the reviews from Europe seemed so positive we thought we'd give it
a whirl - we have been rewarded in spades.
The Australian Country Music scene is pretty weird (think: Big Hats, Line
Dancing, not much Adventure), and we were apprehensive that Bob might get
conned into playing a set designed to appeal specially for the Tamworth
We weren't reassured by support act Pixie Jenkins and his electric fiddle
and backing tapes - he's a Tamworth star, but his camp-country-cabaret
schtick is hardly the right warm-up for the Spokesman of a Generation.
Fortunately he was brief.
When the band took the stage - Bob in black and the guys in stylish suits
- it was obvious we were in the presence of a class act; certainly no-one
has ever appeared in public with cleaner hair than Larry Campbell!
Roving Gambler (great backing vocals from Larry and Charlie) and Song for
Woody were a great pair of songs to open with, while Desolation Row
pointed to a weighty night indeed!
But the next four: Country Pie, Lay Lady Lay (sumptuous Pedal Steel from
Larry on this), I'll Be Your Baby Tonight and Girl From the North Country,
got me a bit nervy that he might have fallen for the Tamworth trap.
Don't get me wrong, they're great songs and they were delivered
faultlessy.... but Nashville Skyline's only a little part of the Dylan
canon, isn't it?
We needn't have worried - the ringing attack of Tangled Up in Blue kicked
the whole thing up a gear - an amazing show of musical strength from guys
wielding acoustic instruments!
Standing in the Doorway was beautiful, the band compressing its electric
might to convey the intimacy of a little club combo, despite the aircraft
Then Cold Irons Bound was the wake up call - this was a steamy, stompy,
dirty, in-your-face challenge to the crowd - there was so much energy
coming off the stage, and Dylan the master of it all trading lead lines
with his two expert guitarslingers!
Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat kept the energy level up for the end of the set,
the band deserving their moment standing still in the lights, accepting
They were soon back to give us more - the faux-reggae of Love Sick again
re-emphasised how strong Dylan's recent songs are - fascinating watching
Charlie play this, the offset rhythms and dramatic main chord figures
making him a study of intense concentration.
Like A Rolling Stone was equally fascinating. It would be sad if Dylan
still carried the venom of the original, but how do you sing such a song
when you're nudging 60? Here he sounded sympathetic and gentle, each "How
do you feel?" delivered with a soft vocal lift, the tone one of
understanding and care.
If Dogs Run Free provided some breathing space before a stormy All Along
The Watchtower, and then a lovely rendition of I Shall Be Released, with
Larry and Charlie chiming in on the choruses to take us all back to '68.
Highway 61 Revisited was another all-out attack - the three guitar players
all soloed their brains out, Charlie especially digging deep to make his
vintage Vox amplifier rig earn its keep.
Blowing In The Wind brought us back to earth - back to ground zero
Dylan-wise for most of us there, I guess.
The ovation was mighty at the second "curtain call", and the return for
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 was a bonus send-off. By this stage it was clear
that the band was having fun and the good humour of this old stoner made
it the perfect farewell.
As the last chords rang out, the band stood proud before us once again -
it's no small responsibility to back Bob Dylan, and these guys carry the
weight. They seem to approach the catalogue with inspired reverence, but
they don't handle the songs with kid gloves. Dylan obviously knows what
he's got with this crew, introducing them to us as "the best band in the
world" - on this showing, it's hard to argue.
And Dylan himself? It's great to see and hear him so at ease on stage with
these glorious songs - with the band preparing a perfect canvas, his
artistry is the authority with which he can reinvent his creations after
decades on the road.
Bob was grinning widely at the end of the show, turning before he left the
stage to blow kisses to the crowd.
Thank you Mr Dylan, thank you Larry, Charlie, Tony and David.
Review by Bill Hester
Well, the possible early April NZ leg of the current tour just didn't
happen. On again, off again, a couple of times. So the only practical
alternative was to get to Australia and see a concert there. One concert
would suffice - the chance (for this year) just would not come
again....... So, cash in those air points, get a 'free' trip across the
Tasman and choose a concert. It had to be Tamworth. The tickets
for that concert went on sale later than most of the other concerts - and
it was going to be in the country music capital of Australia.
I can report a great trip to Australia.... whole family trip... first one
in many years.....
We left New Zealand very early on a Tuesday, and got back early on a
Wednesday 8 days later....... to/from Sydney - but no time in Sydney..
rented a car and headed straight for the Blue Mountains and were in a
holiday 'cottage' before noon. Was really surprised how interesting
the Blue Mountains were.... we did some short hikes, drove around and
about, went on one of the Jenolan Caves tours.... Impressive.... one
of the gorges (out of Blackheath) rivals the Grand Canyon for wonder, I
reckon, only it is full of trees.... Pulpit Rock was one of the most
impressive public viewing spots I've ever been to..... the (three
bedroom) cottage was in Katoomba... we stayed for two nights..... very
nice start to the trip.
Omens were good..... Numbers of TV adverts for the concert series, and
the Best of Bob Dylan Vol 1 & 2 being advertised on TV. Likewise several
morning and evening news stories on the Tour.
Then on Thursday we headed around the north side of the Blue Mountains,
and then up the Putty Road to Singleton..... very unexpectedly nice
forest area the whole way..... at Singleton we turned left for the mecca
of the trip - Tamworth. Went through the town of Scone with the Isis
Got to Tamworth on Thursday night and found a great Chinese restaurant in
town... Walked the streets of this country town - very pleasant, and
plastered with numbers of posters advertising the concert.... Kevin got
one for me... In retrospect he should have gotten 10 .... someone else
denuded the town of the posters by the next morning. Stayed in a very nice
two bedroom motel suite....
The town was abuzz with talk of the concert. Everyone was very pleased
that Bob was there.... "Bigger than a Willie Nelson concert" I
heard...... Tamworth is the Country Music capital of Australia, but this
mainly revolves around a dense two week period in latter January - and the
rest of the year there aren't many big concerts.... so everyone was
hoping the Bob visit would be a success, so other overseas entertainers
would schedule a stopover there too.
On Friday morning, the Dylan posters were gone, but there were large
newspaper notice boards for the local newspaper blasting out "Dylan Visit
Shrouded in Secrecy"....... with a front page story covering many
options explaining why they didn't know where Bob was..... Was coming on
the day? via plane? via bus? 16 seats cancelled at the last minute on a
flight to Tamworth the previous day. A private jet rumoured to have
flown into Tamworth late on Thursday night. Was that Dylan? Where was
he staying? And so it went..... They didn't know when, or
Spent the day Friday bumming around town, K & K caught up on their Hotmail
at an Internet Cafe, we visited a kangaroo/wallaby reserve area, checked
out the routes to and from the concert place since several people warned
of the likely traffic jams, recommending we take the special "Bob Dylan
Concert Transport" bus, scheduled to pick up people at the 30 or so
motels in town..... we later watched "The Wonder Boys"
(four Bob songs on the soundtrack) on the motel room video to prepare for
the evening..... back to the Chinese restaurant for an early meal .. and
then off to the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre...... Parked a few
minutes away in the golf course area - Greg Norman Drive it was. No
sign of a traffic jam.... a nice feel to the country town atmosphere
walking through the rock monoliths outside the arena - each with brass
plaques commemorating Australia's country music legends..... friendly
crowd, nice arena, comfortable seats, good sound.......
Concert = Wow-ee...... skip past the opening act... great seats...
fifth row, slightly off centre...... if you had offered me any seat in
the house, I wouldn't have budged...... 20 songs by Bob...... solid
performance for slightly more than two hours....... the usual
non-talkative Bob, not a joke in sight, but he pointed at his watch when
the crowd kept up the applause at the end of the concert .... and blew
the crowd kisses... :-) Great choice to go to Tamworth, rather
than Newcastle or Sydney...... (although all reports have those as
great concerts too....) I think the only other option would have been
the show on this past Sunday in Ballina at the Seagulls Rugby League club
In any case, Kevin flew out on Saturday morning (to Melbourne) to visit
some friends, and Marilyn, Karen and I drove down to Nundle and Hanging
Rock and thru the backcountry to Walcha.... then on to Port Macquarrie
for the night...... hot and humid, but amazed at all the interesting
countryside on our whole trip, and the winding roads... Then Sunday
down the coast in the rain, to the Hunter Valley for a very nice cabin in
a vineyard....... again surprised at how lush the countryside was, and
how many trees everywhere.... nice wine area.... good Italian
restaurant on Sunday night, and then our Aussie barbecue on Monday - to
prepare to watch Bob performing live from Sydney (on TV) and accepting his
Then a very backcountry drive on Tuesday back to Sydney via many unpaved
roads and a ferry ride or two. Made it to the airport in plenty of
time, before the Sydney rush hour.
Did I mention we had a good time? :-) Australia is always a
nice place to visit, I reckon. Nice people all the way..... And I'm
sure we picked a good time of year - in early autumn. We think of New
Zealand as a green country, but not at this time of year compared to
I'm now waiting for the concert recordings from Tamworth to hit the
Don't miss Dylan this year. The experience is still a great one.
And to those of you with strong currencies, don't forget that the US$ buys
two Aussie$, and nearly two and a half NewZealand$. It's cheap to
visit (at least if you can get a cheap airfare down).
page by Bill Pagel
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