IN mid-November last year, Bob Dylan and his band performed three sold-out nights at the Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow.

A year on, for one night only and at a different venue altogether, there is an intriguing Dylanesque show, courtesy of John O'Connell.

O'Connell is a well-known Liverpool musician who has won much acclaim for a concert billed on his website as a "tribute to Dylan, not a Dylan tribute."

"It was a slow process," says O'Connell. "I never decided one day just to do a Bob Dylan act.

"I used to be in a Liverpool band called Groundpig and we would do the odd Dylan tune, such as Hurricane, which used violin. But the band's co-founder, Graham Evans, died in 2006, and I returned to doing original songs, still with the occasional Dylan song. Then a mate who was a big Dylan fan suggested I do a full set of the man's songs. I thought it was crazy, but Dylan's 70th birthday was coming up and I realised I knew enough of his songs to do a one-off gig."

That show, at Liverpool's celebrated Cavern venue, was a sell-out. "It was a great gig. We had backing singers, and a violinist, and we did a lot of Dylan's 70s stuff.

"What happened was that some fellow had bought the last ticket. He was a promoter in Spain. He got back to us and asked if we wanted to bring the show to Spain for some gigs. So we did, and it went really well, and after that it was obvious it was worth keeping as a project."

Last year, while Dylan did three nights at the Winter Garden Theatre in Blackpool, O'Connell and his band cleverly put on three daytime gigs next door "in the hope of getting a few Dylan fans in".

When it comes to covering Zimmerman songs, O'Connell says simply that he "plays what I like to listen to". He favours songs from the fertile Dylan period between 1975 and 1983: Blood On The Tracks, Desire, Street Legal, Slow Train Coming, Shot Of Love, Saved, and Infidels; a period that happens to take in Dylan's Born-Again phase of the late 1970s. Classics such as To Ramona (from Another Side Of Bob Dylan, 1964) and Forever Young (Planet Waves, 1974) are also thrown in.

O'Connell admits he never really got into Dylan until he heard, and got hooked on, Desire and Street Legal, then worked his way back to Blood On The Tracks. "Once he hit his religious phase, I thought that was his best period as a songwriter: I thought it was fabulous. A lot of people don't like it, though. Some of the songs on Saved are brilliant."

In an age when every bestselling group has at least one devoted tribute act, is there a special challenge in covering the works of an imposing, influential cultural figure such as the bard from Hibbing, Minnesota?

"I don't think about it too much," says O'Connell. "There are so many lovely songs to choose from. I always have a great bunch of musicians and singers around me. We'll do, say, Is Your Love In Vain? from Street Legal, as a slow male-and-female duet. I think his tunes from that period are so beautiful.

"The size of his repertoire is frightening. If you are in a Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd [tribute] band, I think you do the big hits and a few album tracks, and that is it. But with Dylan, there is so much to choose from. We have been preparing for this tour and we have had to leave out so many great songs. It's really difficult.

"We have a fabulous 16-year-old guitarist in the band, but because his school won't let him come on the tour, we have had to drop all the numbers that feature an electric guitar. I've said to him, why can't you just bunk off, like I used to do?"

One of O'Connell's publicity shots has a special resonance for Dylan fans. It was taken in Dublin Street at the exact location where Dylan himself was photographed (by Barry Feinstein) with some local children in May 1966, a few hours before his Liverpool Odeon concert during his UK tour. Three nights later came the confrontational Manchester show in which an irate fan would yell 'Judas!' at him.

Dylan, of course, has a distinctive voice - one US critic described it, a couple of years ago, as a "zombie bullfrog holler" - but O'Connell sensibly does not waste time in trying to replicate it.

"I follow his phrasing, which I love, but I don't try to mimic his tone. That said, I like some of the colours he achieves with that nasal tone, and I try to do something like that in a song like Hurricane.

"One thing I have found, though, is that a lot of people come up to me and say, 'I didn't know that was a Bob Dylan song'.

"When I put the show on in Liverpool, a lot of folk said, 'We don't like Bob Dylan, we're not coming to watch it'. But then I do the show, and they come up and say, 'Well, we like you doing Bob Dylan...' That's the kind of feedback I get."

Simply Dylan, Oran Mor, Monday, November 17. Tickets £17.50, 0141 204 5151,