In his last two concert tours I ventured to back in 2007 and 2011 Dylan, although writing some of his best songs in his 60 year career, was performing imperfectly on stage. His rasping voice was often inaudible and he refused to carry the song’s tune. But his fans forgave him. He was after all a man in his late 60s who should quite rightly be sunning himself in a rocking chair on his veranda. His playlist too unfortunately included songs which most fans hadn’t heard of or deconstructed to such an extent that they weren’t recognisable. But still his followers, and I, forgave him.
But this Dylan concert is different. You can mostly hear the words he spurts into the microphone and he’s even carrying the tune. But what is fundamentally different is his playlist. Three quarters of the songs are from his last 5 albums, with at least 6 of them from his latest 2012 album, Tempest. There was no deconstruction here. His gravelly voice suits the songs. And they soar. The highlights for me are Soon After Midnight, Scarlet Town and Long and Wasted Years.
Some say that at 73, this might be the last time you’ll see this troubadour in concert. But that’s no reason to see him. This is a man reinvented, with hard-hitting, edgy songs, a man with not much to lose, even when he’s not too far from knocking on Heaven’s door.