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Review: BOB DYLAN Concert "Rod Laver Arena " Melbourne 2oth April 2011.

Updated on June 1, 2012


by Maria D'Alessandro on Thursday, 21 April 2011 at 13:59 ·

It was fitting that one of Australia’s well known and loved musicians, Paul Kelly, support Dylan in concert at the Rod Laver Arena on April 20th, 2011. He sounded like a true folk singer standing there on the big stage with just his guitar and harmonica. He sang some nice ballads some of which have been past hits like “Before Too Long” and “I’ve Done All the Dumb Things”, that we all quickly recognised. He was later joined by his nephew Dan Kelly. During Paul Kelly’s performance, fans were still coming into the venue and being seated. There was a great downpour of rain on our way there and most of us were wet or damp from being caught in it as we jumped on and off trains and trams to get there. I spent the evening with cold wet feet and shoes but there was no time to think about that. The rains had come out of nowhere that night seemingly to wash away our troubles and woes and get us all purified before basking in the magical musical and healing presence of the Master.

As I watched and listened to Paul Kelly sounding very much like Dylan in his early folk era, I noticed just how simple and frill free the stage looked. Nothing was hanging from the ceiling and there were just sheets of material draping the back and sides of center stage. These sheets of material looked black ordinarily but were actually grey when the lights came on.

Paul Kelly finished with a song sung without musical accompaniment. It had a religious theme to it. He got a friendly and appreciative applause from the audience for his support performance and then walked offstage.

The lights came on in the venue and some rodies came on stage to set up the musical instruments for Dylan’s show. I didn’t quite like this break in the concert – it kind of ruined the mood set by the support act and we were all feeling anxious about Bob coming onstage – maybe that was the idea.

Then it happened – The Master and his band came out on stage. Bob was sporting a black suit with white trimming and a white hat with a dark grey ribbon. He fired off with “ Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking” and played some excellent keyboard. Then “Don’t Think Twice” was next and he played guitar alongside Charlie Sexton. A great rendition of “Just Like Tomb Thumb’s Blues” was next and the band did a great job. It wasn’t until the 4th song “Things Have Changed” that I noticed that when he plays keyboards, his voice is a bit smoother than when he plays guitar. Might have been a coincidence or something to do with the microphone however.

The next song was a bit of a disappointment for me because it’s just not one of my favourites. But in all fairness, “Twiddle Dee and Tweedle Dum” was well performed with Dylan on guitar. It was at this point that I realised that for a 70 year old, Bob sure looks and moves well on stage. Not much different to when he was younger – he was quite energetic on stage and simply looked great. The 6th song was “Tangled Up in Blue” where he just sang on stage without guitar or keyboards but merely played some great harmonica. He shaked the audience with this song and got a great response. Next he played “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” – Elmore James cover. The stage looked great with 2 guitarists, I bass player, Bob on Keyboards, a drummer and 1 slide guitarist.

The 8th song was “Forgetful Heart”. Once again he played harmonica solos which were very nice and looked as cool as Sinatra standing there singing this sultry song. “High Water (For Charley Patton)” was next and this time the big acoustic bass came out and the banjo. Some tasteful harmonica was played here by Bob. The 10th song was “Desolation Row” and I realised just how proficient Bob is on keyboards playing like he truly enjoys it. The big bass sounded good here also. “Highway 61 Revisted” came next with the effect of a beautiful orange smokey back drop. As the song approached the end, the drummer hit those drums hard for a great big finale.

The 12th song was “Twist of Fate” which was sung very nicely. Bob played guitar and it was a treat to see his silhouette together with the other guitarists on the back wall. “Thunder on the Mountain” was next and the backdrop turned to grey which looked good since the band members wore grey suits with black shirts. Charlie Sexton showered us with a great guitar lead and he and Bob played a bit of tit for tat between guitar and keyboards. Great performance. The last song of the show was “Ballad of a Thin Man” with a swinging beat and Bob just singing without instruments. It is at the end of the concert and Dylan has still not said a word to the audience not even "hello". After this song, whilst the audience clapped ecstatically, the whole band stood up and walked off stage.

