Cat Power was an unlikely candidate on election night.
The streets outside the Fox Theater were alive with revelers, hooting and hollering about the news that President Barack Obama had scored four more years. Some of the happy campers would eventually venture into the ornate Oakland venue, looking for assistance in prolonging the party.
The indie-rock singer, who also goes by the name Chan Marshall, was the wrong person for the job on Tuesday.
Her downbeat, often dreary show, which would've worked just fine on basically any other night, absolutely clashed with the vibe of this particular evening. The concert was moody and atmospheric -- more hypnotic than happy -- and people walked out of the building looking less joyful than when they walked in.
Plenty of other acts would've fit the occasion much better. This was the kind of night that called for something really raucous — like, for example, the Dropkick Murphys. OK, so maybe that's a bad example -- since the Murphys hail from Massachusetts (Mitt Romney territory). But you still get the picture.
Chalk it up to a case of bad timing -- one that certainly shouldn't be blamed on Cat Power. The 40-year-old Atlanta native simply showed up at her scheduled time and put on her regular show, which definitely featured plenty of worthy music.
She came to town in support of her long-awaited ninth studio effort, "Sun," which is her first full-length album of all-original
The main challenge at the Fox, besides trying to convince the many Obama backers to embrace a somber soundtrack, was to translate the new material into tunes that worked for a five-piece live band. Cat Power was entirely successful in that regard.
After opening the show with the title track to "The Greatest," the singer quickly and efficiently led her top-notch troupe through a half-dozen enjoyable numbers found on "Sun" — "Cherokee," "Silent Machine," "Manhattan," "Human Being," "King Rides By" (available only on the Amazon download version of the album) and, finally, the title track itself.
She'd then venture off to other material, without leaving the "Sun" vibe behind. Cat Power is masterful at rearranging her compositions to sound like pieces of the same puzzle — and everything she played at the Fox felt very Cat Power 2012.
It isn't just her sound that's new — it's her look and, for that matter, persona as well. She now boasts a New Wave haircut -- short on the sides, and dyed white on top -- and she looks as if her intention is to join A Flock of Seagulls or Missing Persons.
Either one would be lucky to have her. Cat Power was strong on the microphone throughout the night, recalling a variety of other well-known artists — from Sinead O'Connor and Sarah McLachlan to Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) and BjÃ¶rk.
It's the BjÃ¶rk comparison that rings the loudest. Although Cat Power lacks the Icelander's way with a hook, as well as her desire to pack the dance floor, she does have the same type of restless muse — which takes her places that other lesser artists wouldn't dare travel.
On this election night, it took her to the Fox Theater in Oakland. It wasn't her fault that she wasn't the right candidate for the job.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.