BOB DYLAN – ” Shadow Kingdom “

Posted: December 23, 2021 in MUSIC
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Shadow Kingdom” is a 2021 concert film featuring American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Directed by Israeli-American filmmaker Alma Har’el, it was shot on a soundstage in Santa Monica, California over seven days in early 2021 while Dylan was side lined from his Never Ending Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film features Dylan and a group of masked musicians performing 13 songs from the first half of Dylan’s career in an intimate club-like setting.

“Shadow Kingdom” premiered via the livestream platform Veeps.com with little information about its contents having been revealed in pre-release publicity. Some viewers expected the event to be a live concert and were surprised when it turned out to be a stylized black-and-white art film featuring “pre-recorded set pieces” instead.  “Shadow Kingdom” nonetheless earned rave reviews from critics, many of whom praised Dylan’s creative re-arrangements of his early songs as well as Har’el’s imaginative staging of the performances.

Shadow Kingdom” showcases Bob Dylan in an intimate setting as he performs songs from his extensive body of work, created especially for this event. It marked his first concert performance since December 2019, and first performance since his universally acclaimed album “Rough and Rowdy Ways” album release. The earliest composition in the set list was “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” from the 1965 album “Bringing It All Back Home” and the most recent composition was “What Was It You Wanted” from 1989’s “Oh Mercy“. 

In addition to Dylan, who plays guitar and harmonica and sings, most of the song arrangements consist of two additional guitars, a bass and an accordion. The performance of “Forever Young” also features a dolceola. Critic Sam Sodomsky, called “Shadow Kingdom” a “gorgeous…concert film” in which “the 80-year-old icon sings clearly, melodically, beautifully”, and noted that “Dylan seems at times to want to burst through the screen, gesturing passionately”.

Sodomsky also discussed director Alma Har’el’s “knack for visualizing the haunted barroom production that Dylan has favoured on his modern studio albums: As he sings in dusky rooms filled with cigarette smoke and lamplight, mannequins and Western characters, the whole thing takes on a surreal, ghostlike quality”

 The Guardian, calling it “completely thrilling” and identifying the high point as Dylan’s “poignant drawl on a sensational ‘What Was It You Wanted’, a series of accusatory questions that stress how slippery knowledge is”. Empire also compared the Bon Bon club’s atmosphere to “the vibe of the sleeve art of last year’s “Rough and Rowdy Ways.

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