If his critics thought it was an "Idiot Wind" that blew Bob Dylan to China on promises that he would give the government there a "Shelter From the Storm", the most famous protest singer ever seemed to acknowledge the "Political World" we live in, and chalked the swipes up to "Too Much of Nothing".
Ugh. Enough of that. Anyway, the 69-year-old Dylan played his first-ever concert in Beijing today, making his way through a 17-song set list in front of 5,000 fans at the Workers' Gymnasium. He's tried to make it to the Middle Kingdom a few times now, but there's always been a sticking point. Most recently it was his refusal to sign a document pledging not to "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people."
It's unclear whether he signed that this time, but he did refrain from playing some of his best-known protest songs, including "The Times They Are A-Changing." According to the Telegraph, which (sort of) live-blogged the whole thing, he did play "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" and "Like a Rolling Stone", as well as "Tangled Up in Blue" and "All Along the Watchtower". The crowd consisted of "mostly young Chinese and middle-aged expatriates."
About one fifth of the venue remained empty, the Telegraph reported, and another portion was occupied by some 2,000 government minders. The Chinese are very nervous about a repeat of Bjork's 2008 gig, in which she yelled out "Tibet, Tibet!" Not so for Dylan. He behaved himself until he bid fans a "Restless Farewell". Sorry.