When Cat Power sings, nothing really matters
Have you ever kept one of those gratitude journals? One of those books (or, in some case, Facebook posts) where you make a note of all the things you’re thankful for on any given day.
I haven't. It’s not that it isn’t a great idea - it absolutely is - but it seems like so much pressure. How do you come up with a whole list of things to feel positive about all the time?
If you’re keeping a journal and struggling to think of new entries to make, or if you just desperately want to feel thankful about something, listen to Cat Power and focus on the voice of Chan Marshall.
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At her Vivid LIVE show at the Sydney Opera House, that voice - raw, sweet, fractured, vulnerable and pure - shone. It’s power was so extraordinary that, when she sang, nothing else mattered.
It didn’t matter that the notoriously nervous performer immediately ran off stage mere seconds after wandering on.
It didn’t matter that we couldn’t figure out if her emotive gesticulations were performative or a nervous crutch.
It didn’t matter that she used two microphones for reasons that never became clear.
It didn’t matter that she stared at a music stand holding her song lyrics for a sizeable portion of the performance.
It didn’t matter that her banter was scarce and stilted.
It didn’t even matter that this was all happening at the hallowed Sydney Opera House.
Almost nothing mattered. Her voice is a gift and she gave it to us openly and generously for the entire performance.
Her band mattered. Jim White and Mick Turner were sublime as always and the Ned Collette string arrangements added such subtle beauty that it was easy to forget they were there at all. There were exceptions: the flute flourishes in ‘He Turns Down’, the violin crescendo in ‘No Sense’, White’s crashing cymbals in ‘Metal Heart’.
The songs mattered a little too. Performing her celebrated fourth LP Moon Pix in full as the album celebrates its 20th anniversary made this setlist particularly special, while the selection of classics in the encore - ‘Maybe Not’ and ‘I Don’t Blame You’ in solo mode and ‘Good Woman’ and ‘The Greatest’ with her band - suggested Marshall was eager to please.
No matter the material she performed, she couldn’t lose with a voice like that.