Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Power to the Cat
We arrived a bit late. Did her opening band already perform, or would she playing with the Dirty Delta Blues? I still don't quite know and don't really care. Chan Marshall, also known as Cat Power, put on a show that I won't soon be forgetting. Her hypnotic, romantically pining pipes spoke to me more than I imagined they could have. A huge fan of all her albums, I knew that her voice recalled the greats, but didn't fully understand how influential they actually were, to me and to her. Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Nina Simone (oh, yeah), Smokey Robinson and Joni Mitchell each found pure resurrection through the vocal chords of this timid, back lit, beautifully dazed Power.
An artist in her own right with many albums resting notably south of her low riding belt, Ms. Marshall decided this evening to instead remind her audience of the forefathers and mothers who paved the way for her poignant, hard hitting and raw lyrics to command any stage. Her own signature verses manifested themselves atop one another in layers reminiscent of the packed red earth that tells of histories residing decades, even eons before it's own gritty birth. The guitar driven blues rhythms that acted as a sidecar, even navigator at times, behind and around her, made it crystal clear - albeit through the purple smoke she so purposefully exhaled into surrounding ambient air - that she is a woman, both fragile and unbreakable, who willingly pays homage to her roots and to those artists at risk for being left occasionally nameless. The evening's soundtrack was no less than perfect. Beyond the dazzling company, Juless (ahem, Jewels), tonight's soundtrack would have only been complete with a better, legibly lit view of Cat's high cheekbones and weathered western shirt.
Many an admirer may never have suspected this lady figure to encompass the heart and soul, the rhythm and blues of prior legends, nevertheless, she has indeed mastered her melancholy and performed the blues the way they were meant to be played . . . such riffs and breaks were meant to be felt, reverberating in chest cavities, thumping tapping toes and shaking hands that cup perfectly shaken drinks.
Speechless is a term that rarely describes me . . . but alas, I am at a loss. Big, lovely and sweetest of sighs. The concert's encore presentation proved to be not a showdown of percussion based climax nor spotlighted signature moves. Instead, Cat Power found herself dimly lit beneath a cornea friendly red lantern glow signing the blues. And that she did so very well. She sang one of my all time, stop the clock, favorite lyrical majesties - Blue by Joni Mitchell. Draped over the only occupied instrument, the piano, exchanging lingering and longingly suggestive glances and postures towards her organ's artist, she sent me, along with the rest of the swaying, entranced crowd into familiarly distant territory with a most unique rendition of the . . . Blues.