Live at Hyde Park Bob Dylan and Neil Young
- Credit: Dave J Hogan
Historic double-bill is a study in contrasts as Young proves he’s an evergreen rocker while Dylan is well past his prime
Some sad sights are interwoven with pangs of spectator guilt and complicity.
Watching the severely diminished faculties of a 78-year-old Bob Dylan in 2019 conjures such emotions in spades.
A pity, since this was an historic double bill event with Dylan and Neil Young brought together for the first time ever in Hyde Park.
But although die-hards will no doubt say otherwise, Dylan offered ample proof that the time may have come for this venerable genius to call it a day in terms of live performance.
Replete with wide-rimmed black hat and sequin-tastic jacket, Dylan looked the part at least.
But he is also evidently ravaged by the arthritis that has long deprived audiences of sight of the curly-mopped wordsmith standing with guitar in hand and harmonica rack in situ.
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Instead, he sat behind a piano and, as has been the case for many a year, could only croak his wonderful words - the voice of yesteryear a distant memory.
Famous for reworking old favourites, Simple Twist of Fate and Blowin' in the Wind provoke a 'name that tune' guessing game. he is flanked by his exceptional backing band, including stalwarts Tony Garnier and Charlie Sexton.
There is something awfully uncomfortable about watching Dylan now. Even a lovely Girl From the North Country and Love Sick can't save the impression that this music legend is now in a state of irrevocable disrepair. A sorry spectacle.
Earlier, Young had been a different matter entirely. Face and figure aside, he has the appearance of a man for whom time is a play thing - something he can freeze and reverse at will.
Molten, buzzsaw sounds spit and splutter from his guitar like a welder at a furnace. While his dextrous musicality and execution stand as a punchy rebuttal of his septuagenarian years, the grungy jams of Mansion on the Hill, Over and Over and Country Home follow one after the other.
Young makes for a magnetic presence, brilliantly complimented by Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real.
Hits is a relative term for this contrarian folk rocker, but Young tears through stunning renditions of Old Man, Heart of Gold and Rockin' in the Free World.
In hindsight it's a contrasting case study to Dylan, and so worth putting a spin on Bob's old words.
Neil may be 73, but as a live performer it seems he's Forever Young.