Spark, Auckland NZ 


August 26, 2018



Concert Review: No One Does Bob Dylan Like Bob Dylan
27 Aug 2018
No one does Bob Dylan like Bob Dylan. On this Sunday night in Auckland, he treated his audience to almost two hours of songs, cherry-picked from what is arguably the most impressive songbook in music history.

The audience barely had time to settle into their seats as the lights went down and rhythm guitarist Stu Kimball plucked a simple melody as the band members took their places, with Dylan seated behind a piano.

With arthritis keeping him from playing guitar, the piano is Dylan’s instrument of choice these days and his playing is an integral part of what the band sounds like, and, I suspect, what songs make up the set list.

Speaking of the set list, it was pretty much the same as the preceding Australian dates, with Tangled Up In Blue moving to just after Make You Feel My Love.

As he did when he performed in Hamilton four years ago, Dylan opened with Things Have Changed… though clearly they hadn’t… at least not much. The band members were the same, as was Dylan’s on stage demeanour.

I found the first half of the show drag a bit, particularly during the slower numbers such as Simple Twist Of Fate and Tryin’ To Get To Heaven, although there certainly were bright spots, particularly Summer Days with his careening fiddle, courtesy of the very excellent Donnie Herron and Charlie Sexton’s rockin’ guitar solo.

It was also cool to hear When I Paint My Masterpiece performed live, although Dylan’s delivery made it sound as if all his masterpieces where in the past.

That is clearly not the case as newer tunes such as Early Roman Kings, with its Mannish Boy groove, and Thunder On The Mountain were among the show’s highpoints.

Things really got going when Dylan emerged from the piano to sing Love Sick standing among his bandmates. The energy level rose dramatically as the crowd reacted to simmering version of the song and Dylan’s own stage presence.

That energy level continued to build throughout the revamped version of Don’t Think Twice that followed and on through Thunder On The Mountain.

By this time some audience members gathered at the rear of the floor seats to dance and celebrate the man and his music.

The “boogie woogie” version of set closer Gotta Serve Somebody found the band locked into a mighty groove and the song swung like never before.

The 18 songs seemed to fly by in no time and the two encore numbers, Blowin’ In The Wind and Ballad Of A Thin Man, seemed inadequate as the crowd, most of whom had been quiet for the duration of the show, finally erupted, pleading for more.

But the lights came up and that was all we were to hear.

Interestingly, I thought that two of Dylan’s most well-known songs, Tangled Up In Blue and Blowin” In The Wind, were the biggest disappointments of the night.

Both tunes had been rearranged and pretty much stripped of their melodies, with Dylan’s delivery more spoken than sung. Tangled Up In Blue was a particular let-down and Blowin’ In the Wind paled in comparison to the powerful version of Ballad Of A Thin Man, which followed.

But that’s the thing with modern-day Dylan… you’re going to get some happy surprises (the reworked Don’t Think Twice) and some interesting let-downs (Tangled Up In Blue). But, hey, music should be challenging and surprising. That’s what obviously keeps Dylan going and that’s what keeps us coming back for more.

Bob Dylan set list:

Things Have Changed
It Ain’t Me Babe
Highway 61 Revisited
Simple Twist Of Fate
Summer Days
When I Paint My Masterpiece
Honest With Me
Tryin’ To Get To Heaven
Make You Feel My Love
Tangled Up In Blue
Pay In Blood
Early Roman Kings
Desolation Row
Love Sick
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
Thunder On The Mountain
Soon After Midnight
Gotta Serve Somebody
Blowin’ In The Wind
Ballad Of A Thin Man
added by terrylev

Concert added by terrylev
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