Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Had it really been six years?
Discounting an April 2010 show in which she and her band had backed Jakob Dylan, Anti- recording artist Neko Case marked her return as a headliner to The Egg for the first time since 2008. Nothing could faze Case, not even occasional tuning issues with various guitars that she, Jon Rauhouse and Eric Bachmann had to sort out prior to a few songs, nor the absence of long-time bassist Tom V. Ray, who was ill (two members of the Dodos, the opening band, deputized for him on a few songs). Exuding confidence, playful charm and self-deprecating wit, Case had the nearly full house audience in a seductive reverie with her spectacular voice and a trove of remarkable songs that explored memory, identity, loss and the natural world.
The iconic moray-eeled album cover to 2013’s Grammy-nominated The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You provided the backdrop to the stage, and a ping of sonar samples foreshadowed the night’s plunge into the subconsciousness as the band took the stage. With Kelly Hogan to her left supplying the best harmonies this side of Emmylou Harris (be sure to check out Hogan’s 2012 solo album I Like to Keep Myself in Pain), Case opened with “Where Did I Leave That Fire,” a deeply introspective track from the recent album, marked by a candid refrain of “I wanted so badly not to be me” that made one lean in a little closer to the stage.
As “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!” panelists go, none rock harder than Neko Case.
Along with her critically acclaimed solo work, the Virginia-born singer-songwriter is known for her sharp wit and engaging personality, traits that earned her the rare distinction of being both a guest and panelist on NPR’s weekly news quiz. She’s also been a featured guest on Comedy Central’s “@midnight,” a contestant on an Australian music quiz show called “Spicks and Specks,” and she’s even been a voice on the animated series “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” But last week when she rolled into The Egg, it was all about music.
Supported by a tight, yet short-handed backing band, Case spun through 22 songs pulled largely from her last two releases, 2009’s Middle Cyclone and 2013’s eccentrically titled The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, both of which were Grammy nominated. But for the packed house of dedicated Neko-philes in the Hart Theatre, whether hits or deep cuts, it was all good to them.
The marquee indicated “Neko Case: SOLD OUT,” but inside the famed theatre it was obvious that one of the best singer-songwriters of our era had stayed true to her ideals, playing a rescheduled (because of a blizzard) concert of 21 songs, including a trio of new songs which foreshadowed that her next album promises to be something extraordinary.
On a summer-like night, taking the stage after some fine tunes on the house system by Solomon Burke and Dolly Parton, Neko Case and her talented band ripped into “Things that Scare Me” from 2002’s classic “Blacklisted,” Jon Rauhouse’s manic banjo in particular driving the tale of “blackbirds frying on a wire” and a young girl’s recollection of being “haunted by American dreams.” The animal motif informed the next songs, too. Playing a four-string tenor acoustic, Case and company waltzed into 2006’s “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood”‘s uplifting “Maybe Sparrow,” and marched into the teeming-with-life meditation of “Fever” and dark-humored “People Gotta Lotta Nerve” from 2009’s “Middle Cyclone” with gusto. The standing room only crowd roared with approval.
There’s a new date for the Neko Case concert that was originally slated to take place on Tuesday, February 1 at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock. A snowstorm knocked that show off of the calendar, but now it’s been re-scheduled for 8pm on Thursday, May 12.
All previously purchased non-refunded tickets will be honored for the new show date. If you have previously purchased a ticket and cannot attend this show, please contact the theater for a refund.
An opening act will be announced shortly. Doors open at 7pm, and tix are currently available, priced at $40.
Just last month Neko Case rolled into The Egg as a back-up singer for Jakob Dylan. On Thursday, she heads into the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock with the New Pornographers, as the band launches their U.S tour in support of their new album, “Together,” which is being released today (Tuesday) on Matador Records. Thursday night’s show is the lone U.S. performance by the band before they launch a whirlwind European tour of England, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and Holland.
In addition to Ms. Case, the indie-rock supergroup from Vancouver also features the talents of A.C. Newman, Blaine Thurier, John Collins, Todd Fancey, Kurt Dahle, Kathryn Calder and Dan Bejar.
Here’s actor Adam Goldberg chatting with the New Pornographers about the making of their new album:
If you want a sneak preview of what you might catch in Woodstock on Thursday, just tune in to “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” on Wednesday night to see the New Pornographers perform.
Tix for the New Pornographers concert at the Bearsville Theater at 8pm on Thursday are $25 in advance; $30 at the door. The show will also feature a special guest appearance by Okkervil River’s Will Sheff, who also plays on “Together.”
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