Cat Power & Dirty Delta Blues – Cat Power @ The Astor (PRESS, AUSTRALIA)

6 January 2009
Review of Cat Power & Dirty Delta Blues at The Astor Theatre, Perth, Australia on 6 January 2010.
“Selk and the Bone Singers started the evening with some lovely fuzzy country twang. The sound was very similar to main act Cat Power, so much so that some ignorant punter shouted out “Are you Cat Power?” to be corrected by Selk Hastings herself.

A lovely disco ball lady lit up the room during interval, swirling and promoting the evening to be a night of sparkly songbirds. Chan Marshall and the Dirty Delta Blues appeared on stage in soft blue lighting, setting the mood for the evening. The band started in with some heavy languid beats and bass. This led into Dreams and a church organ pumped into gear for Woman Left Lonely. The band switched gears between, blues, folk and gospel sounds, all with a striking element of simplicity.

Chan Marshall brings a purity to her craft. Her voice is so velvety smooth, like a melted chocolate fountain pouring onto us, the little marshmallows on sticks. And it is amazing how consistently level her tone is, soothing enough to sing lullabies into sleeping children’s ears without them waking. Soothing enough to send some audience members to sleep no doubt, but this does not have to be a criticism.

Cat Power moved effortlessly between originals and her special covers. There was a sombre note especially to the covers, like Lost Someone (James Brown) and She’s Got You (Patsy Cline). The latter was definitely a highlight of the songs of lost love.

Quality of lyrics are a major part of Cat Power’s show as the songs are very stripped back and simplified. For example her cover of Jeff Buckley’s Lilac Wine was made her own by pulling it to the basics of the lyrics. Some of her best known songs such as The Greatest and I Don’t Blame You sounded quite different without the layering harmonies of the recordings.

The Dirty Delta Blues were excellent. Subtle layering of the tones of the different instruments permeated the set. Wah wah blues guitar harmonies (from Judah Bauer and Erik Paparazzi) combined with gospel organ or delicate piano solos (from Gregg Foreman), and soft drum fluffing (from Jim White).

Marshall showed her gracious side, and proved she was indeed a natural and down to earth performer by the end of the set. She gave away flowers to dedicated fans at the front and stayed on stage for much longer than the band waving and blowing kisses. Finally she gave away the set lists and waved off stage indicating there would be no encore. Marshall is a truly unaffected, low key performer bringing music back to the origins of the songwriting and relying on the beauty of her voice and textured layering of her backing band. Partway through the set she stated she was born in Australia so perhaps we can hope she will visit her “homeland” more frequently. “