Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong

Kowloonbay International Trade & Exhibition Centre (KITEC)

April 12, 2011

[Al from Boston], [Steve Young], [David Kootnikoff]

Review by Al from Boston

I don't know what you were thinking, really, when you decided to skip the
Hong Kong show and stay home.   Just what is your decision making process
anyway?  You must be a Bob fan, or you wouldn't be reading this.  And i'm
guessing that you've even seen great shows before.

Hong Kong is a great city afterall, and Bob's not going to be in top form
forever.   But he is here now.  Still.  After all these years, still busy
being born.  But go ahead.  Make bad decisions and stay home instead of
flying out here to see and hear events such as this.  Its your choice.

I can't help it if i'm lucky...

Bob and the Band were in great form for the first HK show.  High energy. 
High focus.  Great crowd.  Great sounding arena.  Great set list.  Great
band.  Great new arrangements on some songs that perhaps needed new
arrangements.  Sometimes it just all comes together.

And you could tell from the very first 5 seconds that it was going to be a
good.  The comitment and inspiration was there.  And the hall acoustics
and the crowd co-operated.  So did security -- although there was no
security.  Not needed.  Go ahead, do as you please.  We trust that you'll
behave.  So there was an almost immediate stage rush from the very first

I can't do a song by song review.  I don't take notes, and by now you have
heard enough of those reviews for me to really add anything.  But a few
general observations:

The arrangements are getting better.  I have disliked -- and i'm being
kind here -- Honest With Me ever since it first appeared on the album. 
Recently, some of the grungy hooks have been disappearing and i started
tolerating this song in some shows we saw last fall.   I even liked it a
bit in an earlier show this trip.  Taipei perhaps?  But tonight is was
actually enjoyable.  The emerging arrangement is turning this into a high
energy (which it always has been) artistic (which is new) curiosity.  I am
actually -- and i can't believe this is me thinking this -- looking
forward to hearing it again.  i do hope it continues to evolve though.

Also Twiddle Dee -- a song some like and some don't -- and a song i have
always actually liked was really really great tonigh.  George's drumming
really fueld this.  If an anthology album of Bob's recent live shows is
ever released, tonight's version would be a worthy selecttion.

Blind Willie was done with a very tight band.  Donny's banjo really is
worthy of note here..  

Jolene is actually a show case for Charlie.  he takes center stage with
bob off to the side on keyboard, and provides great riffs and presence. 
i'd like to think that bob actually gives up the spotlight and allows
Charlie to prevail on this, but bob being bob can't help but contributing
significantly as well.  but the band is great and imho deserves more time
to express themselves.  listenting to this song tonight it occurred to me
that it might be a good idea to actually include one instrumental only
song into the setlist. 

There really wasn't a slack moment the entire night.   A lot of the crowd
was standing the entire night.  The entire crowd was standing for the
encore.   The folks i talked to after the show were thrilled.

The Beijing show was special.  And the Forever Young done there was better
than the one we got tonight.  But you will never be able to fully
appreciate the electricity of the Beijing Forever Young from a video.  It
was phenomenal.  critics who where hoping for Blowing In The Wind are
wrong -- this was the perfect song at the perfect time, and done
perfectly.  Ancient China is now busy being re-born.  Again.  Forever

But tonight's show was perhaps the best overall so far this trip.


Review by Steve Young

How can you not like a concert where Bob does FIVE numbers from
the classic Highway 61 Revisted album??  When was the last time THAT
happened? Plus four numbers with Tony on stand-up bass (Jolene, Desolation
Row, Spirit on the Water and My wife's Home Town).  Senor and Tom Thumb
showing up for the first time early in this Asian tour, but otherwise this
followed the setlist from Shanghai fairly closely.  Nice banjo by Donnie
on Willie McTell, a terrific song, now further immortalized in an
standalone chapter of Sean Wilenz' book.  The crowd seemed to be mostly
western expats, but there were also some raucus local folks around us.  A
bit disappointing when the crowd rushed to the front of the hall at the
first number, so we had to stand the entire concert to see.  But the sound
was nicely mixed, and this band can COOK!  I'd have liked to have seen a
bit more of Together Through Life, but Bob seems to be moving away from
his latest studio album on this tour so far.  Lots of terrific harp, in
particular Senor, both Tangled and Simple Twist from Blood on the Tracks,
Blind Willie, and closing number Forever Young,which I first heard 37
years ago at the Chicago Stadium concert that kicked off Dylan's historic
1974 tour on a cold January night in Chi-town.  Bob is ready to turn
seventy in fine form!  

Steve Young


Review by David Kootnikoff

   "The only thing I knew how to do
   Was to keep on keepin’ on like a bird that flew"

It's a rare privilege to be in the presence of a legendary artist celebrating his life 
and work the way Bob Dylan was doing last night in Hong Kong. It's even rarer 
to be center-front swaying with the one you love to "Forever Young" while he 
and his band of bruised renegades lay down the law:

    May your heart always be joyful
    May your song always be sung
    May you stay, forever young 

The last time Bob played here in 1994 he closed with "Blowin' In The Wind." 
He didn't even play it last night, despite the banshee screaming for it at stage 
right. Bob can't please them all, it's true, and his voice isn't everyone's cup of 
meat, but who cares? It's Bob fucking China! Well, technically the SAR,
 but that doesn't sound quite as novel. Lucky for us, he wasn't resting on any 
 laurels. He gave an inspiring performance, smiling like a prancing dandy behind 
 his keyboard, while his band smoldered or blazed through unexpected nuggets 
 like "Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)" and "Blind Willie McTell."

I've seen Bob play four times before and this was by far the best. He was 
having a great time reveling in the moment before 3000-plus fans on the cusp 
of his 70th year. At times it was like watching your uncle doing the old soft-shoe
in front of the mirror or a master poet caressing the contours of a familiar lyric:

    Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
    With his memories in a trunk
    Passed this way an hour ago
    With his friend, a jealous monk
    He looked so immaculately frightful
    As he bummed a cigarette
    Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
    And reciting the alphabet 

   His band - Tony Garnier on bass, George Recile on drums, Stu Kimball on rhythm 
guitar, Donnie Herron on banjo, electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel, and Charlie
Sexton on lead guitar - were white hot, nailing the tightest rhythm and sweetest 
flourishes to the good ship Bob. Sexton played at least six different guitars, my 
favourite being the Gretsch White Falcon, as big as a Cadillac, that he pulled out 
for "Highway 61 Revisited." At the end of the gig, Bob gathered the band around 
him as a farewell and disappeared, leaving his golden Oscar behind to watch over 
the hallowed stage as we reluctantly drifted for the exits. Yup, it was that 
good...AND he played over half of Highway 61 Revisited, too.

David Kootnikoff
The Rebel Kind


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