Three or four songs into the set, the band left the stage and much of the audience left the show. People could sense things were going astray. As the crowd thinned out, Chan reappeared onstage, and began to go back and forth between piano and guitar, playing a random and sketchy assortment of songs, including a number of her own, but mostly covers like "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and even a snippet of "Golden Age" from Beck's most recent CD. This would have been fine if she played a song from start to finish and stopped mumbling incoherently. But no such luck.
I'm not sure what she was going on about--numerous apologies, complaints about the sound and random odd comments made up her stage "banter." I heard much talk among the remaining crowd that this wasn't just an "off" night. The fumbling and breakdowns are apparently common in Chan-land but this was a full-out cry for help that seriously made one think the remaining Cat Power tour should be canceled for Chan's mental health.
Perhaps the naked intensity that haunts Cat Power's excellent new disc You Are Free was too much live. It creeped out the Cradle-crowd just looking for fun on a Friday night. "I'll stick to her records from now on," a friend of mine said as we were leaving. I will too, though I'm sure the next time I crank up a Cat Power record or CD on the stereo, it will make me want to send Ms. Marshall a get-well-soon card.