April 17, 2011
Review by Greg Brennan
Fremantle is Perth's port town at the mouth of the Swan River. It was built by
convicts back at the start of the colony of Western Australia and many of the
buildings remain standing today. Onto the show. Since 2007 when the Dylan show
was last here the arrangements of a lot of the "regular" songs have changed
dramatically, which either can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your
opinion. On Tangled Up in Blue ,Charlie played a Fender Jazzmaster (?) no
acoustic guitar intro at all, more like a country song. A 17 year old next to me
said that was her favourite number for the evening. Mine was highway 61. It did
really rock, even Donny clapped after the finish of the song. Simple Twist of
Fate was another highlight for me. Bob's voice was a little scratchy but not too
bad. Charlie does change guitars nearly every song but it was quite hot and
humid, so maybe the tuning wouldn't have lasted more than a couple of song
anyway. Band: Grey suits.. Bob: black suit , white hat, red shirt . Sexton: hat
except encore. It was the best I have heard Stu Kimball play, some nice licks.
Review by Ralph Auty
I am writing this review with sadness in my heart.
Long time dylan fan,40 or more years,see live many times,have every legit
recording plus many not.
I have seen this sad decline coming for a few years.
Bob has become an imposter or maybe a parody of Bob Dylan
A few years a go we clapped every time he put the harp to his mouth... back then
he would play a few bars of the song..... now he just makes a few toot toots
like a kid or a beginner not sure what to do
The phrasing and timing of his songs was once a thing of beauty ... now he
can't get of of the da de dada da rut every song is sung (spoken) as da de
da da rhythm often forgetting the words
His brilliant band sound like they want to get of the leash you can feel them
wanting him to set a rhythm but he is stuck in the torpor and keeps dragging
yea they rocked on one song but this is a cracking band that could be brilliant
if Bob would engage the songs ( not sure he can or wants to any more)
I would pay my money to see this Band without Bob no problem
I don't want to keep kidding myself anymore..I came home and after the show put
on Blood on the Tracks as a consolation you know what I mean a thing a great
beauty every track a classic
I have seen him at his peak.... many in this crowd my age would have also.....
Bob do us a favor retire mate you are becoming embarrasing
Many around us at this show were saying same thing...very sad
Review by Aaron Gosper
Well! I am a believer! Karma, Kismet, Fate, Redemption,
After rereading my last review on this great website of 15 Feb 03 from another
Festival of Bob, I am able to say that any worries, trepidation and palpitations
that were prevalent were put to rest. When was the last time he played so early?
Would he be up by then and have had time to prepare his ageing voice and body,
particularly his back? Have no fear - this was probably the best performance
I've seen by the Master (of the 7 times I've seen him live). Not only did Mr
Dylan play on his allotted stage but also at his allotted time of 6.45pm!
Not only that but I am able to say 'My mission is complete.' This particular
show was long awaited as the one where I take my youngest offspring to their
first Bob experience. So now all of my children have had the honour. It's taken
over a decade. In fact 3 of my 4 kids were there tonight as we celebrated with
extended family and friends. Let's see. Me, my wife, our 3 kids (my older son on
the eve of his 20th birthday), my youngest sister and her best friend, my older
sister, her husband, their teenage son at his first Bobshow, their oldest
daughter celebrating her birthday and her husband, my best buddy and his teenage
daughter (name of Lily Rosemary), also at her first Bobfest.
Now, we did get there early and stake a spot. The Bobster Mobsters were around
already and a couple had spots on the fence. We sat about 10 metres away and
watched all the bands. Luckily they were all ones that we liked and we were
eager to check them out. First band were a local crew, James Teague and they did
a great job. My son has friends in this band and it was fantastic to see them on
a big stage and they were well appreciated. Ruthie Foster, excuse my ignorance,
I knew nothing about. She and her band were mightily impressive. What a voice!
She gave a vibrant professional show that was intimate at the time of day when
everyone is eating food and getting settled. Megan Washington, an Australian
songstress was just beautiful with many young fans supporting her and many new
fans created among the 'older set'. What can you say about Elvis Costello and
the Imposters. He, and they, sounded fresh and Elvis seemed to enjoy himself
with many smiles and crowd interaction. Gave a tribute to his mate with the line
'Johnny's in the basement mixing up the medicine' at the end of his show. Elvis
Rocks! Michael Franti and Spearhead are Fremantle favourites and he stirred up
the crowd in his normal exuberant style. A very enjoyable show that charged up
the atmosphere even more. We were getting packed in tight now as The Cat Empire
came to play. Great favourites of our family, young and old, and Felix & Harry
superb. Another great Australian act.
But this is about THE show! WOW! I had checked out the setlists and reviews from
the Asian tour on Boblinks, so I had a fair idea of what's been happening.
