A short documentary featuring footage of Bob Dylan playing a brief concert for just one man has debuted online.
It was filmed as part of a Swedish series called Experiment Ensam which means “Experiment Alone,” and was highlighted by a special performance Dylan and his backing group gave on November 23 at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music that was witnessed by a Swedish TV personality named Fredrik Wikingsson.
The concept behind the series is to capture individuals taking part in events or activities usually experienced by large groups of people.
The film, which runs about 14 minutes, begins with footage of Wikingsson outside of the Academy of Music, as well as clips of him visiting areas of Greenwich Village in New York City that Dylan frequented early in his music career. He reveals that he’s seen Bob in concert about 20 times, while adding, “But this time, he might notice me.”
About 45 minutes before the concert begins, Wikingsson is shown speaking with a psychologist about how seeing Dylan perform without anyone else in the audience might differ from his usual experience at a show by the folk-rock legend. Wikingsson is then shown entering the empty theater, and taking a seat in the middle of the sixth row.
Soon, Dylan and his group take the stage and proceed to perform several songs, all covers, including Buddy Holly’s “Heartbeat”; a melancholy, minor-key version of Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill”; and Chuck Willis’ “It’s Too Late (She’s Gone).”
Interspersed with scenes of Dylan’s performance and reaction shots of Wikingsson are interview clips of Fredrik explaining how he felt watching the show. He discusses how he initially felt apprehensive about responding to the show, but eventually called out, “You guys sound great!” eliciting a chuckle from Bob. Wikingsson also explains how he began to get emotional when Dylan played a harmonica solo during “It’s Too Late.” As Bob and his band finished their set, Fredrik called out, “Thank you very much,” while Dylan responded, “Thank you for coming. You can come anytime.”
After the show, Wikingsson is interviewed and discusses how he feels about the experience, declaring, “I feel like a kid…It was a perfect moment.” At the end of the documentary, Fredrik is interviewed again by the psychologist two weeks after the unique event. “I had a feeling of almost being high for several days,” he explains, “but now I’ve found a cozy little space inside of me that’s my Bob space.” Fredrik is then asked if he’d if he thought he would have had more fun if more people were at the concert with him.
He concludes, “I’m both grateful and happy that I was the only one there…but once I stepped out of the theater, all confused and dizzy, it could have been more intense if I had someone to share it with.”