Byron Bay, Australia

Byron Bay Bluesfest
MoJo Stage

April 25, 2011

[Luke the Drifter], [Brett Hay], [Saro Lusty-Cavallari]

Review by Luke the Drifter

was it just me or was the only recognisable part of "change my way of
thinking" the first and last verse? I didnt recognise (and I couldnt make
out) anything in between. I could make out the band was in fantastic form
and I knew we were in for a treat. It was great to finally hear Dylans
keyboard as I've allways felt it was buried low in the mix on previous
Australian tours. He was really driving the band with it, and his circus
sands sound suits the songs perfectly. Dylan does incredibly simple yet
unexpected things when playing any instrument & his keyboard skills were a
highlight. Charlie sexton is a guitar god and would be a fantastic
addition to any band. Interestingly Tony seemed to be sitting back
somewhat with Sexton front and centre playing off Dylan's quirks with
exquisite skill. Sometimes it seems Dylan builds great bands so he can
subvert them each night, all spanners in the works and wicked grins. This
band is up for him though and turns on the preverbial 1 cent coin. I think
TUIB was the first song that saw Dylan standing with only harp in hand,
chest out & waving his left hand like Al Jolson, showing the kids how its
done. Everytime Dylan picked up the guitar it was with great intent & his
idiosyncratic leads were full of flavour & personality the way alot of
people at a jammfest like this just aren't. Again his guitar was at a
perfect level in the mix. STOF was a lesson in subtelty on the low notes.
Dylans voice was full of gravel and growl, and he is using it well. I was
hoping he would open up on the high notes of the BOATM bridge (no one has
any respect...) like i heard on some european youtube snippet last year
(would love to find that again), but he saved his upper register for a
stunning Forever Now to close with. All in all a great night, crowd
responsive and sang well in LARS but could have done better on FN. Dylan
seems to enjoy the singalong. When he is up and full of energy he allways
supprises with his sprightliness. I will head for the front eairlier
tonight as the crowd was very thick. I can see from most places but I like
to be amongst some people who realise what theyre seeing, there seemed to
be a fair few who were along to watch the geekshow, maybe tonight will be
a different crowd. As a footnote it was nice to see a touch of desperation
on Elvis Costello's face when he came out, he knew he had to pull out all
stops to follow Dylan in that kind of form. He was good too. Byron
Bluesfest has been a fantastic experience that I've been wanting to do for
years, We've heard some fantastic music & found alot of new favourite
bands (Little Feat anyone?)(I never knew what i was missing). As i sit
here writing this & preparing for another great day, one of the only lines
I recognised in 'Change my way of thinking' is echoing around my head -
"Make myself a different set of rules..." When Dylan is in this kind of
form it seems like he can rewrite all the rules and possibly change the
laws of physics! An absolute pleasure to see at work. 
Regards All, luke t/drifter


Review by Brett Hay

I made the journey south to Byron Bay anticipating a big show and a great 
festival and neither disappointed.† Dylan received some bad local press (who 
really takes any notice of AM radio talkback anyway?) about the first show 
from being late (he wasn't) to talking through songs (he did, but so what; 
show me the old time bluesmen who didn't.† Woody Guthrie made an entire 
career out of talking).† Dylan's voice never ceases to send a shiver down my 
spine; every cigarette the man has ever inhaled and every grain of sand is 
heard in those gloriously shot vocals.† The rumbling, the resonance;†simply, 

Sticking pretty much to the standard fare of 2011, songs from†"Highway 61 
Revisited", "Love and Theft" and "Time Out of Mind" featured prominently.† 
Both "The Levee's Gonna Break †and "High Water" clearly show Dylan's ever 
the political artist; clearly he was aware of the disasters throughout eastern 
Australia in January.† Unlike the version of "High Water" on "The Bootleg 
Series Vol 8"† -† post Hurricane Katrina† - there was no vitriol or anger, only 
a lyric delivered with tenderness and sorrow.† "Trying to Get to Heaven" was 
brilliant, "Hard Rain" probably lost a bit from its jaunty delivery, but, hey, 
these are Dylan's songs and, frankly, he is entitled to do what he wants with 
them.† The man is not a juke box; he is an artist.† A couple of 
twenty-somethings standing next to me beat me picking up a few lyrics
in the "Guess the Song" game that he plays, proving that the man's music 
is timeless and will live on and on and on.† The personal highlight for me 
was probably "Forever Young" as the finale; what a delivery!

Brilliant show, brilliant festival, I hope Dylan returns.† I will.


Review by Saro Lusty-Cavallari

There was a real atmosphere of apprehension
around the festival site before Dylan came on. All throughout the day I heard
ridiculous rumors about the various eccentricities a Dylan concert could hold
(Ďhe spits on his audience?í; ĎI once heard he did a whole concert behind a
veilí.) I knew full well what to expect from a Dylan concert these days but
hearing what I did during the day I wasnít sure how well this would go down. 

We got into the packed crowed at around
5:30, hearing the surprisingly amazing Buffy Saint-Marie and the unbelievably
boring Warren Hayes. We were packed in tight, tired, exhausted, muddy, needed to
go to the toilet and most importantly in desperate need of some Dylan. The shire
bogans in front of me passed around a joint while talking about how they Ďkind
ofí liked Dylan while a few baby boomers reminisced about listening to Blood On
The Tracks when it came out. Oh dear, this wasnít going to end well. I thought
quite a few people would leave and I didnít mind because while we were pretty
close up to the front, it was still a tough fight to get a good place.

Soon the house lights went down and we were
prepared for the Ďpoet laureate of Rock & Roll, etc.í. Before I knew it the band
crashed into a thunderous version of Change My Way Of Thinking with Bob
bellowing out his vocals in a particularly strong voice. After that we were
treated to a beautiful version of Donít Think Twice, which the crowd cheered
approvingly to. 

As the rain started to drizzle we were
fittingly given The Leveeís Gonna Break and while few people seemed to know the
song everyone was dancing along happily and cheered after Bobís surprisingly
great organ solo. Bob didnít stop smiling from then on and he and the crowd
played of each otherís good vibes.

Next came Tangled Up In Blue, which got the
crowd going tenfold while Bob danced around and blew into his harp. Most
amazingly people started to sing along, not to the recorded version, but to this
NEW arrangement that we all learnt on the spot. Bobís smiled widened. It was
then back on the guitar for Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum that surprisingly got a
big cheer when he sung the first line.

Bob returned to the keyboard for Tryiní To
Get To Heaven and while he gave a formidable vocal take on the song, the real
stand out was the harmonica playing which was the best Iíve heard from him sing
1966. Keeping in that vein he performed some uncharacteristically
professional-sounding blues-harp solos on an incredible High Water, leading his
band through an all out hoe-down. Fittingly, at the end of High Water, the rain
started pouring and even more fittingly he launched into Hard Rain, which was
greeted enthusiastically by the crowd, who once again sang along to this
completely different arrangement. Bob sang clearly and I heard every word but
what was particularly great was that he created a new, consistent, vocal melody
for the verse. This isnít uncommon but was great was that the entire band began
to mimic it until this amazingly synchronized build-up took place in the final

The band then launched into a really cool
and jazzy rendition of Summer Days with some strong singing by Bobby. Itís no
longer a guitar song with George and Tony taking the limelight. A moving Simple
Twist Of Fate followed that was appreciated by the crowd with Bob giving some
not-too-bad guitar work. Things got rocking with Highway 61 which had the crowd
jumping and Bob acted out the lyrics while jumping about. 

The regular set ended with an amazing
Ballad Of A Thin Man which saw Bob give, wait for it, an Elvis crotch thrust.
The whole thing was so theatrical and Bob kept the smile going although with the
lyrics and atmosphere it made him seem a bit evil.

The crowd were begging for more and got
what they wanted when Bob and the band burst into Like A Rolling Stone, he even
synchronized with the crowd a few times. Bob was jumping, the crowd was jumping,
people were dancing, in general it rocked hard like the song should and
unfortunately often doesnít. After introducing the band he finished with a
beautiful Forever Young and fortunately the crowd were quiet and respectful as
he delivered the most heartfelt moment of the night.

Apparently Bob hugged Michael Chugg
afterwards because he was so happy with the show and I can see why. He fed of
the crowd and they fed off his amazing performance and passion.

One of the best shows Iíve ever been to.


Click Here
to return to the
Main Page

page by Bill Pagel

Tour Guide
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location