The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration sees a cast of thousands pay tribute to Bob Dylan’s brilliant career. Recorded live in 1992 to a sold-out audience at Madison Square Garden, this double album displays a ramshackle group at its freewheeling best.

Despite the show going for over four hours, this remastered and repackaged set is still incomplete, as omissions include: a Woody Guthrie cover, Sinead O’Connor’s a capella performance of Bob Marley’s ‘War’, and Dylan’s very own ‘Lay Lady Lay’, among others.

The cast reads like a veritable ‘who’s who’ of 1992, with the then young stars like Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready playing alongside musical legends Stevie Wonder, Lou Reed, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, George Harrison, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, and Dylan himself.

Each guest brings along something unique, and it’s clear that this is a jubilant meeting of those who had worked with or been influenced by the famous singer-songwriter.

Neil Young’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ sounds like Jimi Hendrix’s famed cover thanks to its wall of fuzzy guitars. Ditto, The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn plays a jangly ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, which sounds like his band’s version of the song.

The re-imagined ‘Just Like A Woman’ is excellent and boasts some fast Spanish guitar stylings from the late Richie Havens while Tracy Chapman does a close retelling of the classic, ‘The Times Are A Changin’.

The performances here are like the original songs in that they’re very versatile and expressive. Some cuts are great (see contributions by Reed, Clapton, Harrison, and Vedder) while others by Wonder and Cash seem to miss the mark, with the latter’s chirpy rendition failing to capture the pain of the original number.

‘Bobfest’ (as it was dubbed by Young) was a brilliant concert and chapter in music, and this set is ultimately a rousing crescendo to the enduring influence and legacy of one enigmatic artist.

Originally published on 13 March 2014 at the following website:

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