[Editor’s Note: This review, by photographer and contributing writer Alex Friedlander, was posted last semester. For those who did not see it, we are re-posting it.]
The lights dim, voices start to hush, flickers of cheering begin to blanket over the Ryan Center in Kingston, Rhode Island on the evening of April 8th. Out of the darkness, a familiar figure descends from stage right. He walks slowly- his infamous fedora glowing with an air of mystery, presenting the faint outline of a musical legend’s memorable facade. Then- with a burst of orange toned light, the “tambourine man” appears.
You become fully aware that you are in the overwhelming presence of one of the greatest musical activists from the 1960’s. He stands with legs spread and two hands on the microphone, his iconic raspy voice begins to hum. There was no hello; an introduction wasn’t necessary- for he was Bob Dylan.
This being his fourth appearance at the Ryan Center, New England locals fled to this large venue located on the University of Rhode Island’s campus. You could easily have run into one of your college professors clad in a tie-dye tee and bandana combo or even one of your peers. This was a show that was not to be missed and in return for that, the transcendent Dylan missed not a beat. He acted just as he always did, growling out his influential lyrics to the crowd, including songs all the way from his iconic 60’s tunes to his more recent songs, released on his newest album Tempest in 2012.
In Bob’s recent touring, a rampant complaint coming from fans has been about the quality change in his voice; a little pitchy, very raspy but still Dylan. He has become harder and harder to understand in live performances, which is understandable considering his age and how long he has been performing. Despite this, true Dylan fans wont turn their heads or hold their ears.
The man still knows how to put on a great show, shuffling around the stage in a full suit, accessorizing with an incredible band featuring the local legend blues guitarist Duke Robillard. At one moment during the show, Dylan stopped playing and rested on his grand piano and watched in awe at Robillard’s mind blowing finger picking.
I asked an Art Institute of Boston student who had saw Dylan in concert about two years ago about his impression of the legend (being that it was his first time seeing him). He commented, “While seeing the old man perform, one can tell that [he] is there only for himself. This may be problematic for some, but the sheer enjoyment of his music overshadows this fact.”
All Dylan fans can agree that despite his overall reclusive and rebellious spirit, his significant music keeps bringing us back for more.