Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pearls Amongst Swine

Cat Power, Carling Academy 2, Birmingham, Tuesday June 10 2008, 9pm.
Laura Marling/The Melodica, The Melody And Me, St.Paul's Church, Birmingham, Thursday June 12 2008, 8pm.

This week sees the release in solo format of two of our favourite songs from albums we haven't talked about much thus far on Parallax View, so in a frothing fit of indecision we've made them joint Singles Of The Week. First up, 'My Sunken Treasure' is the hidden pop gemstone buried deep within The Duke Spirit's surprisingly robust second album 'Neptune', lilting melody and interesting bittersweet sentiments intertwining to fetching effect. Laura Marling's 'Cross Your Fingers' is perhaps the choice cut from her really rather good indeed debut album 'Alas, I Cannot Swim', it being unusual for a folk song to have so many multiple hooks, and Laura's frisky vocal rendering of slightly macabre lyrics adding to the intriguing and strangely seductive appeal.

Perversely, 'Cross Your Fingers' was one of the least inspiring tracks at her gig in St. Paul's Church on Thursday, the drums overpowering some of the subtleties that really makes the song work. Overall, however, it was a triumphant performance in a stunning setting - it was your sacrilegious scribe's first gig in a church (as evidenced by our run-in with a pew door hinge) and it was only a few goblets of communal wine short of a complete success. Laura was in personable, chatty form, sometimes playing with a band, sometimes without, a spine-tingling introduction of 'Ghosts' and, ironically(?), 'You're No God' amongst the standouts. A few words, too, for support act Melodica, Melody And Me, who compensated for their drummer being AWOL celebrating his birthday with some good-spirited shanty-like choons, generously laced with delicious harmonies, their appeal lying somewhere between the likes of The Coral and the Isobel Campbell/Mark Lanegan albums.

Two days earlier, we finally got round to seeing Cat Power at the Academy 2, after a few false starts in recent years with cancellations and whatnot. Having missed the support artistes Appaloosa, and not having had chance to purchase the new album 'Jukebox' from which most of the set was taken, don't really feel best qualified for a detailed review of the event, so would prefer to refer you here instead. To begin with, the concert felt a little bland, a little bit 'Later...', a little bit Glee Club for my liking, but slowly and surely some variety and balls kicked in, and we haven't seen a singer work so hard to emote and engage for a good long while as Chan Marshall did that night, her soulful, devastatingly husky vox in pristine form throughout a longer-than-the-norm performance duration. For someone with such a past reputation for behaviour inconsistency that makes Pete Doherty look like a choirboy to deliver Springsteen-levels of workrate and stamina was a revelation to behold.

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Blogger Ben said...

Would love to see Cat Power, if only I could guarantee she was going to be on song and not throw a temper tantrum. Sounds like you got her on a very good night.

12:45 AM  

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