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Last Times On Guitar
2003-02-26, Westpac Trust Entertainment Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand
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A few months ago, I discovered a great post on Dylan fan forum Expecting Rain. It was titled “Last Times on Guitar - An Extensive & Ultimate List [2002 - 2019].” It catalogs the last times Dylan performed an array of different songs on guitar.
That opening year, 2002, is significant. September 1, 2002, was the last time Dylan played an entire concert on guitar, having done so for most of his career up to that point. In Fall of 2002 he began mixing in piano and, by the following year, shows were 90% or more on keys. They’ve stayed that way ever since. At this stage, it seems unlikely we’ll ever get another all-guitar concert.
A show 20 years ago today, on February 26 2003 in Christchurch, New Zealand, featured Dylan’s final guitar performances of three different songs: "Desolation Row" on acoustic guitar, and "Tell Me That It Isn't True" and “Like a Rolling Stone” on electric. Bob playing the final guitar “Like a Rolling Stone” especially seems like a historic moment.
You can hear all three tunes in the download below, but there’s sadly no video. I did, however, find some video of the previous show, in Wellington. So you can see the second-to-last guitar performance of “Desolation Row”:
Poke around that Expecting Rain post and see what other finds you come up with. Even though it goes up only to 2019, it’s only a little out of date: Not counting Shadow Kingdom (recorded in a studio) and other one-offs and odd appearances, Dylan has only played guitar on a couple songs onstage during the Rough and Rowdy Ways era. From last spring in Portland through the fall European tour opener in Oslo, he would often begin opening number “Watching the River Flow” with a lengthy guitar jam. By the time he started singing, though, he was back behind the piano. Portland also saw Bob play guitar on “False Prophet” for the first and (so far) only time.
I wanted to find some videos of Bob’s final performances of various songs on guitar. Since footage of Bob playing guitar in recent years is fairly rare – he doesn’t play it much, and tight security makes it tough to shoot videos when he does – it took some digging. But I found a few.
If this is the sort of Dylan-nerdery you’re interested in, please consider signing up as a free or paid subscriber! Free subscribers get an entry or two a month, paid subscribers get one a week, all sent directly to your email inbox. Next up for paid subscribers is a preview of Dylan’s Japan tour next month, through a look back at a show he played in Osaka many years ago.
The last time Bob played “When the Deal Goes Down” on guitar (Stockholm 2007):
The last time Bob played “House of the Rising Sun” on guitar – also the last time he played any cover on guitar period (Newcastle 2007):
The last time Bob played “If You Ever Go to Houston” on guitar (Dornbirn 2010):
The last time Bob played “Honest with Me” AND “Girl From the North Country” on guitar (Buenos Aires 2012):
The second-to-last time Bob played “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’” on guitar (St. Louis 2019):
Anyone know of any video footage of the few times Bob’s played guitar on the Rough & Rowdy Ways tour?