Saturday, January 26, 2013
Concert review: Cat Power hypnotizes crowd at South Side Music Hall in Dallas
Her new album Sun is the complete package of hot and cold.
DALLAS Finding onesself mesmerized during a Cat Power show is more of an expectation rather than a surprise; after all, she is an indie-rock goddess who has entertained a scrutinizing crowd for almost two decades. Cat Power continues to book international and national tours, giving reason to believe that her first album in four years, titled Sun, was received with open arms. Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, leaned heavily on her 2012 release at South Side Music Hall on Friday night.
Christian Bland and the Revelators were the seemingly unannounced opening band for the night, and bland they were.
Christian Bland is better known as the guitarist for Austin’s Black Angels, a psychedelic rock band known for their spacey electronic tales. His side project, Christian Bland and the Revelators, doesn’t stray far from those shoe-gazing roots. The songs were weighed down: Sand-filled amps and rolling bass lines maintained a minimal volume, which made for a flat opening set. We tried to stay connected, but after the same monotone vocals and similar chord progression, we lost interest.
Cat Power then appeared onstage with a choppy, platinum blonde cut similar to Annie Lennox, while a Bob Dylan track blared. Marshall is known to get teary-eyed during some of her darker, slower numbers. She started off in this somber manner with “The Greatest,” a powerful and lengthy song with tragic vocals and a tempo that continues to build until the crashing conclusion. This hypnotizing, all-in approach set the tone for the rest of the evening, and soon, we were knee deep in her swirling world of raw affection.
Her raspy grit moved past the mid-tempo songs, giving the audience the recognition they craved. Even with her struggles with angioedema (sudden severe swelling of the face and neck that can block airways and cause suffocation), Marshall seems to be dealing with her problems through her music. Hardly whispering anything but a gracious "thank you" every now and then, she stuck to her set list, which was built heavily on her newest record. The brisk “Silent Machine” flipped the subdued mood on its head with rock-driven chords and higher notes, and proved that Sun is the complete package of hot and cold, slow and fast.
Marshall seemed transfixed on the two mics in front of her. She continued to play with them all night as if they were her onstage anchors. She moved about in a slightly restless way, just enough to give away her unsettled demeanor but not enough to seem nervous. Moving to each side of the stage was her way of connecting to the older crowd, who ate up every line. Her fluid pitch and smooth tones exploded in “I Don’t Blame You,” one of the best songs of the night, using the extended choruses to draw out her defeated words.
Marshall continues to keep company with veterans Tori Amos and Fiona Apple, some of the best female singer/songwriters around, with key-heavy songs like “Ruin.” She closed the evening the same way she arrived, with an enrapturing ballad filled with angst. But there were no tears here, just a heartfelt set brimming with yearning and affirmation.
Here’s hoping this national tour will get Cat Power back where she needs to be.
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