Bob Dylan made his first appearance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965 right on the heels of the release of his 5th studio album, ‘Bringing It All Back Home’. The concerts on the 9th and 10th of May, noted as being his last ever solo acoustic tour, marked the final dates of Dylan’s England Tour in 1965. All four members of The Beatles were in the audience.
A selection of songs from these performances can be seen in D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary film Don’t Look Back:
VIDEO: Dylan leaving the Hall in 1965 (from Dont Look Back)
In May 1966, Dylan made an electric return to the Hall performing the final two shows of his full tour with a full electric band backing him. A recording titled, The Bootleg SeriesVol 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The Royal Albert Hall Concert, was released in 2008, however, the recordings were made at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall. The album even contains the artist’s confrontation with an audience member who shouted “Judas”, referring to Dylan’s “betrayal” to his acoustic sound. Another individual in the audience exclaimed “I’m never listening to you again” and got the famous “I don’t believe you … you’re a liar” response from the artist.
Similar to other tour dates, Dylan opened with an acoustic set which his fans were familiar with before hitting the electric set in the second half. Audiences’ reaction to the artist’s major shift was split in half and it took the artist quite some time to get fans accustomed to his new sound.
From the 1966 UK Tour programme
The day after his show in 1996 The Times commented:
‘There was a marked and disturbing contrast between the two parts of the concert given by Bob Dylan, the American folk singer, at the Albert Hall last night. In the first, and infinitely better, half of the evening, Mr Dylan gave an agreeable solo rendering of some of the songs for which he is best known: in the second half he was accompanied by the thunderous quintet who made it virtually impossible to distinguish a single line of the lyrics.’
The Times, 27 May 1966