Tonight is the last of three concerts by Bob Dylan at the Royal Albert Hall on the latest leg of his Never Ending Tour which started in 1988.
Earlier dates on Dylan’s Never Ending Tour form the core of Daniel Mark Epstein’s The Ballad of Bob Dylan, the first significant biography of Dylan since Dylan’s own memoir, Chronicles. The Ballad of Bob Dylan is structured around four separate Dylan concerts: Washington, D.C, 1963; Madison Square Garden, 1974; Tanglewood, 1997; and Aberdeen, 2009. These four career-defining shows, all witnessed first-hand by the author, provide the backdrop for in-depth interviews with Dylan’s friends and fellow musicians. Epstein also quotes extensively from Dylan’s songs – a treat rarely granted – and the book includes previously unpublished photographs from Dylan’s life, all of which contribute to building a complete portrait of Dylan the songwriter and poet.
For Dylan and his fans, his return to the Royal Albert Hall is another piece of musical history, much like those performances at the core of The Ballad of Bob Dylan.
His first appearances at the Royal Albert Hall came on 9th and 10th May 1965, the final dates in his England Tour 1965. These concerts are noted as bringing to an end his last acoustic tour, before he returned to the Royal Albert Hall a little over a year later for two concerts on 26th and 27th May 1966 on his first tour with a full electric band backing him.
Now, almost fifty years after his first appearance at the Royal Albert Hall, he returns for a three-night, sold-out run. He is over 2,500 performances into his Never Ending Tour, which has been rolling steadily onward for 35 years and shows no sign of coming to an end. The Independent called his performance on Tuesday night “a stunning return to form”, and the Evening Standard gave the same show four stars.
It looks as though Dylan’s return to the Royal Albert Hall after 47 years is being hailed as a resounding triumph. If you weren’t lucky enough to get tickets (or even if you were), why not share your own Dylan memories with us in the comments section, below?
“As you ride through Dylan’s decades of changes, lovers and bands, a satisfyingly clear portrait emerges from the shadows, ever sharpening the focus on the most cleverly elusive artist.” – Book of the Year, ‘Jewish Chronicle’
“What sets Epstein’s book apart is its accessibility… Refreshingly direct and approachable… it is his own clear, emotional enthusiasm that carries the tale.” – ‘Sunday Times’
“Epstein offers a portrait that explodes the semi-hostile cliché of much unauthorised biography. New interviews and photographs add depth to an account distinguished by a fine sensitivity to all aspects of Dylan’s art, from the personal to the music’s history, but Epstein also manages to put across a significant amount of biographical detail.” – ‘Daily Telegraph’