Hull, England
Bonus Arena

October 27, 2022

[Ewan Gleadow]

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.

Ewan Gleadow


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