It looks as if Dylanites headed to the Aug. 21 show in Rochester or any of the other Upper Midwest dates on the Neverending Tour can expect to see a grander kind of Bob Dylan. The 71-year-old musical changeup artist surprised his devotees when he sat at a grand piano during much of his performance at a festival in England last week, and he has continued to roll on the ivories through tour dates this week in Germany, according to the fan site BobLinks.com. He probably hasn’t spent this much time seated at a grand piano in public since his Hibbing High School days. He has, of course, been playing keys at shows for much of the past decade, but it was always on standup keyboards, especially an organ.
Among the songs he has been grand-izing have been a lot of The Hits, including “All Along the Watchtower,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Desolation Row,” “Highway 61 Revisited,” plus the more recent staples “High Water (For Charley Patton)” and “Love Sick.” When not seated at the grand at these recent shows, he has mostly been standing around with microphone and harmonica in hand. He has only been playing guitar for a song or two, which may have something to do with Texas music vet Charlie Sexton (of Arc Angels notoriety) – whose early-‘00s tenure in Dylan’s band was widely considered a high point -- rejoined on guitar a couple years ago alongside Stu Kimball.
Here's a bootleg video of Bob on piano during "Highway 61" at the festival in England.