#RFF13 – Neko Case
The rest of her discography is not that. Her previous records have run the gamut from folk to alt country to pop rock. At the centre of it all is her voice, an undisputed powerhouse of a voice that is not only instantly recognizable but also magically capable of being a perfect fit for all those musical styles and then some (New Pornographers, anyone?).
Like so many other performers, though, I had to wonder what exactly we were going to be seeing. She brought five other folks with her to maximize their potential. They were really great! Dynamic and felxible players, they incorporated banjo and keyboard into an otherwise traditional rock structure.
In fact the rock was the most surprising thing. She opened with the first single from her last record, “People Got A Lotta Nerve,” playing her own Gibson SG as a bonus guitar for a beefy version that was spot-on with the recorded version. Her second song was pretty hefty as well, ending with some powerfully overdriven bass guitar.
She has a new record coming out in September. Did I mention that? She said she was very excited to play songs from that album and, as much as Middle Cyclone amped up the rock elements of her sound the new material seems to push even further in that direction. The onees we heard Sunday night didn’t quite match the ferocitiy of “Man” but they were definitely a further progression than we’ve seen from her so far. Oh, and she played “Man” — it was a little bit slower than the album version but it had the same level of insane riffage. There was also plenty of joyous tambourine to be had! Nothing is more punk rock than that.
Despite that Case herself seemed perfectly at ease and at home. While she’s quite clearly a polished performer she certainly isn’t gussying up her performance with any unnecessary theatrics. She was extremely relaxed on stage, wearing a simple black t-shirt, skirt, and a hooded sweatshirt and moving about with a natural ease, wandering the stage as she saw fit and frequently tapping or slapping her midsection with one or both hands. She and her back-up singer cracked non-stop jokes about the rest of the band, how much food they ate, and Albertans having babies and making more Albertans.
Much of her catalgoue was represented, including some tracks from Middle Cyclone like “This Tornado Loves You” and a few of the songs from her older records that were written with The Sadies (including “Hold On, Hold On,” which you’ll find below). She even went back to Canadian Amp for a brief rendering of “Andy,” a very touching little song.
Throughout it all is her voice. That unimpeachable voice, delivered with such seeming ease from such a miniscule frame, emerging from her mouth with a kind of unteachable authority. It does whatever the song demands of it and it does it without any hesitation or compunction. It’s a voice you could never stop listening to and be perfectly happy with it. It was really cool to see that voice emerge in person. I’d watch it again some time!