Currently on a European tour promoting her new album Wanderer, the enigmatic Cat Power is famed for her unusual and highly captivating live shows.
With her new album symbolising a return of her confidence and strength we headed down to the Roundhouse, London to see for ourselves. What we found was a performance filled with gratitude to her loving audience and a powerful plea for self-love and acceptance.
Here are five things we learned from watching Cat Power live:
Words by Tina Mermiri
The power of raw talent
Her voice took centre stage. There were no gimmicks, no hyper-production, no screens, no big orchestras (or backup singers), no crazy choreography and dancers, no changing outfits. It was all raw and authentic. Stripped back and personal, yet somehow very polished and professional. The audience was absolutely mesmerised by her ethereal yet slightly raspy voice, and her movements, cloaked in the shadows of the smoke and the lighting, only served to enhance her ghostly presence. Singing her melodic, bluesy tunes into two mics, she created a three-dimensional echo and her own flawless harmony, making her not only engaging but magnetic.
The power of mixing it up
With a voice as powerful as hers, a history as punk as hers and a back catalogue as rich as hers, she can afford to take some risks – she played a fair few songs from the new album without alienating her less informed fans, despite some noticeable omissions of what might be considered her most well-known songs. No matter. Any new song was a revelation and flowed effortlessly from the previous, making it a pleasant journey of discovery and rediscovery. Earlier in the night and waiting for her to go on stage, Nick Cave was playing in the background, which was considered a nice touch, building the right kind of mood and expectation. Soon enough, she beautifully weaved Into my Arms into her own medley, as was also true with INXS’ Never Tear Us Apart.
The power of a good band
Walking into the venue, a sign read “Cat Power and Band” – credit where it’s due. The band were incredibly tight, and therefore integral to the success of the performance. The keys player, also occasionally tinkering with the guitar, felt like her rock – she ended the show with only him on stage supporting her with the guitar. He even gave the audience the only harmony of the night for one song, his voice working beautifully with hers. The drummer was also excellent, and it was welcomed when they turned up his volume. Completed by a more than competent bassist, they lifted the whole performance and were thankfully done justice by the excellent sound at the venue.
The power of a good venue
The Roundhouse is a stunning venue. It feels intimate yet not dingy and was full of helpful staff and happy audience members, including what looked like a six-year-old girl with her parents sitting in the seats on the balcony. It felt like a good match. Lighting and sound, though obviously always important for a live gig don’t always deliver. In this case, as already mentioned, they served the performers well, effortlessly bringing the whole show to life.
The power of perseverance
If this show taught the audience anything, it’s that if there’s something you think you might like, it’s worth taking the risk to find out for yourself. And sometimes, as was the case on this occasion, it absolutely pays off. After all the challenges Cat Power seems to have overcome in what is quite a public personal life, you can only imagine that this show was particularly rewarding to both her and her cult following, and hopefully one of many more to come.
Keep an eye on ticketmaster.co.uk to be the first to know when Cat Power returns to the UK.