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September 3, 2007 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Bob Dylan – Friday August 10, TSB Arena

On a cold lonely night in August I was seeking shelter from the storm that is life at Salient. It’s near impossible to do full justice with a review of Bob Dylan, but after being warmed up by some wines from the City Gallery I managed to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free, silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands, with all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves and was able to forget about today until tomorrow as I entered TSB Arena.

This was my second experience of Dylan’s mythic Never Ending Tour (the previous time being four years prior), Dylan was already on stage with his rhythm and blues flavoured backing band. Standing with his back to me he was hunched over some keyboards wearing a grey coloured hat similar to the one he used to wear around 32 years ago during the circus that was the Rolling Thunder Revue. This time around things were more low key as he zipped through some of his back catalogue, including ‘Lay Lady Lay’, ‘Tangled Up in Blue’, ‘My Back Pages’ and ‘Highway 61 Revisited’.

The highlight was when he belted out a convincing rendition of ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’, which suited his position on the keyboards and got me going with being a journalist and all. Although he never got onto the guitar he did blow familiar bursts on the harmonica which the audience visibly appreciated and his tight backing band filled in any blanks.

Dylan didn’t give a shit about engaging with his audience; he is famous for being taciturn, and yet he is worshipped for being like this. This was Dylan as a 66-year-old legend, there was to be no histrionics like during his 1966 Tour, like many other icons (the Stones anyone?) it was an exercise of just being able to say you were there.

It was also good to be drunk and dance with other romantics in the rear aisle as the traditionalists remained seated on the main floor.

The encore was weaker this time around, there were to be no rocking versions of ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and ‘All Along the Watchtower’ like in ‘03, instead he placated the older crowd with a rendition of ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and finally without another word he was gone. The crowd was then left to digest the fact that Dylan had been in their midst, as these things go yet more mystique will have been imprinted on their minds which no doubt will make them hunger for more. It is for those reasons that the man formerly known as Robert Zimmerman is so revered.


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