Live At Sydney Entertainment Centre (Godfather Records GR 657/658)
Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia – April 28th, 2011
Disc 1 (77:50): Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, Things Have Changed, Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Tangled Up In Blue, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, Desolation Row, High Water (For Charley Patton), Spirit On The Water, Summer Days, Simple Twist Of Fate
Disc 2 (78:59): Highway 61 Revisited, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Like A Rolling Stone, All Along The Watchtower, band introduction, Forever Young. Bonus tracks, Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia – April 27th, 2011: Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power), Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues, Jolene, Forgetful Heart, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Cold Irons Bound, When The Deal Goes Down, The Levee’s Gonna Break
During Bob Dylan’s latest trip to Australia, the press’ reporting took on a similar tone as his trip to Japan last year. Some wondered if this would be his final visit, such as Ed Gibbs on his blog, reviewing the April 27th Sydney show by stating: “After relentless touring for a quarter-century, the set list hinted as much: from a sprightly Gonna Change My Way of Thinking, via a mournful Forgetful Heart and Simple Twist of Fate, to an affectionate Forever Young, one felt as if the man was saying ‘adios’ to the assembled faithful (approximately 10,000 of us, in total).
“Tonight, I missed the fiery, focused, inspired Dylan I witnessed four years ago, at the same venue. And as the band stood centre stage, soaking in the applause at the close, I left with the nagging feeling that maybe there won’t be many more Bob Dylan tours, that perhaps he has done it all, and that maybe he feels it’s time to say as much. There aren’t many corners of the globe he hasn’t played to, after all. Including China. And perhaps age doesn’t help, either.”
Other complained about his aloofness, such as the review of his set at the Byron Bay Blues Festival which said: “There’s a few rules when writing about Bob Dylan: no interviews, no photographs and it seems no looking. Despite being one of the world’s greatest poets and musicians, you could say that after his performance at the Byron Bay Bluesfest, Dylan is continually fighting his desire for privacy even when he is on stage. Thousands came to see him as the headliner on Monday night but, unfortunately, thousands did not actually see him.”
But the reality is that Dylan is performing at the same high level he’s had for years, and his behavior is just as bizarre and demanding as always.
The April 27th show at the Entertainment Centre was booked first, and the April 28th show added later. Godfather use a very good but slightly distant audience recording of the entire concert.
In contrast to the first Sydney show, where Dylan seemed to focus mostly upon recent songs, the April 28th concert has a much more balanced setlist with many and various tunes from the sixties included. The show starts off with “Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking,” a song he’s pulled out in recent years to serve as one of his better openers.
He pulls out several old epics such as “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” an apocalyptic “Desolation Row” and “Highway 61 Revisited.” Scattered among them are the more introspective “modern” classics such as “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum,” “High Water (For Charley Patton)” and “Spirit On The Water.”
Also notable is the rearrangement of “All Along The Watchtower.” Although Dylan is known for his radical rearrangements of classic songs, he always favored the Jimi Hendrix cover over his own and it has been performed as such for forty years. But here he tries a slower, more tentative melody for the tune.
The bonus tracks come from the previous evening at the same venue, the show that was criticised as lacking in passion by Gibbs. The sound is just as good as the main tape and has no overlap. It reflects the nature of the set too, with many of the newer songs from Together Through Life that were not played on the 28th.
The packaging is high standard with various photographs from the shows on the artwork and the concert poster duplicated on the front. This is another very good Dylan release by Godfather and is worth having.