Barb Jungr - Man in the Long Black Coat Live in NY - Cabaret Scenes

Not many cabaret artists include folk-then-electric legend Bob Dylan's works in their repertoire. Most notably, local stars Paula West and Tim Hockenberry master the master. The latter performs with a rocking band to musically bring Dylan into the here and now. What they do musically, British chanteuse Barb Jungr does lyrically, working the words like a skilled surgeon and illuminating his enchanting songs with a unique take on Dylan's timeless selections.

Pardon the vulgarity, but it takes balls to present such a caustic window into the male psyche. As Jungr remarks before launching into "Things Have Changed" and "It Ain't Me Babe," Dylan presents a very male perspective on the dark side of love.  Jungr is more than up to the task, shining a focused female light on each and every phrase. She takes the lyrics very seriously, has well thought upon them, and delivers them precisely in her clipped demonstrative rhythms. The arrangements are almost never literal, sometimes jazzy ("Tangled Up in Blue") or in 5-beat ("The Times They Are A-Changin'"). Dylan's gospel numbers are pounded out in spirited enthusiasm ("Ring Them Bells," "Trouble in Mind").

Jungr knocks it out of the park on "I Want You," Dylan's raw, tender lyric almost a whisper to be grasped and cherished. "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" gets a similar treatment and it's cabaret magic.  Closing with the powerful anti-war, anti-religious zealotry ballad "With God on Our Side," Jungr forcefully addresses Dylan's questioning the morality of wars fought and atrocities committed by a country in God's name. Jungr has been grappling with Dylan's material since the beginning of this century and her efforts are well rewarded. Her love and thoughtfulness for his lyrics will open many eyes and coddle many an ear. A cheeky comic (she worked with British comedian Julian Clary), Jungr's between-song banter is marvelously witty, insightful and endearing. Jungr sparkles, as does this show.

Cabaret Scenes
26 October 2011