Review: Bob Dylan’s Shadow Kingdom (Veep)

With his Neverending Tour sidelined due to Covid, the now-80 year Bob Dylan has treated fans to something called Shadow Kingdom. The 13th Floor’s Marty Duda has seen it.

So what is Shadow Kingdom? Is it a live stream concert, a film, a series of video clips? Now we can tell you.

Presented by Veeps (click here to sign up), this Bob Dylan event has been keeping Dylanologists talking and speculating since it was announced a month ago as a “streaming performance”.

Eventually it became clear that this was not to be a “live” concert, but something else.

What it is is a 50 minute black & white film (or series of films). Each of the 13 songs that Dylan performs is presented as a very stylized, rather glossy production.

Subtitled “The Early Songs Of Bob Dylan“, the show starts with Dylan and band performing When I Paint My Masterpiece. Dylan is in the best voice his been in (taking time off the road must have its advantages) and the band sounds perfect.

So the main concerns are: how does Bob sound?, What songs will he play? and Who is in his band?

The band is Alex Burke, Shahzad Ismaily, Janie Cowen, Buck Meek and Joshua Crumbly, all “masked and anonymous”. Bob himself is either standing or sitting (depending on the set) and he does sound great. He’s also quite animated during Most Likely You Go Your Way…feet planted, belting out the lyrics.

The looks, for the most part is Bob, “cabaret style”. The setting for the first couple of tunes seems to be an old honky tony or blues bars with “patrons” sitting a and drinking and smoking and sometimes dancing. I must say I was shocked at how much smoking seemed to be going on. But the overall look is very similar to the cover of Rough And Rowdy Ways.

Each of the 13 songs is presented as a stand-along clip. These are new recordings but not necessarily “live”. That aspect would be my one and only complaint. Miming is not Bob’s greatest skill but you get used to it.

The song selection is fantastic.

Queen Jane Approximately, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Watching The River Flow…all fab.

Bob gives us heartfelt readings of To Be Alone With You and What Was It You Wanted. For the latter, he is seated, head bowed at the end.

For the most part his only instrument is his trusty harmonica but he does take up his acoustic guitar and pluck away during Forever Young.

Wrapping up with It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, one got the impression that this could be the first in a series. I for one, hope so.

Marty Duda

Bob Dylan set list:

  1. When I Paint My Masterpiece
  2. Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine
  3. Queen Jane
  4. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
  5. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
  6. Tombstone Blues
  7. To Be Alone With You
  8. What Was It You Wanted
  9. Forever Young
  10. Pledging My Time
  11. The Wicked Messenger
  12. Watching The River Flow
  13. Its All Over Now, Baby Blue

Bob Dylan’s Shadow Kingdom is available to stream for approx 48 hrs. Cost $25 US.