11/14/05 - NYC, Tribeca Performing Arts Center

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11/14/05 - NYC, Tribeca Performing Arts Center

Post  Cokelike on Sat 4 Aug - 11:12

11/14/05 - NYC, Tribeca Performing Arts Center

Incomplete setlist:
Good Woman
Blue Moon - All I Have To Do Is Dream Medley
House Of The Rising Sun


This was, I think, her last concert of the year. A free show. Cat Power opened for the Blind Boys of Alabama.

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Last night I decided it was time I got away from the Upper West Side for a change, so I went downtown to see Cat Power playing at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. It was a free concert, which meant that some people had (free) tickets which they'd got their hands on at some point in the previous weeks, and everyone else, like me, had to stand outside and wait to see if there was room. Luckily there was.

I've never seen Cat Power live before, but I've heard stories of how she (Chan Marshall) occasionally has 'meltdowns' on stage, owing to her incurable stage-fright and insecurity. As it turned out, she played her entire set without anything of the sort, and it was very good. She was just performing solo, and played a lot of songs off the forthcoming album 'The Greatest', in addition to a lot of my favourites, such as 'Good Woman'. Miscellaneous covers rounded out the set, including a lovely medley of 'All I Need to Do Is Dream' and 'Blue Moon', and finishing off with a heart-wrenching version of 'House of the Rising Sun', whose lyrics had been adjusted, clearly in view of the recent tragedy in New Orleans. She segue'd between songs, deliberately, I assume, to prevent people from applauding, which indeed they only did when she switched from guitar to piano or vice versa.

Anyone who's ever seen or heard Cat Power on her own will know that calling her performance 'understated' would be, well, an understatement. Almost tautological, in other words. Now, in the past, I have been known to prefer the albums where she is playing with a band; The Covers Record, for instance, the astonishing cover of 'Satisfaction' notwithstanding, I find a little excessively low-key. Similarly the 'film' Speaking for Trees is not exactly riveting. However, her presence on stage, despite the fact that you get the impression that she'd rather be anywhere other than right there playing in front of hundreds of people, really adds a dimension which is slightly missing from some of her solo recordings. Her guitar and piano skills are not exactly sophisticated, to be fair, but the three or four chords she strums on her beaten-up Danelectro Silvertone dripping with reverb are just magical somehow. And she does have the most wonderful voice. On the whole, despite the frequent apologies for one thing or another and the evident discomfort she felt on occasion, it was a very intimate concert.

But I can't help wishing it had been at a smaller venue, and that someone hadn't had the crazy idea of having her 'warm up' for the Blind Boys of Alabama. Seeing as I only really know them from Peter Gabriel and Ben Harper's respective collaborations with them, I had sort of got the impression that she would be performing with them, which sounded intriguing. However, it appears that the Blind Boys are a raucus, exclamatory gospel band; not quite the sombre tones heard on PG's Rabbit Proof Fence soundtrack, then. It also quickly became apparent that at least half the people there had come to see them, and certainly weren't in the mood for a shy, introspective singer-songwriter, whose songs, as one member of the audience remarked during the intermission, — after his girlfriend had exclaimed that it had been 'horrendous' — all sounded [more or less] the same.

To be fair, I can see how you might have been a little non-plussed with the performance if you weren't already favourably disposed to Ms. Marshall. When she suddenly interrupted one of her songs in the first half of her set by commenting, 'I realise this is all terribly boring... sorry', it would have been a lot less awkward if I hadn't had the distinct suspicion that quite a few members of the probably were thinking just that. On the whole the double-billing was stupid, because the two acts didn't complement each other in any way. The BBoA fans, as stated, just weren't into it, and conversely I was hardly in the mood for the kind of 'praise the lord' shouting and audience participation which ensued. I felt slightly self-conscious sitting next to the Cat Power haters and being the only one who didn't get to my feet and start clapping and swaying my hips when one of the old blind guys got led around the auditorium singing some soul number or other, but whatever. I'm sure his friends up on stage didn't exactly notice.


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Re: 11/14/05 - NYC, Tribeca Performing Arts Center

Post  Cokelike on Sun 20 Apr - 2:41

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