Top 10 Performances from Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration


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  1. This wasn’t George Harrison’s first live performance in 18 years. He’d been on tour in Japan with Eric Clapton prior to this appearance.

    I’d also add Clapton’s version of “Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)” and Neil Young’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower.”

  2. I was lucky enough to be at this concert. Unmentioned highlights were Clapton’s “Don’t Think Twice”, both of Neil Young’s songs (“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” and “Watchtower”), Johnny Winter’s “Highway 61 Revisited”. No disrespect to Lou Reed but his “Foot of Pride” was not at all well received. Of course, the highlight of the whole show was “My Back Pages” where Roger McGuinn, Petty, Harrison, Clapton, Neil Young, and Dylan each took a verse and Clapton and Neil added fantastic solos. I’ve been to hundreds of concerts, and this ranks as #1.

  3. The best performance — in that it was the bravest and most true — was Sinead O’Connor’s. It was her first appearance since she’d ripped up a photo of the Pope on SNL the week before in a misunderstood attack on the Vatican’s decades of silence about child abuse in Ireland. The boos she received at the Bob Dylan gig, ironically, reminded me of the boos Dylan received at Newport for plugging in. Like Dylan, she refused to be cowed by a hostile and ignorant crowd. Instead, she fought back with a spontaneous, raw and powerful acapella version of Bob Marley’s War. She didn’t silence the crowd — it would be years before the horrific and widespread abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests became a topic for mainstream media outlets — but she did demonstrate what it means to be an artist of integrity who refuses to back down when challenged on their principles. Pure class.

      • She tried — there were several false starts — but the crowd was too hostile. Also, “taken a page from Bob’s book and sang the song she was supposed to”. That’s an odd appraisal of a man who spent his life challenging, not following, convention.

    • I have mixed opinions about this. People focus on the picture-ripping on SNL but, even more recently, she’d been in the news for making derogatory comments about Desiree Washington in the Tyson case. That’s what first came to mind when I heard the reaction to her. I also think the audience was quiet enough for her to start when the band started. I don’t think it was about integrity. Still love her, though.

  4. I agree about Sinead, but also Lou Reed is right up there. Also interesting to note is the version I Wany You by Sophie Hawkings, which Dylan began performing in her style shortly after this show, I love the way Bob did that 1995-98(?). I think the best tribute Ive been was the Concert for George. Coulnt make one but listened to it in San Fransico on the radio.

  5. Sinead O’Connor, every time I hear that name associated with this concert I think “way to make this about yourself.” Previous posters seem to think she was being booed because she was speaking out about child abuse. She wasn’t. She was being booed because she ripped a picture of the pope on national TV. This was a Dylan tribute concert. Bob always understood the time and place for making a statement and it wasn’t during a tribute to another artist.

  6. I don’t know how you can leave out the O’Jays performance of Emotionally Yours. I’m not really a fan of theirs, and I am of several of the other artists. But they absolutely nailed this one, with easily the best performance of the entire evening. Reimagining the song as powerful soul ballad was incredibly effective, and raised the song to an entirely new level.

  7. Sophie B. Hawkins’ version of “I want you” was mesmerizing. I saw it on TV at the time, but they did not include it on the CD and it seems to me it’s also missing on this new edition. Too bad.

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