Bob Dylan released a streaming concert titled Shadow Kingdom Sunday afternoon that was billed as “an exclusive broadcast event.” Though many people have become familiar with live streams over the past year, familiarity has never been a part of Dylan’s disposition. Shadow Kingdom was pre-recorded over seven days on a sound stage in Santa Monica, Ca. and features different settings, outfits and some songs with no audience at all.
In his first stage act since Dec. 8, 2019, Dylan performs tracks that he hasn’t played in years – including “Pledging My Time” which has eluded setlists since 1999. But through this medium, veiled in smoke in black and white, Dylan shines. Through 13 songs in less than 50 minutes, the enigmatic bard reminds the viewer of the often fleeting nature of time while placing them outside of it through his poetry.
Dylan opens the show with “When I Paint My Masterpiece” a work he penned in 1971. He and then continues to breathe life into his beloved classic songs some coming from albums that came out when he was just 25 years old, others more obscure. The most recent track on Shadow Kingdom that Dylan performed debuted in ’89.
As the end credits say, Shadow Kingdom is focused on Dylan’s early work but it remains surprising that the Noble Prize winner chose not to use any material from his 2020 album Rough and Rowdy Ways which was well received, and was his first release of original material in eight years.
Dylan was joined by guitarists Alex Burke, and Buck Meek of Big Thief, accordionist Shahzad Ismaily, and bassists Janie Cowan and Joshua Crumbly. The man himself played guitar as well as harmonica and sang vocals in his unmistakable.
“Shadow Kingdom” can be viewed here until 11:59 p.m. PST on Tuesday, July 20, for $25 plus fees.