Barb Jungr - Live from Cafe Carlyle - Time Out New York

26 March 2009
Time Out New York
Adam Feldman

Last year, the sensational Barb Jungr took the top spot on our top-ten list of the year's best cabaret shows. Her new set gives her an excellent shot at repeating that distinction in December. Simply put, this English chanteuse-whom TONY has written about several times in the past, including in this 2008 profile-is one of the very best nightclub singers in the world, and she knocks the genteel Café Carlyle on its pearl-studded ear.

Jungr's engagement ends this Saturday, March 28. Even if you don't think of yourself as a cabaret person, you must see this show. And here's why (after the jump):

1. The singer Barb Jungr is special. As a vocalist, she is a genuine artist: playful in her rhythms, careful in her phrasing. The variable textures of her versatile sound-at times gentle and airy, at times throbbing with dark intensity-add richness and depth to all of her songs. When singing, she occasionally slips into something like a musical trance, with the blissed-out smile of a monk in communion with the heavens. But in between numbers, she is totally natural, earthy and funny. She manages to be both rivetingly dramatic and completely unpretentious-a miraculous balancing act that perhaps no one else pulls off so compellingly.

2. The venue The Café Carlyle, with its sprightly murals and cozy retro elegance, is one of those New York destinations that everyone should experience at least once. (It's where Woody Allen takes Dianne Wiest to see the late Bobby Short in Hannah and Her Sisters, and Allen himself plays clarinet there every Monday night.) The boîte's one disadvantage is the price: Shows there often cost $100 or more, plus a mandatory dinner. Not so with Jungr's engagement: Weekday shows are $50 ($30 at the bar), and weekend shows are $65 ($35 at the bar), with no minimum. This is a great chance to see the Carlyle for less.

3. The music Even those who love cabaret may tire, after a while, of the same great names from the songbooks of yesteryear (Gershwin, Porter, Coward, Weill and the rest). There is none of that in Jungr's show. Instead, she performs work by the likes of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, David Byrne, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Diamond-and not the songs you might expect by those artists, either. (From Dylan, she takes "You Ain't Going Nowhere"; from Simon, "My Little Town.") Her accounts of these songs are completely original and often surprising. If you think you know "Red, Red Wine," think again.

Jungr ends her set with Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life." Bobby Short never sang that one, but he would have approved. So will you.

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