3/10/03 - St. Louis, MO, Blueberry Hill's Duck Room
I Dont Blame You
Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground
Color And The Kids (incomplete)
Half Of You
This was the 21st performance of the tour.
Review by Stephen Schenkenberg
Written by Stephen Schenkenberg
Tuesday, 06 December 2005 10:11
Blueberry Hill, St. Louis, March 10, 2003
For this, I wanted a side view. Something to reduce the risk of re-seeing the turtle-slow train wreck I’d witnessed head-on when I saw Cat Power two-plus years ago in Chicago: There was Chan Marshall, slope-shouldered and hidden behind her bangs in near darkness, alone, drifting through swatches of non-songs for the show’s first 30 minutes. The room held strained silence and confused whispers, laughter and compassion. Marshall gave up on her guitar and walked over to the piano. Someone laughed nervously. She said she felt embarrassed. I bolted. Escaping out the door, I thought to myself, I’ve still got her records. I’ll play those, be happy, and in the future forego the nausea—hers and mine—of attending another live show.
Stage left at Blueberry Hill on March 10, I watched Marshall make her 10:45 entrance smiling and bright. Dressed in jeans, boots, and a green work shirt, her hair pulled back to reveal her face, she assumed the stage with four equally chipper bandmates. They all seemed on a mission of fun. The crowd was abuzz. Surveying the stage—a white piano, a violin, a drum kit, two electric guitars, a small synthesizer—I became very optimistic.
Within the first song’s first minute—the band playing a slacky, bluesy mixture, Marshall’s stunning voice swallowed up by the instruments—I was already worried, and I wondered then if the blame lay with me. Despite the draining unfulfillment of that previous show, I’d for some reason come to very quickly expect this show to make up for it in spades. In the end, it didn’t, but what it proved is that unfulfillment can arrive from opposite corners. Gone was the queasy discomfort of that Chicago show, but it was replaced, for most of the evening, with a kind of unfocused jolliness that was confined to the stage. The bandmates smiled around at each other, laughing and motioning, trying to choose songs, to start songs, to finish songs. And while they were clearly enjoying themselves, the crowd seemed to have little to hold onto.
On occasion we did. After a stream of wandering covers, Marshall finally played a few of her own songs. (She’d been encouraged to do so early on, with a request for “He War,” but responded, “Eeuwwww.”) She ran through a steady “I Don’t Blame You,” which featured the female violinist on a small synthesizer, then “Good Woman,” highlighted by the violinist back on her instrument. The covers soon returned, and one was even played with a sense of purpose—the White Stripes’ “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”—though it almost ran off track two-thirds of the way through.
After an hour or so, the show took a different turn. The band retired, leaving Marshall alone with her electric guitar, sitting on the edge of the piano’s bench. By this point, the crowd had thinned out somewhat, and those on the fringes were content with their own conversations. A few fans, sensing that perhaps now would be the time for inspired, connective concert moments, shouted at the talkers to please, show some respect, and just shut the fuck up. Unsurprisingly, the tactic failed, though Marshall didn’t seem to care either way. She played some guitar, then moved over to piano for “Colors and the Kids.” She bailed out within seconds, but recovered with a start-to-finish “Maybe Not.”
At this point, with just 20 minutes before closing time, Marshall seemed to hit a minor quiet stride. Her bandmates were long gone, and she had fewer things to be sidetracked by. She played full versions of the new record’s “Evolution” and “Half of You,” both songs with titles that now seem appropriate to the show itself. Marshall’s stage presence had evolved in the two years since I’d seen her, but the distraction of the evening—with the band and, to a lesser degree, when she played alone—meant that the crowd was left with half of Marshall. In this show, which unraveled like a party in reverse, we received half the host’s attention, half her gifts, half our reasons for attending.
The records hold the whole. I think I’ll go listen.
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Date d'inscription : 2012-02-14
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