Cat Power performed an evening of Bob Dylan covers at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Wednesday, executing a mesmerizing display of artistic admiration in one of the world's most famous venues.

Power's show, billed as Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert, has now made its way to a handful American cities. The singer-songwriter first performed the set in November 2022 at the prestigious London venue, playing the same set of half-acoustic, half-electric songs Dylan performed there nearly 60 years ago.

"Happy Valentine's," she said from the Carnegie stage, "especially for us who have been low a long time."

Dylan's work has been covered for years and will continue to be, but Power is able to set herself apart. For one, her deep, rich, nearly-tenor voice almost immediately demands full attention, particularly in a space where the acoustics are among the very best.

READ MORE: A Look Back at Bob Dylan's Infamous ‘Judas’ Concert

For another, perhaps owing to now having performed the material live for a year and a half, she has an uncanny ability to mimic Dylan's own approach to performing his songs, playing with the delivery of her vocals in much the same way he does himself. Some lines are delayed, others are unloaded early so as to practically catch the listener off guard. Some are cut off seemingly mid-word, others are dragged out for maximum effect. This is, Power's performance emphasized, not the time for perfection, grandiose showmanship or expectation.

Power's arrangement of the songs sticks closely to the originals, though from time to time she threw in an ad lib or an extra word. "She acts like we never met, you know the type," in "I Don't Believe You," or "I just wish he'd take that fucking thing off his head" in "Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat."

READ MORE: When Bob Dylan Played His First Major Show

There is also something to be said about the innate power, no pun intended, of a woman singing a Dylan song without any gender-specific lyrical changes — lines like "she aches just like a woman" are dropped on the audience with a different weight.

As the electric portion of the set began, an undeniable shift occurred in the audience, as though a hidden switch had been turned on. But unlike in 1966, when concert-goers booed Dylan for plugging in, Carnegie's crowd rose to their feet — a few bold attendees even took it upon themselves to jokingly shout "Judas!" It is easy to see, in retrospect, the kind of shock concert-goers then might have experienced, suddenly hit with a wall of sound.

"I'm going back to New York City, I do believe I've had enough," Power sang in "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," earning a rapturous round of applause. Over decades, Carnegie has hosted historic event after historic event — the 60th anniversary of the Beatles' first NYC show recently passed — and if Power's show proves one thing above all, it's that rock 'n' roll music, regardless of how precisely you define it, belongs in Carnegie Hall.

Power is something of a master interpreter of others' songs, able to see the vision as having been born out of someone else's creative well, but entirely her own, too. "A song changes when someone else sings it," she said in a statement printed in the show's program, "whether they're trying to stay faithful to the original version or not." Accurate as that might be, Power's translation is arguably one that speaks to one of Dylan's most crucial truths: there is always a different way to dissect the established, always innovation to be found within the old.

Cat Power, Carnegie Hall, 2/14/24, Set List
1. "She Belongs to Me"
2. "4th Time Around"
3. 'Visions of Johanna"
4. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"
5. "Desolation Row"
6. "Just Like a Woman"
7. "Mr. Tambourine Man"

8. "Tell Me, Momma"
9. "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)"
10. "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down"
11. "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"
12. "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat"
13. "One Too Many Mornings"
14. "Ballad of a Thin Man"
15. "Like a Rolling Stone"

Bob Dylan Albums Ranked

Through ups and downs, and more comebacks than just about anyone in rock history, the singer-songwriter's catalog has something for just about everyone.

Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci

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