Bob Dylan played the 2,713 show of his 'Never Ending Tour' at London's iconic Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday night (21.10.15).
The 74-year-old musician began the run of shows in 1988 and has vowed to carry on performing until his last breath and at his concert he displayed his adventurous approach to music and proved his command of the stage has not diminished.
Dylan is, of course, the man who revolutionised music and his classic songs are the most intelligent, adventurous and life-changing ones the rock world has ever seen. But you would not know that from his Royal Albert Hall show last night. Instead last night the world's most mercurial performer showed yet another side of his multi-faceted personality.
Dylan transformed himself into a croaking blues crooner, showcasing heavily his latest left-field album 'Shadows In The Night', a 10-track LP on which he covers 10 traditional pop standards made famous by Frank Sinatra.
But of course Dylan always does the unexpected and the unusual. This policy has often caused the fans heartache and misery. They can't understand why Bob can't faithfully play those great classic songs - full of the most exquisite poetry - that made him a legend.
I, too, had that problem until I came to terms with the fact these songs are his own creations and he can play them anyway he wants and that this zany troubadour is always looking for new challenges and musical expressions.
So last night we got a thimbleful of his greatest works interwoven like fine jewels among the Sinatra offerings and his lesser own compositions.
Among the Sinatra songs that Dylan delivered were 'The Night We Called It A Day', 'Autumn Leaves', 'Full Moon and Empty Arms' and 'What'll I Do'.
Other songs included his own more recent compositions such as the venomous 'Pay In Blood' - which saw Dylan spit out the lyrics like a mature Liam Gallagher - 'Scarlet Town' and 'Early Roman Kings' (all from 'Tempest') and he opened with 'Things Have Changed', which seemed as though Dylan wanted to put an exclamation mark on his new style.
Most songs were delivered in Dylan's new musical voice which rendered the songs, warm, friendly and highly melodic - in complete contrast to those performances where he would often mash, mangle and shred his most-loved tunes.
These songs performed by an incredibly tight and musically sophisticated five-piece band managed the impossible of turning the Royal Albert Hall into a small smokey blues club. Even if you were hundreds of metres from Dylan you would have felt just a few yards away from him.
His adoring disciples loved every minute and every note - with almost everyone adhering to the strict no photo or recording policy - and Dylan, who looked as cool as ever in white Nashville Skyline hat and long black frock coat, loved the respect they showed him.
Among the morsels of Dylan classics that he treated us to were his re-interpretations of 'She Belongs To Me', 'Tangled Up In Blue' and 'Blowin' In The Wind'. The latter, his world- changing protest song, was delivered in a rather jolly and jumpy waltz tempo many distant roads away from the original.
But it was a very poignant moment. The older fans in attendence and the folk that know their Dylan history would have realised that this harked back to the kind of protest songs that he would have wowed the audience with at his first Royal Albert Hall performance back in 1965 - a concert which changed the musical landscape forever.
By Rick Sky (BANG Showbiz)