Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bob Dylan in Adelaide

Dylan performed here last night to mixed reviews.

I got my money’s worth.

A Murdoch journalist wrote a really glowing review, emphasising the blues-iness of the material; callers to morning talk-back radio criticised the quality of the sound and of Dylan’s singing, but generally conceded that the band was spot on.

Perhaps some people still expect to see a lone man and an acoustic guitar singing "Blowin' In The Wind" just like it is on the record. But Dylan's never been one to accept conventions, particularly those he creates himself.

The Entertainment Centre is a fairly hard and soulless place and music there can sound thin, like a CD does compared to vinyl, but I thought Dylan rose to the occasion really well.

The set selection was superb and included the first public performance of "Beyond the Horizon"; overall a great balance between old and recent material.

People say Dylan doesn't communicate with his audience, but it's all in the songs, in his phrasing and delivery. For an audience in a country still engaged in the US crusades in Iraq and Afghanistan, how appropriate was the singing of both "John Brown" and "Masters of War"! The growl that is Dylan’s voice now delivered these with a greater ferociousness and intensity than the originals.

Dylan started on electric guitar for the openers: “Cat’s in the Well”, “Lay, Lady, Lay”, “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” and “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”.

In addition to “Beyond the Horizon”, performances from the most recent CD Modern Times included "The Levee’s Gonna Break", "Workingman’s Blues #2", "Ain’t Talkin’", and "Thunder on the Mountain".

Others from Dylan’s more recent work were "Things Have Changed", "Cry a While" and "Summer Days".

The groove that Dylan got into with his harmonica solo at the end of "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)" was just so cool that Tony Garnier, loyal lieutenant on bass for over a decade, broke out into an ear to ear grin, and he and Recile on drums had their own private smiles at the conspiracy to introduce "Blowin' In The Wind" in a way that caught everybody completely off guard.

Now I’ve just gotta start saving the pennies for the next time he’s out here – possibly when he cracks six score years and ten.

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