13 September 2006

The Power of the Cat

Last night was just about as perfect as September gets. The weather has cooled to perfect temps this week, and it started raining late in the afternoon — that soft, steady, soothing drizzle.

Dan and I began the night at Avra, a Greek restaurant in Midtown. The restaurant is in a converted house; our table was on the wraparound porch, facing Juniper Street. You know how I am about porches and rain. The light breeze occasionally brushed sprinkles of rain on our arms, and the sound of the shower brought peace and relaxation to the table. And, of course, the company was as much fun as he always is. I have the best ex-beau ever.

A glass of red wine, pork tenderloin with goat cheese cakes, deliriously delicious Greek pastries, coffee with Ouzo. The dinner was so scrumptious and the seating so perfect, we briefly considered staying there all evening and skipping the main event.

Still swooning over those goat cheese cakes. Don’t they serve those in Heaven? They should, dammit.

But we went … because the main event was Cat Power, performing at Variety Playhouse (my favorite music venue in town). The Connecticut beloveds and the Northwest doppelganger warned me that I might be sorely disappointed since Chan Marshall’s performances had been pretty rough the last few years. I’d heard that she was on the wagon, though, so I was confident that I was going to see a great show. So confident, in fact, I skipped the sure bet of seeing R.E.M. perform in Athens last night. (Don’t feel sorry for me, lovelies; I’ll see the original Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe lineup perform on Saturday.)

Thank you, Chan, for kicking our aural asses last night and proving the naysayers wrong. She was amazing — sultry, ethereal, fun. She’s a shy one and her dance moves were cute yet stilted in the beginning, and it was fun watching her warm up and let go.

I judge musicians on the covers they perform. It’s a great way to discover their influences and get a feel for their love of music. Cat Power hit high marks all night long. One of the sultriest versions of “House of the Rising Sun” ever and a damn good “Satisfaction.” Nina Simone (I’m too sleepy to remember which one!) and “Tracks of My Tears.” And she stole the show with her cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.”

Cat Power was backed up by the Memphis Rhythm Band. Oh. My. God. What a great twelve-piece — yes, twelve — band. Listening to them, I felt as if I were in the Stax recording studios.

Too wound up after the show, I went home and danced around my living room until about 2 a.m. — windows open, raindrops backing up Cat Power on the stereo. Finally wound down enough to head upstairs, and the rain lulled me to sleep.

The AJC ran a good profile of Cat Power this weekend; click here to read the article.

Next up: Nellie McKay tomorrow at Variety Playhouse. Anyone else going? I’m single for this show.

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19 Comments:

At 9/13/2006 01:04:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

I gave two gifts of red wine this weekend. The first was purely gift giving. the second was to my dad, so I could try it. I was intrigued, but I don't like wine. But all of the info I read about the red got my attention, so I gave a bottle to my dad on Sunday. We popped it open. I sipped it. And I still don't like wine. However, the label was cool enough for me to buy another bottle. It was the Cardinal Zin by Bonny Doon. Clete said it was actually pretty good and he's a wine drinker.

 
At 9/13/2006 01:13:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

As you know, I've long been a red wine drinker. This summer, though, I started drinking a lot of white wines since it was so hot and humid, and discovered some great ones. Clete and I should compare lists.

 
At 9/13/2006 01:34:00 PM, Blogger barista brat said...

ok - if i make it to georgia we are FOR SURE going to that greek restaurant.

glad you had fun at the cat power concert. did dan enjoy is as much as you? i would love to hear her cover of 'crazy'.

 
At 9/13/2006 01:37:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

i am so glad it was a good show. god, the past shows i have seen were scary--you didn't know if she was going to run off stage, or faint from fear, or have a heart attack. she was giving me a panic attack!! i vowed never to see her again --though i love her music--but maybe i will venture out next time she is in my neck of the woods.

and yeah--you did miss rem play last night--with bill berry + special guest, scott mccaughey. i hear the show was really great.

 
At 9/13/2006 01:45:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

BRAT: We'll make a day of it. Wouldn't Chan do a great job with "Crazy"? Dan really enjoyed the show, too.

M: Yeah, I read about the show on Murmurs.com. Since R.E.M. did just two numbers and I'll see them on Saturday, I don't feel too bad about missing the show (except to hear "Begin the Begin"!). How did you hear about Scott McCaughey being there? I didn't see that on Murmurs.com. I like that guy — and all his bands! Talked to him before a Minus 5 show this spring; he was a cool guy.

 
At 9/13/2006 03:29:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

you can see scott's fuzzy head here...
http://ninebullets.org/home/index.php

i always thought he was a cool guy--good to know you think it is true.

 
At 9/13/2006 03:35:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I saw that fuzzy head! There are also several shots of him at Spotted: Online Athens.

I kind of think Mr. McCaughey was flirting with me that night in March. I may flirt back this weekend; I've heard he's single.

 
At 9/13/2006 03:49:00 PM, Blogger Anomie-Atlanta said...

