Like a Rolling Stone, this tribute to Bob Dylan gathers no moss at Portsmouth Guildhall

From folk figurehead to protest singer, and latterly a Nobel laureate, The Bob Dylan Story celebrates the life of this mercurial artist.

Saturday, 7th January 2017, 6:12 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 4:19 am
Bill Lennon in the lead role of The Bob Dylan Story. Picture by Jonnie Page.

This multimedia show recreates the living legend’s classic hits, from The Times They Are A-Changin’, Blowin’ In The Wind and Mr Tambourine Man through to Like A Rolling Stone, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Lay Lady Lay, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door and many more, while telling some of the fascinating tales behind them.

Supported by a top backing band, the show takes its audience back to the 1960s, the era of Vietnam, anti-war and civil rights protests, and of course, timeless music spearheaded by the likes of Dylan, this year’s winner of the Nobel prize for literature, as he plotted his journey from revered protest singer to provocative rock ’n’ roll star to virtual recluse and back again, all in the space of a few short years.

‘We wanted to give Dylan’s many fans the opportunity to hear the songs as they remember them, all in one sitting’ explains Bill Lennon, who plays the main man in the show. ‘And although many of Dylan’s songs were hits for other artists, from Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower right up to Adele’s Make You Feel My Love, we remain true to the original versions.

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‘We are confident the show will have people digging out their old vinyl to sustain the nostalgia just that little bit longer,’ added Bill, who is himself a huge Dylan fan, and whose other credits include a lead role in You’ve Got A Friend – The Music of James Taylor and Carole King; and Keith Richards in The Counterfeit Stones. ‘We’re so excited to be celebrating the music of arguably rock music’s greatest and most influential artist, and now, thanks to his recent Nobel prize award, greatest poet.’

As Bill admits, he was hooked young: ‘My dad had The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan on vinyl when I was a kid.

‘I used to love it when dad put it on the record player, though after a while it was more likely to be me that put it on! I suppose the song Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right is the one that really sticks out for me from that album, and we include that one in the show of course – it seems to be a favourite of a lot of fans.’

And he was thrilled to hear that Dylan had won 2016’s Nobel prize for literature: ‘I was delighted for several reasons, some selfish, some not.

‘I think he certainly deserves it when you consider the contribution he has made to popular culture over the past half century – and I know people will say “but it’s not literature”, but I challenge anyone to read the lyrics to songs like Tangled Up In Blue, Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall, Like A Rolling Stone, Subterranean Homesick Blues and then tell me the guy’s not a poet.

‘The more selfish reason of course is that it throws him once more into the spotlight, which can only be a great thing for The Bob Dylan Story!’

But does he have a favourite Dylan song?

‘As we point out in the show there are more than 350 songs to choose from, and 37 studio albums before you even start getting into compilations, live albums, bootlegs and so on.

‘I think my current favourite song would have to be Quinn The Eskimo, which was of course a massive hit for Manfred Mann, because we have an absolute blast when we play it in the show. Ask me next week and it would be something different for sure.’

n For your chance to win a pair of tickets to The Bob Dylan Story at Portsmouth Guildhall on Sunday, January 15, answer the following question: What folk-rock group had a number one hit on both sides of the Atlantic with the Bob Dylan song Mr Tambourine Man?

E-mail your answer with your name, address and daytime telephone number, to [email protected], or by post to: The Bob Dylan Story Competition, The News, 1000 Lakeside, North Harbour, Western Road, Portsmouth, PO6 3EN.

Entries must be received by Thursday, January 12.



Portsmouth Guildhall

Sunday, January 15