Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Sun Aug 31
Bob Dylan turned 73 this year but continues to tour, and while reports vary as to when he was last in Adelaide (surely it was 2011 when he was in town with B.B. King and not, as suggested by some, “over two decades” ago?), it doesn’t really matter as he was here in person last night and that’s what counts. And while arthritis means that he now sadly doesn’t play guitar, with his five-strong backing-band taking on those responsibilities, he still tinkles the piano, works his trademark harmonica and sings.
With no support act, Bob and the boys took to the stage at 7.30pm and, as usual for His Bobness, offered no, “Hello Adelaide!”, or any kind of jokey banter with the audience before breaking into his first unnamed tune, Things Have Changed, that Oscar-winner from the film Wonder Boys. And the songs kept on coming, and they were all sorts, including Workingman’s Blues #2, Pay In Blood and Tangled Up In Blue, but then there was suddenly an interval after about 45 minutes as Bob took a break and went off to gargle more gravel.
Returning with Simple Twist Of Fate (another Blood On The Tracks piece), Forgetful Heart and more, Bob kept ensuring that this was a slightly alienating experience, as his concerts have been for 50 odd (sometimes very odd) years. The audience didn’t seem to mind, though, as many were fans of The Mighty Bob from way back, and were prepared for an absolutely-no-frills show, and they cheered like crazy to get him and the band back on the stage after Long And Wasted Years for an encore that comprised only two songs: a raspy All Along The Watchtower and what turned out to be Blowin’ In The Wind, although its rebirth as a jaunty toe-tapper meant that most of the punters had no idea what they were listening to at first. And if anyone was hoping for a final rendition of Like A Rolling Stone or Subterranean Homesick Blues or whatever they were disappointed, as Bob and Co vanished one last time – and then the lights came on.
If anyone had any criticisms of the show (which, according to some reports, was actually warmer and friendlier than some of Bob’s contempt-heavy performances in the past), they were soothed by the fact that, well, he’s Bob Dylan and he’s a living legend and he’s always been a bit weird. Problems with the sound of the harmonica? Don’t worry, he’s Bob Dylan. Vocals that sounded less like his signature braying and more like he had a cold? She’ll be right, he’s Bob Dylan. No mention of what any of the actual songs were, making a non-fanatic review hard to write? Don’t dare complain, as he’s Bob Dylan. And doesn’t he know it.
by Dave Bradley