Bob Dylan - Hyde Park, London.

Photography by Jeff Moh.

Photography by Jeff Moh.

Bob Dylan - Hyde Park, London.

By Paul Davies.

Seated and smiling like a Cheshire Cat behind a grand piano, Bob Dylan re-interpreted his century traversing un-paralleled back catalogue of imperious songs for a non- branded Hyde Park summery show.

Were we to witness the curmudgeonly old cove of legend or echoes of the vibrant, buzzing troubadour of yore? Well, both would be an apposite description judging by this evening’s consummate set of his eternal songs.

Unusually, Dylan’s genial smile was projected large on the screens either side of the mighty Oak stage, a smile through which poured forth the words of the poet of our generation still beating strong and hard as ever he did.

‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ and ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ revealed a clearer voiced Dylan than most might have expected. And so began a set of re-worked staple songs with a couple of interesting additions such as ‘Pay in Blood’ and ‘Early Roman Kings’ from his 2012 Tempest album.

‘I Can’t Wait’ brought Dylan out from behind his piano prop, standing and leaning into his microphone like a Grand Ole Opry crooner from the 1950s - Hank Williams Senior, if you will.

Tender songs ‘Tryin’ to Get to Heaven’ and ‘Make You Feel My Love’ were delivered with even more vocal clarity as Dylan’s band of crack bar-room players superbly drew out the nuances of each tune. In particular, guitarist Charlie Sexton who riffed out both the incendiary and delicate musical motif’s of these much loved songs.

Replete in a Black and White N’awlins country inspired suit, there ain’t nothing binary about Dylan as the colourful imagery of ‘Girl from the North Country’ gently wafted its magic from the stage.

Not speaking to the audience, as is usual, Dylan occasionally walked towards the front of the stage to pose with his hand held on his hip drawing waves of applause. It’s as if to say, ‘Here I am, my songs will live forever in each and everyone of you’.

He even removed his black hat to reveal a tousled thicket of tinted hair not too dissimilar to that found on the cover of his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde.

‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ found the mighty Zim working the groove like a labour of love to finish a main set of Honky-Tonk, R‘n’B and jazzy re-castings of his ever developing songs.

An encore of ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and ‘It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry’ floated this field full of Dylan young and wizened disciples home to, no doubt, raid their Spotify and dust down their dog-eared vinyl and wallow in the genius and legend of Bob Dylan.

Photography by Jeff Moh.

Photography by Jeff Moh.

Paul Davies