Bob Dylan hits headlines in China

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American music legend Bob Dylan finally had his debut concert at Workers' Gymnasium in Beijing Wednesday night, April 6, 2011 in front of a fully packed audience, among which were big names in the Chinese music scene like Cui Jian and Wang Feng.

It was a typical Dylan concert, with no fancy set-up, no warm-up greeting, and no accessible chit-chat, except a few words introducing other players in the band. The language barrier, coupled with Dylan's unpredictability in his vocal approach, may actually have left many in confusion, however, the singer still received a "rapturous reception" for his Beijing show, as for most fans, just being there was a significant experience.

The iconic figure made headlines of Chinese newspapers the second day after the Beijing show with two follow-ups in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Here is a brief round-up of newspaper digests and reviews by some Chinese music commentators.

"This was not an entertainment finale after a short holiday, neither a karaoke night (of thousands). What he has brought to us is quiet listening. Bob Dylan sang out his rational thoughts of world in his husky voice." -

"Bob Dylan performed many classical works and gave the audience a closer look at his great charm." -

"The most influential American folk-rock poet debuted in Workers' Gymnasium. This marked his first and probably last show here... As the majority of audience are not so familiar with his songs, and he has recomposed many old ones, so even some die-hard fans would find it hard to join in singing when songs like 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' started. However, as a most legendary singer, he has offered a must-have lesson to catch up for Chinese fans." - Beijing Youth Daily

"Void of fancy light effects and stage settings, he took the audience back to the heyday of American folk songs in the 1960s, with his husky voice and harmonica solos." -

"Worship Bob Dylan, the answers are not blowing in the wind." - Xiaoxiang Morning Post

"Bob Dylan's Beijing concert is over. We took the chance to review his works in the past month so as to better understand his times. Like what Suze Rotolo, Dylan's girlfriend in the early-1960s, has written in her memoir, 'He became an elephant in the room of my life,' the singer is also an elephant to pop culture. While like the blind men sizing up the elephant, we will never know enough of him." - Music DJ Zhang Youdai

"His music hasn't influenced me so I am not so attached, neither have I listened to many of his songs. However, I went to the concert to witness the historic moment. Bob Dylan and his music, is like the giant shadow on the stage, striking and mysterious. " - Host-singer Kelly Cha

"No thanks, no desire of applause, he went more extreme than expected, fully embodying the dignity of an excellent poet... I will also see his performance in Shanghai, because that's helpful to me. He sang worse than me this time." - Versatile artist Zuoxiaozuzhou

"I went there with a heart full of respect and pleasure, kind of in the middle. I felt satisfied that in my lifetime I can still watch the singer, aged 70, performing on stage, full of passion." - Music Producer Song Ke

"The singer has conquered the audience with a guitar and a harmonica. This was the only time for the Chinese audience to see the living fossil. It means more to be there than music itself." - Huaxi Metropolis Daily

"Bob Dylan is in his 70s. We shouldn't label on the senior singer. He is happy now on stage with an elusive smile on his face. He can walk further on a never ending road as long as we don't impose too much on him." -

"Some are desperate to go witness the legend even though they don't know his music. Veteran fans go there to fulfill a wish, while rich men attend the concert like they would show up for an upscale party." - Beijing music critic Zhang Xiaozhou

"No drama practice tonight, I am going to Bob Dylan's show. I don't expect it to be energetic or exciting, just hope the rock veteran will bring me a dose of spirit." - Director Tian Qinxin

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