Perth Festival Review: Cat Power's dreamy Chevron Gardens set
In the past, Chan Marshall of Cat Power has had a rocky live reputation. Thankfully, she was in fine form for her life set for Perth Festival on February 14, delivering a set that felt intimate despite the sizeable audience.
Perth’s Carla Geneve started the night off with a sharp solo set. It is intriguing how different solo sets can sound to full band performances. Geneve sounded more vulnerable than I have heard her before, making for a truly powerful performance that I noticed won over even the uninitiated in the crowd. Her debut of a “very new” song was one highlight worth noting. It’s definitely one to listen for. Carla Geneve is a wonderful live performer, and this night was no exception.
When Chan Marshall took stage after an introductory music passage from her band, she was smiling and waving- already a good sign. Yes, at times she did seem a bit nervous on stage, fiddling with the microphones, obsessing with the sound and not saying anything for a good portion of the start of the set. But gradually, as the crowd reactions got more positive and the set-built energy, she seemed to ease into the night, and she was visibly smiling for much of it. Before playing her final song, she gave a short monologue on loving each other that sounded heartfelt and all the more meaningful for an artist with a troubled history like hers.
Her set took an interesting journey. Generally, she started with a lot of her more sparse songs largely drawn from her latest record, Wanderer, while most of the more high-energy takes played out in the middle, before she brought things back down for a powerful finale of ‘The Moon’, performed with altered lyrics and with just her and touring guitarist Erik Paparazzi. ‘Cross Bones Style’, one of my favourites of hers, was a personal highlight for the night, as was ‘Horizon’ from the new record, and a more energetic take on ‘Metal Heart’. A good portion of covers (in full or in part) also made their way on to the set, including ‘Into My Arms’ by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, ‘Bad Religion’ by Frank Ocean, and ‘These Days’ by Nico, amongst many others. In classic Cat Power fashion, songs often drifted in to each other with no clear start and finish, adding to the dreamy atmosphere of the night. Marshall’s voice sounded crystalline throughout, and her band complimented this with a very tight performance.
Overall, Cat Power proved to be a magical night out, for both crowd and audience. This was a true journey across a rich discography, exploring all kinds of moods and textures. To paraphrase and echo one of Marshall’s own messages to us in the crowd, Chen Marshall was lovely, and so was her band.