I had the distinct pleasure of being amoung the sold-out crowd at the Cat's Cradle on Sunday night for Cat Power and the Memphis Rhythm Band had rolled into Carrboro.
The Memphis Rhythm Band is a 10+ piece ensemble that included 2 glammed-up backup singers, horn players, violin, pedal steel, guitars, piano, bass and drums. They played a couple of groovy instrumentals before the piano player, Rick, played the now-familiar melody of the title track to Cat Power’s latest "The Greatest." Chan Marshall then took to the stage and slid up to the mic. Dimly lit, she confidently struck a few 'body-builder' poses and genuinely seemed to be at ease with herself and the music. Thus began close to a two-hour set. (I wasn’t even looking at the clock, I was enjoying it so much.) Chan treated us to many songs from her latest, but also threw long-time fans a bone with a wonderful, band-backed edition of “Naked if I Want To” from What Would the Community Think. That was the highlight of the night for me. After a time, the Memphis Rhythm Band exited, and Chan played several songs by herself, alternating between piano and guitar.
I've seen Chan give a solo performance a few years back… and this literally erased all kinds of pre-conceived notions of what a Cat Power can be. It’s well-documented, through interviews and articles, that Chan is now proudly sober, and the performance last Sunday night was evidence to me that she is well on top of her craft, and her life. She exuded confidence that was absent previously. When a performer is having that much fun onstage, it’s positively contagious! I was so glad I was amoung the happy throng in attendance.It was well-worth the lack of sleep.
If Cat Power is coming anywhere near your town… do yourself a favour and jump to get your tickets. She’s a joy to hear and behold.
* update *Since my photos from Sunday night's show are abysmal, I'd like to point you to a stellar slideshow of photos from Cat Power's show in Washington, D.C. from the following night, 20NOV2006. Not only that... but that show is available for you to listen over the web, by visiting NPR. Enjoy!