Ian Bell's verdict: four stars

If a spot becomes vacant on Mount Rushmore, Bob Dylan is ready. He's monumental now. This artist contains half a century of American culture within himself. But - and these days it's a big but - can he still perform well enough to carry the weight?

An old, inane question has acquired a new force over the last decade. For some, the voice was always a test. These days it is the aural equivalent of a scarred and ancient rock formation, jagged and unforgiving. What works in the recording studio is a challenge, as often as not, in the concert hall.

Typically, Dylan shows not the slightest sign of being bothered by that. Nor is he detained by the claims of a vast body of work.

His first night of three in Glasgow, like most of the rest of the shows on his latest swing through Europe, leaned heavily on newer work, last year's Tempest album above all.

Anyone still hoping for those time-honoured and time-worn songs of the 1960s was rewarded with just a "She Belongs to Me" restructured from the ground up and Dylan's now-standard encores, "All Along the Watchtower" and "Blowin' in the Wind". The last of these was given a whole new melody.

Similarly, "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Simple Twist of Fate", centrepieces of the Blood on the Tracks album, were allowed their moments, but something of their force as concert pieces has dissipated.

A quick summary would say that this was a night for the second coming, for late Dylan and his remarkable output of the last 16 years.

These days, he gives you a choice. You can wallow in disappointment over the artist you think you remember, or you can pay heed to what he's doing now. The writer who once said that "nostalgia is death" won't hang around while you choose.

A 72-year-old whose work embraces the American tradition (or the one that existed before a certain Bob Dylan came along) is still the most modern of writers.

The ragged glory that was once his voice remains a problem for part of his audience. Who goes to see a poet perform if they can't necessarily make out every word, or pin the words they think they know to a melody? The 21st century Dylan asks a lot of his audiences.

Then again, he gives back more than anyone else ever could. Three things were striking about this performance.

First was the voice.The idea that it has been lost forever was exposed as a half-truth. When it mattered, Dylan brought real power to his singing.

That was the second thing. This concert worked least well when Dylan offered his handful of classic songs and best when he attacked new material. "Pay in Blood", "Early Roman Kings", "Scarlet Town" and, above all, "Long and Wasted Years", all from Tempest, were luminous.

Dylan all but discarded half a century of song-writing for the sake of one album and it worked brilliantly. You could note that the set offered hasn't altered during most of a long European tour. But the sight of a 72-year-old renewing his art and himself was thrilling.