Mar 10, 2008

Cat Power @ Enmore Theatre

When did Cat Power become a rock band? The Cat Power I knew and loved was not at the Enmore Theatre last night. I know, I know. "The Greatest" was a bit of a rocking affair and her just released "Jukebox" is full of soul and rock covers, designed to get you singing and dancing. It's just that last night I did neither. Perhaps it is because although "Jukebox" has its moments it is a generally a little uninspiring. Only saved by the glorious voice that is Chan Marshall, a voice that I struggled to hear last night. Her band, The Dirty Delta Blues Band, was competing all night with her voice. The most important instrument on stage was obliterated most of the time by music that was only workmanlike for me. I will grant that Jim White on drums showed his exquisite skills yet again, but I felt the other members, supposedly exalted, were just going through some fairly standard arrangements. A night that I was hoping would be magical ended up being a flat, lifeless affair.

I do believe that it is probably expected that an artist will take their set list quite heavily from their latest release. Especially if they have formed a band to perform that exact duty. But to receive close to an hour of "Jukebox", after a 30 minute delay to get on stage, just drained the potential from this show. I quite liked "Silver Stallion" and "Aretha, Sing One For Me", but the show flowed like molasses, with little peak or rise of excitement. Even a great song like "Metal Heart" (originally heard on the breathtaking "Moon Pix") was lost on me. "Song to Bobby" was a pleasure to hear, but I wanted more like that. By the close I was feeling restless. At this point, the band left one by one and Jim White was left to keep pounding out a rhythm. The band duly returned and the encore leaned heavily on "The Greatest", which gave me greater joy. I particularly liked "Lived In Bars" and "The Moon", although a beautiful song like "Where Is My Love" was again deadened by the music. Chan then closed with covers by Loretta Lynn and Otis Redding and then lingered on stage to thank the audience. She actually seemed quite touched, staying a decent time before screwing up set lists and hurling them into the crowd, with great strength. Something I have never seen before. This had me thinking. Chan Marshall seems in a very happy place right now. Previously she would be a train wreck on stage. I had witnessed it twice before. Once, really bad, the other, not too bad. Her drinking and stage fright would get the better of her, causing a lot of anxiety. Seemingly she has sorted her life out and is a now a happy, effervescent stage presence. Albeit still an odd and awkward one. So on a human level I feel good for her. But musically she seems to have taken a step backwards. The tender, heartbreaking songs she was famous for might be a thing of the past. I was hoping for a quiet moment on stage. Chan at a piano, murmuring "Good Woman" or "Colors and the Kids". Instead that glorious, sumptuous weapon of a voice she possesses was drowned out. And she just never stopped moving. I was trying all night to focus on her, but my eyes grew tired. And the lifeless, static lighting didn't help matters. Gee, I sound bitter don't I? I guess it is just that I hold the ability of Chan Marshall so highly, I long for a return of what made her so special in the first place.

Set List
Don't Explain
Woman Left Lonely
Silver Stallion
New York
Ramblin' (Wo)man
Lost Someone
Aretha, Sing One For Me
Lord, Help The Poor & Needy
Metal Heart
She's Got You
Song To Bobby
The Tracks of My Tears
Could We
Naked, If I Wanted To
The Dark End Of The Street

Where Is My Love
The Greatest
Lived In Bars
The Moon
Making Believe
I've Been Loving You Too Long

The support act of Mick Turner and Jim White was actually a treat. Two thirds of Dirty Three has to be good right? They were, a half hour piece of music. Supple and vigorous, a treat for the ears. And the eyes as well, with Turner's art on display as a back drop.

The other support? Appaloosa. Worst support EVER. As quoted to me. "Drunk girl at party".

Sean seemed to have similar thoughts on the night.


  • At March 10, 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I absolutely agree, I left feeling like i hadn't really seen 'her'

  • At March 11, 2008 , Anonymous Denis said...

    oh god, get over it!! yes catpower was a fantastic folk singer on everything up to "you are free."

    But she's CHANGED...yes the band was a key part of the piece and overwhelmed chan's voice at points. But these songs are a fantastic showcase for her voice!

    And she sang with such palpable passion and was very mopving and I think many in the audience were moved also...

  • At March 11, 2008 , Blogger Wayne said...

    Thanks for the comment Denis, but I don't need to get over it. Yes, she did sing with passion, but I believe that these songs are not a fantastic showcase for her voice. And the music was a detriment, Where is my Love being a good example of a song drowned in sound.

  • At March 11, 2008 , Anonymous Denis said...

    It's quite a tranformation though...I find it amazing that chan's the same artist as the shy girl hiding behind her hair that I saw in Perth in the late 90s..

    hope I wasn't too forceful...I should point out that I love your blog! it's a consistently excellent read.

  • At March 11, 2008 , Blogger Wayne said...

    Hey Denis, passion is a good thing. There is a not enough of it in this world I believe. I love Chan Marshall with all my heart and I am actually happy for her that she seems so happy these days. It's just that I truly believe she can write better songs then those she is covering. I love her voice so much, I just wished to hear it more clearly. I am glad you enjoyed her show though and thanks for the nice words.

  • At March 11, 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    i agree with all of this but it was cool that D brutti was playing with them

  • At March 24, 2009 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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