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Cat Power and Nico Turner @ Underground Arts.

November 18, 2013

CatPower02Text by Jumah Chaguan. Images by Kate McCann.

No announcement was made. There was only a piano on the stage with several white roses placed on top. Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, entered stage left shortly after opener Nico Turner‘s set. The incessant crowd noise stopped. A stage light accentuated her smile and the left mole on her cheek that she painted before the show.

“Ready to get depressed?” said Marshall with a smile.

The crowd laughed with the sensitive rebel. She adjusted the frets on the guitar. The strap became yellow underneath the lights. Intimacy built in a flash. Then, the stillness in the air set the stage for her. Cat Power started to play.

The room of communal strangers cheered for the same cause. Her voice was raw honey, a fuerza viva. The first song was over.

Marshall sang nothing from her latest album, Sun. Instead the crowd was treated to her rendition of the Rolling Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

She was focused. With her heels she counted the beats. Individual strangers yelled for attention. In return she gave individual winks. Marshall made everyone matter.

“Come along fool this is as good as it gets,” sang Marshall in her next song.

It’s pure power on stage. One wanted to hold it. Marshall finished the first set of songs and headed to the piano. She flipped through the sheet music. To manage nerves she urged the crowd to talk while she figured it out. She scratched her ear.

“I’m almost done,” said Marshall to the expectant crowd.

The lyrics then spun around and out of her mouth. Every song was a seamless transition into truths everyone knew. Far away from the crowd, a couple embraced and swayed together. They celebrated their anniversary.

“I don’t like to be treated so bad by the best love I ever had,” sang Marshall. “Can I get a witness?”

Someone in the crowd did witness and yelled “amen.”

Then Marshall took the list of songs by the piano. With her index finger she crossed them off the list. It was her way to assure herself. She had played everything as promised. She stood up but looked down. Marshall hid behind the piano to button up her pants. She held a cig on her mouth and smiled.

The crowd laughed with her. The fans took the opportunity and started to yell. A woman stood on a keg and yelled gave thanks for introducing her to the album Elevator to the Gallows.

Another person in the front asked Marshall about peanut butter.

“It’s in my blood,” Marshall replied.

The crowd laughed.

“What about Thanksgiving?” was the follow-up question.

“It’s a big lie,” answered Marshall.

The crowd laughed in agreement.

Then the lights cast blue hues on Marshall’s blonde hair. On the fret of her guitar, a cigarette burned. A guy asked for a smoke. Marshall bent over and handed it to him. She talked to him. He took a puff and returned it. Marshall put it back on the fret.

The concert was more like a private session. Marshall strummed her guitar and started to sing Guns N’ Roses “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” At the end of the song, she backed away from the mic and yelled “fuck.” She’s wasn’t pleased.

During the guitar set, she struggled with the sound man. She made circular gestures and pointed upwards. Something was off.

“Are you mad at me?” asked Marshall to the crowd. “Sometimes the sound comes from all over the place.”

The crowd wasn’t bothered.

“We love you,” a girl yelled.

Someone handed Marshall a scarf. Another handed her a vinyl album. She willingly accepted. It was 12:36 a.m. and had been a long set. Marshall finished her songs and blew kisses. She grabbed the flowers that had been on the piano and headed behind the curtain.

Marshall took one last peek behind the curtain and waved adios. The crowd didn’t ask for an encore. They knew it was time to go.

One Comment
  1. Jethro permalink
    January 15, 2014 3:14 pm

    “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” is a Bob Dylan song covered by Guns-N-Roses.

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