November 23, 2009
Better Than: Sitting at home playing with your dogs.
It wasn't hard to see that it was Neko Case's show last night at the Granada. With the singer's penchant for songs filled with animals and nature, the tree-adorned banners that hung on the side of the stage, and the wise old owl hugging the projector screen behind her said that it was going to be a night fit for sitting around a campfire singing songs.
However, the Middle Cyclone-heavy set was anything but a campfire singalong.
As Case walked up the microphone she announced that she has just woken up from a nap and she felt "weird." Taking notice of the t-shirt and hoodie she was wearing, the guy next to me said "I'm glad you dressed up for the show!" But, the lack of designer duds and rock star pretense are exactly what Neko Case is about. Unlike some singers of the female persuasion, she doesn't need autotune to sing (live or on tape) and her powerful voice doesn't crack when she sings high notes. She packs one hell of a voice into a tiny little frame.
Throughout the night as she moved through "People Gotta Lot Of Nerve" and "Fever," she wowed the crowd with... that voice, by far her most powerful instrument. Aside from her powerhouse vocals, the little-known weapon in her arsenal is her wicked sense of humor. Throughout the night, Case and her harmony singer Kelly Hogan traded jokes like two middle school girls referring to inside jokes with each other. At times it almost seemed that Kelly Hogan is to Neko Case what Flava Flav is to Public Enemy. Aside from her killer harmony with Case, her razor sharp wit was evident throughout the set as people would yell something to her and she would say "I don't know what you said, but, it sounded positive!"
As Case belted out Harry Nilsson's "Don't Forget Me," The Sadies "Hold On, Hold On" and her own "This Tornado Loves You" it was apparent that Neko was on top of her game. Again, her voice hitting every high note, never once faultering or cracking and working the crowd like a pro. But it seemed as though she wasn't pandering to the crowd, she was talking to a large group of her friends. It seemed like something that doesn't come from years on the road, but just doing what you do and loving every minute of it.
By The Way: Oh No! Oh My! were a perfect bookend to the show. Their poppy rock sound, reminiscent of early Dinosaur, Jr. and Pavement, fit perfectly with the pop leanings of a lot of Case's songbook.
Random Note: I hope the gentleman that passed out next to me is okay, and if he's not, wish him a speedy recovery.
Personal Bias: As a fan of Neko Case it's always great to see her live. She is a great performer and has a pure singing voice that's on par with Alison Krauss.