Bob Dylan is easily forgiven.
For his out-of-tune singing on Saturday at the Schottenstein Center, he is forgiven.
For his unintelligible English, he is forgiven.
And heck, people should want to forgive him.
Because he is still Bob Dylan, even at age 66. He was appropriately introduced to Columbus fans Saturday as the "poet laureate of rock 'n' roll."
It's still a treat to witness the political folk icon, the rock and blues legend.
But one has to figure, after God only knows how many shows, how many cigarettes smoked, how much whiskey downed, how many miles traveled, how many interviews given, how many songs sung, it is not surprising Dylan can barely carry a tune.
Dylan and his extremely talented backup band — Dylan said this is his best band ever, which is amazing considering he once toured with the Grateful Dead and The Band — were able to faithfully recreate some of Dylan's hits that didn't require vocal versatility.
That should have been enough, however, for the moderately-sized audience composed largely of middle-aged nostalgia-types.
Dylan is basically a tribute to his old self — the trailblazing 1960's Bob Dylan we all have burned into our heads.
The bulk of Dylan's act was from his 2006 Grammy-winning Modern Times album. The show unsurprisingly carries many of the same toe-tapping tunes with near-impeccable playing, but it is short of brilliance.
Opening for Dylan were Amos Lee and Elvis Costello. Both were a perfect counter-balance to Dylan's act.
Lee is a relative newcomer in folk and rock compared to Costello and Dylan. He gave an energizing performance to the few thousand who had filled their seats early in the night.
Costello, who is a rock legend in his own right, is much more personable on stage with the fans than Dylan. Dylan never spoke between songs, gave no introductions, rarely improvised and just sang. Costello cracked jokes with the audience with his devilish cockney grin, gave details about his 10-month-old "American-born" sons, spoke of politics in America and shook hands with the audience after every song.
Costello's solo performance was especially polished and captivating. With acoustic guitars and minimal effects he played off a catalogue of worldwide hits spanning decades, including "Alison" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding." In contrast to Dylan, he hasn't lost any ability after more than 30 years of performing.
Dylan, with his black getup, leather boots and white wide-rimmed hat, still commanded influence over the audience, even if both the audience and Dylan looked a bit weathered and gray.
When Dylan said "You think I'm over the hill, you think I'm past my prime," the crowd said "no." These were the lyrics off of Modern Times.
As long as he still walks with a swagger on stage, he'll never be over the hill. As long as he can murmur lines to old faithful tunes to people who will listen, he will never be past his prime.