Bob Dylan performs at the Beijing Workers' Gymnasium on Wednesday night. The American musician will play a concert in Shanghai on Friday. [Photo/China Daily]
BEIJING - With his 1979 song Gonna Change My Way of Thinking, American folk and rock musician Bob Dylan opened his first concert on the Chinese mainland on Wednesday night at Beijing Workers' Gymnasium.
Hours before the concert, the square outside the venue had already taken on a festival atmosphere, with vendors selling CDs, T-shirts and postcards of Dylan. Nearby a busker sang in Dylan's early style - just a guitar and harmonica.
"Dylan is the most influential musician to me, from his form of performance to his freewheeling spirit. I'm excited that he's here today," said the busker, Xiao Di.
Many Chinese pop and rock musicians were seen in yesterday's audience, including Cui Jian, Wang Feng, Ai Jing and Lin Yilun.
Dylan's program was substantially different from the one he played in Taipei on April 3. Of the 17 songs he performed in Beijing, only seven were on the program in Taipei. He didn't perform Blowing in The Wind, his best-known work in China, like he did in Taipei.
Except for senior Dylan fans, it was difficult to tell Dylan's most popular works since he had changed the melodies heavily for the live performance.
"I'm sure I've heard all the songs from the concert, but I recognized only four," said music critic Wang Xiaofeng. "I was prepared for it, and I don't think I have to hear him sing exactly like on the CDs."
Apart from singing, Dylan played keyboard, guitar and harmonica. Performing with a tightly-knit five-piece band, Dylan didn't say anything except when introducing band members near the end of the show.
Dylan, who will turn 70 next month, ended his Beijing concert with an encore, singing Forever Young.
Dylan will play the Shanghai Grand Stage on April 8, before performing in Hong Kong on April 12 and 13.