Bob Dylan avoids audience interactions and playing any classics in Madrid

Bob Dylan played Madrid's Noches del Botánico

Bob Dylan avoids audience interactions and playing any classics in Madrid Credit: Cristian Bertrand /

Bob Dylan took to the stage last night, June 7, at the Noches del Botánico, Madrid for a nearly two-hour performance in which he managed to avoid playing any of his best-known songs, in a sombre but poignant show. 

With no sign of classics like Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door or Blowin’ in the Wind, Dylan, 82 never once strummed a guitar or blew a harmonica, seemingly wishing to move forward and avoid pigeon-holing even in his advanced years.

His voice is lower, with more of a croak than a twang as he is remembered on many of the avoided classics and maybe that is the point. Dylan has always been a storyteller and his messages always rang true. He is no longer that young man and his always thoughtful worldview might well be at a different place.

The stage at the Real Botanical Gardens in Madrid, where they are hosting a wide variety of music events, was kept sombre and basic. Dylan himself was located a way back from the front of the stage and accompanied by a skilled band. This was the first of 12 shows he will perform in Spain.

The Noches del Botánico posted their summer events calender on Twitter showing just how broad a range of great acts they will be hosting. They said:

“Here is your poster for the seventh edition of Noches del Botánico! Tickets available from March 8, at and in the sales channels of El Corte Inglés.”

Mobile phones were also prohibited for Dylan’s show, which was an intimate, bluesy affair mainly featuring recent works from his 2020 album Rough and Rowdy Ways. In keeping with the album title, Dylan’s imperfections didn’t hinder his convincing and inevitably unique performance.

On the sparsely lit and decorated stage, he dipped into some other material from previous albums as well as playing a cover of Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away. All were delivered in his typically distinctive and intelligent, worldly style and true Dylan fans would never expect a greatest-hits tour.

The 2,200 fans in attendance got exactly what they have come to expect from a Bob Dylan performance. He is a true artist, who never bows to expectations and whose advancing years will never stop him from growing musically.

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Written by

David Laycock

Dave Laycock has always written. Poems, songs, essays, academic papers as well as newspaper articles; the written word has always held a great fascination for him and he is never happier than when being creative. From a musical background, Dave has travelled the world performing and also examining for a British music exam board. He also writes, produces and performs and records music. All this aside, he is currently fully focussed on his journalism and can’t wait to share more stories from around the world and beyond.