april 11, the come ons
Befuddled by the size of the Lee's Palace stage and the generally uninterested audience, Detroit's Come Ons floundered during their opening set for the Deadly Snakes. Although they started rocking their moddish garage jams enthusiastically, the loud muttering of the capacity crowd waiting to hear the Deadly Snakes unveil their great new Ode To Joy (In the Red) album seemed to leave them winded. As the Come Ons' attack became less aggressive, the audience chatter got louder. After just 20 minutes it looked like the Come Ons were ready to pack up and go home.
The Snakes, on the other hand, were on fire, working up a sweat from the first reckless rave-up. One hand-clapping stomp moved seamlessly into the next double-time shaker without a pause for breath or taking in the wild cheers rising after each tune. If they've ever put on a more electrifying display, we haven't seen it.
april 13, cat power
After Chan Marshall's last train wreck of an appearance in Toronto -- where she broke up with her boyfriend shortly before the show and spent half the set semi-catatonic and miserable -- and given fresh rumours of incoherence at recent performances, the big question about Sunday night's Cat Power show at the Opera House was whether Marshall could make it through without a full-fledged breakdown. Happily, she did.
Backed mostly by a three-piece band, the shy singer sighed her way through songs from her new You Are Free (Matador) disc, transforming the fragile album versions into lush, layered creations. A solo stretch two-thirds of the way through the show lost major momentum, but Cat Power was recharged when the band returned for a searing White Stripes cover. There were some freak-show aspects: Marshall spent the set hiding behind a massive flannel shirt and Ray Charles-style shades, and even her band seemed a bit weirded out when she started humming tunelessly to herself. Still, impressive.