© Scott Hemenway

Neko Case @ Vogue Theatre – April 15th 2015

© Scott Hemenway
© Scott Hemenway

An immensely talented vocalist of international renown, Neko Case walks a gorgeous path between country and indie. A vivid story teller with quick wit and a sense of humour, Case first found international attention following her contributions on 2005’s Mass Romantic with Vancouver indie group the New Pornographers. Since then, Neko has drifted off on her own solo career, while maintaining friendly ties with the Pornos and their now permanent stand in, Kathryn Calder. In 2006, Neko Case surpassed all expectations with her solo record Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, which cemented her musical reputation. With her continued success, Case continues to craft, vivid, elegant albums that fruitfully explore the human experience. Her clever, persuasive musical stories, sharp musical arrangements, dreamy lyrics and beautiful vocal harmonies were all evident in her performance at Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre.

© Scott Hemenway
© Scott Hemenway

The fire haired Virginian born singer touched on much of her material from 2013’s The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You and with good reason; its impossible to argue with such a passionate title and the album’s material does not disappoint. Case commenced the evening with the stripped down vocal performance of “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu” from The Worse Things Get… A pensive and powerful song, with worried vocals, “Nearly Midnight…” is another demonstration of Case’s persuasive narrative ability. Neko Case’s music functions both on a personal and interpretive level. Also played were many bonafide Neko classics like “Star Witness” “Deep Red Bells” and “The Tigers Have Spoken.” Newer hits like “Where Did I Leave That Fire,” “the Pharaohs” and “This Tornado Loves You” contributed to the quality of the setlist.

© Scott Hemenway
© Scott Hemenway

Never one to hold back an opinion, Neko isn’t afraid to pull a swear word or unconscious thought. Interacting with her audience with casual authenticity, Neko joked about casting magic to dispel all her skin tags, chuckling alongside her backup singer and long time vocal collaborator Melissa Hodges, also of the Decembrists.

© Scott Hemenway
© Scott Hemenway

Professionally executed yet somehow intensely personal, Neko Case is an enchanting musician. While she and her band played over twenty compositions drawn from the corners of her vast, enduring catalogue, the evening’s performance felt over in a flash. Almost ten years after its release “Hold On, Hold On” is still haunting. Previously residing in the city during her studies at UBC, Neko Case has a special tie with Vancouver. On this evening, she cited her special love for Italian food on Commercial Drive. Capping off the primary set with a vibrant take of “Man,” Neko is a force to be reckoned with when she gets going. Many of her songs live performances show considerably more spirit than their already poignant studio versions.

© Scott Hemenway
© Scott Hemenway

The evening’s performance wound down as the band returned to play an encore including a contemplative of “I Wish I Were The Moon.” Thanking the audience, Case and company choose to close with the steady tempo’ed “Ragtime”, leaving the audience in a feeling of nostalgic optimism. Embodying many of the best characteristics of both indie and country traditions, Neko Case is a particular musical phenomenon. Modern minded yet tied to and faithfully aware of traditional excellence, Neko Case continues to distinguish herself as a songwriter and performer. After eight albums, the Virginian still graciously continues in artistic prime.

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