It was clear that it would be huge when the word came out that Bob Dylan would be performing in his first virtual concert on July 18th, 2021. It was titled Shadow Kingdom: and clearly Bob Dylan is Back. While the description of the show said he would have an opportunity to perform songs off his latest album “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” instead Dylan opted for a pre-recorded set of deep catalog songs, many of which have not been performed for years. In any case, it was awesome to have Bob back.
Clocking in at under an hour, fifty minutes to be exact, this 13-song set that was shot in black and white proved that Bob has had time to rest his vocal chords during the pandemic, as his voice sounded great. Set in a jazz club/speakeasy vibe, with audience members smoking and a completely new set of musicians backing him, Bob also featured new arrangements of many of the songs. Anyone that has followed Dylan over the years knows that this is nothing new as he has been rearranging his songs forever. Whether it’s a natural evolution or just boredom of the road, you can count on Bob to come up with different interpretations on almost every leg of each tour.
The setlist included these songs:
- When I Paint My Masterpiece
- Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine
- Queen Jane Approximately
- I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
- Just Like Tom Thumb Blues
- Tombstone Blues
- To Be Alone with You
- What Was it You Wanted (from Oh Mercy)
- Forever Young
- Pledging My Time
- Wicked Messenger
- Watching the River Flow
- It’s All Over Now Baby Blue
Particular highlights to me included “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” “Queen Jane Approximately,” “Tombstone Blues,” and “Pledging My Time.” The concert was highly entertaining and with editing, it moved rapidly between songs. There was a notation that this was the first volume, so the assumption could be that there will be other editions. However, Dylan’s autobiography “Chronicles” also said Volume 1 on it, and it came out in 2004 without a peep about the second volume since.
Shadow Kingdom was a fun event to participate in and be a part of, and it was satisfying to sit back and appreciate the 80 year old bard’s stage presence, phrasing, and overall slyness in performing in this medium. It reminded me of what I’ve been missing and how much I can’t wait to get back out there and see some live music. Let’s beat this pandemic and get back to normal and get back to concerts!