The audience continued to clap and cheer and beg for an encore. The stage lighted up in purple and they came back and proceeded to play “Like A Rolling Stone” – quite possibly because they knew I was in the audience and knew it was my favourite song LOL. Bob was on keyboards and the back of the stage lit up with his signature eye icon. During this song, he introduced the band and it was the first time he spoke any words to the audience. We were lucky to get a second encore “Forever Young” – which I thought was appropriate because I was surprised to see so many young people there that night. It’s great that the legend that is Bob Dylan can continue to live on in the hands of the X and Y generation. The band did a beautiful rendition of “Forever Young” and Bob got up from the keyboards towards the end of the song and walked to the middle of the stage to play some punchy harmonica leads.

This was the absolute end of the show and The Master and his band walked off and came back for a bow and walked off leaving the audience begging for more and clapping on and on. But then the lights came on and you could hear the descending sound of disappointment “ohhhhhh” coming from the audience.

As I exited the venue, I heard some comments ranging from: “Wow, that’s the first time I’ve seen Dylan play keyboards,” to, “I wish he would have played some of his old folk stuff”. I guess people still don’t seem to get it. Dylan doesn’t stand still neither in time nor space and I like to think that he would like his audience to do the same. When it comes to Bob Dylan, it’s all about moving forward or sidewards, evolving and becoming. We could learn something from him but, most of us already know that.

© Copyright Maria D'Alessandro 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Melbourne, Australia

Rod Laver Arena

April 20, 2011

1. Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking

2. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

3. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues

4. Things Have Changed

5. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum

6. Tangled Up In Blue

7. Rollin' And Tumblin'

8. Forgetful Heart

9. High Water (For Charley Patton)

10. Desolation Row (8 verses)

11. Highway 61 Revisited

12. Simple Twist Of Fate

13. Thunder On The Mountain

14. Ballad Of A Thin Man


15. Like A Rolling Stone

16. Forever Young


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    • scrittobene profile image

      Maria D'Alessandro 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @ Graham - Thanks for dropping by Graham. Are you a Hubber or a Facebook friend? I've made the correction you mentioned = thanks for telling me and thanks for your comment. Cheers.

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      graham 5 years ago

      dan kelly is paul kellys nephew great review of an amazing concert bob & band unfortunately i missed him last year due to illness saw him in 2009 in bethel woods,site of woostock some 40 yrs ago,bob & band were on tour with john mellencamp & willie nelson & their respective bands thanks maria

    • scrittobene profile image

      Maria D'Alessandro 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @ Joe - Thanks for dropping by and reading my review. Cheers.

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      joe kempkes 5 years ago

      Excellent review. Similar set list that he played on 12 April 2011 in Hongkong that I attended. Thanks for sharing.

    • scrittobene profile image

      Maria D'Alessandro 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thanks spartucusjones for dropping by.

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 5 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Sounds like it was a truly epic show! Very well written and detailed review. It was like I was there (but unfortunately I wasn't).

    • scrittobene profile image

      Maria D'Alessandro 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thanks TheHeavyReview - in fact I was taking notes during the concert and having some difficulty in the dark. I also took photos with my digital camera and recorded the whole concert on my i-phone. You could say I was multi-tasking and trying to enjoy the show too.

    • TheHeavyReview profile image

      TheHeavyReview 5 years ago

      Wow! Great job, this is so well written! I can't believe you can remember so many details from this concert! I love the descriptions of everything that went on, it felt like I was really there!

    • scrittobene profile image

      Maria D'Alessandro 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thanks Faith - I hope any other Dylan fan here at HubPages will get to read my review.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, it does feel as though one is there. Excellent review of a concert for sure!!! I know everyone enjoyed it. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago this detailed review combining emotion and intellect Maria - it reads as if I were there too beside you holding your sweat soaked hand (lol) and here is another one for our music group as posted by yours truly - thank you for the song list - that was a nice touch - this could be a new career for you - a concert reviewer ......lake erie time 11:25pm really loved this one - you make it so interesting because you just happen to be a great writer yourself and yes .....Bob would be proud of you.