In Concert

"Anybody got a pick?" asked Cat Power, after losing hers in the Ravinia Pavilion on Wednesday night. She was halfway through her set, which started a bit late, and would go until a stagehand cut her audio when she tried to do a 20-song medley as her last song.

The 42-year-old is a rare talent, with a career spanning nine albums of varying and blurring genres. Armed with only a piano, two guitars, and her raspy, weathered voice, she entertained with popular songs like "Colors and the Kids" to "The Greatest." Her characteristic unpolished performance was peppered with apologies, twitches, and self-reassuring head nods. If she were an actress playing a role, she was captivating; but she is a person, so my captivation was colored with concern. Her set felt plagued by her crippling stage fright and echoed a past of alcohol abuse – despite her announcement of sobriety in 2006.

Rufus-Wainwright-Live-DVD-770

The audience was supportive throughout her set, filled with fans and leftovers from Rufus Wainwright's flawless opening set which included two cameos – his sister and his sister as Liza Minnelli. But Cat's support, at times, felt like helping a stumbling friend home after a hard night, rather than the usual support of applause, attention, and album-buying. Wainwright, a remarkable talent and gay icon, served as a perfect pairing, and the mash-up heightened what is unique about each artist: a polished, soaring tenor with a rougher, earthy alto.

Ravinia's star-studded, eclectic season continues through September 20. Info and tickets @ https://www.ravinia.org/

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