Cat PowerI would have enjoyed Cat Power more if I could have understood more than a single word and a phrase of her performance. However, I was encouraged when I asked a 20-something audience neighbour the name of a song and she told me that “It was her favourite song from Cat Power’s latest album – but she didn’t know the title” or indeed any of the lyrics.

I had recently been informed by a Festival regular that after numerous visits last year she “had written the venue off’”. So perhaps my  judgement of the absolutely appalling sound mix was due to the venue. Who can tell?

All I know is she has a fantastic voice and the songs were varied in pace and rhythmic delights. Just no words. The clanging electronic backing was initially reminiscent of Tubular Bells. A wall of sound, and not in the Motown, Berry Gordy sense, more deafening! Accompanied by strafe lighting bombs it was hard to focus on the black-clad blonde nymph with the fabulous voice.

The relentless rhythm was amazing and the 900 strong audience appeared trancelike in their adulation. A cult following is obviously apparent here.

Two drums, two guitars (and occasionally Cat Power strapped on a guitar to accompany her extraordinary vocals). Excellent, but completely unbalanced in the mixing. Her trademark howl was unleashed later in the set, and in the warm windy summer night we suddenly shivered.

Her two remarks to the audience consisted of “Hello Perth” and “Thanks for coming all the way out here.” Otherwise we might have been audience in a sound studio. There was no rapport. However her haunting voice, despite the electronic over-shadowing, is memorable. It has a lovely timbre.

A darkened stage, apart from the blinding flashes of spotlights, left the diminutive platinum blonde barely visible throughout the show. The cheers and hoots from the audience, most of which were standing in the mosh pit, proved me wrong. They adore her.

I hope they knew the lyrics.


Cat Power

Venue: Chevron Festival Gardens
Dates: 26 – 27 February, 2013
Tickets: $60.00
Bookings: www.perthfestival.com.au

Part of the 2013 Perth Festival