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Live Review: Bob Dylan @ Nottingham Arena, 05/05/17

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The stage sat ready; the piano located on the right, drums to the left; an array of electric guitars and four microphones cluttered the space.

As you sit in awe purely at the stage set up, you can’t help but notice the simplicity: nothing fancy, no big back drop that shouts, ‘BOB DYLAN’, no support band... but I guess if you’re Bob Dylan, you don’t need a support band.

8 o’clock struck and the arena went dark. Then arrived Bob and his band taking to their places, not once did they step out of line. No acknowledgement to the crowd as the old fashioned projector lights softly illuminated the stage; it was as though you weren’t even there, you are merely observers who have gained a lucky insight into a private rehearsal of Bob Dylan and his band – and so the night began.

Opening his 21 track setlist, Dylan began with 'Things Have Changed', getting everyone excited and twitching for what was come. Each song ended with a clear drum finish and a darkening of the stage lighting, then up it lit once again with a new arrangement to signify the next.

Three songs into the set, not once did Bob venture from behind his piano, that is until after 'Highway 61 Revisited' that must’ve kicked something in him. Slowly walking to the middle of the stage, he chose one of the four microphones lined up and dragged it back, further away from the audience and in-line with his band, holding it at an angle, still on the stand he performed 'Beyond Here Lies Nothin’' with his band's eyes on him every step of the way.

Back and forth, throughout the night, Dylan alternated from the mic, with his renowned ego posture in the centre back to the piano and back to the middle; he’s in no rush, he took his time and keeps stepping over to the side to fiddle with something unknown to the audience between each song. Dodging around each band member, he directed them ahead of the next song, possibly.

The band’s arrangement was slick, they’re with each other through every song, watching each other and taking note to Bob’s next move. Not once did Dylan pick up a guitar or harmonica, his signature strumming never happened focusing on his piano and vocals only.

Without warning, Dylan and his band left the stage allowing for an inevitable demand of an encore from the audience. Returning with two songs to end the hour and 45-minute set, playing a country-fied 'Blowin’ in the Wind' followed by the beloved 'Ballad of a Thin Man' that had everyone mesmerised for the finale.

Not a word of thanks at the end, just a bow and exit, but that was more than enough from the man who changed music.

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