Cat Power’s performance at Chevron Gardens for The Perth Festival on the 14th of February, was a mellow yet thoroughgoing experience. The atmosphere of the smoky, dark stage set the tone for Powers penetrating vocals.
My introduction to Cat Power was through trip-hop band Handsome boy modelling school’s ‘I’ve been thinking’, so I was surprised to later discover ‘The Covers Album’ which was an often melancholy and technically simple record. Her Valentines evening show embraced these characteristics whilst remaining intense and thoughtfully triumphant. Arriving a little late into the heaving crowd, I shimmied as close to the front as was possible without feeling like a total dick. Her title track ‘Wanderer’ has a folky, almost gospel sound with subtle guitar and strings harmonising alongside her smooth vocals. With a long stint as a musician, it is plain to see her range of styles weaved throughout her new songs. Whilst mostly blues and folk influenced, there are lashings of jazz, rock, pop and electronica.
Powers sung a version of Nico’s ‘These days’, as I wondered if there was a reason behind the songs she chose to cover. The audience was stuffed to the stage, with little space to dance, luckily the gig had more of a “swaying” vibe. Her cover of Rhianna’s ‘Stay’ conjured some physical enthusiasm. An older gentleman beside me sourly saying to his wife “Oh now you like her.” Yeah because kids these days don’t appreciate music like you do, Harold. He had a point though, Chan Marshall has been in the music industry for 28 years, ‘Wanderer’ being her 10th record, and despite collaborating with the likes of Lana Del Rey, Faithless, Beck and Yoko Ono, to name a few, Power has remained a relatively low-key persona (particularly post substance abuse). Perhaps due to her songs not being particularly commercial radio-friendly, she is a bit of a dark horse in the industry . As her Chevron Garden show hinted- she may just prefer to hang back in the shadows whilst her simultaneously soft and powerful voice takes centre stage.
Words by Kyra Shewolf