Bob Dylan versus Neil Young – who will win Hyde Park’s 2019 battle of the old geezers?

Dylan and Young together at Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time: a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see two legends share a stage, or a must-avoid trauma of two greats 40 years past their best?

When Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time announced on Tuesday that its first concert at Hyde Park next summer is Bob Dylan and Neil Young playing the same show, hipster grandads instantly began preparing to empty their pension funds to afford the £320 top-price ticket. (AKA “The bit where the sound at Hyde Park is decent”).

BBC4 and Sky Arts are probably having a bidding war to show highlights of the two giants together that’ll rival Sky and BT Sport’s billions spent on Premier League football. Broadsheet commentators who believe that music has been broken since 1976 will be submitting book proposals to publishers about the concert, to join the forests of guff about Those Who Must Be Worshipped.

Should you join the clamour to see these giants of music? Are either of them actually worth watching in 2019? How many bangers are they likely to play? And who will emerge triumphant: the grumpy giffer or the really grumpy giffer? Read on for NME‘s tale of the tape…

Back catalogue bangers

Bob Dylan: One of the greatest songwriters of all time, but not necessarily a hitmaker. He reinvented protest music and folk music; it’s not his fault that he also invented Ben Howard, Marcus Mumford and every annoying student ruining parties by playing ‘Lay Lady Lay’ on an acoustic guitar while everyone else is on one to The Weeknd.
Score: 8/10

Neil Young: For someone celebrating the 50th anniversary of his debut solo single next year, Neil Young has racked up surprisingly few songs that everyone knows. ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ sums up every Friday night on BBC4 yer da’ insists on watching. ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ is any folkie’s easiest cover. Kurt Cobain quoted lyrics from ‘Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)’ in his suicide note. Then there’s… er…
Score: 5/10

Chance of playing back catalogue bangers


Bob Dylan: Well now. Dylan might play a few big hits. The question is, will you recognise them while he’s singing? One Bob Dylan gig in 10 is incredible. The other nine are a festival of deliberately incoherent mumbling, like watching your grandad trying to remember where he’s left his angina pills. Do you want to take that chance if you’ve saved up THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY QUID, knowing you’ll be Googling the lyrics in the second chorus to check if that really is ‘All Along The Watchtower’ Dylan is muttering?
Score: 3/10


Neil Young:
He behaved himself when he headlined Glastonbury and brought out the big guns. What do you mean, you don’t remember when Neil Young headlined Glastonbury? 2009? Loads of guitar solos? That’s Young’s problem: He’s OK live, not terrible, but he’s often just sort of… there. Soloing away for days, while everyone waits for ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’.
Score: 6/10

Percentage of annoying fans


Bob Dylan: 
Unbeatable. Dylanologists, as they insist on being called because they’re only a heartbeat away from giving all their money to a cult, are the worst. They’ll forgive the fact that Dylan is having a stinker on stage, because what you – an idiot – don’t see is that St Bob Of  The Digitally Remumbled is doing, right, is playing a great joke by reinterpreting his classics in ways that only true believers will see as being superior to the *continues droning on for decades*.
Score: 10/10

Neil Young: Harmless. Marge Simpson is a Neil Young fan. They might try and explain away Young’s deliberately unlistenable album ‘Trans’, but otherwise they’ll be too busy smoking the Oxo cube they spent £40 on from the guy by the front gates to pester you.
Score: 4/10

Fear of playing anything off a new album


Bob Dylan:
Bob’s recent albums have included a Christmas record, a Frank Sinatra covers album and a TRIPLE ALBUM of pre-rock & roll standards. Consider yourself warned. Every now and again, Dylan still releases a great album: ‘Tempest’ from 2012 is alright. It’ll be no worse than him massacring the ones you came to hear.
Score: 6/10

Neil Young: Neil’s still knocking out serviceable proto-Pearl Jam albums by the yard. You won’t know the deep cuts from his 1970s albums either, so there’s no harm in indulging him.
Score: 5/10

On-stage bants


Bob Dylan: 
Does smiling in a way that says “Yes, I am openly taking the piss” count?
Score: 4/10

Neil Young: In 2014, he told his audience off for clapping along to one of his songs. Don’t come for the gags.
Score: 4/10

 

Value for money


Bob Dylan:
He’s heavily rumoured to be playing Isle Of Wight Festival too. The chances of him being any good both there and at Hyde Park are pretty much zero. Maybe he’ll put in a good show just to annoy Neil Young. Hey, why not take the chance, it’s your THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY QUID.
Score: 4/10

Neil Young: He’ll be fine. Tick him off your bucket list. It’s your THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY QUID. Who are we to argue?
Score: 6/10

Bob Dylan and Neil Young co-headline Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time at London’s Hyde Park on July 12. Tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday and can be purchased then from this link here. They’re not all £320.