‘Take off yer hat, Bob!’, so shouted one of the singer-songwriter’s 3,500 disciples. Testimony to his elusive presence, Bob Dylan’s mysterious stage persona can only be described as both revered and resented by his devout followers. As a ‘huge fan’ myself, the most mundane of lines ‘we’ll be back in ten or fifteen minutes’ was nectar on the ears. Dylan’s stage persona, however, is as perplexing as his lyrics; to unravel either would be a mistake.
Dylan’s new take on old numbers was a musical feast. Whilst Blowin’ in the Wind and Simple Twist of Fate acquired the raucous pulse of electric guitars, All Along The Watchtower was a cool, slick take of its original and a fantastic choice of encore. More recent material from Dylan’s album, The Tempest, was delivered with an acuity and lyrical purpose. Dylan took a couple of numbers to warm up, his croaking voice making some of the lyrics unclear. That said, there was some wonderful harmonica playing in She Belongs to Me, obliterating premature judgements of Dylan ‘losing his touch’. This point was driven home rather amusingly in ‘Spirit on the Water’ where lines, ‘You think I’m over the hill? You think I’m past my prime?’ were responded to with a fervent and resounding, ‘no!’
Dylan’s eminence in the music realm did not seem to diminish the intimacy and ‘I was there’ sensation of this concert, not least because photography was prohibited. Teenagers and adults in the audience alike, this was testament to the fact that even at the age of 72, Dylan’s music is reverberant with more than one generation.
See a review of the same concert at Vintage Rock.