The Pretenders + Cat Power + Juliette Lewis | August 12, 2009 at Bank of America Pavilion
Cat Power | August 12 at Bank of America Pavilion, Boston | Photo: Carina Mastrocola
That's not to say she seemed entirely comfortable, though. While the stage behind her was bathed in ethereal purple and blue light, she was silhouetted in black, apparently unwilling to have a spotlight shone upon her.
Meanwhile, that doleful, smoke-cured voice was keen as ever as she floated fluidly around the shifting chords of songs such as "Metal Heart." Her stage presence was protean: now she was strutting the stage with purpose or singing as if speaking to some imaginary friend (sometimes she'd point at him, getting ... right ... in ... his ... face). Then she was skulking shyly in corner, one hand jammed into her pocket.
It occurred to me that another potential antidote to that legendary stage fright was for Marshall to disguise herself behind other people's songs. A good chunk of her set was drawn from her covers records - The Covers Record, and last year's Jukebox and Dark End of the Street EP. She inhabited these songs and transformed them: James Brown's "Lost Someone," CCR's "Fortunate Son," the Stones' "Satisfaction" (which was even further transformed from the radically stripped down version she recorded in 2000); Dan Penn's "Dark End..."
The cumulative effect of her lithe shuffle and sway, and of the band's languid pacing, was to evoke an entrancingly choreographed dance - slow, sad, sexy - with the echoing reverb and the foggy Atlantic behind her swallowing Marshall's words: a shifting scrim of sound and vision that was gentle, vulnerable, ethereal. The precise opposite, in other words, of what came next.
Like Marshall, Chrissie Hynde came on stage wearing a tie.
Unlike her? Just about everything else.
She's 57 years old, for cripes sake, but the jet-black bangs, kohl-smudged eyes, and that big brassy growl of voice are still there; their unchanging longevity have given her the whiff of the eternal.
And her towering stage presence - cocksure karate-kicking, guitar-slinging and all-around stuff-strutting - had even the oldsters in the seats next to us up and moving around. (During Cat Power, he'd watched the Sox on his iPhone while his wife munched ice cream absently.)