Bob Dylan and Neil Young wrapped up their co-headlining show at Kilkenny, Ireland’s Nowlan Park Sunday evening by performing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” marking the first time the two have shared a stage since a show at New York’s Roseland Ballroom in 1994. Here is a fan-shot video of the performance.
“Will The Circle be Unbroken” is a traditional hymn that dates back to the early 20th century. In 1935, it was recorded by Carter Family patriarch A.P. Carter, which is likely is likely the version that Dylan first heard. He played it during his coffee house shows dating back to 1961, and in 1967 he recorded it during the Basement Tapes sessions with the Band. He hasn’t played it in concert since a Houston stop of the Rolling Thunder Review on May 8th, 1976.
Young, meanwhile, played the song with Willie Nelson four times between 1995 and 2018. The first time he did it, however, was the 1975 SNACK Benefit at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. Sharing vocals with him was none other than Dylan. They had been admiring each other’s work for many years at that point, but it was the first time they’d ever played together. Whether or not they meant to mirror their first onstage encounter by playing the song again at Kilkenny is unclear.
Dylan and Young have been criss-crossing Europe for the past few weeks on separate tours. They didn’t meet up until a co-headlining show at London’s Hyde Park on Friday evening. They disappointed some in the audience that night by not playing anything together even though they did stellar sets on their own.
Dylan is in the rare position of having no tour dates on the books, though if tradition holds he will get back on the road later in the year. Neil Young has nothing official outside of Farm Aid in September, but he’s booking an arena tour with Crazy Horse later in the year to promote their upcoming album.