More thoughts on Cat Power…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:54 pm November 26, 2013
Cat Power at the piano, The Slowdown, Nov. 22, 2013.

Cat Power’s Chan Marshall alone at the piano, The Slowdown, Nov. 22, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

A leftover thought about Cat Power that didn’t make it into yesterday’s review, which just happens to be one of the most read Lazy-i blog entries this year. Clearly people love Chan Marshall and love her music and are concerned about her and her well-being. Or they just wanted to read a description of a (perceived) train-wreck of a show.

Anyway… one final thought about that show, and it’s this: Is anybody looking out for Marshall’s best interests? Who thought it would be a good idea to send her on the road alone, barely able to play her music, and then nod approvingly at the idea of a two-plus-hour set?

Very few are the artists that can keep the attention of a crowd for more than two hours unaccompanied. Springsteen is the only one that comes to mind. I’m sure there are a few others. But not Marshall. I like Cat Power music, but it can become monotonous by its very nature. Marshall doesn’t do much to change it up from song to song, and her best albums achieve variety thanks to the backing musicians (The Greatest, where she surrounded herself with Memphis soul musicians). You quickly realize this after the first hour of the same three-chord progressions.

All she needs is one musician to join her. Just one to play piano. How much could that cost? And then limit her set to 45 minutes, an hour tops. That’s it. She might even be able to pull off an hour without that additional player — an hour of her best music, well-rehearsed. That’s all anyone really wants.

Where is Matador in all this? Is it the record label’s responsibility to provide some feedback? No. They put out the records; they don’t manage their artists’ live shows. Still, it must be like being a parent watching his/her troubled daughter go out every night to succeed or fail on her own.

By the way, reviews of Cat Power shows have been somewhat consistent. The Chicago Tribute review of the Cat Power show the night before ours described Marshall as “out of gas and running on fumes.” While a Consequence of Sound review of her Nov. 14 D.C. show called it “suspenseful.” Both mentioned her fragile condition.

* * *

I’m looking for shows and can’t find any tonight. Looks like the weekend starts tomorrow with POLIÇA.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment