April 27, 2011
Review by Edwin Crump
Two Brown Boots
Bob Dylan, for the 1831st Time
Bob Dylan, at almost 70 years old, shows no sign of slowing down. Playing to
a full Sydney Entertainment Centre, his energy was clearly on display.
Musically, Dylan has reverted to the Claptonesque heavy blues where he felt
most comfortable in the mid-1960s. Even Highway 61 Revisited felt more like
a 12 bar blues, with heavy elements of english hard blues coming to the fore.
However, he was able to pull off a beautiful slow Forgetful Heart and treated
the audience in his final encore number to a moving Forever Young. Dylan
must have re-opened his catalogue, because he has dusted off Gonna
Change My Way of Thinking and Señor (Tales of Yankee Power) to open
his recent concerts, both of which are a delight to hear. I never expected
to hear Dylan singing about being ready for Jesus after his Christian phase in
1970s, or that he would vastly improve on it.
Dylan’s voice is gruff, rough and past the point of recognition from his halcyon
days of popularity and musical genius in the 1960s. Nevertheless, Dylan seems
to be trying to sing, a markéd improvement on his last performance in Sydney
in 2008. Gone is the unfelt barking of those times.
His band are on fire, as always, though they seem enormously scared of Dylan.
For almost the entire concert, their eyes were fixed on Dylan, waiting for his
cues. They needed to. Often Dylan would sustain a chord, miss a beat or
move to an unexpected verse. It was only in the we-play-this-every-concert
songs such as Like a Rolling Stone and Levee’s Gonna Break that they looked
towards the audience. Tony Garnier provided the necessary musical flourishes
on a variety of decidedly non-modern guitars while Charlie Sexton provided
steady bass to keep the whole ensemble tight throughout the night.
The only awkward moment of a great night came when Dylan forgot the
lyrics to All Along the Watchtower (played as rock, not blues), reverted to
the top, whereby the slide guitar player paused, obviously confused. Dylan
stopped playing, turned around and stared balefully at him, before closing
the song extremely early.
All in all Dylan is hard to criticise. After more than fifty years touring, recording
and travelling, he can still put on a show that justifies the enormous cost it is
to see him.
Review by Greg Brennan
Support act Paul Kelly sang of flying on the midnight horror from Perth to
Sydney arriving at 6am. Well that's what I did last night, and it was well and
truly worth it!! All the boys were on tonight from the starting pistol, they
went off! I saw them 10 days ago in Fremantle and tonight the sound was perfect
and the setlist was excellent. My 5 year old daughter loves Toms Thumbs Blues ,
which I've never seen played before so I was stoked. Bob's guitar was loud in
the mix so you could actually hear it. Jolene was a good jam session as well as
Levee, but as I said to a couple of Expecting rain readers there tonight I would
pay the admission price to hear Simple Twist of Fate only, man, a great song.
Last time I saw Tweedle was in the Larry Campbell era back in 2003 so it
completely different now almost like a different song. Stu , George and Tony
don't receive nearly enough praise and tonight the guys were all great, with Stu
easy to hear on both electric and acoustic. Charlie no hat. Grey suits as in
Fremantle. Bob Black suit with the gold stripe, and the white hat. Thanks to all
the Bob Dylan staff and crew for a good show. See you tomorrow.
Review by Lindsay Ditcham
There were plenty of people there last night but not a full house. Anyone who
had thought about coming and was put off by the negative press about Bob's voice
and his need for privacy or whatever, missed out on a great night. Bob in black
and the band in grey. The set list was a stunner in my book and while it may not
have been too surprising he played LARS as one of the three encore songs,
something he hadn't sung at all in the last three shows I'd seen. The band was
great and Bob barked, croaked and sometimes genuinely sang his way three the 17
piece set. He's ending with Forever Young a lot recently and he did again last
night. Maybe with your 70th just around the corner that's the way most of us
would be seeing things.
He spent about equal amounts of time on the keyboard and centre stage on guitar
or harp. That was different from the last time he was here when he seemed to be
stuck on the keyboard for most of the show. The sound mix was excellent which
was also an improvement over last time. He still likes to half climb over that
keyboard threatening to mount it but never quite getting there. The encore
included Watchtower as well as the other two I mentioned, LARS and Forever
Young, and after it all they all lined up on stage and we all yelled for more.
But you know that one encore is your lot and that was it. The highlights were
Levee, Highway 61, Cold Irons Bound, Forgetful Heart......
Great show. Tonight I'm four rows from the front and looking forward to it a lot.
Review by James Mackie
My second show of this segment of the tour having also seen Melbourne 1. The
voice is in better shape early in the night and improves after the first 3-4
numbers. Senor is a treat in the No2 slot. The Tangled arrangement is one of
the many highlights with Bob obviously enjoying himself in the performance
from centre stage with only the harmonica to play. Forgetful Heart was again
something to behold, after Melbourne I was hoping to hear it again. This song is
a real discovery for me - I have not paid it due attention in past. Perhaps it
is this arrangement which highlights the songs potency - delightful to say the
The Levee's Gonna Break and Simple Twist of Fate also really hit the spot. A
Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall is another rework which like so many breathe new life
and interest. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum is not my favourite however I heard
plenty of people say how much they enjoyed it and Bob's antics during the
Once again Bob's keyboard playing is a high especially when he gets into the
call and answer interchanges with Charlie. A number of reviews have highlighted
how much Charlie interacts with Bob- I can but firmly agree. Tony although not
as prominent in the visible on stage interactions with Bob as in many shows in
the past is still immaculate and never takes those eyes off Bob. I did not
think Bob was as comfortable on the guitar tonight - ( I would like to know what
brand he was playing if any experts spotted this?)
A really good show - not even the harshest popular print writer could find bad
words for any of the performance.
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