As a break from the fast-paced, often fleeting world of new music, it is incredibly humbling to watch a master at work – particularly someone with a career as influential and long-spanning as Bob Dylan. And luckily for Sydney, the decorative walls of The State Theatre hosted a stunning performance from him on Friday.
At 73 years old, having actively created music for over 50 years, Dylan has had to adjust his style to suit his increasingly gravelly voice, emphasising the rhythm and texture of the songs rather than melody and articulation. This took some adjusting to – the audience had to lean closer to understand his murmured, coarse lyrics, and the arrangements of some of his more well-known songs bordered on experimental.
However once everyone had adjusted to this different sound, it was much easier to appreciate the performance. The common texture his voice provided added depth to the soothing slide guitar sound and dancing electric guitar riffs, particularly evident in his performances of “Simple Twist of Fate” and “Tangled up in Blue”. His almost ‘speak-singing’ style brought to mind Mark Knopfler’s approach for the Dire Straits.
But it was only when Dylan pulled out his harmonica that the audience truly revelled and were transported to the honky tonks of Nashville. Looking around, people closed their eyes and leant on each other to soak it in the country feel.
Leading up to his encore, the crowd got out of their chairs and broke down the feeling of a barrier between Dylan and the rest of the theatre, forming a small mosh in front of the stage. He left us with a playful rendition of “Blowing in the Wind” that rounded off the performance of new and old songs well.
Bob Dylan proved that he’s still got it after so many years of making such iconic music and took a new approach to his old songs and stories, pleasing the mixed crowd of fans new and old alike.
By Erin Rooney