Absolutely loved 'Gonna Change My Way of Thinking'. Voice so clear and the band
seemed quite excited to be there. We had perfect viewing, left of stage of
course, and my kids had wormed their way almost to the front. 'Don't Think
Twice' was a gem. 'Things Have Changed' 'Levee ...' and 'High Water' were
received well by the very mixed crowd although the Bobfiles received the gifts
with wonder. 'Simple Twist of Fate' was a highlight for the mob which reflected
their demographic and also their Bob knowledge. The band and The Man began to
bask in the crowd response as they sang along, sometimes with Bob and sometimes
with their own phrasing and lyrics! There were lots of smiles and nods to each
other on stage which fed the crowd response in return. I ain't never criticised
a performance of a song by Mr Dylan and I'm not going to now. 'Rollin and
Tumblin' was next. Then .....this is where the ecstasy began. My daughter (13)
said later 'Hey Dad, thanks for the best experience of my life' and this is why
- 'Hard Rain', 'Highway 61', 'Tangled Up In Blue', 'Thunder on the Mountain' and
'BALLAD OF A THIN MAN'. The crowd is yelling (and pointing to someone, somewhere
in their mind) 'DO YA, MR JONES'. The gang go off for a rest. Can they come back
and top that? Simple answer. Yep! Charlie's thrown his jacket away and undone
some buttons! Hang on, This is not Rock and Roll. Or Is It? Can you believe it?
My mission is more complete, because now all my children have heard 'Like a
Rolling Stone' - LIVE! The lights go on the crowd for each chorus and I'm sure
(I like to imagine) that Bob acknowledged the crowd with a brief nod of the head
at one stage. Even better for my elder sister and her husband next because they
get to dance to 'Forever Young' which my father sang at their wedding a long
time ago. Well, that's it. Love the keyboard and guitar playing. The 'front man'
style with the harp was so great to finally see live. I'd go and see this man if
he was in a wheelchair humming along to a backing tape so I admit to an
unbreakable bias, but there it is. Thank you to Bob Dylan and His Band.
Footnote: Saw a sign at the Merch tent 'Bob Dylan will not be available to sign
autographs'! Also had a chuckle at the VIP area people who paid a lot more for a
plastic chair and who couldn't see Bob anyway, because as we all know, the
cameras get turned off when he performs and the big screens show very little.
Review by Darren M.
Just a few notes on Show 1
Bob looked good walking onto stage - did plenty of stretching and shrugging of
shoulders - strong clear vocals on Gotta Change My Way of Thinking -nice rewrite
of the songy - "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse" and "Jesus gathers his tools"
Can't recall all the verses now but well worth a listen. Seem to recollect him
saying "I don't need God" or "I don't need Jesus" Highlights of the night were
all the 'front and centre' songs. Beautiful Highwater (lacking the punch of Tell
Tale Signs but still great). Tangled was sung so slowly that it sounded like
the 78 Paris version - I was just waiting for a saxaphone to kick in - lots of
finger pointing and knee bends. Extraordinary "Thin Man" with some loud
confident harp - good harp all night actually. Thunder on the Mountain was
played at a really fast pace which made it almost unrecognisable to begin with -
there was a group huddle of Bob, Charlie & Tony before discussing something -
maybe they were running late but the version was super fast The first
acknowledgment of the crowd was before the band introduction (after Rolling
Stone) with a "thank you friends" - other than that there was little crowd
interaction. The band were set up so far back from the stage that even being on
the rail you couldn't make out anyone with eyes as blue as robins eggs. Charlie
was the only band member to look alive - for those who care, and I know that
there are some, he wore a hat up until the encore. Tony yawned at some point, I
yawned during Levee Gonna Break so I'll call it even Minor observations - Bob
Dylan Eye backdrop. Bob drinks what I can only describe as 'yellow gatorade'.
20,000 people showed up. Bob did not headline - he did 6.45 till 8.45 and Grace
Jones closed the show. I never want to stand for 9 hours in a field again
(except for the 2 Byron shows next week). Front page of the West Australian said
"Dylan wows the crowd at festival" but the page 7 review said that he "went
through the motions". Page 7 was more accurate but the highlights still made it
Review by Sean Tanner
DYLAN THROUGH THE AUSTRALIAN AGES
I must confess the excitement of previous Australian tours was missing for me as
I entered into Fremantle Park to see the West Coast Blues & Roots Festival. I
reflected on the previous Australian shows I had seen through the years
1992 Perth Entertainment Centre
One of the most amazing performances ive seen. Did Dylan really play the Hendrix
song "Dolly Dagger!@ This was my first Dylan show and made a last impression. He
was captivating and when it was just him and his guitar I was transported to the
intimacy of those early club shows in the 1960s.
1998 Australian Tour Melbourne x2, Sydney x 2 + Wollongong
This was Dylan at his best. Each show was unique but the first Sydney show was
the best concert ive been to as I secured front row centre stage a few feet from
my idol. Listening to the band through the stage speakers/stacks instead of the
house PA was one of the greatest aural experiences of my life. This was a great
tour and well worth the expense of seeing and travelling to 5 shows!
2001 Perth Entertainment Centre POSTING ON EXPECTING RAIN
"All in All, a great start to the Oz tour especially as there was no front of
stage standing allowed. Highlights: MR TAMBOURINE MAN, JUST LIKE A WOMAN,
STANDING IN THE DOORWAY,WICKED MESSENGER, ROLLING STONE and HIGHWAY 61".
