Incense burned on Cat Power’s piano, too, before she came onstage—something was up. The house speakers played music that could originate in India and Marshall arrived onstage in a denim jacket. Her hair is dyed blonde right now.
She was welcomed with applause and warmed up with some picking on her guitar. She opened with “Hate.” At first glance, her guitar looked like a gold Tele, but its color awash in the stage lighting proved to be iridescent and unidentifiable. Marshall sang effortlessly and with her trademark sultriness. She announced that this performance was dedicated to Ria Pell, and sidled into her Rolling Stones cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” to abounding cheers. There was something a bit off as she related that, of this tour, the drive to SLC was the longest, but yet, they got here in the least amount of time compared to other destinations. Maybe she cornered a bowl with Turner before her set.
Cat Power started to hit her (first) stride with “Great Expectations,” as its dark tone subdued the audience who was still giddy and shouting unnecessary “woo!”s (something that, unfortunately, didn’t cease). Marshall switched to the piano to the “la-la-la”s of the belly dancers and played “Colors And The Kids.” It was nice to hear her pieces on the piano—“The Greatest” and a new piece written in Malibu—but the allure didn’t feel as prevalent as her songs on the guitar. The front row perhaps felt the same way, as they gabbed enough to get Marshall to mumble something to the effect of asking how much they paid to see this show, sheepishly. She eventually stopped a song due to talking in the front row, stutteringly and sarcastically asking for earplugs because she felt distracted. She went on a tirade about the lights being too bright and asked for some house lights to shine upon the audience so she could see for whom she performed. She switched back to guitar, and said, “Is this a college town? … Why is everyone a fuckin’ smartass?” As much as it may seem like it was uncalled for, her commentary was actually funny and a good retort to the obsequious “WE LOVE YOU!” exclamations from the “Coexist” members of the crowd. They, however, would not shut the fuck up. Marshall also, ballsily, took a couple drags from a cigarette onstage, maybe to calm her nerves.
“I must be one of the devil’s daughters,” crooned Marshall as she regained composure in her “Troubled Waters” cover. She mentioned that she was “distracted by a loss.” Ria Pell? (Further Instagram research confirmed this.) Marshall climaxed her set with more songs from You Are Free, including “Good Woman,” "Babydoll" and “Werewolf,” and she played “The Moon.” This chunk of her performance transfixed the crowd and distilled the ethos/pathos in the classic gait of Cat Power.
Marshall tuned her guitar after a flubbed attempt at “House of the Rising Sun” and tried again, and haphazardly took a shot at a few other songs. She was off last night, but it was somehow relatable (especially when attendees would not get the hint that they should stop talking). She tossed out flowers that had rested on her piano to people in the front row, and apologized for her vindictive comments from earlier. Marshall’s onstage persona was something else last night. It was weird. It was uncomfortable. It was difficult to discern whether she was playing up her sarcasm or if she was deeply irked. Either way, her heavy-handed remarks were good for SLC—in a town where everybody is superlatively nice all the time, it’s refreshing to have a respected artist come to town and berate people. A few of her guitar-playing mishaps also humanized her to an extent. After all, she is a solo artist onstage, making work. Seriously, though: When a musician is on the stage—especially solo—please shut the fuck up and listen.