When legendary folk singer Bob Dylan appeared on the Bryce Jordan Center stage Tuesday night, he had no opening band or opening remarks.
He just did what he’s been doing for over 60 years: created music.
“People complain that his music doesn’t sound like it used to, but what do they expect? He’s still doing it,” said Jon May (junior-biological engineering) before the concert. “He’s easily the most righteous individual of any time.”
The man, the myth, the legend — as he’s often been called — performed at the BJC, set up in a more intimate setting for the show with his five-man band. Two black drapes hung over the side sections of the arena, leaving only the center for the audience.
A New York City backdrop was illuminated behind Dylan and the band and changed throughout the show depending on the mood on the song.
But the backdrops were not the only things changing.
Dylan, 69, dressed in a black suit and white hat, went back and forth between instruments. He started playing keyboard during “This Wheel’s on Fire,” standing and tapping his foot, absorbed in his music without acknowledging the audience. Throughout the night he moved to guitar, keyboards and harmonica, singing in his low, raspy folk voice.
Some audience members that had been listening for Dylan for years were still surprised at his level of musicianship.
Jim Xanthopoulos said he has been a Dylan fan since he was a kid and saw him perform at the BJC in 2001.
“As he got older and I got older, I just realized what a fantastic musician he really was. I didn’t realize he could play the organ [keyboard] that well,” Xanthopoulos said. “I was really surprised that all of the instruments were of really high quality.”
The audience mainly remained mellow and focused on Dylan’s music, sometimes swaying and clapping during songs.
Dylan and his band alternated between older songs like “Just Like a Woman” and some more recent songs like “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum” from his 2001 album, “Love and Theft.”
Dylan put a new spin on his older songs, making some faster and more upbeat than their original versions. Rachel Sweeney (junior-theater and English) said that it was interesting to hear how his “older mature self” sings the songs she grew up listening to.
“It’s almost like when your grandfather tells you a story and then tells you the same story when he’s a little older,” Sweeney said. “[Dylan] is aging and there’s no denying it. But you get a new perspective.”
Despite the new take on old songs, there was a liveliness in the band’s playing and Dylan’s voice that could be shown from the audience members clapping in the crowd to a few couples dancing towards the entrance of the BJC.
Matt Weber (graduate-English) admitted that he thought maybe Dylan wouldn’t be able to “hold it down” like he used to, but he was really satisfied with the overall performance.
“Without doing the rock and roll jumping around stuff, there was a lot of energy in his show and in his presence,” Weber said.