Review: BOB DYLAN Concert "Rod Laver Arena " Melbourne 2oth April 2011.
RAVE REVIEW OF DYLAN'S CONCERT IN MELBOURNE 20.4.2011
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, supported 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 shook 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.
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