“Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert" is a faithful song-by-song recreation, without the boos, of Bob Dylan 's infamous concert — from the tour where he played electric guitar for the first time.
Unlike Dylan’s divisive 1966 shows, no one seeing singer-songwriter Cat Power in 2022 when this was recorded — also at the famed Royal Albert Hall — was likely so angered or surprised by what they heard that they felt compelled to walk out or hurl insults. Her acoustic first set, followed by second set complete with a full, plugged-in band, is rightfully met with thunderous applause.
Back in 1966, when Dylan angered folk music traditionalists by plugging in and playing his new songs backed by a band, fans stomped their feet, jeered and walked out. In Manchester, England, one attendee was so angered that he famously yelled “Judas!” at Dylan just before he launched into “Like a Rolling Stone.”
The moment gained fame on bootlegs that wrongly attributed perhaps the most famous heckle in rock history to the Royal Albert Hall concert in London.
Of course, Cat Power, otherwise known as Chan Marshall, returns not to the Manchester Free Trade Hall but to the Royal Albert Hall for this live recreation of the famous show. But it's not a copy. She puts her own stamp on the material while not deviating from Dylan's 1966 arrangements.
She delivers the first set solo acoustic just as Dylan did, alone with harmonica and guitar. She serves up spine-tingling versions of some of Dylan's best work including “Visions of Johanna,” “Desolation Row” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
Then she returns in the second set with a full band to deliver purer Dylan: “Ballad of a Thin Man,” “Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues” and closing, just as Dylan did, with “Like a Rolling Stone,” one of the greatest rock songs ever written.
Unlike the original Dylan show, which he released in full in 1998, Cat Power's electric set is more of a celebration than a tussle with the audience.
Cat Power could never replicate that combative energy, but she doesn't have to. While remaining faithful to the songs and the live arrangements, she shines a light on Dylan's genius and the beauty of the music nearly 60 years after the original concert, while leaving her own mark.
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Scott Bauer, The Associated Press