Bob Dylan & Band in Christchurch, 28 August 2018

A smiling and happy Dylan took a sold out?Horncastle Arena?of adoring New Zealand fans in Christchurch on a tour of re-arranged songs from across his sex decades of albums.

At 77 ?dressed in a silver grey tuxedo jacket, bus conductor pants and a black Western shirt with silver buttons and a bolo tie, and that trademark mussy Dylan mop top, but no hat this time? Dylan still has it. ?Singing without any backing vocals, just his 5-piece live Band, the man from Duluth, Minnesota, sent us through a rollicking three sets of re-arranged songs without a break over two solid hours.

He sang a set from the early days, the center of the concert was more recent songs, and ended up with some?sixties classics.

Kicking off with?Things Have Changed??from “Wonder Boys? (for which he won his Academy Award which was on stage)?and?It Ain?t Me Babe?and?Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan took us to a strong new version of?Summer Days?with some high energy southern fiddle. He variously stood or sat playing vigorous or melodic reflective baby grand piano and there was plenty of trademark harmonica. At two points

Dylan left the baby grand piano to?huge applause and sang center stage. There was obvious fun with those gangly Dylan stage moves and the hand on the hip.=

We got the blues, electric guitar rock, some soul, folk and swinging ballads. Accompanied with rhythm guitar, bass (including a double bass plucked and played with bow), keyboards and fiddle, 5 switched-out lead guitars, and drums, Dylan was confident and his voice strong. ?He drank from a simple paper cup, which during?Roman Kings?was switched out with what looked like a takeaway coffee.

Backed by huge red velvet curtains which Dylan bought with him, The Band wore black fedoras?and matching tuxedo jackets with silver?glitter lapels. Dylan had a matching silver yoke on his Western shirt.?The stage was full of retro nostalgia (also brought in) such as:?a suspended set of seven vintage trash-can style movie-set spot lights, a ring of eight caged retro industrial lights on stands?glowing orange in some songs, and to the right of the piano?his academy award and that neo-classical bust of Athena with a bob, that he takes everywhere.

Dylan gave us:?Tangled Up in Blue, Roman Kings, Like A Rolling Stone, Honest With Me, Make You Feel My Love,

Love Sick, Thunder on the Mountain, Don?t Think Twice, It?s Alright,?among others. Some were unrecognisable new renditions. I didn?t recognise?Desolation Row?until it was over.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was a new version of 1979?s?Gotta Serve Somebody?from?Slow Train Coming?but with funny new lyrics:??You mi-ght be a mystic…? something about a ?fine tooth comb? and??Hallucinating,?You mighta seen a ghost? to??You might not even know, the day of your birth!??which was received with standing applause and Dylan beaming.

He encored at 9:50pm after 110 minutes with a nice?Blowin? In the Wind?backed by some lovely fiddle, and finished up with a fiesty?Ballad of a Thin Man?(?Do Ya, Mr Jones??) from 1965. The audience loved it and Dylan seemed pleased, smiling and grinning?throughout the two hours.

John Stringer, Christchurch.

Here?s the setlist:

  1. Things Have Changed
  2. It Ain?t Me Babe
  3. Highway 61 Revisited
  4. Simple Twist Of Fate
  5. Summer Days
  6. When I Paint My Masterpiece
  7. Honest With Me
  8. Tryin? To Get To Heaven
  9. Make You Feel My Love
  10. Pay In Blood
  11. Tangled Up In Blue
  12. Early Roman Kings
  13. Desolation Row
  14. Love Sick
  15. Don?t Think Twice, It?s All Right
  16. Thunder On The Mountain
  17. Soon After Midnight
  18. Gotta Serve Somebody
  19. Blowin? In The Wind [encore]
  20. Ballad Of A Thin Man [encore]