10/23/05 - Chicago, IL, Park West

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10/23/05 - Chicago, IL, Park West

Post  Cokelike on Sat 4 Aug - 7:34

10/23/05 - Chicago, IL, Park West

Incomplete setlist:
Love And Communication
Lived In Bars
Islands
Could We
Good Woman - 0:51
Names,
Wild as the Wind
Blue Moon - Try A Little Tenderness - All I Have To Do Is Dream Medley
Total Time - 0:51


This was the tenth date of the twelve date midwest tour.

There is a video clip of Good Woman here:
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Venus Zine Review

Chan Marshall’s fans have come to expect eccentric behavior onstage. Notorious for being clearly uncomfortable while performing as Cat Power, she often hangs her head low while singing, shielding herself from the audience with a veil of hair and bangs.

Her onstage quirks have become almost legendary, with tales of her ending songs in mid-sentence, walking off of the stage, or as one rumor goes, playing a four-hour show because she was waiting for the crowd to disperse so that she wouldn’t have to interact with anyone.

I’ve never minded the quirks and just figured that it’s not actually normal to get up and perform like a monkey in front of large groups of people. Walking into Chicago’s Park West for her solo show promoting her fourth album, The Greatest (due out on Matador in January 2006), I was happily prepared to give her a free pass for crankiness and had few expectations.

My friends, the lady has come into her own.

She seemed — dare I say it? — happy. Not intimidated by the audience, not imploding into breakdowns or exasperation, not trailing off while singing. The performance was riveting and soulful, with very little of the usual drama. She began the set with a smattering of mellow new tracks from The Greatest, most notably, “Love and Communication,” “Lived in Bars,” “Islands,” and “Could We.” These new songs round out her formerly jagged, raw style with softer country and Southern soul undertones, and continue her affinity for plain, introspective lyrics like “Love and communication you were here for me / At this very moment 'cause I found you on the phone / You called me.” Or, “Islands,” with its spare, pensive refrain of “I want to rule the islands / I want to rule the sea / I just want my sailor to come back to me.”

In the show’s latter half, she turned chanteuse and crowd-pleaser with some tunes from her Covers and You Are Free albums. “Good Woman” induced immediate clapping and presence of lighters, testifying to my belief that this is one of her best tunes, and she did it up, even changing the lyrics from “I’ll love this love forever” to a simple “I’ll love you forever,” packing a little extra punch of heartbreak to possibly one of the saddest love songs ever written.

She followed it with “Names,” and then her staccato, reworked cover of Nina Simone’s “Wild as the Wind,” and then a melodic medley of her “Dream/Blue Moon/Try a Little Tenderness.” Mood-wise, Marshall was content, occasionally smiling, and once mumbled an apology when she thought her own performance wasn’t cutting it, musing, “I want to do what I think I should be able to do. Don't we all? I guess we all want that.” But mostly she was technically masterful; lyrics flowed, equipment and performer were in sync, and she switched seamlessly from piano to guitar every few songs.

In comparison to previous shows — other than having her shit remarkably together — this was a solo and less rockin’ performance, since she was sans band. It was a different, slower tempo — no reverb, no angry guitar, no band to pick up on her visceral energy — but still imbued with power and a quieter brand of world-frustration. If people came to see the spectacle of her angst, they found no spectacle here. Instead, just her usual restrained, minimal growl, and soft, throaty moan, something like a woodland animal wailing in moonlight. With Halloween approaching, maybe the moon is at the forefront of consciousness. It did seem that the stage — after she asked nicely to “get that white light turned off? Any other color is fine” — appeared lit by the moon, and she was likewise illuminated by silver and periwinkle hues.

For longtime Cat Power fans, this show was like meeting up with a friend who you haven’t seen in a long time, and having the distinct sense that they’d figured something out. It’s obvious by reading her lyrics and interviews and listening to her world-weary voice that the woman gets it – she knows that the world is often hateful, usually unfair, filled with injustice, abuse, and poverty, but still finds the gumption for beautiful love longs and can spit out a gorgeously beautiful medley, of all things. Matador, her label, recognizes the shift, calling this album the most “confident and life-affirming” of her career. Before, Marshall showed us how to be angry, dissatisfied, strung-out, disgruntled, passionate, sorrowful, and tormented. If this new Chan is the beginning of a trend, Ms. Cat is showing us how to be something else, too. Hopeful.

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"Ready to get depressed?" - Chan, 11/16/13
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Cokelike

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