October 27, 2022
Review by Ewan Gleadow
Shimmying his way out from behind a piano twice throughout an hour-and-a-half
set, Bob Dylanís presence on stage has changed. There were those attending
his Bonus Arena tour that no doubt has an obsession with the man and his music.
Where that line is blurred is unknown territory, but Dylan appears to be aware of
that. Tucked away behind a piano for much of the gig, those that were there
to see the icon are left instead with just the music. That is no slight, part of
performance is artist and their art, but Dylanís set makes the active choice to
put the music into focus, not the artist.
Legacy tour this is not. A confident outing of Rough and Rowdy Ways makes
up the core of Dylanís work. An expectation to shut up and play the hits may
have lingered, but like any artist hoping to display their latest work, Dylan
perseveres with the latest tracks. Black Rider and Mother of Muses stand out
as real highlights of the show, a stunning quality transferred from album to
stage. Dylanís voice may have changed but his consistency as a lyricist and
presence on stage, or rather, the presence of the music, shines through.
Even then, those hits are still somewhat present, lingering as reminders of
his historic work.
A resoundingly good rendition of Most Likely You Go Your Way (and Iíll Go
Mine) marked a nod of approval to the heyday of Blonde on Blonde while
Gotta Serve Somebody from the first of the gospel trilogy, Slow Train
Coming, marks a nice midpoint for the show. Slotted into a seat a few rows
from the stage, there is a sincere and changing reverence for Dylan as a newly
formed artist, his presence on stage amounts to nothing more than a bobbing
head, up and down behind a piano. It is as he wrote in Chronicles, ďWith me,
it was about putting the song across.Ē Not much has changed. Dylanís backing
band were quality too, with a sincere, orchestral feel to their simple suits and
instrumental variance. There was little time for talk when diving back and forth
between a great breadth of instruments. In that way, Dylan did shut up and
play the hits, the hits he hopes to continue his career with.
Whatever that next step is, there was no hint of it on stage. Dylan continues
on with a legacy like no other, and seeing that on stage was as unique as is
to be expected. The perfect set as far as consistency was concerned, with
no noticeable flubs, mistimed strokes or botches. Quality musicianship and a
strong voice that cuts through in the most unexpected of places, it is clear
to see Dylan still has a passion for performing. Keeping consistent with the
set he plays each night is a clear belief in the quality of his latest works and
the presence they hold on his discography. Every Grain of Sand rounds out
the set, a Shot of Love for the audience, who are given a Rough and Rowdy
Ways-heavy set (reliant on some appearances of Nashville Skyline and John
Wesley Harding material) that confirms and celebrates the intensity Dylan
still holds, on stage and off.
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