4.5 (20 votes)
DVDylan ID: D782
Recording type: Audience
City/Venue: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia
Date: Sunday, 19th August 2007
Two Camera Mix, Sound Upgrade
16:9 Widescreen
Never-Ending Tour Concert #1972
  1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
  2. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
  3. Watching The River Flow
  4. Just Like A Woman
  5. Rollin' And Tumblin'
  6. When The Deal Goes Down
  7. Highway 61 Revisited
  8. Blind Willie McTell
  9. My Back Pages
  10. Honest With Me
  11. Spirit On The Water
  12. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
  13. Ain't Talkin'
  14. Summer Days
  15. I Believe In You
Number of discs: 1
Video standard: NTSC
Authoring: DVDs with menu and chapters are circulating
Submitter's comments:

Two camera mix with separate audience-taped audio, single page menu and chapter points. Missing the encores. First cam is back centre, super steady, zooms in on Bob and most of the band. After the first few minutes, the taper hardly touches the zoom so it's almost like a fixed camera. Second cam is left of stage, up the side. Zooms in/out mostly on Bob, knees up at max zoom, though the best shots are wider when Bob and George or Bob and Stu are both in frame :-) 2nd cam had some head or occasional other problems but the two-cam mix editing fixes them. Most people will rate this 5 ... fussy people 4 ... I doubt there will be any 3 votes on dvdylan! If you get only one audience 2007 DVD, this might be the one to get!

DISC: 782

SOUND & IMAGE: 2007 has turned out to be a rather well documented year for Dylan fans in both DVD and audio. This labour of love brings fan-generated DVDs to a new level of professionalism. The two camera mix is generally smooth and although there is some difference in the colour tones, the viewing is always pleasing. The first two songs suffer very slightly from some brief ceiling gazing but this does nothing to mar the enjoyment of the general sharpness and fullness of the images and the quality of the shooting – which is without obstruction and superb. Sound is sweet and rich.

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes.
Band intros and encore missing (Thunder on the Mountain & All Along the Watchtower).

For Never Ending Tour show #1972 Bob and band are in fine form. Minor criticisms include rather perfunctory playing from the band and a gravely voiced Bob on the opening Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat and some mumbled forgotten lyrics on the second number Don’t Think Twice. Memory lapse notwithstanding, Dylan leans into the mike and almost whispers the lyrics of Don’t Think Twice, an affect that changes the erstwhile acerbic tone of the song to a bitter-sweet lament.

Watching the River Flow, the last song with Bob on guitar, suffers from some minor up-singing at the end of a couple of lines and a rather growly voice, however about half way through his vocal picks up and he appears more at ease with the guitar. He’s taken to wearing the guitar slung low; a stance that often gives an impression of playing with the instrument rather than playing it. Although the rather recent re-introduction of Bob on guitar, at least for a few numbers a night, is most welcome, it’s strange to see him so uncomfortable with the instrument. Will we ever see an acoustic set again or is this just a prelude to other shifts and changes?
With Just Like A Woman Dylan switches to keyboards. He sings the song slowly and almost menacingly with each word of the chorus spat out. Dylan once referred to this song as “a frightening song” and tonight it is indeed that. For a “sweeter” version see D784 just 8 nights before in New Zealand.

Rollin’ & Tumblin’ is the night’s first song from Modern Times. Clearly energized by the new material Dylan and the band roar into the song. Dylan’s vocal is spot on and we see the first of his on-the-toes dancing at the keyboards. There is some nice interaction between Donnie on mandolin and Dylan. Smiles all round at the end and we are immediately treated to another Modern Times song, When the Deal Goes Down, with clear, almost sweet vocals. In many ways Dylan’s voice is shot, but interestingly so, and in spite of the obvious wear and tear of years of a hundred-plus concerts Dylan can still sound tender. There is a lovely pedal steel break and the “transient joys” lyric is sung with real emotive force. Next is a rhythmically fractured and powerfully played Highway 61. From the energy of the playing and the vocal it’s difficult to believe that Dylan has played this song over 1300 times in concert. It’s one of the night’s many highlights: the dark menacing tempo nicely juxtaposed with Bob cutting loose and dancing at the keyboard. Song finish and grins all round are indicative of some lovely band interaction and an old favourite given new life!

