Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Something about Manchester

I'd had one of those worst of days, and you almost regret that you've tickets for a gig that night; but I can't remember the last time I bought a ticket without thought - as in, I've got to see this singer. The singer of course being Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) the Atlanta, Georgia singer that earlier that day I'd vaguely described to colleagues as Marianne Faithfull meets Amy Winehouse; but actually, she's more Patti Smith meets Otis Redding - confirmed by a sublime cover of a sublime Try a Little Tenderness late in the gig - but more than that, and the reason I'd bought the ticket so far in advance, is because she's Cat Power. Shame on Manchester that the concert wasn't sold out (unlike, say, the Editors or such like), but the Academy is a bit of an unforgiving venue when it's full, and although I've seen some of my favourite gigs there its the first time I've ever seen the Academy aspire to intimacy. The first few songs were disappointing; there wasn't a thing that caught fire. I was wondering why I was there? Surely there was more emotion in my day than in these limp things? Yet, hold on there, she has to release a bit from her crack band, and when, a few songs in, she sings the self-written "Song for Bobby" (Dylan) off the recent "Jukebox" covers album the gig leaps into the stratosphere and never comes down. This famously fragile perfomer is enjoying herself, jigging on stage, and as the gig progresses you get the feeling - as so often happens - that because Manchester so loves its fragile singers, so loves it music, those singers and musicians start loving it back. By the end of the concert, she's still on stage, on her own, after nearly two hours, throwing a bouquet of flowers into the audience. It's a gesture from an indie-music past, but in indie-Manchester is entirely appropriate. As I say, the Academy doesn't usually run to intimacy; tonight it did. I'm sure in the context of her latest tour it was nothing special, but its the first concert I've been to for ages that has legitimate company in my list of the all the time greats.

No comments: