"It's like one massive Dylan gig!" enthused my friend James, who's going to all five of the consecutive nights Bob Dylan is playing at Brixton Academy this week. "With gaps," added a nearby Mancunian.
I suppose you could take the formula one step further: for some people life is one big Dylan concert, with gaps. I don't think I'm quite one of those people, but on my way to the Academy I did actually start to feel quite nervous, in case something went wrong and I missed the whole thing.
I didn't, thank the good Lord. Dylan played a real crowd-pleaser of a setlist, but the amazing moments were during the songs you didn't think you'd be bothered about. Mississippi, Cold Irons Bound, Highway 61, Love Minus Zero/No Limit, Summer Days and John Brown were all extraordinary. Even though it's 'barely' two years since Dylan recorded it, Mississippi already sounds like a new song. John Brown came on like the dark Scottish indie-skiffle of Sons and Daughters and the graphic war-is-bad lyrics made everyone stand still. And Summer Days kept switching brilliantly between '40s swing and heavy guitar-thwacking.
There were a few letdowns - Stuck Inside of Mobile and Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine) got a bit boring even before he started singing them (I don't really like the latter - that riff's as annoying as hell), and I Don't Believe You was fairly forgettable. But that's nitpicking - by the time Like A Rolling Stone rolled round, with the house lights flashing up on the crowd for the chorus, the lowlights were a distant memory. Wish I'd got tickets for all five nights.
Setlist is here.