Promoters recently billed a Bob Dylan show in Indiana as "a once-in-a-lifetime experience." But for about a decade, a Dylan appearance has seemed more like a once-in-a-month's-time experience. Up With People never worked the road so much as Dylan, now 61.
But Friday night at the Patriot Center, the last leg in what was dubbed "The Neverending Tour" came to an end. If Dylan is indeed taking a break, nothing about his fabulous 2 1/2-hour Fairfax gig indicated he needs one.
He didn't talk much, but it sure looked and sounded as though he was enjoying his work. He danced the twist while banging on his electric piano during "Honest With Me." He gave a Texas swing version of "Bye and Bye." And "Summer Days" had Dylan singing, "The girls all say, 'You're a worn-out star!' " He worked the tune as if desperate to prove otherwise.
And he had some fun with his older numbers. He sang "Boots of Spanish Leather" in an exaggerated voice that was somewhere between Leon Redbone and a bad Bob Dylan impersonation. "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" was given an uptempo blues boogie arrangement, one John Lee Hooker would have approved of. "The Times They Are a-Changin' " sounded as if an electrified Baptist choir were singing it. "Highway 61 Revisited" was given a barrelhouse makeover.
His choice of covers provided intrigue. He performed "Brown Sugar" just like a bar band should. And he paid tribute to the terminally ill Warren Zevon by doing two Zevon numbers: "Mutineer" and the 1979 love ballad "Accidentally Like a Martyr." The oddest selection came with a rendering of Neil Young's "Old Man," written when Young was in his twenties. Dylan's version was a fully amplified rocker, and he bellowed the climactic line, "I'm a lot like you were!," as if singing to his old self.
-- Dave McKenna