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Review: The Dylan Project at the Lichfield Guildhall

Take some of the best known folk and rock songs of the past 50 years, add some of the country’s most talented folk and rock musicians, season with a sold out audience and you have all of the ingredients for The Dylan Project’s latest performance.

The Dylan Project

The Dylan Project

With lead singer and acoustic guitarist Steve Gibbons, Fairport Convention’s rhythm section of bassist and backing vocalist Dave Peg and drummer Gerry Conway, keyboard and accordion player Phil Bond, and guitarist PJ Wright, the pedigree of the five musicians was never in doubt. And they proved adept at all of the genres that Dylan writes in, from the love and folk ballads, the rock and the blues songs, and the eerie soundscape of some of his more narrative songs, such as The Man In The Long Black Coat and Ballad of a Thin Man.

Their version of Born in Time was a showcase for the sure-footed playing of PJ Wright, while Dark Eyes was a pared down reading, with only piano and some very assured harmony singing from all five band members.

Other songs featured included Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, I Want You, and Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat.

They played around with the arrangements, turning folk club staple Don’t Think It’s Alright into a Cajun two step, complete with fiery accordion solos from Phil Bond.

With Dylan having more than 500 original songs and arrangements to his name, a show like this cannot please everyone, with some of his better known songs such as Blowin’ in the Wind, All Along the Watchtower and The Times They are a Changing not featuring, but there was enough here to please fans, with songs such as Missisippi, Just Like a Woman and Senor all receiving incendiary performances.

A stylistically and seasonally appropriate Blue Christmas featured as an encore, giving Steve Gibbons chance to show off a second voice, the king and the court jester both featuring in a show that paid respect to one of the more important voices in post war songcraft.

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