Bob Dylan in China: a Simple Twist of Fate?

The Guardian reviews Bob Dylan’s first ever concert in China, at Workers’ Stadium in Beijng:

The setlist featured some Dylan standards, greeted with enthusiasm by the audience – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, Tangled Up in Blue, Simple Twist of Fate. He also showcased some more recent work – Lovesick, Thunder on the Mountain, Beyond Here Lies Nothin’.

From a distance, in his white stetson and drainpipe trousers with a military yellow stripe down the side, he could still pass for the slim youth of decades past. He still has the same tripping, graceful step, although he handles his voice with care now, as if it’s a fragile instrument he doesn’t quite trust. Still, as he growled, rasped, whooped and slides through his repertoire, the attack and the attitude were still, as ever, disconcerting and compelling.

A guy in his early 30s sitting next to me, Song Xiao Feng, remarked coolly: “We’re not here for the music, we’re here for the legend.” But by the time Dylan reached his encores – Like a Rolling Stone, All Along the Watchtower and finally, Forever Young – most of the audience, about two-thirds of whom were Chinese, one-third foreign, were finally on their feet. He wasn’t for everyone. One Chinese man behind me said: “He’s not singing, he’s talking.” But to most, it looked like he was nailing it.

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