Whenever there’s an indie concert at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, you can expect a unique show. Cat Power’s second show last night was no different. With a reputation for onstage meltdowns and indie diva puppetry, Miss Power, aka Chan Marshall, can stretch her crazy legs with the best of them. There’s an ever-present possibility of her freaking out, charming our pants off, or just leaving the stage. She’s always capable of putting on a beautiful, erratic, head-shaking performance.
So, after noticeable anticipation, she snuck on stage alone to a guitar and piano. About 30 seconds into her first song, she took issue with the monitor’s reverb level. Put it up, put it down, and she wasn’t joking around. True to form, she started and stopped a handful of tunes midway through because of technical difficulties in her head, while apologizing profusely. She attempted "House of the Rising Sun" three times before reaching the second verse. When she actually played, it was a haunting, mesmerizing experience, but unfortunately broken too often by her own bugaboos. She’s often complained about people staring at her, and the horrifying onstage experience, to the point where it should be expected at every show. All in all, it took about two hours to get through three complete songs.
It could be some form of attention whoring, or a serious hyperactivity disorder, or a substance abuse problem, but Cat Power’s performances are out of place and self-ruinous. Like her ’70s hairstyle, she’s not in her element when she’s on stage, and it detracts from her abilities as a musician. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, and clearly, this article is intently focused on her eccentricites, so it’s hard to blame her or her management for the disasters, but as a compassionate human, you kind of wish she would just get her shit together and blow us away like she could if she tried.