The 2003 Australian Tour featured Bill Burnette on guitar and a consistent set
list which seemed to be structured to suit him (he seem to struggle badly). Bob
himself was on piano and overall it was disappointing even though the venue
meant I could get nice and close (I did get to see Ray Charles perform on that
day so that was the memory that stayed with me).
2007 Burswood Dome, Perth POSTING ON EXPECTING RAIN
"Dylan has once more my friends taken me to another level. The depth and
the complexity of the performance by his band and himself was something I
cant recall witnessing before. But it is interesting that this was more
evident when he went on keyboards".
So how did the 2011 Bob show stack up?
Sorry Guys, but it was a disappointment. I had marvelled at the complexity,
depth and beauty of the 2007 show but the Fremantle 2011 contained few
"Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking" was a good kickoff although as expected Dylans
voice struggled as it warmed up. This had also been evident in 2007. Next off
was "Don't Think Twice". A nod to the recent passing of Suze Rotolo maybe. This
performance lacked the musical interplay present on so many of the live
versions I have heard during the never Ending Tour. "Things Have Changed" rocked
along but came across as workmanlike lacking the interplay present when the song
first aired in the live shows.
"The Levees going to Break" was ordinary. I recognise at this time the two
different voices Dylan seemed to be using. One was a sweet almost lullaby vocal
the other I can only describe as being a Bulldog snarl. Was this intentional? He
did seem to deliberately cross between the two.
"High Water". seemed to strive to draw the listener in to the swirling waters as
the ebbed away but left me on the riverbank :(
"Simple Twist Of Fate" probably the standout performance. I thought this was a
loverly arrangement and reinvented the song.
"Rolling & Tumbling", "Hard Rain", "Highway 61", "Tangled Up In Blue", "Thunder
On The Mountain" Im afraid all came across as uninspired and going through the
" Ballad of a Thin Man" probably was up there with "simple Twist" as being
standouts. A very true version.
Encore "Rolling Stone" - Everyone's sing-along fave. Some nice stuff from
Charlie but overall Ive heard it done a lot better and finally "Forever Young" -
just got nothing from it. No sense of feeling - it came across as simply being a
song to finish with.
So overall a very disappointing show which led me to think whether as a live
performance the Never Ending Tour has reached its end. Im afraid after hearing
so many wonderful shows over the 22 years - I sense we may be there. Certainly
my passion for hearing the live shows has diminished in recent years probably
since 2002. I return time and again to listen to recordings from 1992, 1994,
1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002 what glorious shows we had then.
I hope that this was just an off night but as said jst found this show as being
the most disappointing Dylan show ive been too.
Hats off though to Elvis Costello who I thought was great and also The Cat
Empire - what a band!
Review by Michael Findlay
I've lost track of the times and dates of the concerts Bob has shared with me in
Perth. I think I've been to six with my mate and fellow Dylan 'freak', Aaron (above),
and another in 1978 when he painted his face white and rocked up many of his
acoustic songs. Back then, when he introduced 'I Want You', Bob remembered
that the last time he played the song in Perth he was booed - the crowd went
Now, here and in the media, I read about Dylan's decline, his scratchy voice and
about how he should retire ("Oh Mama…."); I've even read that Grace Jones stole
the show! Were we at the same concert? I thought Bob was in great voice
compared to the last two times here has been here. For me the standout songs
were Things have Changed, High Water, Simple Twist of Fate and Tangled Up In
Blue. I was looking forward to Forever Young and was initially disappointed but
then I saw that Bob had to change the chorus to fit the limitations of his voice
and I heard the improvements as he got it right and reinvented the attitude of
the song. I don't see any point in me trying to describe each song in more detail,
others are better analysers than me with better memories and ears that can
discern more than mine. But in answer to the negative press out there I need
to suggest that:
You saw someone naked but you have forgotten who he is - you should be made
to where earphones. Did you look around you? Did you feel the crowd surge
forward? Did you leave your eyes in your pocket and find your cynicism too
profound? Sorry, I do find such paraphrasing annoying in others but Ballad Of A
Thin Man has always been among my favourites and I'm hoping my hypocrisy and
bias will be forgiven, even by the fans I criticise.
Like many, I have seen Dylan sing more clearly, play instruments more competently
and even interact more with the crowd but I don't give a shit. Once more I
watched and listened to the greatest singer/songwriter of my life and I stood on
my sore feet in awe and with joy surging through my heart. If you want to live in
the past you can listen to the records and you can try to remember the nuances
of past concerts but you'll have to excuse the rest of us who have more respect
and who can live a further 90 minutes within the never ending dream, with the
man, the legend and also share the experience with our friends and families.
What more can you ask?
Dylan is only a few years younger than my Dad and he has taught me much of
what my father couldn't. When he closed his set with Forever Young I hoped
once again that I would see Bob back here in WA but I also thought what an
appropriate end it would be if I don't.
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