May 22: Bob Dylan The Great Music Experience, Nara, Japan 1994 (video)
For the first time ever, Dylan was backed by a full orchestra, the New Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. The final day was widely televised and Dylan was in magnificent form. I remember being near tears as The Voice returned in all its full, expressive, raging glory. I watched the footage again and again, transfixed at what seemed the best ever rendition of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and a magical and magisterial “Ring Them Bells”, with Dylan filmed beneath a huge statue of Buddha.
~Andrew Muir (One More Night: Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour)
22 May 1994
The Great Music Experience.
Produced by Tony Hollingsworth.
The Great Music Experience was a concert starring Japanese and international musicians staged at the eighth century Buddhist temple of Tōdai-ji, in Nara, Japanin May 1994. The concert, held over three nights (May 20 – May 22) and partly backed by UNESCO, took place in front of the world’s largest wooden building, housing the largest Buddha statue in the world.
.. The star of the show turned out to be Dylan who said as soon as he came off-stage that he had not sung so well for 15 years. Dylan opened with A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall which Q magazine said was “no ordinary version…[he] really opens his lungs and heart and sings, like he’s not done for many a year…The only word for it majestic.“
Musicians said the collaborations, however rewarding, were difficult given the differences in musical backgrounds. “The only thing holding us together this evening is the shining Buddha,” said Michael Kamen, a composer of movie soundtracks who is serving as the musical director here and who composed an overture that encompassed all the musicians and instruments. The mixing of the music is being done by George Martin, who was the Beatles’ producer. (New York Times)
Setlist – Bob Dylan:
- A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
- I Shall Be Released
- Ring Them Bells
- I Shall Be Released
1–3 Bob Dylan (guitar & vocal) backed by Phil Palmer (guitar), ”Wix” Vickens (keyboards), Pino Palladino (bass), Jim Keltner (drums) and The Tokyo New Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen.
4 Bob Dylan (guitar & shared lead vocal) in the grand finale with all participating artists, among them Joni Mitchell, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Ry Cooder, Roger Taylor and the members of INXS and X Japan.
1–3 broadcast in the radio and TV program THE GREAT MUSIC EXPERIENCE COUNTDOWN, 22 May 1994 in over 50 countries all over the world.
4 broadcast in the radio and TV program THE GREAT MUSIC EXPERIENCE COUNTDOWN, 29 May 1994 on BBC in the UK.
Full concert video (click on the picture to watch):
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