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Barb Jungr sings Bob Dylan at London’s Crazy Coqs

Bob Dylan is, frankly, not someone I could listen to for very long. That is, of course, my loss – even in his eighties he continues to tour and has sold out the London Palladium amongst other venues for his ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways Tour 2022’. I suppose it’s an acquired taste, and I assume those who will be in attendance will know what to expect, as much as they will expect the unexpected. I spent some time after watching Barb Jungr’s concert (surprisingly lively and passionate, given it was an evening full of Bob Dylan songs) on the train home looking at audience reviews of Dylan’s own previous shows – people either had the time of their lives, or they really, really didn’t. The latter camp said there was zero interaction with the audience, and it was difficult if not impossible to decipher a single lyric. He came on, he sang and then he left, without name-checking his band or thanking anyone for coming. “No encore either, but that was probably better for everyone,” concluded one fan.

Barb Jungr - photo by Steve Ullathorne
Barb Jungr – photo by Steve Ullathorne.

All this and more is almost certainly known to Jungr, who is nonetheless, to borrow an Americanism, like a kid in a candy store, speaking of one of Dylan’s songs as the best love song ever, and another as full of lyrical genius, and so on, and so forth: she even ‘snapped’ (inverted commas mine) at her musical director, Jenny Carr, at one point, playfully telling her to be more assertive in stopping her (Jungr) from rattling on for too long about Dylan’s songs and insisting she cracks on and sings a few of them: “Don’t make me look ridiculous!

Thanks to the musical Girl From the North Country, I’d previously sat through nineteen of Dylan’s songs in an evening – there weren’t quite as many in Jungr’s concert, which ran without an interval, and while Dylan may not be the most engaging of live performers, there’s a high level of perception and thoughtfulness in his songs. Jungr’s enunciation is absolutely fine – the only problem, as far as she could see, with Dylan’s lyrics, is that they are so wordy that Dylan himself doesn’t necessarily recall every line perfectly, and so it was, after at least two failed attempts at a particularly challenging verse, she took her printed copy of the lyrics off the music stand and very nearly held it to her face.

That’s the sort of thing you’d never get listening to a polished and edited recording on Spotify (other streaming services are available). Overall, the evening was very varied – a testament to Dylan’s versatility and fearlessness in branching out into various genres and styles of music. Some personal anecdotes included taking her mother to see Dylan at Blackpool Opera House (the venue’s name is, Jungr mused, “an oxymoron”), and meeting Jeremy Irons some time after he had included one of Jungr’s covers of a Bob Dylan song on his episode of Desert Island Discs.

An excellent opportunity to discover, or rediscover, some of the extensive back catalogue of one of the best-selling musicians of all time, this was a triumphant and thrilling experience.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Interpreting the songs of Bob Dylan, Jungr truly found her forte and international acclaim. On Dylan’s recent 80th birthday she was named among The Times’ top ten artists who have covered his work, no mean feat to be on the same page as Johnny Cash, The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Bryan Ferry, Chrissie Hynde and Stevie Wonder! In a career spanning 45 years she has released more than 20 solo albums and is a world-renowned artist. She has also been lauded for her work on the songs of Leonard Cohen, Jimmy Webb, Nina Simone and Bruce Springsteen.

“Barb Jungr interprets Dylan and Cohen’s work with a ferocity and truthfulness that demolishes every cover version you’ve ever heard” New York Times.

Barb Jungr and her Trio: My Marquee
(part of EFG London Jazz Festival)
18 November at 7pm

Dillie Keane and Barb Jungr
23 December at 7pm & 9.15pm

Barb Jungr
Crazy Coqs
20 Sherwood Street,

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1 thought on “Barb Jungr sings Bob Dylan at London’s Crazy Coqs”

  1. I have never understood the knock on Dylan for lack of audience interaction. His entire adult life has been spent creating messages for his audience. Then he assembles absolute top-flight band members and goes neverendingly around the world delivering one side of the interaction. We in the seats or on our feet are the other party to that interaction. I find that exchange a tad deeper than “Hello Cleveland!!”

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