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Cat Power At The Palladium, Thursday November 8th 2012, Reviewed

Cat Power needs all kind of stuff to feel comfortable on stage, she brings candles, burns incense and enters on stage after Bob Dylan’s ‘Shelter from the Storm’ has been blasted in the venue. Actually, when I say ‘enters on stage’, I should say 'enters after a long moment of hesitation'! All her musicians were already in place, playing the same two-note melody for a few minutes, and Chan wasn’t showing up,… was she having a Fiona Apple moment? I don’t know, but it seemed like an eternity and the audience was already showing some impatience.


But Cat Power showed up, and she and her band played a rather long set at the Palladium on Thursday night, heavy on songs off her last album ‘Sun’, of course, but delivering other unexpected ones like her cover of Padro Infante's 'Anjelitos Negros' in Spanish. But she started with a very slow and stripped down version of The Greatest, so weird and so sidereal, I hardly recognized it at first. She was constantly making eye contact with the crowd and even more than this as she signed a record in the middle of the show wanting to give more to her audience at each song,…. She even distributed a huge bunch of white roses at the end of the show.


She hardly played guitar, just during the song ‘Silent Machine’, a loud rocking number with icy hard-bright lights. Instead, she was running free along the large stage of the Palladium, as if she wanted to see everyone in the white of their eyes, even saluting and making strange signs with her hands, her arms. Chan Marshall actually moved a little awkwardly on stage, taking curious pauses, wandering everywhere like animated by a desire to please everyone and give all she had. However, I could not tell if she was feeling totally at ease or completely uncomfortable, or even a mix of the two, her body language sometimes looking confused, and, at the end, I couldn’t exactly make sense of what was going on.


The old songs were so strangely sung and played, so transformed and metamorphosed it was difficult to recognize them, and even the new ones were slightly differently reworked compared to the album versions. Iman thought she wasn’t good when he saw her a few weeks ago, and that she even butchered a few songs, but I wonder whether it was simply impossible to reproduce the 'Sun' songs live on stage, with so many layered vocals and instruments. On stage, they sounded a little different, muddier, as her voice was too buried at times, but I partially blamed the acoustic of the Palladium,… I have been there before. That said, Chan's voice, when I could hear it clearly, was still the same, showing range and emotion, with this smoky side unique to her.


Beside the songs, the biggest transformation was Cat Power herself, with her blonde Mohawk, she didn’t look like the person with long brown hair attached in a pony tail I had seen a few years ago at the Ford Theater, she looked a little older, but in no way tougher, still very fragile despite the rock’ n’ roll black-leather-jacket-with-boots look she had chosen. She said a few ‘I fucking thank you for coming’ during the show, and the crowd was responding with ‘I love you’ to what she answered at least twice ‘me too, I fight you to the floor’?


She lighted up incense before singing ‘King Rides By’, a song she recorded for the Festival of Children Foundation and the Ali Forney Center charities, and the tune became this long hypnotic complain with a throbbing pulsating guitar. A new song called ‘Bully’ sounded like a slow stripped-down desperate cry, then she went back to her abstract interpretations of her old songs. She didn’t feel happy with her voice during 'Back In The Days', declaring, ‘That didn't sound too good’, but the crowd was on her side since the beginning and cheered her up with more love declarations and someone yelling ‘You sound amazing!’


A young and cute girl with a pink dress came on stage to sing Iggy Pop’s part during ‘Nothing But Time’, and despite the fact that Chan didn’t introduce her, there is a rumor it was her ex-boyfriend’s daughter, Lucia Ribisi, and looking at the hug they gave to each other at the end of the song, I would say that the rumor is true. The next song – was it really ‘I don’t Blame You’ I didn’t recognize it – sounded very bluesy, and she closed the show with a powerful rendition of ‘Ruin’ and a long white flower distribution which was making her so happy. It almost sounded like an admission of her oddity, a reparation for her flaws,… flaws? What flaws? Chan was acting like a human being and a rock star, a woman in pain who just went through a lot, and a triumphant individual whose heart was hurting and exploding at each cheering of the loving crowd.



The Greatest


Silent Machine


Human Being

King Rides By



Anjelitos Negros

Always on my Own

Back in the Day

3, 6, 9

Nothing But Time

I Don’t Blame You

Peace and Love



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