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Bob Dylan 980821 in Melbourne, Australia

From: IronMan (
Date: 21 Aug 1998 07:48:23 -0700
Well, as expected there were a few songs dropped from Wednesday's set
list.  It was a pity not to get Dark as a Dungeon again but What Good Am
I almost made up for it.  It may not have been as close and intimate as
the Mercury Lounge but the overall view from a distance was better for
me and at least I could see the boots and guitars this time around

He's a sly old fox the way he flirts and teases; the faces; the
gestures; the sly smiles.  He might try to hide it but tell me he isn't
having a ball.  Good one Bob.

Unfortunately, no duets with Patti.  Her set failed to ignite the
audience much at all.  Jokes about Kangaroo Boxing and Bunyips fell
flat.  Rock'n'Roll Nigger was definitely the high point of the set.  She
was much better at the Palais Theatre last time she was here.

Fared much better in the field recording stakes this time around.

Tony Iremonger
Melbourne Australia

Date: Fri, 21 Aug 1998 23:04:46 +0200 (MEST) From: Carsten Wohlfeld ( To: Subject: August 21, 1998 - Melbourne, Australia - a review > Bob Dylan & Patti Smith > Melbourne, Australia > Flinders Park, August 21, 1998 > A review by Carsten Wohlfeld After a day off that I spent exploring the lovely sights of the Great Ocean Road (thanks Stephen) it was time for the proper start of the Dylan Oz tour at the wellknown Flinders Park, the same venue that usually sees Stefi Graf win the Australian Tennis Open in January. We got down there from the Corner Hotel where our little pre/show gathering had been at around 7.45pm only to find Australian war-up act Deborah Conway (I hope that's the way you spell her name) was just closing her seemingly unspectacular set, accompanied by a guitarist. The show was a sell-out with 12,000 folks attending, but the hall actually didn't look *that* huge and the sound was execellent down at the front, where we had our excellent second row seats (thanks to Tricia!). At 8.05pm the lights went down and the woman and her crew who were so much more than just a support act took to the stage. Now Patti Smith is without a doubt my favourite female singer and when I first heard about the joined Dylan / Smith tour it was her who made me decide to go cause I really would get value for money here. Later on, when I had my flights booked and everything I totally had forgotten about her, but when she came on stage I was absolutely thrilled.... Patti was wearing the exact same outfit that she wore on the famous "horses" cover 22 years ago, same hair, same guitarist (six/string god Lenny Kaye), same drummer / JD Daughtery and the excellent new additions Tony Shanahan on bass and Oliver Ray on guitar. I was going to do a song-by-song rundown of Patti's set as well, but since I didn't write down the setlist, I probably would miss out on a couple of songs and so here are just some general notes: They were absolute FANTASTIC. I never have seen a better support band in my life! After the Patti greeted the umm - select word - very well behaved Melbourne crowd's shouts of "Patti we love you" with "oh, they speak English here" even before one note was played she launched into a very slow, laidback version of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl". Next up was mz alltime/favourite Patti song already: "Free Money" and boy did they rock on this one. It was absolutely amazing to hear a note/perfect version of that terrific song 22 years after it was recorded played basically by the exact same band that broke up for 16 years inbetween. Patti's very well paced set included a number of great songs from her recent "Peace And Noise" album such as "Whirl Away" and a rough romp through "Dead City" but it was the classics that finally brought the house down - well sort of anyways: A perfect "Because The Night" four songs into the set, a hard-rocking "Pissing In The River" and the amazing adrenalin rush of the punky closer "Rock And Roll Nigger" which faetured some excellent Lenny solos and saw Patti ripping four out of the six strings from her guitar! Punk rock indeed! After a disappointingly short 50 minute set it took the roadies about 20 minutes to set up the stage for Dylan and his crew. They came out at 9.20pm, usual outfits, Bob in a different suit than on Wednesday (still a grey one though) to jump straight into: > Gotta Serve Somebody Great version as Bob obviously enjoyed to have all the people right at the rail (the stage rush had happened as soon as the lights went down), strong singing courtesy of Bob complete with the funny back-up vocals by Larry and Bucky. Excellent way to start a show, IMHO. > Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power) Bob had already started to smile and dance during the first number and that meant that we got a different kinda tone on "Senor". Whereas he sang it as though he was suffering in Europe in June and July this was the shiny happy version. A mmuch appreciated choice of song nevertheless. > Cold Irons Bound Followed as expected and was maybe not as good as on Wednesday night at the Mercury Lounge but still above average I'd think. Bob didn't put too much engergy into his singing though. A semi-autopilot rendition, if you know what I mean. > What Good Am I? A louder, more full-on version than in Europe and surprisingly he got all the words right as far as I could hear. > Just Like A Woman Strange choice for the #5 slot, but beautifully done. He played around with the phrasing on the