August 9, 2014
Review by Ezra
There was never any doubt that Bob was going to be amazing.
We had flown up from Christchurch to see the man in action, Was it worth
it? HELL YEAH!
8pm on the dot, Stu walked out with George, strumming his guitar.
With in seconds, the band strolled out, then came Bob, bouncing behind
them! The crowd erupted! Then began.
1. Things Have Changed.
Great version of the song, and he has even mixed it up slightly, changing
the way he plays it in the middle!
2.She Belongs to me.
Powerful version with fantastic harmonica playing. All i can say is, TURN
THE LIGHTS ON!!!! It is near to impossible to see him.
3. Beyond Here Lies Nothing.
Wow. Just wow.
4. What good am I.
Someone needed to hold a light up in this song, it was a powerful and
5. Waiting For You.
This is the song they could have replaced.....Thats all i can say.
6. Duquense Whistle.
Bob was on the piano for this, and he looked as though he was having the
time of his life, the band were on form for this song also.
7. Pay In Blood.
Another highlight. Not the song, just the way he played it. It was a kick
in the teeth version. Hit hard.
8. Tangled Up In Blue.
There has only been on Bob show i have been to where he did NOT play this
song, but it keeps getting better and better!
9. Love Sick.
Hand on hip, howling the words. Brings a tear to a fans eye!
Then there was a large intermission. Half an hour.
That half hour break does them all well, bob comes back on full of life!
And this song was the perfect example! He kicked right in and it was a no
holes barred, fuck off if ya cant handle me version.
11. Simple Twist of fate.
I was hoping for this song, and it was the only let down. too slow and zzzzzz
12. Early Roman Kings,
Bob began to fuck shit up here, The crowd was moving, everyone was getting
involved. Bob loved it.
13. Forgetful heart.
14. Spirit on the water.
This song had Bob smiling and laughing at one point! Not my fave song, but
a nice version all the same!
15. Scarlet Town.
The band played this song perfectly. Bobs voice was outstanding. Nothing
16. Soon after midnight.
Average version, bub Bob always has a way of making it perfect at the same
17. Long and wasted years.
Words cant describe how perfect this song is, and how powerful the song
is. Bob was in the centre of the stage, and he owned it.
Encore was a bit long waited, but everyone kept pushing!
18. All along the watchtower.
Simple. Nothing Special.
19. Blowing in the wind.
Mesmerizing. The harmonica in this song, tears. Bob fucking rocked it!
The security was so tight at this show, and there was not much chance to
even get a photo. This was a premium performance, and i cannot wait to see
bob again in a month!
Review by Nick Miller
Dylan's much anticipated return to Australia / New Zealand saw a great
opening night in Hamilton, New Zealand at the Claudelands Arena (and
perfect excuse to visit New Zealand!). Only some three weeks since his
last concert in Pori, Finland at the other end of the world here is Dylan
and his band in fantastic form performing what has become their standard
set list of late. Dylan's voice was strong, his harmonica solos met with
much applause and the band as tight as ever. The Arena's acoustics were
excellent and the crowd enjoyed every song. Highlights included a slow and
powerful What Good Am I?, what my 15 year old daughter called a jazzy
Duquesne Whistle and both Blood on the Tracks songs - Tangled up in Blue
and Simple Twist of Fate (now rhyming with 1958) - sublime. The Tempest
songs are all strong - with Long and Wasted Years a highlight. While the
roadies cleaned up we had a chance to look more closely at Dylan's array
of statues which continue to dot the stage. On the walk back to the hotel
we listened to all the positive experiences of the night. As the person
sitting next to me said of his first Dylan concert - it was "Magic". So
Dylan's first tour to these parts since 2011 has started with a bang -
as the poster says "Don't you dare miss it!". Can't wait to see more
concerts in Australia.
Review by William Muirhead
Claudelands Arena, was probably the most consistent and polished Dylan
concert I've seen - it had guts, too, especially in the second half - though I
did miss the unpredictability of the "random rock'n'roll" version of the NET
which last hit these southern climes in 2011. That approach - taking Auckland
2011 as an example, though the 2007 tour would do as well - saw Dylan and
the band hit some great heights (an apocalyptic "Ballad of a Thin Man"; a
loping, lyrical "Desolation Row"), but also quite likely to tread water
(an interminable, joyless "Highway 61"; the unfathomably regularly played
"Tweedledee and Tweedledum"). It all depended on the engagement of the
man himself; often, failing to find anything new in a song, he would
simply signal to the band to wrap it up, and they'd try again on
something else. This time around it was, obviously, just the opposite.
The fixed set list, with only a couple of alternates allowed for, meant
more fully developed arrangements (and the band's boogie-woogie default
setting carefully and satisfyingly varied throughout the evening):
"Things Have Changed" was marvellous; "Pay in Blood" as everyone mentions
an extraordinary leap above the album track; "High Water" an powerhouse;
a spare, romantic "She Belongs to Me" with wailing harmonica. They are
also a set of songs with which Dylan presumably feels he easily and
effectively engages - though I was sorry the first night crowd missed out
on "Workingman's Blues #2". The current version of "Tangled Up in Blue"
loses some of the dynamism of 2007-2011, but the new lyrics are wonderful
- "Yesterday's dead and gone, and tomorrow may as well be now!"; only
"Beyond Here Lies Nothing" and "Waitin' For You" really failed to gel.
What also struck me was the work Bob seemed to be putting into his vocal
delivery - not since "My Back Pages" in Wellington 2007 have I heard him
deliver a reading as sensitive as he gave on "Simple Twist of Fate"
(spine-tingling) or as precise and dramatic as "Scarlet Town" or "Long
and Wasted Years". Dylan's harp, too, was enormously improved on the
often atonal screeching of 2011; the need for coordinated
call-and-response parts with Charlie on a number of songs seem to have
focussed his playing greatly. It might also help that he's no longer
playing any guitar. The keyboards remain jolly. Claudeland's acoustics
were, again as has been widely noted, excellent, and the venue itself
suitably intimate. The crowd contained, as usual, an unfortunately high
percentage of jerks - round by us there were a number of walk-outs, and
the couple next to me stopped applauding after "Simple Twist of Fate" and
didn't flinch while about half the audience stomped for the encore. "You
won't be staying for 'Blowin' in the Wind' then?" I snapped at them. The
thing is, in 2003 I guess it was forgivable not to know the kind of music
Dylan makes now, and the way he sings - "Love and Theft", launching the
new 'house style', had just come out. But in 2014 it borders on contempt
- or at least wilful ignorance - for people to go to a Dylan gig
expecting it to be 1965. I have seen lazy Dylan shows, and think it is
absolutely appropriate to critique a performer when he takes your money
and phones it in. But being disappointed by a fully engaged and energetic
artist - singing better and more richly on the 'Tempest' tracks, indeed,
than he did in the studio - performing songs (mainly) from a decade's
worth of recordings, in the style he's been working in for that whole
decade... You're no longer damning a performance; you're damning someone
for being 73.
That said: I have slightly mixed feelings about the Set List. One of the
great things about a Dylan show prior to 2013 was that you might get
rubbish; or you might get something totally transcendent and out of left
field ("Visions" at the Civic in 2007). With this tour, you get a solid,
well-rehearsed, tightly packed two hours of tracks that best suit the
performer as he is now. That's great - the show was great, and Dylan
himself probably on the best form I've seen ever him - but I can't help
but feel it's not quite as much fun.
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