By Lisa F. - Nostalgia for the Present - 02/11/2005
February 11th was to be the third time I have had the opportunity to experience a Neko Case performance. The first time I saw her, she played an intimate show at a small venue in Arizona; the second time she played for thousands from the central stage of the Sasquatch Music Festival in George, Washington. During each of these performances, she seemed to have a mesmerizing power over her audiences. Even at the Sasquatch Music Festival, I recall her voice carrying over to the second stage where Pedro the Lion had just finished playing prompting a massive migration of teenagers to the center of the venue as they murmured in wonder amongst themselves: “who’s that?”.
February 11th failed to disappoint and proved to present quite a different show than I had expected. Admittedly, after listening to her most recent record The Tigers Have Spoken, a compilation of live performances from shows in Toronto and Chicago, I was hopefully foreshadowing a bit more rock n' roll than I’d seen before. For if listening to Neko Case jamming with the Sadies on my walkman while waiting on the Guy-Concordia metro platform with some half-crazed man lying on the floor doing sit-ups as a team of police questioned his motives can keep my toes tapping and a smile on my face, I figured that I should probably wear my dancing shoes to the Friday night show and refrain from hovering around the sit-down folks at Club Soda.
Dancing shoes definitely proved to be the way to go.
Visqueen, a Seattle indie-rock band, opened the evening. Unfortunately, on account of unprecedented problems with a certain smoke alarm that likes to go off at the most inconvenient times in my apartment, my friends and I arrived at the end of the band’s set, only catching the last two songs Visqueen performed. I wasn’t overly impressed with the music I heard (I mean everyone was waiting for Neko Case), but I certainly wouldn’t ignore their potential. Their music was catchy and they held an appropriate confidence, the kind that lacks arrogance.
I guess it would have been pretty difficult to appear arrogant when you’ve got a band like The Sadies performing after yours. This was the first time I’d seen The Sadies and let’s just say that my predilection for Neko Case was slightly threatened. As I’m sure nearly everyone who was at the concert would agree, The Sadies stole the night. The energy that swept through the air as they began their set was uncompromising. It was true rock n' roll accented with that perfect touch of distinctive surf country sound, the kind of music that makes you forget there’s snow and prostitution just outside the front doors of Club Soda.
When Neko Case appeared, the audience seemed to be securely contented by The Sadies and it looked as if it would have been nearly impossible to interrupt the vibe. Neko Case did an excellent job performing her set, especially considering that she was battling a cold during the performance. The set was concise, but personally I didn’t mind. She played all of the songs from The Tigers Have Spoken and her collaborations with the Sadies brought a dimension to her performance that I had never encountered (besides through the speakers of my CD player). Fast trains, tigers, dresses in soulful shades of blue, wayfaring strangers, and Loretta... Neko Case has captured it all. (And to those people who were just standing still in the audience: I do not think you are human) Case’s voice radiated over the strings and drums of the songs. But this time, besides just mesmerizing, the music was intoxicating (and no, it wasn’t just the Southern Comfort). The performance reinforced the strength and variety of the singer. I only look forward to hearing more of her work with The Sadies in the years to come.
This was the kind of show that reminds you of how much you love music. By far, the best concert of the new year.
[Tune in to Nostalgia For The Present every Monday 3pm-5pm]