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The Bob Dylan Story at Theatre Royal, Windsor

Published by: Kate Braxton on 9th Nov 2016 | View all blogs by Kate Braxton

My perfect Sunday evening is one of mindless, unchallenging nothingness. So, this Sunday, my friend John decides to break the calm and whisk me to Theatre Royal, Windsor for the opening night of The Bob Dylan Story: a brand new musical tribute to the ‘controversial’ winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature and political, socialist, painter, philosopher, songwriting genius. All fairly unchallenging so far, then.

John can cite Dylan’s last public utterance. I am afraid of Dylan, because I’ve never felt brave enough to ‘go there’. But there I am, I don’t know why, and according to John, the answer is Blowin’ in the Windsor royal stalls.

The Bob Dylan Story opens with this familiar 1962 crowd-pleaser and we are immediately introduced to the raw, solo guitar and harmonica reed-play of Bill Lennon, ‘re-creating Dylan’ for the evening. As a performer, he is exposed and vulnerable on the large proscenium stage. He has unfathomable, road-worn shoes to fill – with that surname, to boot - yet there is something about his nerve that glints promise from the outset.

This ‘story’ has a basic, guided narrative and a crude screen-show of news bytes shaping the social and political landscapes at time of Dylan’s writing; essentially a bit of a helping hand into one hell of a brain. Frankly, the production values are a little shabby for such big messages, but the unwavering intention from this show’s creators, 4th Street Entertainment, is to make it “all about the music”, giving us a platform to experience both the Dylan electric concert sound and repertoire as authentically as possible. They unenviably go on to condense 37 studio albums into 2 hours and 25 fairly-timed tracks. That is already one fine and crucial score in the vinyl.

Most of the song choices are classics that a John might expect, although we hear little past 1975 bar Make You Feel My Love on the piano, so you could argue a large chunk of the story is missing, or perhaps, to be added as this new show evolves. Dylan’s wide range of genre influences are rolled out; Times They Are A-Changin’, All Along The Watchtower, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Song To Woody, Blonde on Blonde, Like A Rolling Stone, Subterranean Homesick Blues and Mighty Quinn are but a few pickings. Particularly delightful to my un-Dylanised ears are their renditions of Hurricane, Tangled Up In Blue, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, and this band relishes Lay, Lady, Lay as if they had conceived it. John agrees, but tells me that some of the stuff which has more complex instrumentation in the original recordings doesn’t work so well. Thank you, John.

Although a bad throat is referenced on the night, it is clear that Bill Lennon plays Dylan with apparent ease and conviction, but the show is a generously shared experience with his band who have been cherry-picked for chemistry and ability to be true to Dylan’s sound. Musical Director, Bass Player and Vocalist, Dan Grant ensures they are exquisitely tight. Jim E Williams adds huge colour on drums, Adam Bridges lovingly massages the celestial vibration of that organ, as Keith Forde’s electric guitar completes the round sound. The collaboration certainly works.

My overall gripe would be that the slack consideration given to lighting and multimedia elements doesn’t match the show’s vision for an ambient, ‘transported back-to-the-day’ concert, although Windsor Theatre, for its set up and acoustics, is great for any one night only gig. Hopefully the finessing of these production values will follow the achieved, authentic sound.

The Bob Dylan Story is a joy-laden introduction for the Dylanewbie and a fire-up of passion for the Dylanatic. Next time I protest at breaking my Sunday routine, I won’t think twice, it’s all right. There probably is no perfect Sunday, anyway.


Reviewed by Kate Braxton


The Bob Dylan Story is now touring until November 2017. For more information and a full list of dates/locations, see:


For more information on Sunday evening events and full theatre listings at Theatre Royal, Windsor, see:


For further information on The Bob Dylan Story or similar concerts, see:




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