I should write a proper review, but I haven’t got around to it. But we went to see Bob Dylan at the Rod Laver Arena a couple of weeks ago. I’d only seen him once before, in Dublin in 1984, when he was OK but a wee bit dull. (He was joined for the encore by Van Morrison and Bono, though, which I suppose was fairly memorable.)
Anyway, this time around, we had pretty good seats to one side of the stage. He played the guitar for the first three songs, beginning with Rainy Day Women. I wasn’t sure what number the women were, because Bob was in classic “growling each line indecipherably and at the last possible moment” mode. That was fun for one song but would have been irritating if he’d kept it up all night. However on the second song, It Ain’t Me Babe, he started to sing more “normally”. He switched to a dinky little keyboard (with a dinky little sound) at song four, Tangled Up In Blue, which was not so great, but in the next song, John Brown, the bass player switched to upright bass and the sound suddenly improved, and Bob started to sing like an angel.
He was absolutely magnificent, and stayed on this form for most of the rest of the show. Interestingly, the songs from his last few albums were the best, and they received a very warm welcome from the audience, which I’m sure pleased Bob. He seemed to be enjoying himself. Cutest thing of the night: when he sang “you think I’m over the hill, you think I’m past my prime” in Spirit On The Water, there was a huge roar of dissent after each line from the otherwise reverential audience!
Nettie Moore was another highlight, with his singing unimpeachable. He only spoke towards the end of the gig, to say “Thank you friends!” and introduce the band and tell us where each player was from.
His keyboard playing, despite the cheesy Casiotone sound, was really rather effective, and he really seemed to be directing the band with it, and setting the feel for each song. In many of the songs there was an odd but effective stacatto style of playing from the lead instrumentalists, similar to some of the songs on his last two albums. The multi-instrumentalist, Donny Herron, did a really good job, but I never heard a single note of the pedal steel he played in some songs. He might have forgotten to plug it in.
The lead guitarist (Stu Kimball) ranged from brilliant (especially in some of the western swing numbers and a few of the rockers) to very uninspired in a few of the songs.
Like at most concerts these days, the drums were way too loud and reducing the compression on them and taking them down about 9dB would have made everything a lot more pleasant to listen to, sez DC the grumpy old man. One of the few big concerts I have been at in recent years where everything was balanced well was Neil Young on his Greendale tour, and we know Neil loves volume, but he clearly also loves things to sound right and doesn’t just let the sound engineers do the “80% drums and bass, 20% everything else” thing. It’s not that I hate drums, but I also love guitars and and banjos and vocals and I want to hear them all without feeling like I’ve been kidnapped by a Pimp My Ride researcher.
This wasn’t going to be a review, haha! I got carried away. Well, after it I almost considered trying to get tickets for the second show, so, yeah, it was good!
Here’s the song list copied from some online review:
1. Rainy Day Women
2. It Ain’t Me, Babe
3. Watching The River Flow
4. Tangled Up In Blue
5. John Brown
6. The Levee’s Gonna Break
7. When The Deal Goes Down
8. Things Have Changed
9. Desolation Row
10. Honest With Me
11. Spirit On The Water
12. Highway 61 Revisited
13. Nettie Moore
14. Summer Days
15. Ballad Of A Thin Man
16. Thunder On The Mountain
17. Like A Rolling Stone
- Bob Dylan – guitar, keyboard, harmonica
- Donnie Herron – pedal steel, lap steel, violin, viola, mandolin, banjo
- Denny Freeman – guitar
- Stu Kimball – guitar
- Tony Garnier – bass
- George Recelli – drums
Review by DC Cardwell (www.dccardwell.com)
These are the kinds of photos my mobile phone took in 2007!