Shadow Kingdom is Bob Dylan’s pre-recorded concert that was available online for $25 starting on 7/18 and ending on 7/25. Overall, I thought it was great. Here are my observations followed by links to online reviews. First, the 13 song set list of the concert which was about 50 minutes long.
As many have observed, Dylan’s singing was excellent and he pronounced every word clearly. He sang with real commitment. This was the best version I have heard of “Forever Young”. I think the song is sentimental crap but Dylan clearly really meant what he was singing.
It was a mostly acoustic show with no drummer. It reminded me of “If You Ever Go to Houston” on Together Through Life which also features an accordion prominently.
As usual with Dylan, the songs didn’t sound like the original recordings which is fine with me. I think that to him, they are all Dylan songs and the recordings are just how he felt like performing them at the time. For example, “To Be Alone with You” isn’t a country song just because it was on Nashville Skyline. The band was excellent and was not his usual touring group.
On the other hand, I have never been a fan of his changes to original lyrics. He continues to modify “When I Paint My Masterpiece” (which I have posted about before). This time he also revised “Watching the River Flow” and replaced these lines:
People disagreeing everywhere you look
Makes you wanna stop and read a book
I always though that the second line was just something thrown in because it rhymed but I appreciated it. The lyrics on his site do not include the changes he made during this concert.
Not having a real audience freed him from the fans desire for him to do his most popular songs – “All Along the Watchtower” and “Like a Rolling Stone”. He has generally performed them live but I think he does it because the audience expects to hear them.
The video was in black and white. There were audience members but I assume they were actors – they were listed in the credits. The backing musicians wore face masks while the audience didn’t and many smoked cigarettes. Dylan changed clothes with no explanation of what happened. There was visible applause after “Watching the River Flowed” but it wasn’t audible. Sometimes, audience members danced during the songs.
I hope it is released on CD and/or Blu-ray and that he does more of these.