Last month, one incredibly lucky Bob Dylan superfan named Fredrik Wikingsson was treated to a private Dylan concert at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music. That gig, with Wikingsson the only person in the audience, was part of a Swedish film series called Experiment Ensam where a lone person takes part in events that are usually reserved for large crowds. Now, we’re able to watch Wikingsson’s once-in-a-lifetime Dylan experience firsthand.
“I’ve seen him like 20 times, but this time, he might notice me. That’s just crazy,” Wikingsson tells Experiment Ensam. “You go through phases of what you do and what you enjoy. The only thing that’s been constant in my life for 20 years has been Bob Dylan.”
Before the private Dylan concert, Wikingsson walks around New York’s Greenwich Village, the epicenter of the early-Sixties folk scene, thinking about a time over a half-century earlier when Dylan was performing similarly small gigs to just a handful of people and imagining what that was like.
Remarkably, 45 minutes before the Dylan concert in Philadelphia, Wikingsson expresses some pre-show jitters. “It’s weird, but I almost feel sick,” he admits. “I’ve never had a moment in my life when so much has been on the line. If he were to notice me and somehow face me, it would be life-changing, somehow.”
We then watch as Wikingsson carefully chooses his seat – about six rows back, dead center – and the Dylan performance begins, first with a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Heartbeat,” then a somber rendition of Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” and Chuck Wills’ “It’s Too Late (She’s Gone).” Witnessing Wikingsson’s facial expressions – from disbelief to joy to sadness – is nearly as captivating as Dylan’s performance itself. “A flood of emotions. I wasn’t far from crying,” Wikingsson admits after the show.
Dylan and his band then perform a song that Wikingsson is unfamiliar with – the blues classic “Key to the Highway,” previously covered by Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones – before departing the stage. Cameras next catch up with an emotionally exhausted Wikingsson in the lobby. “I feel like a kid,” he says.
Experiment Ensam meets up with Wikingsson two weeks later. “I’ve found a cozy little space inside of me that’s my Bob space. It’s my Philadelphia and Bob space,” he says. The object of the experiment is to determine whether a person enjoys moments like a Bob Dylan concert more alone or with people.
“I’m both grateful and happy that I was the only one there. ” Wikingsson says. “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. In that way, I’m torn about the experience.”
After the episode premiered in Sweden, Wikingsson, a well-known TV personality there, was interviewed again about the Dylan concert, and he reveals that he refuses to watch himself watching the performance in order to keep his own memories of the experience pristine.