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.
A singularly gifted song interpreter whose catalog includes three acclaimed covers albums (2000’s The Covers Record, 2008’s Jukebox, 2022’s Covers), Marshall holds an especially strong affinity for the songwriter-poet. “More than the work of any other songwriter, Dylan’s songs have spoken to me, and inspired me since I first began hearing them at 5 years old,” said Marshall. Like the original concert (and all of Dylan’s 1966 world tour), Marshall kept the first half of her set entirely acoustic, then went electric for the second half with the help of a full band. “I knew that when representing a performance that changed the rock-and-roll landscape forever, I needed to be very serious about it,” she says. “Although ‘serious’ feels like a small word for how deeply immersed I felt.”