Bob Dylan plays first concert in Vietnam

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bob Dylan in 2010
Image: Vitoria Gasteiz.

Bob Dylan, the U.S. musical artist and songwriter, performed his first concert ever in Vietnam on Sunday night, forty years after his 1960s protest songs, now iconic, gave voice to America's anti-Vietnam War movement.

The concert came days after he played two shows in China, where he performed in Beijing and Shanghai as part of his Asia-Pacific tour. On Sunday, he played in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), on a date 50 years after his first major performance.

Dylan played outdoors on a warm evening on the grassy grounds of RMIT University. The audience was a mixture of young and old; both foreigners and Vietnamese were present. He played in a Vietnam now at peace where half the population is under 30, too young to have memories of the war.

Dressed in a purple shirt, black jacket and wearing a white hat, he was welcomed with loud applause by an enthusiastic audience. His 17-song set list included a selection of his 1960s and 1970s hits such as "All Along the Watchtower", "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall", "It Ain't Me Babe", "Tangled Up in Blue", and "Highway 61 Revisited" along with more recent songs.

Cquote1.svg Bob Dylan's music opened up a path where music was used as a weapon to oppose the war in Vietnam and fight injustice and racism. That was the big thing that he has done for music. Cquote2.svg

—Tran Long An, Vietnam Composers' Association

Tran Long An, vice president of the Vietnam Composers' Association noted that the significance of Dylan's Ho Chi Minh City performance was recognized by his Vietnamese fans. "Bob Dylan's music opened up a path where music was used as a weapon to oppose the war in Vietnam and fight injustice and racism," he said. "That was the big thing that he has done for music."

Vietnam's communist government allows few western acts to perform. Human rights groups criticized Dylan for submitting his play list for approval by the Vietnamese government authorities, although his promoter said no restrictions were imposed.


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