Gig Review – Bob Dylan and Neil Young, Hyde Park, 12 July 2019

Day 4 of 5 in Hyde Park for me this summer. Today was another show where we really had no idea what sort of access we would get until we arrived. This wasn’t (ahem!) a British Summer Time / Barclaycard show but only because Bob Dylan had insisted that all branding was removed, apparently due to a bust up with Barclaycard in the past about a house insurance claim or something like that.

As it turned out we had pit access for Neil Young. It was the first time I’ve shot him but apparently he can be somewhat of a recluse. We had to pick a side in the pit and stick to it. We were told we could be in there a while as he tends to jam his songs and we had a good amount of time. Thing is though, I gambled on stage right and he spent more time playing towards the handful of photographers who’d gone stage left. And there was no opportunity to swap sides. Still, it worked out okay.

Frankly with Bob Dylan it’s a miracle we had any access at all. We had initially thought we might be in the pit but in the end we got a couple of songs way back at the mixing desk. But it’s Bob Dylan, so who cares!? So off we went to the mixing desk. We might as well have been shooting the show in a different London Borough and he skulked behind the piano for both songs. We weren’t given a choice of which mixing desk we went to – half went one way half went the other. I think the other half had a better angle, but they think we did! The fact that every photographer there got two songs is incredible. Even on the 150-600mm lens he was distant, but it was good enough.

As I left for the evening I walked through the back of the golden circle to the same spot where I’d watched Stevie Wonder last weekend. The stage set up was really simple but unlike oneĀ I’ve seen beforeĀ – nine massive freestanding lamps towered over the band providing all the light. Everything else was black. I watched the show for 10-15 minutes. At 78 years old he can perhaps be forgiven for poor vocals, but it was hard to distinguish one song from the next. I took the last two shots just as I was leaving so that I’d have a record of the full stage.