Monday, 13 August 2007

REVIEW: Bob Dylan

Words by Bill in NZ

Where to begin - a visit to Wellington by
the most documented, discussed and dissected musical artist in popular music history.

Bob sang to those at the concert - in his never ending challenge to his listeners.
"You think I'm over the hill
You think I'm past my prime
Let me see what you got
We can have a whoppin' good time"

Life is always a two way street - and live music is no exception. Bob came to Wellington in his Never Ending Tour (NET) - now in its 20th year - approaching concert number 2000 later this year. He is continually changing his set lists, his arrangements, his phrasing and even the very words of his lyrics – a 66 year old man, but still vital in his approach to his music. Nearly two hours of solid music – no time wasted with jokes and flattery to the local audience. The performance is the art form being presented. And along with his legacy of 500 songs of lyrical substance, his performances will last as well – with technology allowing virtually all of his performances to be preserved.

Listeners came to the concert from many directions, and places in their lives – not just the baby boomers of the Sixties, reliving their past, but young people too – with ears open in appreciation for the experience. (The only sad thing to me is that the high cost of tickets makes it too expensive for many young people to attend these concerts.)

The Wellington concert in 2003 (concert number 1500 of the NET) was the best of the New Zealand concerts of that year. And expectations were high for this year. Hard to imagine the box known as TSB Arena (Queens Wharf) being the best arena in the main centres – but it is surely a better place than either Christchurch or Auckland – and a more appreciative audience as well.

But to the concert – 17 songs – highlights were “Rollin & Tumblin”, “When the Deal Goes Down” and especially “Nettie Moore” from the recent “Modern Times” album. “Nettie Moore” just works so well in concert – poignant and lovely song. And “Honest With Me” and “My Back Pages” also sparkled on the evening.
A real special performance was “Ballad of a Thin Man” done so well on this night – with meaningful harmonica to finish the song.

And – to round off the evening “Blowin in the Wind” – surely a tribute to Wellington’s glorious winds that night.

And sort of where it all began too – the first playing of a Dylan song by NZ artists was “Blowing in the Wind”, being the early October 1963 playing on radio in Wellington by the local group, The Folkestone Three. 44 years later Dylan is singing it to us as his closing song in the concert.

The music of Dylan will not stop here. It was a very good concert.

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