Archiv der Kategorie: Bob Dylan

Forever Young

Conor McPherson (Music & Lyrics by Bob Dylan): Girl from the North Country, The Old Vic, London (Director: Conor McPherson)

By Sascha Krieger

It’s probably the kind of phone call you never expect getting even when you’ve been an accomplished playwright for the better part of 20 years. When the record company of the most celebrated songwriter of the 20th century call, a man, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, a cultural icon, the stuff of legends and myths, appropriated or rejected by pretty much every social and cultural movement of the past 50 years, when they ask you if you’d be interested in using the man’s songs in an original play, what do you say? The initial response of Conor McPherson, a son of Dublin, Ireland, was no. Then he thought about it. And thought some more. And now, some four years later, the Girt from the North Country has been born on the stage of the Old Vic. So what’s to expect from a show built around Dylan’s prolific songbook? A musical weaving a this story around them to make them shine, Mamma-Mia-style? A glorified greatest hits concert with a bit of drama added to justify the ticket price? An attempt to filter a story out of the songs that tries to go beyond them but will always take second place? The answer is: none of the above. Girl from the North Country is a masterful play in its own right, conversing with the Minnesota bard’s music not being subservient to them, a symbiosis of play and songs, of words and music that turns out to be a lot more than the sum of its parts.

The Old Vic (Image: Sascha Krieger)

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Singing the Blues

Bob Dylan plays the first of three concerts in Berlin

By Sascha Krieger

One must assume that the pool has gone dry. The „Dylan Pool“ that is, a favorite pastime of Bob Dylan fans from all over the world, competing with each other on who can best predict his set list throughout a tour as well as for individual concerts. Playing it these days must be a rather boring affair: Bob Dylan, the master of the unpredictable, the moody troubadour with whom you never knew what you were going to get on any given night, seems to have joined the ranks of those well-oiled musical machines who play exactly the same songs in exactly the same order night after night, well-rehearsed but without any surprised. Currently touring Europe, Dylan has now extended his stretch of consecutive identical shows to six – and an end is not in sight. Has Dylan’s live act therefore been stifled in pure routine, become another mechanical touring act aimed at pleasing audiences with minimal effort and even less artistic ambition? Far from it, in fact, Dylan’s latest incarnation – or should one say re-invention? – as a live performer my well be producing his best and musically most exciting performances in a long time.

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Song and Dance Man

Bob Dylan at Zitadelle Spandau, Berlin

By Sascha Krieger

Bob Dylan concerts are a little like Forrest Gump’s famous box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get. On a bad day, he burns his timeless songs at the stake, on a good one, he turns them into something new, fresh, exciting. Recently, during the latest phases of what has been dubbed the Never-Ending Tour, his almost constant being on the road since 1988, the really good days have become rarer. His efforts have tended to be more and more of a routine kind, the singing little more than a bad-tempered bark, the setlists less and less varying and surprising. In short, Bob Dylan has become something he has never been: predictable. Now the best antidote to boredom and routine is change. Ten years ago, he invigorated his live shows by introducing a keyboard and largely abandoning the guitar. Now a new instrument has appeared on stage, a new toy. a grand piano. And would you believe it: it has done the job again! Dylan’s show in Berlin has opened yet another chapter in the only thing constant about the man: permanent change.

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