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Re-imagined covers and smoky singer/songwriter
soul from unsung hero

Marc Cohn
Park West
Chicago, IL
October 13, 2010
Marc Cohn Marc Cohn

Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis

It's a shame that the majority of the world only knows Marc Cohn for "Walking In Memphis" and even more disappointing that only a few hundred people spread themselves out in the much larger Park West during a recent Chicago tour stop. But just because the masses are missing out doesn't diminish the singer/songwriter's talents, which were on display alongside a three-piece band throughout 90 career-spanning minutes.

Much of the front half was spent on Cohn's second coming as an artist following a near fatal carjacking and shooting in 2005, including his first official studio album in nine years (2007's Join the Parade) and this year's covers collection Listening Booth: 1970. From the former, "The Calling (Ghost of Charlie Christian)" was a runaway highlight, building in his storytelling tradition that found the main character taking a train ride while dreaming of the famous jazz musician (all bathed within Cohn's soulful pipes). He interjected additional strokes of roots rock throughout "Listening to Levon," which indirectly tipped its hat at The Band as it exposed the tale of a teenager more enamored with the radio than his date.

In terms of the covers, the troubadour didn't just give note for note readings, but rather, decompressed the original arrangements to make them appear as fresh offerings. The strategy worked especially well come "The Letter," a track first cut in 1967 by The Box Tops and again three years later via Joe Cocker, but was basted with a bluesy veneer this round. Cohn also praised Paul McCartney's practically perfect "Maybe I'm Amazed," though switching it up from a piano ballad to an acoustic reflection did little to showcase its true beauty.

Nonetheless, he took to the grand piano on several occasions, including a drop dead hysterical impersonation of Randy Newman in speaking and singing voice. Yet it was older tunes, including the rhythmic "Walk Through This World" and his ultimate calling card "Walking In Memphis" (merged with a gospel breakdown and Al Green's "Take Me To the River") that remain Cohn's pinnacles, even though there's much more to his varied repertoire once listeners take the time to dig that deep.

Related articles:

Marc Cohn - Concert review - Chicago, IL - December 2005
Marc Cohn - Concert review - Chicago, IL - December 2004

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