Jan 26, 2014

Cat Power @ Circus Ronaldo Tent

Cat Power is an interesting proposition. One of the greatest voices of our generation, she has produced music of the highest quality and some of the strangest and unsettling live performances of recent history. Many years ago I fell in love with her music and that supreme voice. Her songs were heart breaking and so real they hurt to be honest. But I had heard her live shows were likely to melt down in front of your eyes. And so it proved when I first saw her a couple of times close to a decade ago. She would stop songs halfway through, kneel down behind her piano and generally panic on stage about numerous things. In between the music was great but yes, so frustrating. We later learned that she was fighting various demons, some fueled by alcohol. She would in time clean herself up. Become more accustomed to the bright lights of stage. Confidence grew, but I also think the quality of her music went down. It felt friendlier, more likeable but nowhere near as compelling. When it was announced that Chan would be added to the Sydney Festival to play a couple of solo intimate shows I was intrigued and hopeful. Maybe this would be worth going too. The magic of the old songs combined with a new found confidence.

The result was somewhere in between. I attended the early show on Friday night at the Circus Ronaldo Tent. On the small stage there was a piano and an electric guitar. Chan Marshall, with short cropped dark hair, entered the stage and went straight into the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy classic "Wolf Among Wolves". It was a great start. A voice of such character and strength. But Chan still feels like performing live is hard work. She seems to lack confidence. A shyness you could say. She would fret over guitar tunings and microphones. Smiling apologetically, although the audience was offering nothing but encouragement. But thankfully these days the show goes on. No melt downs, just occasional lapses. Some songs, such as "Norma Jean, would start and then stop. But she gets through most of them. And boy was it worth it. Those songs. THAT voice. "Names" and "Maybe Not" on piano. "Say" and "Good Woman" on electric guitar. It's enough to make you cry. I felt like it anyway. Chan Marshall is a gift to us. It's sometimes hard to unwrap and you are never sure what you will receive but in the long term it will all pay off.

Set List
Wolf Among Wolves
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
Great Expectations
The Greatest
I Don't Blame You
Norma Jean
Can I Get A Witness
I Found A Reason
Maybe Not
Shaking Paper
Good Woman
Baby Doll


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