Cat Power’s Moves: ‘The Greatest’
Chan Marshall boogies her way into the hearts of thousands, and into the thoughts of our writer's dad.
Cat Power is “sick as fuck.” When one fan was describing Ms. Marshall’s hour and a quarter long set with her 11-piece Memphis Rhythm Band, this is all he had to say. Besides being ill as sex, Cat Power’s set started with a James Brown-like instrumental build up before Chan (not pronounced like Jackie’s last name, but the male name Sean) strolled on stage with an off-the-charts adorable factor from the tip of her trimmed brown bangs to the toes of her coke-white Vans slip-ons. The wispy gathering of trembling piano and sparse guitar notes accompanying her arrival onstage gave her the musical reassurance that it was the time to release her gift to the world: a soulful, low-toned voice so pleasing and powerful that my father demanded an 8×11 autographed glossy of the 34-year-old singer in exchange for paying my rent this month.
Choice tracks from Cat Power’s last album, The Greatest, intermingled with various elder tracks from her seven-album discography, and the set was punctuated with her stripped down version of the Rolling Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Her in-the-bedroom dance moves, lyrical hand interpretations, and hip-hop-tinged boogie brought forth a cool amount of attitude and freedom not expected from an artist notoriously known for moments of intense stage fright that made fans wary of show crumbling breakdowns. From her first two-step behind the microphone to the full-band bow that ended the set, Cat Power broke it off while giving a break to all the Vegeese in the early afternoon not in the mood for acid-tested, 15-minute guitar solos or super slumper hip-hop bass. AUSTIN PLUMB / PHOTOS BY MICHAEL CLAWSON