Marianne Faithfull has her Ravaged Survivor bit down pat, but the predictability didn't lessen the power of her performance at the Roxy on Thursday. Hauling out songs by the big guns--Leonard Cohen, Dylan, Bono and the Edge, Lennon, Jagger and Richards, Waits and Brennan--the post-punk Piaf zeroed in on the heart of betrayal and despair. Her own cathartic confessions held their own, especially the confrontational "Why'd Ya Do It?," whose graphic images she milked for every drop of shock value.
Faithfull's cracked, craggy voice has character to spare, but its range is narrow, and the minimal backing--just guitarist Barry Reynolds and bassist Fernando Saunders--tended toward the monochromatic. It held up well enough, though, to sustain Faithfull's hour-plus guided tour of her special desolation row.