Author: Melody Menu
Bob Dylan at the Enmore Theatre, Sunday August 19
Bob Dylan has always exuded authenticity. From refusing to be pigeonholed as a folk singer and donning an electric guitar, Dylan has become known as a musician who does whatever he wants whenever he feels like it, to the discomfort and adoration of fans. With many other icons of his ilk worshipping at the fountain of youth and nostalgia in the name of relevance, chart numbers, and marketing, the truth these days is hard to come by. However, Dylan has made the truth work for him: performing ever-changing sets and playing around with lyrics to mixed results.
At the Enmore Theatre, this authenticity was on full display. Complemented by a highly skillful and entertaining five-piece band, Dylan sang within his range and played piano within his means, altering songs as he liked, and performed them in different ways to suit his needs. For a 77 year-old, this may not seem like much, but for an artist of his calibre, growth and change are more often resented than celebrated.
The arrangements on the night were stunning, adding a fullness to many of Dylan’s sparse ballads. ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ became a sparkling, jazzy number, and ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’ rang out with golden piano chords. ‘Duquesne Whistle’ also provided a jaunty look-in to his more recent work. But never has more joy surged through a crowd than throughout ‘Visions of Johanna’; a palpable excitement in an eager yet ultimately respectful audience; an audience that will take what they will get.
This performance was not a harking back to the hits, at least not in a traditional sense. Nor was it a retrospective, or even a promotion of his latest record. Rather, it was a genuine and moving performance from one of the Greats, doing – as always – whatever he wanted.