10/22/05 - Urbana, IL, Canopy Club

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10/22/05 - Urbana, IL, Canopy Club

Post  Cokelike on Sat 4 Aug - 7:15


10/22/05 - Urbana, IL, Canopy Club

Incomplete setlist:
Love And Communication - 2:55
Willie Deadwilder
Good Woman
I Don’t Blame You
Names
Hey Porter
Blue Moon - All I Have To Do Is Dream Medley
House Of The Rising Son
Total Time - 2:55



This was the ninth date of the twelve date midwest tour. Dexter Romweber opened.

There is a video clip of Love And Communication here.
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It was there. The proverbial pink elephant: would we witness another, much documented Chan Marshall meltdown on stage? It was a conversation heard more than once. And it’s becoming the equivalent to ambulance chasing. With her performance Saturday night at the Canopy Club in Urbana, Illinois, you literally had over half in attendance that believed they could see Chan breakdown; they provided enough silence to hear every exhale from the artist, waiting on baited breath to consider what she might do next. What she did was deliver a set of such quality that we were all politely reminded us why we wanted to hear a complete show.

We arrived at the club about an hour before showtime. After we walked away from the locked entrance, the SLF noticed a woman getting out of a Ford sedan. It was Chan. Three Asian boys noticed her too and took advantage of the moment to approach. She was cordial to them and politely shook their hands. I backed off, providing her with an adequate distance that she requires. I think. They only thing I had to go on was her “don’t be in love with the autograph” line.

Fast forward 90 minutes and a handful of Chan faithful (including the Asian fellows) waited for the doors to the club opened. When they finished soundcheck, the doors opened and we were allowed inside. Now this was quite a different scene since the last concert I saw at the Canopy Club: Iggy Pop. There was no seating for that show, as the concrete slab in front of the stage became perfect exclamation points for the mouthbreathers. For Cat Power, simple, white wooden folding chairs were arranged, I’m assuming on request by the promoter, in neat rows in front of the stage. I’d gather that the sight of a few hundred standing gawkers could prove to be a little unsettling. Why not be proactive and make ‘em sit down like a proper audience?

The SLF and I scored a major coup with the seating as we landed at a nice table, with a nice view, and with frequent visits by the wait staff. The only real problem for us was having to endure “Dexter,” the Chan picked opening act whose last name was never uttered by him and muttered by her. I have no idea where he’s from but have a good idea that I’ll never want to see him live again. “Dex” played some pretty amateur piano and guitar while singing songs about the “darkness in (his) soul.” There was something wrong with the guy besides putting on a very dismal performance. He thanked Chan for inviting him and told us that he was making $200 for his efforts. The fucker played for over 45 minutes. Because he got paid and played for over 15 minutes, he owes me a drink. I’m serious about that too.

By 8:45, Chan finally walked on stage to a simple piano and her familiar Danelectro guitar. A hundred watt combo amp was mic’d and heavy on the reverb. The crowd offered a nice applause hello before quickly going silent as Chan sat down and immediately moved the stage monitor in front of her. It was like they were expecting her to fly off the handle at that moment while she blew her breath out in a form of nervous release. It was a tense moment and unlike anything I ever experienced at a performance. But then it hit.

She masterfully started a reverb-drenched backbeat with the heel of her foot while fingering out a repeated rhythm on her guitar. Chan’s voice was barely over a whisper at times, which made the emphasized phrases even more dramatic. I counted over a half a dozen new tracks from the upcoming release “The Greatest,” but it would be impossible for me to provide a complete setlist to this performance. Songs would peter out and then you’d find her starting a new song. It almost appeared like she was purposely making it hard for the audience to applaud her. Or maybe it was that’s the way she’d go about it if in the presence of friends around the moonlight.

Which was exactly the lighting for the entire show: dimly lit blue lights made it harder to see the details of her face, particularly the farther away you were from the stage. From a distance, I’m sure it gave the aura of a ghost. And the music, for sure, was just as haunting.

Chan abruptly put her guitar down and turned to play her piano. In what looked to be a typical music classroom piano, she would often use the creaks and thumps of the foot pedals for percussionary means. I’m convinced that this technique never appeared contrived, but instead a primal reaction to the music that was being played.

All of the new tracks were awesome. They sound very developed and it will be interesting to hear them with the help of some Memphis alumni. Tonight, they were as primitive as the day they were written. “Willie Deadwilder” has been reduced and restructured from its “Speaking Of Trees” origin, and “Good Woman” was given a passionate workout. I counted two other selections from “You Are Free” (“I Don’t Blame You” and a truncated “Names”) while covers rounded out the rest of the set. And as we learned with “The Covers Record,” Chan can really turn a cover song into one of her own. She did it that night with Johnny Cash’s “Hey Porter” a nice medley of “All I Have To Do Is Dream” + “Blue Moon,” and the fantastic closer “House Of The Rising Son.”

Through it all, Chan repeatedly apologized: sorry for the request for more reverb in her monitor, sorry for asking that the lights be turned down even more, sorry for finally asking that her vocals be removed from the monitors entirely.

It added up to some heartfelt drama, perfectly accented by her introspective renditions. I’ve never seen a more capable artist look so utterly frightened by her own perception. Thankfully, the crowd was very respectful and quiet throughout the entire performance. At the end of “Rising Sun,” Chan quickly rose, thanked the audience, and walked off stage. Almost instantaneously, the house lights turned on and we understood that an hour and fifteen minutes was all that we’d receive. It was more than I expected.


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Cokelike

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