Friday, May 1, 2009

Neko Case at the Keswick (April 10th, 2009)

I always like to post a few pics of the gigs I attend so this is Neko's:

And respect it I did, though agree I did not.
But regarding her movie - her concert, I mean, though it did look like a movie screening more often than one would desire. She had a pretty big screen behind her showing images during most of the show (elephants and other animal silhouettes during "I'm an animal", bits of the "People got a lotta..." video during that one, footage of blurry skies, roads, you get the idea...she mentioned that somebody was backstage mixing the stuff "live"). And when in a dark room there's a glowing canvas showing images, people's attentions tend to drift towards it. So I'd turn to that sea of seats and would see an audience that for the most part didn't differ much from that of any Movieplex. Which is not my idea of a concert.
Her usual band was with her, starting by left hand Kelly Hogan on backing vocals (though she's quite a few steps up from that), and the concert was in very much the same style as when I saw her two years ago at the Mann Center supporting Rufus Wainwright, could have been the day after. Almost same banter even (Neko and Kelly back and forth about nothing transcendental or interesting or funny 90 % of the time). My take, others have very different opinions (see this, for instance)
And the songs sounded basically identical to her records.
Highlights for me were "That teenage feeling" and "I'm an animal", not necessarily my favourites but the ones that had more spark live.
After the show I asked for a setlist, since I was seating very close to the stage. But that too was apparently banned and none was to be given away, staff said apologetically. Which wins Case first spot in the "Most restrictive" of the long list of concerts I've been to... who'd have thought it!
So I decided to squeeze my brain and write down what I remembered that night to avoid my usual "data loss": she did play most of all the new album and next in number of songs was "Confessor" (5 songs). Concert opened with "Maybe sparrow" followed by "People gotta...". Other songs included "Hold on", "Don't forget me", "Margaret vs. Pauline", "I'm an animal", "This tornado loves you", "Middle cyclone" (with Kelly holding the funny music-box like machine) and "The Pharaohs" as well as "The tigers have spoken".
The encore was lengthy, 5 or 6 songs, including "Magpie...", "Never turn your back..", "Favourite", and "Star witness". This last one was the one before last, and they played it because the audience kept asking for it, so at one point Kelly said "would it kill us to do Starwitness?". They had not played it since September last year, they explained, and they were not so sure about the results. Of course it was impeccable (a real herniator of a song too, Kelly explained!). Well, it's a fantastic song, glad they played it.
I may be wrong, but I think the above list is correct. There's others I can't remember, or I had not heard before.
Through her career Case has definitely succeeded in creating a most rich, personal and unique universe from which her songs and characteristic artwork always surge. That can't be denied, and it makes her a very interesting artist. But that place she evokes feels a bit too chilly at times and a bit too static live. Despite that her songs are always good to hear.
And on a funnier note it was interesting to see the cragslist listing for this sold out show, here are some:
* " Neko Case wanted by nice Center City guy - $35 (...)- will buy first round of drinks as a means of appreciation! "
* "Neko Case Tonight! 1 ticket available - $35 - I have one ticket available for tonight's show. (...) Ok, to be totally honest I'd prefer to sell this to a good looking girl since I've got to sit next to you . . . Just thought I'd put that out there . . . "
* And another one involved a girl who'd bought tickets as a gift to a boyfriend, who turns out had been cheating on her for a year with some online girl and then had dumped her for the not-anymore-online girl, so understandably she was selling her ticket and ranting about his ex's scumbag-ness (wonder if anybody bought that ticket!). Sad but funny. It's not there anymore so I can't copy it.
Some colourful audience!

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