Cat Power marred by a murky mix

Cat Power's concerts are always a risky proposition thanks to the singer's stage fright.
Cat Power's concerts are always a risky proposition thanks to the singer's stage fright. (AUSTIN CONROY)
Posted: February 03, 2013

Going to see an artist who has had the words paralyzing stage fright written next to her name as many times as Cat Power - the stage name of the singer Chan Marshall - can be a perilous proposition.

Would Marshall make it through the show? How was the 41-year-old indie chanteuse coping after being dumped by Giovanni Ribisi and canceling a number of fall shows (including one at the Electric Factory) due to financial and medical troubles?

Did she really cut off her long, dark tresses, dye her hair blond, and fashion it into a Mohawk? Would the electro-rhythms of her new album, Sun, translate to a live setting?

The answers were at least partly revealed Wednesday night at the Electric Factory. After the intro recording of Bob Dylan's "If You See Her, Say Hello" - which, improbably, had the clearest vocal mix of the night - Marshall followed her band on stage for "The Greatest."

That title song to the 2006 album was delivered in a spare, spooky version, slowed to a crawl. Moody and mysterious, it was the kind of opening you might have expected from Marshall (whose hair was blond, no Mohawk).

From there she concentrated almost exclusively on Sun, whose unironic title lifted the gloom from her music while smartly reinventing its sound. But fronting a four-piece band at the Factory that featured Gregg Foreman, former leader of the Philadelphia scuzz-rock band Delta 72, much of Sun's spritely music came off as tepid.

The biggest issue was with the sound mix, which seemed intentionally murky, furthering Marshall's efforts to hide in plain sight.

The show did have its gripping moments, as when Marshall  lit a cigarette and sang an almost unaccompanied version of the 1940s Mexican film star Pedro Infante's "Angelitos Negros."

It was as though given such an obscure song selection, Marshall was free to throw herself into the perfomance. At that moment, she was gripping, a true star, and it was hard to take your eyes off. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the evening was pleasantly uneventful, and rather dull.


Contact Dan DeLuca

at 215-854-5628, ddeluca@phillynews.com,

or follow on Twitter @delucadan.

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