Confessions' of a Free Spirit

Folk legend returns to Australia

By Alison Brennan

Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne was packed to the rafters on Monday night as music legend Bob Dylan performed with his band.

It wasn't the typical rock music performance that MCA is used to hosting, nor was it the traditional Dylan of old. It was somewhere in between the two. His band is predominantly electric these days. Many of the older tunes had been tweaked. The lyrics were the same but the melodies were given a new lease of life. "Tangled up in blue" and "Don't think twice, it's alright" were probably only recognizable to the die hard Dylan fans.

The arena was dimly lit, possibly at the request of Dylan himself. His reclusive lifestyle has helped him to maintain a sense of mystery and intrigue throughout his career. Fortunately, the people on the floor were able to make him out, but as for the rest of the crowd, it would have been a struggle.

However, the voice was unmistakably Dylan. Not all of his hits were performed. No "Knocking on Heaven's door", "Mr Tambourine man" or "The times they are a changin" but he could have played Katy Perry covers and the audience still would have been spellbound. From the moment he opened his mouth there was a wave of calm in the stadium. This was the legend they had all come to hear.

Absolutely no photos were permitted during the performance. To make sure this was enforced, security guards paced up and down the aisles, looking into the crowd eager to tap any misbehaving concert goers on the shoulder.

Bob stayed behind the piano the whole time almost as though it was his fortress, only moving to sip on the odd bottle of water. His playing was faultless. The audience cheered loudly every time his harmonica made an appearance as well.

Not once throughout the performance did he address the fans. He just sat and played tune after tune. Did he even know what city he was in? Yet again, mystery and intrigue. It's what the fans have come to expect from this eccentric genius. After almost two and a half hours and an encore, Mr Dylan simply shuffled to the centre of the stage, took a bow and walked off. And everybody in the stadium knew they had witnessed something extraordinary.