Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan performed Sunday night at the IU Auditorium as part of his Rough and Rowdy Ways World Wide Tour after two years of being off the stage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dylan performed songs from his “Rough and Rowdy Ways” album, which he composed last year. A few of these newly released titles include tunes such as “I Contain Multitudes,” “False Prophet” and “Goodbye Jimmy Reed.”
While Dylan is well-known for his classic hits “Like a Rolling Stone” and “The Times They Are A-Changin” from the 1960s, Sunday night’s performance saw an audience with a diverse age range.
IU journalism professor Mike Conway, who attended Dylan’s performance, believes the singer-songwriter holds a unique place in our culture due to his major musical influence in a period of immense cultural change during the ‘60s.
“I think he’s just one of these legends, and what I really like about him is he’s still performing,” Conway said. “He’s still writing new music. He doesn’t just do greatest hit shows.”
While Conway said he appreciates Dylan’s engagement and his drive to continue creating new music, he also emphasized the uniqueness of Dylan’s approach to touring throughout the decades and how it may not sit as well with some fans.
“A lot of the people from his original era over the last few decades sometimes get upset that he doesn’t play the hits, and when he does play a song you know it’s often a different arrangement,” Conway said.
IU freshman Griffin Stark is one such fan and commented on how Dylan’s style has changed.
“I definitely prefer his old stuff,” Stark said. “His newer stuff is more rock influenced. His older stuff is more folksy blues.”
Dylan’s rock style in the Rough and Rowdy Ways tour is somewhat of a change from his previous hits, which were more traditional folk songs.
Despite this, Stark appreciates the significance of Dylan’s magnitude as a cultural and musical icon.
“It’s definitely something I wanted to do before I died,” Stark said about attending the concert. “I’ve never seen someone that influential in person.”
Conway also emphasizes the uniqueness of Dylan’s tours in comparison to other celebrity performers.
“He tours enough that his ticket prices aren’t out of control,” Conway said. “It’s not like these other old time bands that go on a massive tour, charge hundreds of dollars and play a big arena.”
Conway also believes the atmosphere of the IU Auditorium contributes to fostering a certain intimacy of the event.
At the end of the day, Conway is ultimately inspired by Dylan’s enthusiasm for his own work.
“He’s a guy that’s enjoying himself,” Conway said.“He’s not gonna play the hits the way they wanna be heard. He will do what he wants to do and then it’s up to you if you wanna go see him.”
Dylan himself remarked on the honor of performing at IU.
“It’s great to perform at a university, a place where people think for themselves.” Dylan said.