It isn’t often you see music journalists taking shots at Mr. Bob Dylan—he’s been something of an influential figure in rock and roll, of course, and for that reason, he tends to get the red carpet treatment whenever he does anything. His latest string of albums have been praised far and wide by critics of all ages, probably, I’d argue, a bit more than they deserve.
If there’s one facet of his career that will occasionally come under attack, though, it’s his live shows. His voice has obviously changed a lot over the years, and the song arrangements have been altered so much that it’s sometimes difficult to recognize even his best known songs. It can be a real bummer, and British writer Andrew Almond said as much after seeing Dylan play at the Hop Farm Festival in Kent this past weekend.
There will no doubt be a backlash from those were disagree with my assertions but I genuinely believe that if Dylan’s performance on Saturday is viewed objectively, disregarding his iconic status, then the abysmal lack of quality is impossible to ignore. In short the message is this; if you are considering seeing Dylan live, think twice, it’s not all right.
An “abysmal lack of quality” is perhaps a bit of an overstatement, given that Dylan is still singing the same brilliant lyrics he wrote 30, 40, 50 years ago, and I have a hard time with the idea of telling some 20-year-old kid who just discovered Dylan that he/she shouldn’t go see him live, but yeah, it’s a tricky situation for sure. In other news, I listened to side-A of Blood on the Tracks yesterday morning, and it is very good.