Until these three dates, some 47 years had passed since Bob Dylan‘s previous Royal Albert Hall concerts – a pair of London dates which wrapped up his UK Tour on 26-27 May 1966.
The tour itself has gone down in history as the time when ‘Dylan went electric’, with widely-reported stories of some fans shouting “Judas” at their former hero who, in their opinion, had betrayed his folk roots. The landmark tour showcased an artist at the limits of creativity – following the release of 1965′s Highway 61 Revisited and promoting the launch of 1966′s Blonde on Blonde, two albums which can still regularly be found near the top of ‘Greatest Albums of All Time’ lists the world over.
Over the subsequent decades Dylan has secured his place as one of the most loved, respected and acclaimed artists of all time. His so-called ‘Never Ending Tour’ has enabled him to bring his iconic songs to fans old and new across the world, whilst his output of new music has remained prolific and continues to win awards. As the Never Ending Tour made another return to the UK in 2013, the time was right for Bob Dylan to make his long-awaited return to the Hall to pick up from where he left off some 47 years before.
On each of the three sold-out nights at the Hall, Bob Dylan and his Band opened with the appropriately-named Things Have Changed, before exploring his rich legacy of work with adapted versions of classics such as Simple Twist of Fate and Tangled Up In Blue, as well as works from his latest album, 2012′s Tempest. Dylan’s vocals are a thing that most certainly has changed since the well-documented concerts in the 1960s, but on these nights his now raspy voice sounded full of vigour, particularly so in the encores – delicate reworkings of timeless classics All Along the Watchtower and Blowin’ in the Wind.
Apart from a few lights providing the stage with a sepia glow, the auditorium was in near-total darkness. The legendary singer-songwriter stood hatless (a rare sight at Dylan concerts in recent years), alternating his standing positions from centre stage to behind a piano, occasionally pulling his trusted harmonica from his coat pocket. A captivated audience greeted each song with raptuous applause, with a buzz spreading throughout the Hall suggesting that people were witnessing something quite special.
Whether or not Bob Dylan will ever return to the Royal Albert Hall remains to be seen, but from his era-defining performances in the 1960s to these unforgettable nights in 2013, the legendary artist has more than made his mark on this 19th century concert Hall.
All images: Christie Goodwin, 2013
★★★★★ “I’ve seen him [Dylan] plenty of times over the past 30 years. This was the best of them.” The Arts Desk
★★★★★ “There were no spotlights to focus attention on individual players. They played as a unit, like an antique roadhouse band transported by some odd wormhole to the plush setting of the Royal Albert Hall.” Financial Times
★★★★ “A stunning return to form” The Independent
★★★★ “Superb musicianship on Dylan’s first Albert Hall gig for 47 years” Evening Standard
“The man standing in front of us, although well into his “late period”, has only, once again, got started.” GQ
Things Have Changed
She Belongs to Me
Beyond Here Lies Nothin’
What Good Am I?
Waiting for You
Pay in Blood
Tangled Up in Blue
High Water (For Charley Patton)
Simple Twist of Fate
Early Roman Kings
Spirit on the Water
Soon after Midnight
Long and Wasted Years
All Along the Watchtower
Roll on John (26 Nov only) Blowin’ in the Wind (27 & 28 Nov)