Ode to Chan
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6/22/05 - London, England, Queen Elizbath Hall, "Meltdown Festival"

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6/22/05 - London, England, Queen Elizbath Hall, "Meltdown Festival" Empty 6/22/05 - London, England, Queen Elizbath Hall, "Meltdown Festival"

Post  Cokelike Thu 2 Aug - 7:34

6/22/05 - London, England, Queen Elizbath Hall, "Meltdown Festival"

As part of the Meltdown Festival running from 6/11-26/05 in London, Cat Power performs a bill with Patti Smith and Kevin Shields. Part of this concert (that does not feature Cat Power) was released on Patti Smith's album, "The Coral Sea".

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The foyer is thick with perplexed speculation. The audience know only two facts. One: The Coral Sea is Patti Smith's prose elegy for her late friend and collaborator Robert Mapplethorpe. Two: her choice of accompanists for its live debut is bananas. Singer-songwriter Chan "Cat Power" Marshall could be America's most erratic performer, so crippled by nerves that shows have ended with her lying face down on the stage. Kevin Shields, meanwhile, is the reclusive former leader of My Bloody Valentine, famed for their records' staggering sonic innovations and their live shows' ear-rupturing volume.

There is the distinct prospect that the evening may leave the audience feeling like some of the subjects Mapplethorpe photographed for his infamous Portfolio X, most notably the guy with his penis in a mousetrap. Marshall appears hunched first over a guitar, then a piano. She has a nervous tic - kicking her foot back and forth in a manner that recalls a cat in a litter tray -but, by her standards, it's a highly disciplined performance. Her delicate songs all seem to end when they are supposed to. Smith has to physically steer her on stage for an encore, but Marshall stays put and plays a spectral, captivating ballad.

Smith returns for the second half, intoning The Coral Sea's spellbinding prose, her voice occasionally breaking into song. Lounging on a sofa, Shields distractedly strums a series of guitars. The effect is magical, in that what he does with his hands frequently bears no relation to what comes out of his amplifier. At times, his guitar drones woozily, matching the onstage films of sea images. At others, it sounds like a church organ. At the piece's climax, he prods an effect pedal and something approximating a protracted thunderstorm consumes the venue.

For an encore, the three perform a brief song together, Marshall inclining her head away from the audience. They erupt into a deserved standing ovation, as the world's most unlikely supergroup slink off stage.


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