Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I [heart] Neko Case

Saturday night's Neko Case show was great. She sang beautifully and dodged my thrown gifts with angelic grace; seeing her move like that was totally worth running myself out of underwear. A handful of rowdies a few rows up did not appreciate her talents, apparently -- they couldn't resist bickering loudly among themselves during the first two or three songs, first over the use of a cell phone, and then over who should and should not "shut the fuck up" and, crucially, in what sequence. It didn't take long for the sweet granny ushers to close in and shut them down, but for what I paid, I feel I was right to demand a more violent response.

I know what you're thinking -- rowdies? At a country music concert?!? Yes. I was there. I experienced it with my own three senses.

She has an amazing ability to recreate exact vocal phrasings across performances, so much so that it makes me wonder if she has really ever pushed the limits of her voice -- remarkable considering what's she has been recorded doing with it. She closed with a vocal tour de force, "Look for Me (I'll Be Around)," her cover of the Dee Sylvia / Guy Wood song, and it was delivered with every bit as much power, control, and range as she showed in the studio version on "Blacklisted." I was almost in tears (there and elsewhere), but I hid it, not wanting any rowdies hatin' on me.

My only disappointments: she didn't play "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood" or "Furnace Room Lullaby," two marvelous title tracks.

She was, somehow, the opening act for Merle Haggard. Every question I had about Merle Haggard (and I had many) was answered when the dude sitting directly in front of me sat down in his newly-purchased Merlet-shirt emblazoned with insipid patriotic slogans of a sort that would make even the robot Toby Keith blush with shame. That's when I started to reflect so wistfully on the recently-circulated internet-based footage of hicks damaging themselves, and despaired that they weren't selling Merle Haggard swords.

Oh well, that's what suggestion boxes are for. I have nothing else to say about Merle Haggard's performance as I didn't stay for a single note of it.

It's small of me to point out that Neko's drummer looked and played like someone they pulled in from a high school jazz band. If I didn't love Neko and drumming more, I'd let it go.

The show was terrific, absolutely terrific. I scored a Neko Case concert t-shirt that I'll probably take off one of these days.

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