|29-Nov-2006 07:14 PM||Contributed by: Anonymous||Concert Reviews|
Several times I have tried to get into Cat Power (a.k.a. Chan Marshall) due to strong word of mouth and solid indie chops, but aside from some unconventional cover songs and a cameo on last year’s Handsome Boy Modeling School album, very little has stuck with me. Hoping her reputation as a live performer would convince me, I went to her latest Toronto show at the Phoenix with optimistic curiosity.
Her backing band (a 10-piece, if I counted correctly), warmed up the crowd with three mild “Memphis Soul” instrumentals. Fusing a variety of influences including blues, rock, gospel, soul, and country, I unfortunately found it to be fairly bland and of the AM radio variety. Regardless, they clearly were not the focal point of the show, and when Cat Power hit the stage the dedication of her fan base became quite obvious. Those in the front row had clearly been waiting for some time and greeted her with flowers over a roar of applause. The majority of the set featured the aforementioned band, with Cat Power alternately strutting and shuffling around the stage while almost constantly twirling her arms or gesturing her hands in an enduring display of stage presence.
The middle of the show changed tempo to a stripped down and whisper quiet solo set that stumbled several time due to apparent problems; she was worried the vocals were too flat, then she felt the fix had too much reverb (for the record, both sounded fine) and also that she was cranky due to feminine concerns and sexual frustration from being on the road. This highlighted the real problem with the show – every time she seemed to be hitting her stride, something would happen to break the flow, and though most of the crowd was supportive, I personally found it increasingly difficult to become involved. I usually find this type of honestly and spontaneity refreshing, but on this night I felt it resulted in a disjointed performance that was not as enjoyable as it could have been.
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