Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) had a sparse, ethereal hit with “The Greatest,” but when she took it to the Ogden Theatre stage on Thursday night she had “un”arranged the song down to its simplest pieces. Literally, four slow guitar notes per measure let Marshall float the already gentle lyrics across an even sparser, more ethereal version of the song. It slowly built from there to a full rock ballad that proclaimed Marshall’s ownership of this tour. She forced every second of every held note with precision and presence. The theme of the entire set was control.
The light show and projections were highly polished and perfectly synced to the strong rhythm section, but did not distract from Marshall’s tight vocals, all by design. Marshall sang with veracity and vulnerability, but never lost sight of leading the band. She didn’t even leave time between songs for chatting, only letting out a “Thanks for coming” midway through the main set. The focus of the set list was from “Sun,” last year’s effort, but she fit in a few deep cuts for long-time fans.
For a performer who has been fraught with inconsistency from financial issues to health issues, Cat Power was certainly on in Denver. She seemed to have never had a bad day on this tour (even though that’s not the case). Whatever has passed by in her career and personal life, it didn’t show last night. She played a tight set of passionate songs to a rapt crowd and will hopefully be back this way soon.
Marc Hobelman makes websites at The Denver Post, tweets pictures of his cat and is a regular contributor to Reverb.