Bob Dylan Starts Outlaw Music Festival With Deep Cuts, Covers

As ever: expect the unexpected...

Bob Dylan started the Outlaw Music Festival with a set dominated by deep cuts and covers.

The songwriter joins the huge American tour, with initial headliner Willie Nelson forced to drop out – the country icon had to cancel his set “per doctor’s orders”.

The loss of Willie Nelson was undoubtedly a disappointing blow for fans, but those who made it to the Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, Georgia on Friday (June 21st) saw one of Bob Dylan’s most enigmatic live sets in years.

Pretty much everyone knows the drill with a modern Bob Dylan live set by now: don’t expect the hits, don’t expect witty repartee with the crowd, and don’t try to second-guess the famously unpredictable performer.

Opening with blues standard ‘My Babe’ – penned by Willie Dixon, made famous by Little Walter – his set broadly swerved the mountain tops of his catalogue. ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’ was included, but the set list leans more towards his 21st century output, including four songs from 2012 album ‘The Tempest’.

Elsewhere, fans got covers of The Fleetwoods and Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and Sanford Clark. Oh, and Jim Keltner is in on drums – famous for playing with multiple ex-Beatles (although not Paul McCartney, curiously), he’s known Bob Dylan since gospel albums such as ‘Saved’, and their time in the Travelling Wilburys, when the drummer was re-christened Buster Sidebury.

Here’s the set list:

Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, GA, June 21st, 2024
My Babe (Willie Dixon cover)
Beyond Here Lies Nothin’
Simple Twist of Fate
Little Queenie (Chuck Berry cover)
Mr. Blue (The Fleetwoods cover)
Pay in Blood
Cold, Cold Heart (Hank Williams cover)
Early Roman Kings
Under the Red Sky
Things Have Changed
The Fool (Sanford Clark cover)
Scarlet Town
Long and Wasted Years

The following evening in Charlotte, North Carolina softened the edges a little bit – opening with ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, it also includes ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man’. Curiously, there was also a cover of ‘Stella Blue’ by the Grateful Dead, who famously backed Dylan on a late 80s tour.

Check out the set list below.

PNC Bank Music Pavilion in Charlotte, NC, June 22nd, 2024
Highway 61 Revisited
Shooting Star
Love Sick
Little Queenie (Chuck Berry cover)
Mr. Blue (The Fleetwoods cover)
Early Roman Kings
Can’t Wait
Under the Red Sky
Things Have Changed
Stella Blue (Grateful Dead cover)
Six Days on the Road (Paul Davis cover)
Soon After Midnight
Ballad of a Thin Man
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight

As if that wasn’t perplexing enough, the merch table for the shows contains a Dylan t-shirt from his ‘The Tempest’ run in 2012… but with a 2024 copyright mark. Oh, and the list of dates contains details of a show in Rosemont, Illinois, that never happened.

Related: Seven Music Memoirs Everyone Should Read

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