Jan 12, 2010

Neko Case @ City Recital Hall

Let's not quibble here ladies and gentlemen. Let's not mess around with words and such stuff. Let's not hesitate. Neko Case is special. Very special. Monday night at the City Recital Hall proved that. Again. Yes, I love Neko and that statement is pure fact. It's her voice, her tenderness, her humanity. Herself. It was an hour and a half of bliss out music.

Neko and her band entered the stage and charmed us from note one. The banjo on "Things That Scare Me" was a joyful start. I think the banjo is just such a great instrument. Maybe it should be compulsory for all bands to carry one. Anyway it was a delight to hear an oldie from "Blacklisted" to open the show. Of course Neko would lean heavily on her latest album, playing eleven songs from "Middle Cyclone", but the set list still gave us many highlights from her career. Such as the ethereal "Maybe Sparrow" which was second up. I love that song so much. "Hold On, Hold On" was great as well. Simply superb. But I think it was "Middle Cyclone" itself that stole my heart. This song is a swooning joy and it was stunning live. "Polar Nettles" was great as well, as well as "Prison Girls". Another definite highlight was "A Widow's Toast", which showcases with great effect the voice that is so pure. Its hush quite opening gave ample opportunity to hear her piercing reed. "Red Tide" was a pleasant surprise on the night too. I had perhaps overlooked this song on the album, but its lively pace was suitable to the live arena. It certainly captured my imagination. One more major highlight was to come though. For "Vengeance Is Sleeping" the band left the stage with only Paul Rigby left to play soft guitar as Neko belted out this gorgeous song. I think this song sealed the night for me. The band departed to great applause before returning to present us with "Knock Loud", a great end to a great night. Even though Neko is the star, her band are great as well. Especially the pedal steel of Jon Rauhouse and the vocals of Kelly Hogan. Hogan is a great foil to Neko on stage. Not only does she possess a great voice, but she is just naturally funny, providing many quips between each song that kept the whole audience amused. I think Neko was a little intimidated by the formal surroundings of the recital hall, but Kelly kept her relaxed and comfortable. Neko possesses plenty of personality herself though, being very conversational through out. She certainly doesn't give herself 'star treatment'. She always dresses as she feels, does what feels natural to her. She is a singular being. Strong of mind and will. Of huge and immense talent.

Set List
Things That Scare Me
Maybe Sparrow
People Got A Lotta Nerve
Hold On, Hold On
I'm An Animal
Middle Cyclone
The Pharaohs
Polar Nettles
Deep Red Bells
A Widow's Toast
Margaret Vs. Pauline
Prison Girls
The Tigers Have Spoken
Red Tide
Don't Forget Me
That Teenage Feeling
This Tornado Loves You
Vengeance Is Sleeping
Train From Kansas City

Knock Loud

NB: This photo is not from last night. The venue does not permit photography.

Note: Bernard Zuel had a different opinion of the show in the SMH. I respect Bernard's knowledge, but I think Neko's band is meant to be unobstrusive. I would agree that Neko had some sound issues, but I don't think they detracted from the show at all.


  • At January 12, 2010 , Anonymous Jenn said...

    I completely agree about Middle Cyclone - it caught me Sunday Night in Katoomba and again last night at the Recital Hall. A song I never really noticed on the album, but that absolutely arrested me live.

    Basically the same set the night before up in the mountains, I think the only difference was that Deep Red Came earlier in the piece. And how cool was Jon Rauhouse's steel solo in the middle of that song!?

    Great write up, and lovely to meet you last night!

  • At January 12, 2010 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Is there a link for a recording, or is this just a review.

    Nice vtw

  • At January 18, 2010 , Anonymous Roshan said...

    This was my first time seeing Neko, and I only just got Middle Cyclone (on vinyl!) for Christmas, so I was very happy she played lots of songs off that record.

    I was amazed by her voice!


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