first chorus quite a bit, till he found one he liked (and one I never have heard before). Very nicely done, sung with a lot of convincig passion. The start was a bit funny though, as Bob launched straight into a solo instead of the first verse, leaving behind the band looking puzzled. Actually Tony had to smile big time... > Silvio Long discussion whether or not to play it (here's hoping...) before they went into an okay, but not overwhelmingly great rendition of this old warhorse. David got one of the breaks wrong again (he usually fucks up at some point during this song - which I kinda understand cause it has a hell of a lot different part) which obviously didn't improve this average version. > Mr Tambourine Man (acoustic) Well, he did this one again, didn't mess up the lyrics as he did Wednesday fortunately but he still doesn't find a decent arrangement for this. There was a short harp solo at the end that falls into the "crowdpleasing only" category. > Masters Of War (acoustic) Another excellent rendition, apparently as a reaction to the US bombings. Could be. > Tangled Up In Blue (acoustic) Very interesting version as Bob came up with a completely new guitar solo! Larry, Bucky and Tony all had to laugh out loud, but it actually sounded pretty good and the band did a great job following Bob. > Forever Young (acoustic) Started out okay, but as soon as Bob went into the solo it all went horribly wrong. Messed up the intended twin solo with Larry *completely* - Larry actauuly said "ouch" at one point! - but Bob didn't care and let Kemper virtually stop playing drums to go into a second round of axe solos that got even worse! At that point Bob decided that he just wanted to get out of the song and they did and improvised a-capella ending similar to "Blowin'". Weird! > Can't Wait Was better than at the last show but nowhere near as groovy as the renditions that I heard in Miami Beach or Europe. Quick band intros followed. > Highway 61 Revisited Pretty cool version that all the people who didn't get to see the Mercury Lounge show liked a lot, but it was less dynamic and shorter, so there's really no way to compare the two. Then they left. The crowd was actually so quiet that they turned on the houselights for a microsecond: "Hey folks, you better wake up or it's all over NOW, Baby Blue"! Some people actually woke up and Bob and band returned for yet another pretty nice rendition of: > (encore) > Love Sick It was good. > Rainy Day woen Nos. 12 & 35 was loved by the first-timers and hated by everybody else. > It Ain't Me Babe (acoustic) followed even though the roadies had put the electric gear up. Maybe for a Patti duet on "Released"??? "Babe" was pretty nice, especially since everybody expected "Blowin" in this spot. Featured yet another rather unconvincing harmonica solo at the end too. After the song they stayed on stage and even though the raodies came up with the electric guitars again they stayed for another Patti-less acostic version of: > Blowin' In the Wind (acoustic) Nowhere near as nicely done as on Wednesday but still a huge crowdpleaser of course. A couple of smiles and bows later Bob was gone and the lights came on. Approx. 110 fun minutes had passed, Tricia and I left slightly disappointed, not because the performances had been below average, but simply for the fact that after "Just Like A Woman" at 35 he only repeated songs from the show two days ago (bar "It Ain't Me Babe", which you hardly can call a "new song" or "a surprise". Anyways, it was a more than promising start for the tour proper and if he only brings out Patti for a song tomorrow or at one of the later shows, I'll be the happiest little camper around. Thanks for your time, see y'all at Flinders Park on Saturday evening! Carsten -- "her name is eve and she lives two floors below, she is 22 and looks like linda ronstadt" (birdy num nums) ---
Subject: Reviews of Melbourne, 21 August ... Date: 24 Aug 1998 10:33:10 -0700 Newspaper review from 'The Age' Monday 24 August 1998 by Patrick Donovan Songs Still Say It All "Do you have the strength to live outside of society?" Patti Smith challenged the crowd in her final song, Rock'n'Roll Nigger, before destroying her guitar, string by string, with ferocious strumming. The impassive crowd failed to respond. For Smith and her current travelling companion, Bob Dylan, the question was rhetorical. The determined quest of these lyrical fringe-dwellers to transgress the boundaries of convention has afforded them the capacity to do so. No matter how much they might detest the title, they are rock and roll stars, and they enjoy its perks. Smith and Dylan don't hand out the keys to their kingdom. But on a night like this, their words and musics plot a map to the treasure. Dylan's last-minute warm-up show last Wednesday at the Mercury Lounge was "intimate" only to those who had arrived early. For the less committed (although most had queued for at least three hours to get a ticket) it was a rare chance to dance and drink to Dylan. But they could see little more than his nonchalant facial expression and afro. It will please the tens of thousands who missed out on getting their hands on Wednesday's "hottest tickets in town" that Friday night's show followed a better setlist and that Dylan and his band - one of the best he has played with - overcame the lack of intimacy of the monstrous tennis stadium. Smith appeared a little uncomfortable performing in front of the big crowd, who for the most part remained motionless during her set. But she's not called