Tier 3

music / / poetry / / philosophy / / -ology by Nick Courtright

Concert Review: Cat Power


Things we learned Saturday night about Cat Power frontwoman Chan Marshall: that she has a busted eardrum…that she’s on steroids…that she wants to shoot each of the stage-lining speakers… that she likes to apologize when she thinks she’s being unprofessional… that she was born deaf…that she had family in the crowd who were judging her…that steroids make you angry and that’s why you’re stronger…that she points out people who appear ill in the crowd even when they aren’t really ill…that she tells people when she coughs up something green…The list could go on. And it became apparent through this, and Marshall’s constant running to stage left (and off the stage…and onto the adjacent stage…and in the middle of songs…and between songs…) to consult the sound technicians, that her reputation as one of the most quixotic and mood-driven musicians in the world today is completely and totally fucking earned. It’s almost enough to make you wonder why she keeps getting gigs. And then you hear her sing.

Chan Marshall, god love her, is blessed with an absolutely stunning voice, and that, coupled with her skillful and ultra-professional backing band, makes her not only one of music’s most neurotic personalities, but also one of its most talented. It seemed like a dose of hubris when she was introduced as “perhaps the world’s greatest soul singer,” but it also seems pretty hard finding a counter-argument. Playing a variety of her famed cover songs and selections from her original work, she effortlessly teased passion out of her sore throat, and wowed her audience with an uncanny ability to seem entirely distracted and entirely focused at the exact same time.

So, yeah, Cat Power. A study in contrasts, and an utterly unique performer. Although I was often annoyed by her strange tics and the almost frightening temper that was constantly boiling just beneath the surface of her performance, I can say one thing for sure: there is no way in hell I’m not seeing her next time she comes to town. I mean, who knows what we’ll learn?

[Photo courtesy Eric Uhlir]

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