Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Bob Dylan in Brisbane 2007

Bob Dylan’s concert here in Brisbane last night was a revelation, a miracle. With his eyes glistening beneath a white Spanish hat, Dylan conjured up images of a younger self, of that wildly anarchic Bob Dylan of the 1970s’ Rolling Thunder Revue. And he performed here with comparable energy and intensity (albeit with greater control), reshaping and transfiguring some of his greatest songs.

The song and dance man was in fine form, and he was clearly enjoying himself. He was playful and exuberant in “Tangled Up in Blue.” He erupted into a raw and piercing harmonica solo in “Ballad of a Thin Man.” His interpretations of “Lay, Lady, Lay,” “When the Deal Goes Down,” and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” were marked by subtle tenderness and exquisite longing. And his haunting delivery of “Nettie Moore” was almost overwhelming in its spare intensity – I couldn’t look, I had to close my eyes, as Dylan evoked his darkly luminous vision of a “world … gone black before my eyes.” In all this, I was above all impressed with a sense of how much Dylan cares about these songs – he is not their master but their servant, and night after night he lovingly places himself at their disposal.

But the greatest moments of the evening were the electrifying performance of “Highway 61 Revisited” and the explosive re-creation of the 2001 song “High Water.” The power of this latter performance was best summed up in Dylan’s own fierce growl, “I can write you poems, make a strong man lose his mind.”

If you didn’t feel this threat – the risk that you might “lose your mind” in the furnace of Bob Dylan’s creative intensity – then you simply weren’t paying attention.

18 Comments:

Anonymous said...

fine review...makes me wish i'd been there.

Mr Jaggins said...

A fine review indeed. Makes me glad I was there.

Anonymous said...

We concur. good review. We were there with great seats; loved Bob, the band and the hat; musically tight the whole way through; thought they were a bit tired at the encore. superb concert, thought he was attached to the keyboard...loved Summer Days..
Jess & Tony

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. Wasn't he just splendid. And yet his second song reminded us all that "it aint me you're looking for, babe." He's pointing elsewhere...
(and such an inter-generational figure. I had my 14 year old son with me!)
Terry Veling

Mak C-A said...

To paraphrase JFK, "the incandescant quality of his words illuminated the darkness around us." Yes a wonderful concert. Fantastic energy from His Bobness throughout. His voice was strong and clear, he rocked, he "jazzed", he swung, he kicked butt. I thought I had to enjoy this one as it would probably be his last in Oz, but the answer to the question, "Do you think I'm over the hill?" has made me look forward to the next tour in 3 or 4 years time.

Mark C-A

Anonymous said...

Let's put in down to where I was sitting but I was very disappoointed. I couldn't hear literally 98% of the lyrics and the band was a pulped mess. Thank goodness I still have my memories.

Jeff Kogler

lyn said...

in brisbane last night, i was up the back on the left side with a pair of binoculars. what a fantastic performance. it was like seeing a much younger person, his feet never stopped moving. it was like stepping back in time. i am certainly happy that i went to this bob dylan concert.

David Williamson said...

Wow! The lightning struck and you were there to see it. Congratulations!

What do you think of the Ronson remix?

Anonymous said...

Wish I'd been there.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it was one hell of a show!

Rob said...

I honestly thought he was incredibly disappointing, borderline incoherent and inaudible. Our seats were great, but he just didn't seem to care. He played guitar for two songs then retreated to his keyboard, looking offstage for the rest of the concert. I was towards an exit and well over a hundred people walked out during the show and hundreds more before the encore.

keith said...

Keith says, Rob i agree with u totally. i was at his sydney concert last night and if i'm honest. its two hrs of my life i'll never get back. If it were in a bar I'd have left alot earlier than I did. No one in the crowd looked to be enjoying it. I think most stayed cause they thought he'd get better. 100's left. 2 of my friends left and gave their tickets to 2 people passing on the street. The support band the Frames on the other hand were class, I prayed they'd come back on.

Anonymous said...

I loved 'Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues'. So sweet.

Jahara said...

Dylan in Brisbane

‘I know a place where there’s still somethin’ going on.'

On Monday night at the Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, we were treated to the best of Bob. He walked on stage, resplendent in dark suit, silk tie and white Spanish hat and launched into a jaunty ‘Cat’s In the Well’. It has become a cliché now to say he keeps reinventing himself, but it is true, and that night, he certainly reinvented, as it were, his own songs; reinvigorating them with new musical arrangements and having fun with lyrics. Some commentators insist that Dylan is a servant of his songs. However, I think he is their master and the songs do his bidding. He doesn’t just play the music, he plays with the music. And he enjoys playing with the lyrics, as on ‘Tangled Up in Blue’, which often gets revamped with ‘alternative’ verses. The performance of the song in Brisbane was no exception. Bob was clearly having a good time. As were we.
Both the band and Bob swaggered with jazzy intensity. They treated the quietly reverential audience to some classics such as ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’, ‘Highway 61’, and one of my favourites; ‘Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues’. But it was the songs from Love and Theft : ‘Summer Days’, ’Honest With Me’ and ‘High Water’, as well as those from his most recent album, Modern Times that were especially welcome; particularly ‘Nettie Moore’, the exuberantly rendered ‘Thunder on the Mountain’ and the moving, ‘When The Deal Goes Down’. One of my companions at the concert described the audience as being ‘respectful’. I wonder if they were too respectful for Bob, whom I suspect might like a bit more audible appreciation of his efforts. Was it only paranoia on my part, or was ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ not sung to, but rather directed at this particular audience? Surely not… It wasn’t till the end that people really came alive and got on their feet.
I am as guilty as the next rusted on Dylan fan of wanting to hear certain songs, wanting him to play lots of acoustic guitar and harmonica, wanting, wanting wanting - suckin’ the blood out of the genius of generosity.’ But, unlike some whose particular want is that he talks to the audience, I don’t expect, nor do I particularly care if he talks or not, except to introduce the band. What is there to say? ‘If it’s information you want you can go get it from the police.’ Dylan expresses himself to us strangers through his music and lyrics. He is Dylan, and he was here, ‘singin’ just for you.’ What more could you want?

Jahara

Wednesday 15 August 2007

Anonymous said...

he did not once communicate to the audience.... the band was to loud for the music. aside from highway, where were all of the older songs?are you all saying that you had a fantastic night simply because you're a conservative lot and wouldn't dare mutter a bad word abuot bob dylan?

dreaminginthedeepsouth said...

Wish I'da been there. Just wish to say, I've seen Dylan perform live several times over the years (as an old timer myself) and each time has been different. I have seen him perform a flawless incandescent mindboggling show. I have also seen him perform as if he had something better he could be doing. I've also seem him perform so badly I wanted to yell "you suck" and throw rotton tomatoes. He's a poet and a prophet -- a performer when the spirit moves him, but, alas , as we all know, sometimes the spirit just doesn't do it. That's why I go to his shows still, and shall continue. You never know which Bob will show up. Aren't the lot of us multiple personalities?

Anonymous said...

im a mad dylan fan and think his modern times album is one of his best but wednesday night at the entertainment centre of was sooo disappointed... i had good tickets too, first riser back right in front of the stage, but he was inaudible... no screens up either i couldnt understand... an apart from nettie moore and thunder on the mountain which were just there the rest i couldnt have cared less about... i even took a loo break and i saw lots leaving too... i know bob isnt the showman, his music is but sorry bob, i had more fun singing along with you at home afterwards with my friends.

Glen O'Brien said...

Love your Dylan posts. If you're interested you can read my review of the Sunday night concert in Melbourne at The Batcave. http://glenobrien.blogspot.com/

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