Bob Dylan just wrapped up three nights of performances in Boston, with longtime fans turning out at the Orpheum Theatre to see the music legend.
The 82-year-old musician took the stage backed by his five-piece band Friday night, sitting at a piano and wearing a black suit with a glittery stripe down the legs of his pants. There were no frills with the set design — the stage consisted of the band and its instruments, letting the audience focus on the music.
Dylan’s show was an orderly one, starting promptly at 8:00 p.m. and playing his set straight through for almost two hours, with no encore.
One unique feature of Dylan’s tour is that the use of cell phones and taking photos in the performance space is banned. When you enter the venue, phones must be locked away in Yondr pouches, which keep phones out of reach until unlocked at the end of the show.
The phone-free environment allowed fans to sit down and take in Dylan’s crooning voice, which was still thrilling for fans decades into his career.
During the performance, Dylan kept the focus squarely on the music, speaking only to thank the audience and, at the end, to introduce the members of his band.
Half of his 18-song set list on Friday came from his 2020 album, “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” while the rest were various songs from his lengthy career, plus two covers: “That Old Black Magic” by Johnny Mercer and “Brokedown Palace” by the Grateful Dead.
At his two other Boston shows, on Saturday and Sunday nights, fans shared online that other covers Dylan performed included "Stella Blue" by the Grateful Dead and "Footlights" by Merle Haggard.
Fans who expected to hear famous hits such as “Like a Rolling Stone” and "The Times They Are A-Changin'" would not get to hear them, but his Boston set list was typical for the recent shows on his current tour.
Melissa Mucha was one fan who wished she could have heard some older hits.
“The band was fantastic, he sounded great,” she said. “We wish we had played more of his classics, but it was fun. I grew up listening to him on vinyl, so not hearing any of his more original vinyl songs was a slight disappointment.”
But, for longtime Dylan fan Kim Lyons, she found no problem with the set list. She enjoyed hearing the newer music, along with a few of Dylan’s older tracks. Lyons first saw Dylan 43 years ago when she was 20 years old.
“It was just an honor to be in the presence of a legend. It was not a concert for the whole flower child thing. He didn't do a lot of the old songs. Everything was from ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways,’" she said. “It was brilliant. His band was just completely on point. Bob, I mean, he just came out and sat at the piano and started to play, and it was brilliant, the whole thing was.”