Bob Dylan Tribute Night @ QPAC, Brisbane (07/07/12)

To celebrate half a century of classic storytelling, unique performances and overall timeless classics, five of Australia’s most prominent artists joined together to perform the legendary songs of Bob Dylan. Ash Naylor and the five-piece Paul Kelly Band was the accompaniment for the evening, though it was more than evident from the beginning that they could hold their own. They opened the show with unabashed enthusiasm which propelled the night forward on a conveyor belt of Dylan classics, with each artist singing a song and then introducing the next.

Josh Pyke was the opening artist of the evening, and from the moment he started singing it was no mystery why he was there. He covered the almost-country classic It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue which set the folk tones for the evening. Pyke’s is a voice that so greatly suits the more understated songs of Dylan’s back catalogue, and it was a continual treat to hear his appreciation of the songs he chose to perform.

Holly Throsby played the part of the storyteller, stunning the audience with her finely understated vocals, playing the natural part of the storyteller just as Bob Dylan himself is celebrated for. Throughout the night she picked a handful of tunes that so greatly suited her delicate vocal stylings and made songs of unrequited love her own.

Kevin Mitchell, also known as Bob Evans and Jebediah frontman, bounced on stage with his illuminated acoustic guitar, full of enthusiasm for the cause and the audience. He performed the first of what may be regarded as Dylan’s greatest hits; Blowin’ in the Wind received cheers from the opening notes and was executed to perfection.

Kevin was then joined by Patience Hodgson – leading lady of The Grates and bundle of energy in her own right. Theirs was the first of many collaborations, and was a fitting introduction to Patience’s following song, Visions of Johanna. Patience’s song choices of the evening were particularly suited to her powerful voice and personality, and it was evident that she was amongst the greatest Dylan fans in the room.

Kav Temperley of Eskimo Joe brought to the stage his own brand of rock. With perhaps one of the most distinctive voices on the line up, one could say that he opted for a more glamorous take on folk rock classics and the added punch appeared to be welcomed by the greater audience. The most noteworthy of his performances for this portion of the evening was Hurricane/ Eight minute’s worth of storytelling which Kav embraced with theatrical enthusiasm, throwing back his head and popping out his hips in a way that perhaps wasn’t in keeping with the true style of the song but was entertaining nonetheless.

Kevin Mitchell soon returned to the stage, guitar in hand, forewarning the audience that his following tune “may get a little sexy.” His rendition of Lay Lady Lay was indeed as sultry as his Royal Bobness would’ve intended.

Josh Pyke was outstanding once again with his cover of Tangled Up In Blue, beginning as an acoustic ballad and slowly built itself into a soaring climax that was both an unexpected and a wholly fitting way to demonstrate the sheer talent of Pyke and the Paul Kelly Band.

The audience was welcomed back after the intermission by way of a stream of Dylan classics that proved better than before. Temperley launched into a firey take on All Along the Watchtower, followed by Rainy Day Women, accompanied by the crowd-wandering Mitchell and Hodgson on tambourine.

The mood was quickly dialled down as Holly Throsby and Josh Pyke entered the stage. The pair engaged in shy banter, telling the audience of their longtime friendship and mutual admiration of Bob Dylan, with Throsby having invited Pyke to sing one of her favourite Dylan songs with her. This was a move that proved invaluable on Throsby’s part – the following take on The Times They Are A-Changin’ was a definite highlight of the evening, with their delicate voices so neatly intertwining resulting in a truly heartfelt song that was so dearly appreciated.

Patience Hodgson returned to the stage, kicked off her shoes “so she could feel the bass better” and threw herself into Subterranean Homesick Blues. The song gave legs to her inner rock chick and she nailed it, dance moves and all.

Josh Pyke returned what Patience described as “her favourite Dylan track” and from the opening notes, all who were in attendance knew why. His version of Just Like A Woman was stunning. So finely executed, simple backing and his pristine voice, it was a delicate reminder of Dylan’s timeless talents as a songwriter as well as a musician.

Temperley, Mitchell and Pyke formed on stage to sing Mr Tambourine Man with each singing a verse and rejoining for the chorus. A favourite amongst audience members and singers alike, it was one of the few songs that the crowd joined in with, and all players created a swaying room of sound that felt like a true tribute to Dylan.

Not to be outdone, Hodgson and Throsby had their turn with A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. It was touching to see not only supreme talent working together but the love each had for the song. They added a feminine touch which was of great advantage to the song and their voices melded together in perfect harmony.

The final performance of the evening, the encore of Like A Rolling Stone, demanded that the audience be on their feet, although it was clear that by this stage many members of the audience were practically floating. Hands were waving in the air to the powerful chorus and cheers did not subside until long after the curtain was drawn.