Wednesday 21 August 2019

Bob Dylan and Neil Young roll back the years at Hyde Park

The pair performed at the British Summer Time Festival.

Bob Dylan performing at British Summer Time (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Bob Dylan performing at British Summer Time (Isabel Infantes/PA)

By Stephen Jones, PA

Bob Dylan and Neil Young rolled back the years at a sun-soaked Hyde Park, bringing a combined century worth of hits to a buoyant London crowd.

Though he’s not known for his sunny disposition, 78-year-old Dylan was at times beaming as he led a highly accomplished blues band through his decades-long songbook.

And, on more than one occasion, the US folk hero – dressed in a white sequin jacket and brimmed black hat – ended a song by walking slowly to centre stage, placing one hand pointedly on his hip, and simply drawing in the adulation.

Those hoping to see a 78-year-old Dylan play out the classics on guitar were to be disappointed, though.

Many of his most famous songs – including the likes of Highway 61 Revisited and Blowin’ in the Wind – were in truth nigh on unrecognisable from their original recordings.

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Neil Young performing at British Summer Time (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Nonetheless, there were still some extreme highs to savour – not least the joyous Like a Rolling Stone, which set tens of thousands singing along.

In a rare support slot, Neil Young was not to be outdone.

After a slow start with choppy sound, there was a stunning run on electric guitar, peaking with a euphoric Rockin’ in the Free World.

Young – at a modest 73 years of age – was perhaps more generous with his crowd pleasers than his headliner. Heart of Gold, Old Man and Like a Hurricane all being rolled out as the early evening sun beat down.

Notably, despite both artists being known for their protest songs through the years, there was not a jot of politics on show during either set.

But on a Friday night, in turbulent times like these, perhaps that’s just what everybody needed.

PA Media

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