I'm excited to try Avra, thanks for the tip. Could you just add a Beth About Town sidebar feature with restaurant and travel recommendations? ;)

 
At 9/13/2006 03:54:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Aboslutely, Anomie! I am here to serve my readers.

 
At 9/13/2006 03:59:00 PM, Blogger Coaster Punchman said...

Sounds great! I got very confused when you started your post talking about "Avra" in "Midtown." Because there is also a Greek restaurant called "Avra" in Manhattan's midtown, and I thought you had flown to NYC on a moment's notice.

I got very drunk at my Avra on my old law firm's dime. Best thing they ever did for me.

 
At 9/13/2006 04:01:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

You make me proud, Coaster Punchman. And I wish I could fly to NYC on a moment's notice.

 
At 9/13/2006 05:57:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Oh sure, Avra this, Cat Power that, wine and food and NYC and REM and arrrrgh. I had a headache yesterday and it rained all day today. I know you feel my pain. :-) Lucky ducky.

 
At 9/13/2006 06:00:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I'm 47. I haven't been to bed before 3 a.m. since Friday. So, yes, I am lucky ... but I also feel your pain ... as I head off for a dinner party.

Wai until next week; I'll be whining about being bored and having nothing to do.

 
At 9/13/2006 07:46:00 PM, Anonymous DJ Cayenne said...

I can back your call on Avra. When I went, the waiter recommended some Greek wine that I have no chance of ever finding (let alone remembering). The best things are ephemeral like that.

Anyway, enough of that. I was in the house for Cat Power last night. Should have known that you'd be on the scene. Fantastic show. "Crazy" knocked my sox off. "Where is My Love" was also fantastic, as was everything else really. The new sober Chan is no less clinically insane than the old Chan. At least she finishes all (but one) of her songs now.

 
At 9/13/2006 08:22:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

I meant to mention that I've been under the spell of Lived In Bars for quite a while by Lady Cat. It's so damned good.

 
At 9/13/2006 10:05:00 PM, Blogger Miss Kitty said...

Love, love, LOVE your reviews! It makes me miss living/working in Atlanta and Athens.

I, too, enjoyed the rain, but to the sounds of NPR.

Enjoy Buck-Berry-Mills-Stipe and Nellie McKay! They'll all be fantastic. Can't wait to hear your reviews of those.

 
At 9/14/2006 12:14:00 AM, Blogger Benny said...

I'm so jealous of your experience- I've only ever heard warnings about seeing her live, and I am not sure I'd want to see her now, anyway, because her newer stuff is harder, even if it is just as sultry. I'd be the 22 year-old acting like the 16 year-old who pees her pants when she hears the beginning of "Naked If I Want To"- which she probably wouldn't play. Hehe.

We had some great Greek restaurants in Indianapolis, but we have a whole village outside Tampa called Tarpon Springs- Little Athens. Sponge diving, cafes, and the best freaking bakeries EVER.

What we do not have, however, is the perfect September weather. I burnt my belly trying to lay out this morning. It was like trying to bake brownies at 175 degrees.

:-)

 
At 9/14/2006 08:35:00 PM, Blogger Dan said...

Okay, I'm slack 'cause I'm just now commenting on that fabo night. Yeah, Avra is da bomb. It was my second time around. First time I have the stuffed peppers (good) and this time I had the beef kabob (holy crappy was that good!). I was almost jealous over Bethie's pork but not quite.

Cat Power was pretty far down on my iTunes, so I didn't know what to expect before the show. I knew I liked the music, and her voice was pretty cool though a bit monotone at times. Hey, I only have the one album, Moon Pix, so don't flame me.

I was shocked by how large the band was - I expected many a four piece type, not twelve! They kicked it off with some blues number and rocked it until Chan showed up. Hell, I didn't know the Memphis Rhythm Band from a hole in the ground, but they got me - got me good!

Chan could've squeaked for all I cared, so I was pleasantly surprised by the soulfulness she added to the whole experience. It was the complete package. The band, her voice and cute/sexy/feminine moves Chan displayed all through the night that sucked me in.

At one point, the band took leave for Chan's solos, and I was sorry to see them go honestly. Sure, it was nice change of pace and great to hear some of the wonderful, slow covers, but I was enjoyin' the upbeats too much. When the band came back on stage, they ramped it back up to the peak of "satisfaction" and all was good once again.

Arguably, the best concert I've been to in years! Oh, and by-the-way, Ms Chan is frikkin' hot! *purr-purr*

 
At 9/14/2006 11:04:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

DJ CAYENNE: Should have realized you'd be there, too. I thought Chan Marshall was quirky and entertaining. And that voice. We should all meet up at Avra before the Richard Ford appearance.

DALE: "Lived in Bars" is a helluva great song, isn't it?

MISS KITTY: I'm so glad you left a comment! My hard drive crashed a couple of months ago and I lost my bookmarks ... now I can read about the chickens again!

B: I've had great concert karma this summer -- I hit the only good Ryan Adams performance in the South, and Cat Power was awesome (although she seems to be putting on great shows all over the place). I want to hit Tampa's Greek Town!

DAN: Wasn't it a great night?

 

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