Wednesday, 1 May
The London Palladium, London
Last November in London, Cat Power took the stage at Royal Albert Hall and delivered a song-for-song recreation of one of the most fabled and transformative live sets of all time. Held at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in May 1966—but long known as the “Royal Albert Hall Concert” due to a mislabeled bootleg—the original performance saw Bob Dylan switching from acoustic to electric midway through the show, drawing ire from an audience of folk purists and forever altering the course of rock-and-roll. In her own rendition of that historic night, the artist otherwise known as Chan Marshall inhabited each song with equal parts conviction and grace and a palpable sense of protectiveness, ultimately transposing the anarchic tension of Dylan’s set with a warm and luminous joy. Now captured on the live album Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert, Marshall’s spellbinding performance both lovingly honors her hero’s imprint on history and brings a stunning new vitality to many of his most revered songs.
As revealed on Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert, Marshall approached every song in the setlist with both heartfelt reverence and a deep understanding of the delicate nature of song interpretation. “When someone covers a song you love, there’s the potential for them to give you something you can keep with you forever because of their way of performing it, their voice, the way they tap out or hum a particular line,” says Marshall. “A song changes when someone else sings it, whether they’re trying to stay faithful to the original version or not.” And while Marshall admits to a nervous anticipation prior to the show—“I was afraid to do the whole thing, but just because you’re afraid of something doesn’t mean it won’t be okay”—a certain sense of devotion helped to carry her through the night. “I had and still have such respect for the man who crafted so many songs that helped develop conscious thinking in millions of people, helped shape the way they see the world,” says Marshall. “So even though my hands were shaking so much I had to keep them in my pockets, I felt real dignity for myself. It felt like a real honor for me to stand there.”