Wollongong, Australia

WIN Entertainment Centre

April 23, 2011

[Mal Bedford], [Patrick Scherf], [Allan Holmes], [Jim Provencher], [Noel Mullen], [Claudia Phillips]

Review by Mal Bedford

We knew we were in for a great night when Bob came on and the band solidly
kicked into "Change My Way of Thinking" . Bob was smiling kicking his leg
up under the organ. Never seen him so close before, he was obviously
enjoying himself and he lifted the whole atmosphere. He was communicating
with the band all the time holding it together with hand signals. What a
treat "Wheels on Fire" up second .Then the lines of   - and Easter time
too-and sweet Melinda the Prophet of Doom she speaks good English etc-   
from "Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues" on Easter Saturday in our home town
Wollongong! Things Have Changed - with Bob's Grammy on the speakers was
special. "Tangled Up In Blue" Bob standing at the microphone with wicked
harmonica right out front had people standing.  A special treat "Blind
Willie" although the words were hard to follow it did not matter we knew
them anyway. "Desolation Row" more rocky than 2001 but we loved the
shouting emphasis on the the first word of each line. "Highway 61" rocked
out with a great light show and Bobs enormous shadow projected onto the
back curtains. "Thin Man" -   brilliant a very special time, stopping
moment. Encore, break,  a worry Bob took a long time coming back but he
did and rocked into "Rolling Stone" played it the best we have seen since
1986 in Sydney . It was very similar to the version on "Highway 61" with
people standing and all joining in with the - "How does it feel" ? Finally
the song to close the show that my wife Lyn  and I have waited 26 years
for - "Forever Young"- a very special moment. We all screamed for more but
that was it, a very satisfying show, a warm feeling to walk away with and
thanks Bob for all the songs - all the years since 1963. I first heard you
in a music class at High School playing "Blowin In The Wind" the teacher
saying "This man is the future of music." How right he was !  

Mal Bedford
Kiama, NSW


Review by Patrick Scherf

I arrived nice and early to hear the band warm up from the outside.  As
per usual, Bob started right on time and with a mighty strong version of
?Gonna Change my Way of Thinking? - way better than the album version IMO.

Next, ?This Wheel's On Fire? was just that ? on fire.  An amazing
performance and with Bob's voice in fine shape ? all through the night he
sounded better than on his last visit to Australia.

And straight into ?Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues? - with Bob adding some
fine guitar work as well.  I started to get the feeling we were in for a
 The came ?Things Have Changed? - I love that song and IIRC he played it
as well the last time I saw him at the 'Gong back in  '98.  This time
around it felt a little rushed, not badly so, but I wouldn't have minded a
more laid back performance of this one.  But hey, some of my favourite
songs so far and the best opening of one set I've seen him play down here.

?Tweedle Dee? offered no surprises ? Bob's swirling organ made the song
sound even more surreal than it normally does.  ?Tangled Up in Blue? -
Bob's played that at every gig that I've been to ? but no complaints from
me, I love that song and tonight he put some effort into the singing, in
the past I felt he hadn't always done this song justice.  But tonight it
was spot on.

?Summer Days?, I expected it and it was played in a polished but rather
workman-like fashion ? at this stage the energy seemed to wane a little
and it didn't really follow the high standard of the previous songs. 
After that I heard a certain guitar chord and thought, could it be, well
he...Yes!  It was ?Blind Willie McTell? - #1 on my wish list of songs that
I hadn't heard live in person.  And he didn't disappoint ? it was as good
as I wanted it to be.
 (Though he had the wrong harmonica for the solo ? and quickly changed it
over mid song)

?Cold Irons Bound? featured was the only really re-worked song of the
evening, and it worked really well for me.  It was one of the highlights. 
?Highway 61? - well, another standard number, played with a lot of routine
but any experienced Dylan concert goer will know how that goes.

?Spirit on the Water? - hm, yeah well, nothing much wrong with it, but
also one we've heard plenty before.  I thought the whole thing might be
going off the boil a bit, but ?Thunder on the Mountain? cranked the energy
level up a bit ? and then came ?Ballad of a Thin Man? and wow, that was
something else.  How can he find something new in this song after all
these years?
 Well, I don't know, but he could.  His vocal performance was chilling,
phrasing all new and very powerful -  I was spellbound.  And so the
regular set came to an end all to soon.

?LARS? - expected, well played and with an amazing guitar solo and with
?Forever Young? Bob made it abundantly clear that he was expecting us to

A couple of side notes ? Bob was very much in control of his voice,
barking when it suited him, but still singing at other times when it
suited him.
 And for once, he actually managed to [i]add[/i] something to the songs
his organ ? something that I had been missing for a while.  His harmonica
playing was mostly spot on and he managed some very nice licks on his
 Also worth noting was some lovely interplay between Bob on the organ and
Charlie in guitar that I hadn't come across before.

To anyone who is worried that Bob made be past it ? fear no more, far from
it.  He had more control over any aspect of the performance than I had
seen before.  A truly fab evening.  Thanks Bob - I can't wait to do it
again Thursday night in Sydney!


Comments by Allan Holmes

well i have never been a big fan of dylan but the show was a very poor mix
verging on distortion the band was was ok in my books, but Dylan sorry his
time has come to step down no interaction with the people really bad
vocals, did not understand a word .

left very pissed off along with other people $250.00 bucks thanks Bob but
no thanks.

Allan Holmes


Review by Jim Provencher

Having seen the Adelaide show a few nights previous and before the  
two shows in Melbourne, i trained down to Wollongong with  
anticipation, for the Adelaide concert showed Dylan was in strong  
voice and enjoying himself, with his organ keyboard high in the mix  and
even a few mean strat licks to boot.  It seems as if his  rearrangements
have resolved a few things, allowing him to use his  voice more
effectively and making the longer tunes build with up- tempoed drive.

The Wollongong show did not disappoint, as Dylan displayed great  
energy and sang with convction throughout the evening to a smallish,  but
warming crowd.  After a workmanlike 'Change My Way of Thinking,' 
exploooded into a powerful 'This Wheel's on Fire' centre stage with  harp.
 Throughout the evening he used his harp not only for lyric  treatments,
but to stab, italicize, and punctuate word and song.   With Dylan on
guitar on 'Tom Thumb's Blues' and 'Tweedle Dee,' we  could hear him
leading with some mean licks.  'Summer Days'  rockabillies spiritedly now
with no drag, Dylan and Sexton jamming,  as they would later on 'Rolling
Stone' and 'Thunder on the  Mountain.'  'Cold Irons Bound,' too benefits
from a new formula and  Dylan hits the animated audience hard with this
one centre stage.  As  usual he tangles up 'Blue' with barks and snarls,
transforming a  lament into lambast.  Near the end of the set 'Spirit on
the Water'  is so-so, but needed to alter the pace and great intensity of
this  performance.  This channeler of his Master's Voice ends the pre-
encore set with a poignant and well-harped "Forever Young' as usual  for
this Austral-Asian leg of the hopefully never-ending tour.

High points of this privileged-to-be-there night to witness Dylan at  work
in the blue-collar steel town known locally as The Gong were a  searing,
goose-bump-raising 'Blind Willie McTell' and a dramatically  delivered
'Desolation Row,' testifying that beyond here lies nothing,  which in Oz
may literally be true. At the close, Dylan says, "Thank  you, fans,"
saying 'fans' positively.  In fact Dylan even seemed to  become a fan
himself, pausing after a couple verses of 'McTell' to  gesture and whoah,
seeming to say:  wow, can you dig it, shakes his  head, wipes his
browsweat, and goes back into the song, fully  inhabiting it.

Dylan opened this arena nearly a decade ago.  On Easter Eve and the  eve
of 70, he's rebirthed his great canon once again, playing out the  last
chapter like no venerable bluesman, but a man who makes it new  every


Review by Noel Mullen

My fourth Bob Dylan concert and the first outside Sydney.  Wollongong is a
seaside town around 50 miles south of Sydney (with a working steelworks). 
A nice stop over for Mr Dylan on his transition from the tennis arena in
Melbourne to the Bluesfest in Byron Bay, 400 miles north of Sydney.

I travelled down from the national capital (Canberra) on the day of the
concert and was greeted with a beautiful afternoon.  The WIN Entertainment
Centre is a relatively small venue compared with the arenas of Melbourne
and Sydney, and the open air of Fremantle and Byron Bay.

The set opened with a strong ‘Gonna Change My Way of Thinking’, but hit a
real highlight with ‘This Wheel’s on Fire’.  While relatively unknown to
most of the audience, it was delivered with real gusto and set up a
well-received set list that followed.  ‘Tom Thumb Blues’ was delivered
with passion, and Things Have Changed was an interesting variation on the
original version.  Tweedle Dee was relatively straightforward, followed by
a passionate Tangled Up In Blue.  Summer Day’s was delivered in an
interesting carnival style, its appearance in the set list perhaps
reflecting the beautiful autumn day in Wollongong.   It was an interesting
and generally welcomed upbeat delivery.

A real highlight followed with Blind Willie McTell.  Mr Dylan was centre
stage delivering an impassioned version that really hit the spot.  A newly
reconstructed version of Cold Irons Bound was followed by Desolation Row,
with Mr D’s delivery being laced with venom.  Both a shock too many in
attendance and a restatement of why this song forms such an important
conclusion of the landmark album in which it appears.

'Highway 61 was a wonderful rock’n’roll delivery, and both Spirit on the
Water and Thunder on the Mountain being a favourite of both myself and my
partner Christine.  Ballad of a Thin Man was a fitting end to an
engrossing set, with the delivery again being both front and centre and
presented with real passion.

The encore of Like a Rolling Stone and Forever Young provided an
appropriate ending to a night enjoyed by many in this seaside town.   Two
nights in Byron Bay and two nights in Sydney will allow Mr Dylan to
finalise the diverse palate he has presented to Australia over two weeks. 

On the way down from Canberra, Christine asked me what I would say to Mr
Dylan if we were together in an elevator?   My answer – thanks for filling
my life with questions and passion.  May you stay ‘Forever Young’.

Noel Mullen


Review by Claudia Phillips

Well, I enjoyed the support act, a couple of sisters from Alabama doing
bluegrass.  Very nice, well sung.  God knows where he finds these people.

He came on and burst into Change My Way of Thinking.  Great version.  We'd
been talking to a guy sitting next to us with his teenage son and he'd said Slow
Train was his favourite album so he was very happy.  I was very surprised by
Wheel's on Fire, I've only ever heard The Band do that one.  I think a lot of
people were stumped by it :)  Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues I can never remember
the name of and spent the whole song trying to work out what it was called. 
Things Have Changed I enjoyed but then things went a little wrong for me. I
don't like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, would happily never hear it again.

But we were back on track with Tangled Up In Blue.  Amazing version.  So
well done.  And my husband, Al (who's not much of a Dylan fanloves that song so
he was very excited to hear it in person.  Summer Days I could live without. 
I'm not a fan of that album, only really like Mississippi.  Blind Willie McTell
was another surprise.  Also stumped a lot of people.  I spent some time thinking
"he can't be doing this song" but he was.  Then he did Cold Irons Bound which I
don't like.  He must really like that song cos he seems to do it a lot. 
Desolation Row I really like so I was happy for him to do that next but it was
such a strange version.  Very jerky singing.
 Crazy words and crazy singing.  Laughed my head off.  Love Highway 61 and
that was up next.  In fact it went nicely with my t-shirt that Al bought me of
Bob from 1965.  The year of my favourite album, Bringing It All Back Home (shame
he didn't play anything from it).  Up next was Spirit on the Water which I
really like.  Instantly recognisable.  Al picked that one before the singing. 
Then another Modern Times song, played really well.  Ballad of a Thin Man was
unexpected.  Not a great fan of it but was good to hear.  He went off and we
waited.  Like A Rolling Stone was the first encore song and Al picked it before
me (he was very proud of that).  Great rocking version.
 Then Forever Young.  I told Al he wrote it for his kids and it was a great song
to finish on.  It was clearly his final song as soon as he started it.

All in all, a good night.  He was in fine voice, for Bob.  Some of the songs I
could live without but others were great to hear.  Later I saw the track list
for Byron Bay and think I'd prefer that set but went away satisfied and on a big
high.  Al was singing Like A Rolling Stone all the way back to the hotel.

We heard mixed reviews in cafes the next day.  The guy who served us had
gone but he admitted to being a greatest hits sort of fan so he wasn't
impressed.  But what do you expect?  Then we heard some woman say she wanted to
hear the old songs sung the same as on the albums.  Go home and listen to the
albums then!  But other people enjoyed it.  My only beef with it was it was a
little too loud.  We were right under the speakers so we got the full blast. 
Maybe further away would have been better.  Al was very surprised he came on
with the band he did.  He thought it would be Bob and an acoustic guitar :)  He
was very impressed with the band plus the fact of seeing Bob in the flesh.


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