Friday, April 21, 2017

Bob Dylan @ le Zénith, Paris - April 20th, 2017

Yes, I know. I've heard it all. He can't sing! He doesn't even play his songs right! He's not even going to be playing his most famous songs!
Part of what makes a latter-day Dylan concert great is hearing him butcher his own songs. Somehow, by re-imagining them (for example turning Blowin' In The Wind into a waltz, or All Along The Watchtower into a reggae...) he gets closer to their essence. It's never been about singing perfectly. Of course he's not Caruso. He's a stylist and what he brings out of the songs within the confines of his limitations is what makes them his.

Especially on this section of his Never Ending Tour where he covers songs from the the Great American Songbook and other music hall numbers made famous by Sinatra and the likes. At first, it's an odd choice for Dylan to sing those songs that are made for singers with more acrobatic vocal skills, but again he knows how to get inside these songs and extract their character.

The ever-dependable Charlie Sexton is on lead guitar, and the rest of his band plays a perfect blend of rock, jazz, country and dixieland swing that perfectly enshrines the bard's interpretations.

As has been the case for the past fifteen years, Dylan is mostly seated behind the piano but every once in a whole he comes out and takes center stage, without a guitar, just a singer before his audience, an old American treasure singing other American treasures, his or other people's.

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