fri 21/09/2018

Bob Dylan: return of the never-ending tour | reviews, news & interviews

Bob Dylan: return of the never-ending tour

Bob Dylan: return of the never-ending tour

Should Dylan retire to the mountains to write more volumes of 'Chronicles'?

What the hell is wrong with Bob Dylan? As the Sage of Minnesota rolls back into London with Mark Knopfler in tow, I took a detour round YouTube to see what they've been up to on their recent European dates. Of course, we've all grown used to Dylan's habit of mashing his lyrics to a formless pulp and turning what used to be tunes into a sequence of hiccups and barking noises, but the time does seem to be approaching when medical professionals will have to be ordered in to escort him from the microphone. 

I was especially appalled by some clips somebody had taken of Mystery Bob at the Rokhal in Luxembourg, where he disembowelled "Like a Rolling Stone" with a tragicomic farrago of growling, croaking and horrific expectorant noises. It was like blues from an iron lung. Surreally, his rather fine band merely continued to play on as if this sort of thing goes on all the time... which, of course, it does.

Admittedly you can still come across reviewers who manage to find something praiseworthy in Bob's latter-day shows. The argument is usually along the lines of how artistically bold he is to reappraise his material so radically, as if all his classic records would have been even better if he'd played all the notes in the wrong order and got his pet sea lion to sing them.

However, Dylan and Knopfler were in Blighty only last month, and numerous concert-goers left less then laudatory messages on various websites. "One of the worst gigs I've had the misfortune of attending," said somebody calling themselves TheLastWaltz, having seen Bob'n'Mark in Manchester. "Mark Knopfler as usual was excellent: Dylan was appalling," added Anonymous. At the Nottingham show, mad6000 also enjoyed Knopfler, but then Dylan came on and "after an hour we couldn't bear it any longer and left. It was very sad".

After all this, I cheered myself up by listening to Bob's Live 1966 album (the one with The Hawks and the bloke shouting "Judas!" on it). Gratifyingly, it's still unimpeachably awesome after all these years. But back in the present, perhaps someone could encourage Bob to retire to a cabin in the mountains and write Chronicles volumes 2-10.

It's as if all his classic records would have been even better if he'd played all the notes in the wrong order and got his pet sea lion to sing them

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