Barb Jungr: Hard Rain

Barb Jungr is obviously a seasoned performer. From the moment the lights were dimmed and she stepped onto the small stage in the Komedia she exuded confidence and charisma. The songs given in this performance were a varied collection of pieces from musical giants Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. Jungr may have garnered critical praise for her soulful interpretations of Dylan's work yet on this particular night I preferred her covers of Cohen. I would like to interject at this point to clarify my own inadequate knowledge of either of these two singers and for this reason I was listening, with the exception of one, to songs which I had never heard.

From the moment the lights were dimmed and she stepped onto the small stage in the Komedia she exuded confidence and charisma.

The logic behind my preference of the Cohen covers lies not only in Jungr's singing, the timbre of which seamlessly transformed itself to the needs of each song, but also from the more impressive piano work on these pieces. Simon Wallis's playing on tracks such as First We Take Manhattan by Cohen and his various short solos throughout the evening were flawlessly executed. Jungr's attention is turned towards Wallis at these points highlighting her obvious appreciation for her accompaniment, an admirable spectacle in a solo performer.

When Jungr produced an accordion I was excited to see another instrument on stage. And while I was entirely contented with just Jungr and Wallis on stage, further accompaniment could have added another element to the show. Yet, of course this is merely speculative.

In spite of the superb singing and faultless accompaniment, the show was not perfect. I felt the set list to be a little strange. Jungr decided to include a 'trio of Cohen songs' almost immediately following the interval. It was at this point I felt my attention begin to wane. A combination of the dark theatre, a rather loud chatter from the stairs (which is not the performers fault but rather an issue that Komedia should address) and my own lack of knowledge with the pieces meant my focus, which had been quite strong in first half was lost. These slower numbers provided a vehicle for another facet of Jungr's voice, yet I personally just preferred the bluesy and upbeat songs of the opening half. 

Regardless of this however the performance was an extremely enjoyable one. Jungr's interaction with her audience between her songs was genuine, topical and comical. She spoke with an anti-capitalist tone, lent from her various anti-establishment influences, which went down a treat with a Brightonian audience. She reminisced too over her history of performing in Brighton, much to the delight of some of the older members of the audience, which gave her persona an approachability which is often lost from singers on the stage. Overall, a great evening.

Reviews by Duncan Grindall

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Performances

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The Blurb

In this new collection by the leading interpreter of song and worldwide acclaimed performer of Bob Dylan's work; Jungr brings together her hardest hitting set to date of these two great music icons, featuring their political and philosophical songs in her trademark contemporary arrangements. "This is a performer at the peak of her career who has been acknowledged worldwide" (Time Out) "On stage she's a lioness" (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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