Saturday, March 24, 2018

Cat Power - 1999-05-14, Bellingham

One of her better nights...

My sister's fiance used to work at a radio station, and even though he's not a music guy, he's been to a lot of shows over the years. I asked him about Cat Power once, and he said she was not good: withdrawn, rushed through her set and was gone after like 40 minutes. He wasn't alone; the New Yorker once wrote about how bad she was on stage; little did they know she was an alcoholic who drank to excess to combat stage freight.

This share isn't one of those nights. On this night in Bellingham, she mostly played covers (all from the then-new The Covers Record), a few originals and even a cover that she'd get around to releasing a few years later. It's an intimate show, just her and a guitar (or piano), her voice occasionally a little hoarse, but still carrying emotion. At the time, she was easily capable of creating a tender, fragile performance. And when she performs solo, it's a lot easier to hear her connection to the blues, often a source of influence in her music. It reminds me more than a little bit of Songs: Ohia actually, but unlike Molina, she was able to overcome her personal demons.

The way she takes apart covers is interesting, too. "Satisfaction" is stripped to the sinews, like it might've been performed by Elmore James; "Wild is the Wind" is similarly bare and stark, with just her voice and a booming piano. The whole set is like this. It's not a fun time, but it's a compelling time.

1 comment:

M. Milner said...

Cat 99: