Bob Dylan at the Hull Bonus Arena – Rough and Rowdy Ways Tour Review.

I was lucky enough to get tickets for this concert due to a friend being ill and not being able to go.

I was glad to be there to see this legend in action. A towering figure who changed the face of popular music; a fulcrum on which rock music turned. The man is a living legend.

The concert itself was neither Rough nor Rowdy. Indeed, it was almost the exact opposite. The band, as you might expect were immaculate – extremely polished with Charlie Drayton’s fabulous drumming holding it together along with some exquisite solos and interplay from everyone else. They were sharp.

Bob’s voice was better than expected – a big gravelly and straining to make the longer notes – but holding up pretty well – though he really did not try to extend it too much and mostly kept it within a comfortable range in his half-speaking/half-singing style. Following a growly opening to Watching The River Flow, he settled into a comfortable groove. Nobody can sing or interpret a Dylan song as good as Bob (Apart from maybe Jimi Hendrix on All Along The Watchtower). The second number – Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine off Blonde on Blonde, showed his penchant for reworking his own material – producing a scintillating new arrangement and instrumentalisation.

The set was a little one-paced with tracks from the Rough and Rowdy Ways album interspersed with a smattering of older material.

The set list:

Watching The River Flow (New Morning)

Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine (Blonde on Blonde)

I Contain Multitudes (Rough & Rowdy Ways)

False Prophet (Rough & Rowdy Ways)

When I Paint My Masterpiece (outtake from around Self Portrait time)

Black Rider (Rough & Rowdy Ways)

My Own Version of You (Rough & Rowdy Ways)

I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (John Wesley Harding)

Crossing The Rubicon (Rough & Rowdy Ways)

To Be Alone With You (Nashville Skyline)

Key West (Philosopher Pirate) (Rough & Rowdy Ways)

Gotta Serve Somebody (Slow Train Coming)

I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You (Rough & Rowdy Ways)

Mother of Muses (Rough & Rowdy Ways)

Goodbye Jimmy Reed (Rough & Rowdy Ways)

Every Grain of Sand (Shot Of Love)

Throughout the gig Bob remained behind his piano. All you could see was his head and shoulders. The subdued underfloor lighting made everything very indistinct and shadowy. Each number started in darkness. It certainly made for a less-than-dynamic effect. Bob’s refusal to allow screens meant that views of him and the band were extremely restricted. The music had to speak for itself.

The gig certainly hung on the incredible musicianship of the band and everybody in the hall were enthralled, lost in the music, listening intently.

On a couple of occasions, Bob shuffled out from behind his piano to stand and take an ovation from the crowd. It was quite a shock to see him It made you realise how old he was. Tiny and wizened with a pronounced stoop, despite his shock of curly hair, looking every bit his eighty-one years, fragilely, uncertainly, he shuffled back behind his piano. He looked frail. You could see why he wasn’t out front playing guitar.

At one point a young blonde woman bizarrely charged the stage shouting out her love for him before being grabbed and escorted out. Bob carried on without a pause.

During the last number, we were treated to a little burst of harmonica which brought forth a great cheer.

There were no encores.

While this would never be considered one of the best Bob Dylan gigs I have ever attended, I was certainly glad I went. The music was great and it is most probably the last time to see this true legend. We had come to pay homage to one of the greatest singer/songwriters ever. It was a privilege.

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