It was Dylan’s first appearance in a country where he’s still seen by some as an icon of the anti-war movement through politically-charged peace songs including The Times They Are A Changing and Blowin’ in the Wind. Government officials usually demand to vet western artist’s setlists to delete political content. But event promoter Rod Quinton says: “No restrictions were imposed.”
Dylan, 69, played to 4000 people in a half-full arena, after having played in China on Wednesday and Friday during a tour which marks 50 years since his first big shows. The Chinese government also imposes setlist rules, but it’s not known if the singer was made to change his proposed performances.
However, some people were glad to Dylan, even if he did performa a watered-down show. Vietnamese composers’ representative Tran Long An says: “Bob Dylan’s music opened up a path where music was used as a weapon to oppose the war in Vietnam and fight injustice. That’s what he did for music.”
And a concert attendee adds: “I’d rather see him play some songs than not see him at all.” But the Human Rights Watch organisation says: “Dylan should be ashamed of himself. He has a historic chance to communicate a message of freedom and hope – but instead he allows censors to choose his setlist.”