A Bob Dylan show is not about ‘hits & memories’. While many of his contemporaries are out cashing in their careers with their Vegas years performances, Dylan is staying true to what started him in the first place … authenticity.
Dylan’s live performance attitude does earn him criticism but that is nearly always from writers who don’t understand him to start with. For Bob songs evolve, and like a child reaching adulthood, you should not expect the same cute, cuddly five-year old at 25.
The opening track ‘Things Have Changed’ was released in 2000. In 2018 it bears a slight resemblance to the original but Dylan has let it grow. 1975’s ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ is a totally new arrangement, barely recognisable to the Blood On The Tracks album track. Even the newer songs from the more recent Tempest album of 2012 like ‘Duquesne Whistle’ and ‘Pay In Blood’ have been broken and put back together in a totally different way.
With Dylan, you can expect change every time. That’s what his true fans come for.
The Bob Dylan band is pure musicianship. Charlie Sexton on guitar moulds each new arrangement to fit the modern day group while drummer George Recile (who even gets a drum solo at one point during ‘Thunder On The Mountain’) can sway the band through various styles from rock to Americana. Dylan spent all night behind the piano with the harp brought out for a totally reinvented ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright’.
Bob Dylan – piano, harp, guitar
Tony Garnier – bass
George Recile – drums
Stu Kimball – rhythm guitar
Charlie Sexton – lead guitar
Donnie Herron – banjo, electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel, violin, viola
For ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ and ‘Early Roman Kings’, this is a blues band. Dylan was channelling Muddy Waters during ‘Kings’.
‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ from Bob’s born-again album ‘Slow Train Coming’ ended the set as with the previous Australian shows. Prior to this tour, Dylan had only once performed the song in Australia in 1998 in Melbourne. The arrangement was another re-imagination of the original. Truth be known if you want to hear Bob Dylan songs that sound just like the originals you will need to see a Dylan covers band.
Dylan does delve into the 60s but doesn’t dwell in it. He balances the show with as many songs from post 1997 as before that. You experience a musical performance with Dylan, not a greatest hits. Sure a guaranteed greatest hits setlist would assure Dylan of stadium shows like Springsteen or McCartney but then you wouldn’t ever see him in these intimate settings.
This is what the real Dylan fans want. They don’t want Vegas Bob.
Bob Dylan setlist Melbourne 14 August 2018
Things Have Changed (from The Wonder Boys soundtrack, 2000)
It Ain’t Me Babe (from Another Side of Bob Dylan, 1964)
Highway 61 Revisited (from Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)
Simple Twist of Fate (from Blood On The Tracks, 1975)
Duquesne Whistle (from Tempest, 2012)
When I Paint My Masterpiece (from Greatest Hits Vol II, 1971)
Honest With Me (from Love and Theft, 2001)
Tryin’ to Get to Heaven (from Time Out of Mind, 1997)
Make You Feel My Love (from Time Out of Mind, 1997)
Pay in Blood (from Tempest, 2012)
Tangled Up in Blue (from Blood On The Tracks, 1975)
Early Roman Kings (from Tempest, 2012)
Desolation Row (from Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)
Love Sick (from Time Out Of Mind, 1997)
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1963)
Thunder on the Mountain (from Modern Times, 2006)
Soon After Midnight (from Tempest, 2012)
Gotta Serve Somebody (from Slow Train Coming, 1979)
Blowin’ in the Wind (from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1962)
Ballad of a Thin Man (from Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)
Bob Dylan Australia and New Zealand remaining dates
18 August, Sydney, ICC Theatre
19 August, Sydney, Enmore Theatre
20 August, Wollongong, WIN Entertainment Centre
22 August, Newcastle, Entertainment Centre
24 August, Brisbane, Entertainment Centre
26 August, Auckland, Spark Arena
28 August, Christchurch, Horncastle Arena