Dylan does Sinatra his way on hallowed London stage

Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:02am EDT
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By Angus MacSwan

LONDON (Reuters) - Had you seen Bob Dylan reinventing popular music on the stage of London's Royal Albert Hall in 1966, you would never have believed that nearly 50 years later he would be treading the same boards and crooning the songs of Frank Sinatra.

But there he was on Wednesday night, skipping over his own formidable songbook in favor of lovelorn 1950's ballads made famous by the Chairman of the Board.

It could have been excruciating. But it was wonderful.

Backed by his crack band, Dylan stood in the spotlight to sing "What'll I Do", "The Night we Called it a Day", "I'm a Fool to Want You" and other standards featured on his latest album, "Shadows in the Night".

A year ago, fans had greeted the news that Dylan was planning an album of songs made famous by Sinatra with some trepidation. Dylan himself explained when it was released in May that he was not recording a Sinatra tribute.

"I don't see myself as covering these songs in any way. They've been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day," he said at the time.

"Shadows in the Night" has been a critical and commercial success, only adding to Dylan's enigma at the age of 74.

The Western Swing style of the band, anchored by bassist Tony Garnier and featuring ace guitarist Charlie Sexton, helped the ballads, shorn of elaborate string arrangements, to flow easily into Dylan's own songs such as "Duquesne Whistle" and "Spirit on the Water".    Continued...

Bob Dylan (L) performs on stage during the Top of the Mountain Concert in the ski-resort of Ischgl in Austria's southern region of Tirol in this May 1, 1999 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer/Files