Last Night: Neko Case at the Granada Theater
September 27, 2008
Better Than: Just about anything else you could be doing on a Saturday night.
The evening began with Giant Sand led by Howe Gelb, a frequent collaborator with Neko Case. Gelb moseyed on stage with a button-down denim shirt and cap, looking like he was fresh off working cattle in the pasture. He began by asking the crowd what they wanted to hear first: guitar, or piano. Then he asked which chord the crowd wanted to hear. Gelb had a genuine charm and wit that you don’t see in many front men.
During the band’s set, he affably chatted with the crowd, telling stories of his native Tucson and how they related to each song. Giant Sand’s sound ranged from a Honky Tonk shuffle to jazz and Latin inspired music.
After a song about the plight of illegal immigrants, he meandered into politics, going on to say he thought Barack Obama was the better man to serve in the White House – which prompted the biggest cheer he got all night.
Undoubtedly the night belonged to Neko Case. As she strolled onstage waving to the crowd they showed her their affection for her, with nothing short of a full-blown roar. Once she got to her microphone, she returned the appreciation saying, “Hello, beautiful Dallas.”
Neko is in a rarity in today’s musical landscape. Unlike many vocalists, she doesn’t require an auto tuner to sound great live. Her voice is strong, crisp and beautiful and sounds at a live show exactly as it does on record.
The crowd was overwhelmingly reverential throughout the entire night. For a couple of hours the Granada almost seemed like it could have been the Ryman Auditorium. The crowd was hushed throughout every song, hanging on every word out of her mouth, showing their rabid appreciation for her after every song.
As Case’s first set went on she had non-stop crowd pleasers like “I Wish I Was The Moon,” “Deep Red Bells” and “Star Witness,” all of which were met with overwhelming appreciation from the crowd.
When it came to onstage banter, Case let her harmony partner Kelly Hogan take the reigns, Case playing the straight man for Hogan’s wisecracks. Hogan once apologized for going “Peter Brady” when her voice cracked during a song. Aside from the onstage chatter, the two played off one another in beautiful harmony—Hogan highlighted Case’s already magnificent voice.
One of the many highlights of the evening was a haunting cover of Harry
Nelson Nilsson’s “Don’t Forget Me.” Although the song was a newer addition to her repertoire, the crowd reacted like it was an old favorite, due in large part to the singers’ beautiful harmony.
After a very, very brief encore break Case launched into “Buckets of Rain.” It was one of the only times during the entire show the crowd broke from their Neko-trance and started what could best be describe as a bluegrass clap along. The evening closed out with “John Saw That Number” and garnered what was the biggest ovation of the night.
Personal Bias: Before tonight I was familiar with very little of Case’s body of work. However, after I left it felt like I just left a tent revival. Case has one of the purest live voices I’ve ever witnessed. It was a spectacular performance. --Lance Lester