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Hard Rain: Barb Jungr

Cabaret Festival

Barb Jungr’s dynamic and powerful performance highlights the poetry, philosophy and perplexity of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

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Jungr is a British singer who has been acknowledged for her interpretations of Bob Dylan’s songs. When she appears on stage at the Space Theatre, accompanied by the magical Mark Fitzgibbons on piano, she immediately bursts into Dylan’s “It’s Alright, Ma” – the energy is high, her voice is strong and the words are projected clearly and meaningfully with a sense of theatricality.

Jungr makes it clear that for her show, Hard Rain: the songs of Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen, she has deliberately chosen philosophical, political and poetic songs. Her unique interpretations and arrangements breathe new life into some modern classics.

Cleverly, she manages to sing superbly “Things Have Changed”, but then has us in stitches when having a closer examination of the lyrics; equally, she takes a song that Dylan did not think highly of (“Blind Willie McTell”) and sings it with such gusto that it bares little resemblance to his version.

Jungr has the knack of being able to tell amusing anecdotes and jokes just before performing a powerful song intensely. There are times when she energetically uses the stage and others where she maintains perfect stillness to good effect.

Never have I witnessed the words of Dylan’s “Masters of War” sung and enacted with such fire and commitment, and the imagery of the warmongers’ deaths and burials made manifest so simply and effectively.

It was great to see Hard Rain performed with such clarity and emotion One might think the performance was a bit bleak, given that Cohen’s “The Future” was on the bill, but the original, easygoing, gentle laconic rhythm was given an entirely different soulful treatment with Jungr belting the lyrics. She also performed a rousing rendition of “First We Take Manhattan”.

And all politicians could see Jungr’s version of Cohen’s “The Land of Plenty”: it was a stunning moment of dramatic, soulful singing. If only the world could respond to his words.

For an encore, Jungr performed a beautiful rendition of “Blowin’ in the Wind”.

Hard Rain is what you would expect: the poetry, philosophy and perplexity of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen presented in a dynamic, heartfelt manner that had the audience enthralled and desperate for more.

Barb Jungr’s presents Hard Rain again today at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Space Theatre.

See all InDaily’s Cabaret Festival stories and reviews here.

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