The next three gems Blind Willie McTell, My Back Pages, and Honest With Me showcase Dylan as a master of phrasing; the lyrics of all three songs are almost spoken with the vocals punctuated by the music. This sets up a marvellous kind of dialogue that enables such powerful lines as “power and greed and corruptible seed seem to be all that there is” and “equality I spoke the words just like a wedding vow” to hit home with full force. There is some lovely banjo from Donnie in Blind Willie and Pages finishes with a beautiful harmonica solo from Bob. Great stuff!

Spirit on the Water brings us to another Modern Times highlight with the question asked and refuted – the disapproving roar of the audience to the “over the hill line” is becoming a standard - clearly by this stage we are all havin’ a whomping good time! Stuck Inside of Mobile is delivered in a forceful, jaunty, manner which is very enjoyable but I can’t help thinking of the masterful and joyful performance of this song on D197.su2 of 2001.

With Ain’t Talkin’ we move into different territory altogether. The dark twin to Time Out of Mind’s Highlands, Ain’t Talkin’ is a bitter-sweet meditation of yearning and eventual loss. A silent witness walks through a fractured landscape of pain and little redemption whilst still understanding the heart’s ability to burn and yearn. Tonight the song is beautifully paced and the emotive force of the delivery unsurpassed.

The tempo picks up with a joyous Summer Days, a dancing Bob and a song that everyone clearly enjoys playing. I Believe In You, the final song on this disk, is perhaps the highlight of a night replete with gems. This performance acts like a bookend to the wonderful Saturday Night Live version of 1979; here Dylan emphasises the anthemic quality of the song; indeed it’s sung like a prayer. His voice is a little tired at first but lifts with the unfolding of the song. The chorus is a powerful statement of belief and resolve and Dylan’s performance here reminds me of his riveting version of Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come on The dramatic abrupt closing on “They ask me how I feel, and if my love is real” is a fitting end to a very fine performance – the question becoming rhetorical.

HIGHLIGHTS: Rollin’ & Tumblin’, Highway 61; Ain’t Talkin’, Summer Days, I Believe in You

COMMENT: The most vital experience of music, for the artist and the audience, is located in the moment of its performance. No matter how faithful to the recorded version (the orthodox version) an artist tries to be, the song is always somehow rendered anew in the living act of the moment. Bob Dylan, the performing artist, is an exemplar of this observation. If there is a motto to Dylan performances then it has to be “make it new!” New in the sense of alive in the moment, living. Not something that is canonized and codified. He has become the elder statesman that, as a twenty year old, he aspired to be. Completely at home on the stage he draws out the multiple dimensions of his songs by melodic re-structuring and semantic re-inventing. Both old and new material thus feels immediate and fresh albeit sometimes downright strange. It has been said that Dylan de-constructs his songs in performance but in essence he does more that this; he re-invents meanings and re-imagines protagonists. Each performance is a tribute to the astounding depth of his back catalogue. I attended both Melbourne concerts and, for example, he didn’t sing Blowin’ in the Wind at either and I would hazard a guess that no one missed it. Can one imagine a Who concert without My Generation or a McCartney concert without Yesterday?

However the golden time, the summer days, as Jim50 puts it are over. The mercurial alchemy that produced albums like Freewheelin’, Bringin’ It All Back Home, Highway 61, & Blonde on Blonde in dizzying sequence cannot be repeated but what we are seeing now is a kind of renaissance in performance; an artist that is aware of his limits but not bound by them. Making comparisons between different stages of an artist’s work is always a tricky business, as is his wont Dylan has a rather idiosyncratic take on the process:

"You know, comparing me to myself is really like, … I don’t think it’s fair to compare this album [here he is speaking of Love & Theft] to other albums … I’m still the same person. You know, like Hank Williams would say, my hair’s still curly, my eyes are still blue. And that’s all I know.”

THANKS: As always to the people who tape and edit these shows.
To CatBlack for submitting this gem and to Jim50 for his inspirational and erudite reviews and the review template.

STARS: For quality of production and performance: Five. An absolute must-have.

Reviewed by Leesa on 12th March 2008