The Roseland Theater could barely contain the awesome might of Cat Power and the Dirty Delta Blues band. It was a spectacle, a force, an unrivaled artistic masterpiece that will undoubtedly become legend in the annals of rock lore.
Roseland Theater has standing room on the main floor and a wraparound balcony. Adrianne and I sat in the first row of the balcony, which gave us a good view not only of the stage but of the crowd below. During the opening act we had a fun time watching various reactions of people in the crowd, but when Chan Marshall and her band entered the stage, there was no denying their godlike rock ‘n’ roll power.
The opening act was a woman named (I believe) Appaloosa, a singer Adrianne described as “very French.” She came on with no instruments, just a little electronic device which she plugged into the speakers. She was blonde and wore a bomber jacket and glittery green dress. She did jumping jacks onstage between outbursts of singing. It was funny, because she took breaks during her songs, not between them. The little device she had played a series of beats; to start a new song she simply pressed a button and the next beat played. She was at times off-key, and had a cavalier attitude. There were a few in the crowd who really dug her. She played to them, smiling and dancing. She sang a couple songs about horses.
There was a long break between Appaloosa and Cat Power. When the lights finally went down, it would not be an exaggeration to say that everybody there was ready to go. Fortunately, Cat delivered the goods. Her greeting, “hello Portland people,” received a big cheer which was cut off as the band began to play.
An early highlight was the song “Silver Stallion” off her new album, Jukebox. Many of the songs were from that album, although she did throw in a few from The Greatest and even a terrific cover of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “Tracks of My Tears.”
Cat had a great, funny way of dancing around the stage. She didn’t play any instruments; she left that to her able band. There were times that she came right out to the edge of the stage and reached out to the audience and times when she slid to the side and let the band bask in the spotlight.
“Would you like something high-end or with sibilance? We’ve got everything tonight.” I heard a few shouts, nothing definitive, and she launched into “Aretha, Sing One For Me.”
As for the sound itself, it was a loud muddle, but not in a bad way. As in the album, I think there was a deliberate attempt to ratchet up the reverb and bury her vocals a bit. Cat kept asking “are my vocals too loud?” It was apparent that she enjoyed her band immensely. Her band, four men, made her look even tinier up on stage.
At the end she thanked us. “You guys are so fucking nice,” she said. She repeated it, and then played “Lived in Bars.”Photos courtesy chuffpdx’s flickr page. We were sitting on the opposite side of the room, but we came down for the encore.