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Bob Dylan and Paul Simon

Saturday, July 10; Riverport

Early-'60s folk singers with hidden rock & roll roots, Simon and Dylan were mutual admirers; Simon, like all good folkies of the era, paid homage with a cover of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" on Wednesday Morning 3 A.M., and Dylan eventually re-turned the favor with a typically quirky version of "The Boxer" on Self Portrait. Both singer/ songwriters, however, quickly and boldly moved away from the acoustic protest ballads and existential navel-gazing of their early work — Dylan with his embrace of full-bore electrified rock and impressionistic wordplay on the apocalyptic trio of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde; Simon (and then-partner Art Garfunkel) with the pop experimentation and genre-bending of Bookends and Bridge Over Troubled Water. Flowing from those watersheds were multiple streams, with Dylan constantly reconfiguring his music (country, gospel, blues) and persona (wandering minstrel, born-again Christian), the now-solo Simon incorporating a diverse range of musical influences, culminating in the cross-cultural hybrids Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints.

Dylan, after a reinvigorating immersion in his music's sources with two albums of folk and blues covers, made one of his many "comebacks" with 1997's Time Out of Mind, a moodily evocative album full of dark portents and intimations of mortality, and the official release of his epochal 1966 Manchester, England, concert. Simon experienced one of his rare failures with the critical savaging and quick closure of his Broadway musical The Capeman, but the album Songs from The Capeman, with its engaging mix of Latin, doo-wop and country, contains some of his finest songs ("Bernadette," "Trailways Bus"), although many depend on their narrative context for full emotional resonance.

Reviews in other cities indicate that the double bill is divided into two 75-minute solo sets with a three-song interlude during which Dylan and Simon duet. With their immense back catalogs, the pair will undoubtedly offer plenty of old favorites, but unlike other dinosaur rockers, their constant evolution will ensure new and surprising approaches.

 
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