Bob Dylan is set to make his first appearance ever in Taipei on April 3. For fans in Taiwan, it will surely be an exciting moment when the 69-year-old rocker steps onto the stage at Taipei Arena (台北小巨蛋). But here’s some advice to concertgoers: Get to know the Dylan of today.
Those who still hold an image of a lone troubadour, strumming on an acoustic guitar and crooning Blowin’ in the Wind, are in for a rude surprise. Dylan’s live show these days features a five-piece band with a sound that is more of a powerhouse American rock and blues revue than a blast to the past for old folkies.
Also bear in mind that Dylan’s voice has aged. Some like the croaky, bluesy growl that he sports these days. Others might get turned off by how he sometimes seems to mumble his way through lyrics.
Photo Courtesy of Sony Music
Either way, don’t expect to hear note-for-note recitations of classics such as Like a Rolling Stone, Just Like a Woman or Tangled Up in Blue. Dylan is known to recast songs from his enormous back catalog in such a way that they are unrecognizable when played live, and his set lists — usually a balanced mix of old and new material — change from concert to concert.
Though his performances are said to be hit or miss these days, the unpredictability likely keeps things fresh on stage for Dylan, who has been playing an average of 100 concerts a year for the past 20 years.
One way to get better acquainted with Dylan’s current sound — and perhaps state of mind — is to listen to his recent albums of the past decade and a half.
Time Out of Mind, from 1997, marked a career renaissance and artistic turning point for the singer-songwriter. Rolling Stone described the album as “a ghostly, beautiful new sound, yet another side of Bob Dylan.”
He followed that with Love and Theft (2001), a jazz and rockabilly-tinged work that was also highly regarded. Dylan even drew praise from the normally prickly US indie rock Web site Pitchfork for his bluesy album Modern Times (2006), his first No. 1 record in the US in 30 years.
For fans and aspiring Dylanologists, expectingrain.com and boblinks.com are two comprehensive sources for set lists from past shows, concert reviews, and all things Dylan.
Tickets for the April 3 show are still available, although most of the lower-prices seats are sold out. Available seats currently start at NT$3,200.
What: Bob Dylan
When: April 3 at 8pm
Where: Taipei Arena, 2, Nanjing E Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市南京東路四段2號)
Admission: Tickets are still available in the NT$3,200 to NT$8,000 range, depending on seating area. They can be purchased through books.com.tw and at all 7-Eleven iBon kiosks
On the Net: www.bobdylan.com
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