Folk/rock

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Mahir Ali

The Real Royal Al­bert Hall 1966 Con­cert! Bob Dy­lan Sony Mu­sic “Here comes the blind com­mis­sioner / They’ve got him in a trance / One hand is tied to the tightrope walker / The other is in his pants.”

Did Bob Dy­lan pre­dict the ad­vent of Don­ald Trump a half-cen­tury ago? Give the man a No­bel prize. Who would have thought it back in 1966, but they just did in Stock­holm last week­end. Dy­lan did not turn up, cit­ing un­spec­i­fied prior com­mit­ments, but thanked the Swedish Academy for an­swer­ing the ques­tion of whether his lyrics qual­ify as lit­er­a­ture.

There’s clear enough ev­i­dence of this in Des­o­la­tion Row and Vi­sions of Jo­hanna in the ex­quis­ite acous­tic half of this con­cert, both em­bel­lished with de­light­ful har­mon­ica so­los, as is Mr Tam­bourine Man.

Too many of the words, though, are kind of lost in the mix when Dy­lan re­turns to the stage af­ter the in­ter­val with the Band in tow, and it’s not all that hard to work out why a cer­tain pro­por­tion of the au­di­ence was per­turbed by the con­trast.

By the time Dy­lan and the Band re­turned to the stage in the early 1970s, they were a far more or­ganic out­fit. Here, the elec­tric set is a not en­tirely sat­is­fac­tory work in progress, with al­most ev­ery track de­cid­edly in­fe­rior to the stu­dio ver­sion.

The set list pre­cisely echoes that of the “Ju­das” con­cert in Manch­ester, is­sued as part of The Boot­leg Series in 1998. But the pack­ag­ing is rudi­men­tary, with no liner notes — per­haps be­cause it’s culled from a 36-disc box set that cov­ers all the recorded out­put of Dy­lan’s 1966 tour, with al­most ev­ery con­cert boast­ing the same tracks.

There’s much to en­joy here, but it lacks the power of rev­e­la­tion.

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