the Priestess of Punk for nothing and she played a soul-stirring set that included a spectacular cover of Rocking In The Free World. Smith singing Neil Young - it doesn't get much better than that. Or does it? Like his music, Dylan's presence is timeless. And the 57-year-old was looking remarkably well, considering last year's near-fatal illness and a gruelling tour schedule. Resplendent in the troubador uniform - dark suit, cravat and a very serious pair of cowboy boots - Dylan was petit but larger than life. Apart from introducing the band and accepting applause, there was no banter between songs. Dylan says all he's got to say in his lyrics. He drawls, whines and snarls, but like a good poet, he hits the nail on the head with every line. And while many of his songs were written 30 years ago by a young man, the message in songs such as Blowin' In The Wind, Mr Tambourine Man, Just Like A Woman and Forever Young never ages. When he sang them on Friday night, they still broke his heart. Most of the old standards were performed acoustically and reworked to reflect his current peaceful mindset. The rest of the set, drawn from across his 41 albums, ranged from electric rocking blues workouts, Gotta Serve Somebody and the rollicking Highway 61 Revisited, on which he duelled with guitarist Larry Campbell, to the rolling bluegrass of Silvio. Dylan emphasised the end of verses with crackling, nasal falsetto and the notes with funky Charlie Chaplin-like shuffles or jerking his head away from the mike as if it had burnt his lips. On the dirtiest guitar licks, Dylan cocked his legs like a wishbone and wiggled his hips, Elvis Presley-style. The four songs from Time Out Of Mind - the reggae-tinged Can't Wait, the brooding Love Sick, Cold Irons Bound and 'Til I Fell In Love With You (which he changed to "y'all") - were stunning and sat easily alongside his back catalogue. Other highlights came in the at-first-unrecognisable It Ain't Me, Babe, which contained Dylan's only real harp solo, the stunning interweaving of acoustic strings and mandolin on Blowin' In The Wind and the sombre What Good Am I. After two hours and two encores, Dylan approached the front of the stage, made a small bow and then broke out into a funky karate boogie. May we all stay forever young.
from 'The Australian', Monday 24 August The Night Wasn't Patti's by Iain Shedden It wasn't happening for Patti Smith. She huffed and she puffed, she cajoled and she strutted, but even though the house was half full and growing, it must have seemed awfully empty from the stage. "Are you all doing your homework or something?" she hissed into the void. If _she_ was having a hard time, however, her disappointment did not go unreciprocated. The barn-like Tennis Centre played its part, but this was a performance at odds with more than the room. While subtlety has never been her modus operandi, much of the material was undermined by a turgid band prone to 70's rock cliche. Even Because The Night and a surprise rendition of Neil Young's Rockin' In The Free World seemed uninspired. When her guitar amp failed to register the required feedback, it was the last straw. "We're looking forward to the rest of the night too," she gasped in defeat. Bob Dylan had a much better gig; not that he mentioned it. You could tell from the amount of times he broke into that sawn-off Chuck Berry-style duck walk of his; just a few steps as he got off on one of the extended bluesy outros to at least half a dozen of the songs. Those fortunate enough to see him play a two-hour club gig in Melbourne a few days earlier would have known that this is a Dylan with no time for mumbled lyrics or unidentifiable classics from his back-catalogue. This is the 57-year-old master with his best album in 20 years (Time Out Of Mind) in tow and with a hot four-piece band capable of being acoustic jug band (double bass, mandolin) one minute and full-on rock outfit the next. Dylan's ability to engage an audience has been called into question in the past, but not here. He seems intent on creating a small-room intensity in his performance, even arranging his band around him rather than behind him to add to the street-corner ambience. The blues is the over-riding feature of Dylan 98. From the opening You [sic] Gotta Serve Somebody, to the closing climax of Highway 61 Revisited, it was in that genre and its freedom of structure that Dylan indulged. In such a context magic can happen and on a few occasions here, it did. Tangled Up In Blue built to an incredible intensity as Dylan stubbornly stuck to a two-note guitar solo. Highway 61 was equally explosive, while one of the highlights from Time Out Of Mind, Cold Irons Bound, rose from the same swamps as Little Feat and came up smelling sweeter and sexier than the recording. Guitarist Larry Campbell excelled during the electric part of the set, but was also a perfect foil for Dylan's occasionally erratic acoustic doodling. Crowd-pleasers? Well, just about everything. Perhaps his vocals faltered slightly on Blowin' In The Wind and there was the merest suggestion of over-familiarity during Hey [sic] Mr Tambourine Man and It Ain't Me, Babe (his two excuses to play harp, hand-held), but the version of Just Like A Woman was genuinely moving. Dylan changes his set on a nightly basis, so fans elsewhere can expect the unexpected. What you won't see is an ageing rocker going through the motions. What you will see is a master craftsman at a new and exciting peak in his career.

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