Cat Power Reimagines Dylan at the Lobero Theatre: A Review

Article Contributed by L. Paul Mann | Published on Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Known for her unconventional performances, Cat Power took a surprisingly structured approach in her recent Lobero Theatre show in Santa Barbara. She wasn't just performing as Cat Power; she was meticulously recreating Bob Dylan's iconic 1966 Royal Albert Hall concert.

The unique concept drew a diverse crowd: a mix of Cat Power's dedicated fans and new arrivals, including Dylan enthusiasts and curious baby boomers. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with long-time followers and newcomers lauding the performance.

What truly elevated the experience was Cat Power's exceptional voice, a strength like no other. Her low, husky register, infused with bluesy twists and phrasing nuances, offered a captivating tribute to Dylan's distinctive style. She avoided cheap imitation, instead delivering a powerful and personal interpretation of the legendary singer-songwriter's work.

The show's first half unfolded in an intimate acoustic setting featuring minimal lighting. Cat Power was accompanied by guitarist Arsun Sorrenti and occasional harmonica licks from Aaron Embrey. The carefully chosen setlist included timeless classics like "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," "Desolation Row," and a haunting rendition of "Mr. Tambourine Man."

Cat Power

A poignant moment arose during "Just Like a Woman," a song rumored to be inspired by Santa Barbara's own Edie Sedgwick. The city's connection to the music added a layer of local significance to the performance.

The show's momentum dramatically shifted as Cat Power and her full band took the stage, marking an electrifying transition from acoustic to electric. This mirrored Dylan's controversial mid-concert shift in 1966. Power, no stranger to rock energy herself, delivered powerful renditions of "Tell Me, Momma," "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down," and "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." The band's tight performance revitalized Dylan's legacy, showcasing his influence as a proto-punk pioneer.

Following a mesmerizing performance of "Ballad of a Thin Man," Power addressed the audience, encouraging them to "keep your head up" and fight for positive change.

The show concluded with a powerful rendition of "Like a Rolling Stone," mirroring the historic ending of Dylan's original concert. The energy was palpable as both Power and Dylan embodied the spirit of the rebellious rocker through her performance.

Cat Power's decision to tackle Dylan's vast repertoire might have seemed risky, but her artistic spirit and talent shone through. She masterfully navigated the line between staying true to the source material and injecting her unique interpretations. The concert offered a fresh perspective on familiar songs. Hearing "Just Like a Woman" sung by a powerful female voice resonated deeply, while Power's vulnerability, evident throughout the performance, added another layer of emotional connection.

Cat Power

Cat Power's commitment to artistic integrity and her ability to channel the essence of Dylan's music resulted in a truly memorable performance. The show not only reignited the audience's love for Dylan's songwriting but also served as a powerful reminder of music's enduring role in social movements and personal expression.